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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ten best documentaries

Do you guys ever watch documentaries? My friend Scott and I have a monthly documentary club, and I thought I'd share ten of my favorites that we've seen over the past couple years. I'd highly recommend them all...

Surfwise tells the story of the Paskowitz couple, who drops off the grid to drive their nine kids around in a camper and surf all day.
Food, Inc. examines the American food industry and corporate farms. Not for the squeamish! (P.S. We've bought only organic meat and dairy since watching this.)
My Kid Could Paint That looks at the runaway success of a four-year-old girl whose paintings are compared to Picasso. But is she the real artist?
Man on Wire is a documentary about a wild French tightrope walker and his jaw-dropping (illegal) stunts.
Mad Hot Ballroom follows an adorable group of New York City fifth graders taking a ballroom dance program.
Deep Water tells the gripping story of an amateur sailor who (insanely) enters a solo race around the world.
The Up Series is a series of incredibly compelling documentaries that have tracked the lives of fourteen English schoolchildren since 1964, when they were seven years old. Every seven years, the filmmaker releases a new documentary that checks in on their increasingly varied lives. (They're now 53!)
American Teen follows five high-school seniors--a jock, princess, heart-throb, geek and misfit--in a small Indiana town.
Autism: The Musical chronicles five autistic children as they rehearse for a musical production.
Stranded lets the survivors of the famous 1972 Andes plane crash tell their story of survival.

Have you seen any other good documentaries? I'd love to hear!

279 comments:

1 – 200 of 279   Newer›   Newest»
Hollie said...

I loved Food Inc! I just saw Babies and it was pretty incredible.

Alicia said...

Watch The Rape of Europa! It will give you chills!! So good.

http://www.rapeofeuropa.com/

great list, I'll have to check these out!

BonjourBruxelles said...

I might add Riding Giants to this list, even though it's another surfing movie. Amazing soundtrack. Incredible footage. A must-see.

Tanya (a Taste of T) said...

Documentary club, picnic club...I love all of your fantastic meet up ideas/groups

Lillian Chang said...

Joanna, you must watch The Cove!! I'm sure you've heard of it by now, about the Japanese covertly slaughtering tens of thousands of dolphins a year, then serve the meat in schools (mislabeled as whale meat)...but the dolphin meat has so much mercury in it, that it'll end up killing a person!
This documentary is kind of like an Ocean's Eleven, where the team of dolphin advocates tells their stories and goes undercover to expose this horrible occurrence that takes place in a cove in Japan every year.
Must watch!!

unopened envelope said...

Spellbound about a spelling bee and I love the design related docs like the recent Objectified.
Rachelxx

Noodles and Waffles said...

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

It's about a guy who gets laid off of work and then tries to get the high score on Donkey Kong.

Really entertaining.

Lillian Chang said...

(Oh, and I really enjoyed Michael Moore's documentary Sicko, too!!)
I'm so glad you did this post :) I really love documentaries too!!
(Just watched Food Inc...it was so incredible!!)

tvmom said...

love these recommendations...i'm going to check my netflix now

Deanna (Silly Goose Farm) said...

My favorite is "Ghengis Blues." It's about Paul Pena, one of America's greatest musicians (that is incredibly overlooked and forgotten about), and his journey to find his place in the world. Unbelievable, and totally heart-wrenching.

Maki said...

Food Inc. somehow changed the way I look at meat and what I consume....

Fan said...

Anything by Errol Morris. And have you seen "The Kid Stays in the Picture"? One of my faves!

Alicia said...

I just saw The Invention of Dr. Nakamats at Hot Docs Festival in Toronto and it was awesome.

My friend runs www.thedocumentaryblog.com and always posts updates on docs to keep an eye out for as well as reviews.

Diana Mieczan said...

That is so cool...I love documentaries....Food Inc. was so interesting and man on wire... :)
Great post :)

Joanna Goddard said...

haha, tanya, i love clubs! it's just so nice/comforting to have recurring events, instead of having to make "dates" with your friends all the time. :)

Sara said...

I've never seen any of these--although I've been meaning to check out Food Inc. One of my favorite documentaries is "Jesus Camp" although that one can be a little bit scary!

Miriam said...

I loved The Endless Summer, a 1966 documentary about two California guys who go around the world looking for the perfect place to surf. It's got breathtaking footage, fun music and some great 60's cheeseball moments!.

Joanna Goddard said...

omg, spellbound!! totally forgot that one!! :)

Melissa Blake said...

I loved the autism documentary! Have you seen No Impact Man, Joanna? It's about a NYC coiple on their journey to leave zero impact on the environment. It tracks their lives for a year...they even turned off their electricity!!

Kamaia said...

i am proud to say i've watched 5/10or maybe i should be ashamed as my procrastination has reached new levels. either way, i loved 'by the people' the obama doco, and michael moores 'capitalism: a love story'.

Karena said...

I haven't seen any of these, really good recommendations,and will look forward to watching a couple over the weekend.

Karena
Art by Karena

Alex said...

Two words: Hoop. Dreams.

Erika ~TiptoeButterfly~ said...

THE COVE

best ever - u will never see dophins the same!!!! - HAVE TO WATCH IT!!!!

*hugs*
Erika
http://tiptoebutterfly.blogspot.com/

inoakpark said...

Wow. I'm a huge documentary junkie, and I haven't seen all of these.

Another few favorites of mine are Spellbound, Riding Giants, and The Business of Being Born (but I'm a midwifery student so I think I'm required to like it!).

Carrie said...

This Film Is Not Yet Rated is fantastic and really makes you question how women are still portrayed.

Sarah said...

Born into Brothels - beautiful, sad, inspiring

Kate said...

Babies was ridiculously cute. But, I was a little bummed that beyond it being cute, there wasn't much to the movie. I mean, it shows the difference in parenting between the four countries, but nothing insanely shocking besides the levels of protection and cleanliness. But man, was it CUTE. I want a Mongolian baby now. Though Billy thinks the Namibian baby was the cutest. haha!

Maki said...

I forgot to say - {Undercover in Secret State} is one of the most heartbreaking documentaries I've ever saw....

rsalis said...

I love documentaries! You must see our daily bread--unser taglich brot (2005). no dialogue just amazing footage of food industries. VERY interesting. Great visuals. Predates food inc, which I haven't seen yet--on my list!

Also have to recommend helvetica. That one is a hoot! A documentary about a font. But it's quite funny.

And recently saw: mumbai disconnected --cool one about infrastructure in india, and global issues.

Hope you can fit some time in for documentaries in the next couple of weeks! Good luck!!

jane said...

Excellent post, thank you. I can't wait to see some of these. I have already seen and loved American Teen.

Stephen Fry's BBC documentary about his struggle with bipolar disorder is very interesting and attracted a huge amount of publicity in the UK. I've no idea how well known he is in the US though! He's a great writer and the programme is really excellent, I recommend it.

Mary said...

fun post! I really need to check some of these out. Which means I either need to convince my husband, or I just need to watch some while he's out. ;-)

Amanda said...

The Business Of Being Born was very insightful. I'd highly recommend it to everybody on the journey to impending parenthood.

I also loved "A Wink and A Smile" since I hold burlesque near and dear to my heart.

SFDC said...

Another Errol Morris rec: The Fog of War. So good.

Amy@OldSweetSong said...

Yes, yes, yes! I love documentaries. What about Super Size Me? And Murderball was amazing! Hoop Dreams?!

I did a post about this very subject, check out this list of the top 25 documentaries according to The International Documentary Association.

http://www.oldsweetsong.com/2010/02/movies-that-matter/

jack, lucy and finn said...

oh, my, i need to add some of these to my hold list at the library...
also love, spellbound and king of kong, but my all-time favorite is definitely born into brothels - heartbreaking and sad, but beautiful in its own way.

Reagan said...

Jake and I saw "exit through the giftshop" at that theater on east houston (sunshine cinema?) it is amazing! It was created by the british street artist, banksy. It is still in the theaters, you should totally see it. Another grafiti/street art is "style wars" it's early 80s in NYC.

Man on wire, mad hot ballroom and surfwise are my favorites.

Kelsey said...

My two faves:
Spellbound
The Smartest Guys in the Room (about the rise and fall of Enron)

thanks for sharing! I love documentaries!

Caroline, No. said...

Loved Man on Wire. There were tears during theater one, he achieved so much!

I really enjoy Julian Temple's documentaries and Billy Corben's Cocaine Cowboy's, about the Miami drug trade. Oh, and Spike Lee's New Orleans docu. Harrowing but essential viewing.

couture dresses said...

Fahrenheit 9/11 and Food Inc laft me with a lot of anxiety and emotional. I'm laying off documentaries for a bit now.

Jenny said...

The Seven Up series is so amazing!

dulci said...

I loveeeeeeeeeeeee Mad Hot Ballroom!!
The kids take it so seriously :)

Gotta see babies ASAP


http://ladulcivida.blogspot.com/

Michelle said...

Oh I loved Jesus Camp, too. It follows a Pentecostal children's minister and her methods of reaching kids in churches. It's a little scary and she describes it as raising "soldiers in God's army." Takes you on a tour of the far-right evangelical movement and fundamentalist brainwashing. I'm glad my faith isn't so black or white any longer!

Christine said...

I can't get enough of documentaries. I love Food Inc and ones similar to that. I'll have to check out Surf Wise. I would definitely recommend Crude--it's amazing.

Kristin said...

Heima - its about the band Sigur Ros and their homeland of Iceland - its absolutely breathtaking.

War photographer - about renowned wartime photographer James Nachtwey - its incredible.

Lindsay said...

One of my favorites is Dark Days, which tells the story of a group of homeless people who live in the NYC subway tunnels.

Jenny said...

Oh, and the doc "Children Underground" broke my heart, but do see it.

Ashley said...

Wow--I'm adding so many of these to my netflix queue. Two favorites of mine that come to mind: Word Wars (about scrabble competitions) was hilarious and touching; and Capturing the Friedmans was so engaging. We couldn't stop watching the special features extra footage and it provoked conversations for weeks following about guilt and the power of suggestion... all kinds of good stuff.

Kate said...

The most recent documentary I've seen is Chris Rock's Good Hair which was really entertaining, hilarious and, believe it or not, very informative.

I also adored Spellbound.

Thank you! I just added a few more movies to my netflix list...

miss corner cape said...

love murderball and man on wire, and anything about the holocaust, but you have to see Dear Zachary. A friend makes this movie about his best friend's son so the son will know his father (father is killed). Big twist at end. Put it on your list, seriously.

C. said...

Great, thanks for the recommendations! I have seen Food Inc. and Man on Wire and agree that they are 2 of the best :)

Geeta said...

Have you seen any of Michael Yorke's documentaries?

He did a bunch of fantastic one's in the 1990's of which: 'Eunach's: India's third generation', is my favorite! Made for the BBC.

Though it's been 18 years since I first saw it, it still has an affect on me when I think of it. It is so moving and intimate....I love it so much that I still hold onto my dusty old videotaped copy of it.

I love '7 UP'! (What a great club to belong to)

mosey said...

If I had the time and available braincells I could probably list dozens. But here are a few of my faves:

Hoop Dreams
This American Life series (Ira Glass rocks)
Planet B-Boy (this one surprised me)
Dogtown and z-boys (much better than the fictional version)
When We Were Kings
Planet Earth (BBC series)

Oh, I wish I could think of more... off to browse your other commenters recommendation!

lolalouise said...

yes! spellbound is amazing!

junebug said...

The National Parks by Ken Burns. So heartbreaking, amazing, beautiful. Every story made me want to go! or cry! or punch someone in the face! Loved it. Can't wait to own it.

Gemma said...

Yes definitely to Mad Hot Ballroom and Seven Up. I haven't seen any of the others. My favourite documentary series is House of Chanel. It follows a couture collections being produced but focuses on the team of seamstresses who work for Chanel. So good, I have watched it repeatedly. More recently I loved The September Issue and The Business of Being Born.

.simply.life. said...

Food, Inc. was a life changing film for me. I also loved Man on Wire!! I'll need to check out the others as well.

Paige said...

I love documentaries and some these I haven't seen! I love the Endless Summer films, and I recently watched 180 South at a film festival, which was mesmerizing. Also, A Walk to Beautiful about women in Ethiopia will make you cry, but its so good!

stephanie said...

great list! i took a documentary film class in college so i got to see a few that maybe i would have otherwise never heard of. my favorite, hands down, is "man with the movie camera" amazing, if you've never seen it, i highly recommend :)

Kirby said...

I want to see Babies so bad! Thinking my surfer boyfriend would like Surfwise as well, thanks for the suggestions! One to add to the list: Spellbound, a documentary about competitive spelling bees!

http://www.theshortandthesweetofit.com/
Kirby

AmandaPants said...

"food inc" is a must see for everyone! and if you are really into animal welfare, "earthlings" will change your life. it's brutal to watch but has a good lesson... and it's free to watch on the website.

BlondeShot Creative said...

Murderball- about Rugby-playing quadriplegics.

My fav. music documentaries are: The Gits and Hype.

Also, check out the Full Frame documentary shorts. They are a collection of short films from the Documentary Film Festival in North Carolina. There are some amazing shorts in that collection!

Rachel said...

Have you seen 'Crumb?' I feel like everyone I know who's seen it has really been amazed and moved by the weirdness of the cartoonist R. Crumb's family & life. Also, 'Encounters at the End of the World' by Werner Herzog is kind of an unconventional documentary but it is hilarious and weird and mesmerizing and I loved it.

E said...

These are great! I really want to watch "waiting for superman".

Paper Squid said...

This is really great list of documentaries. I've seen the one of the young girl painter but I've actually been wanting to watch Food Inc. for a bit now! Must catch up. Thanks for the great list.

cara. said...

what a good list. please compile one with your reader suggestions! i love "how to draw a bunny" and the flaming lips doc and the shelby adams one about how to take a picture. let me know what you think!

dc said...

Wow, great list! A few others I've enjoyed are: "A Man Named Pearl" http://www.amannamedpearl.com/ and "The September Issue." I've also seen many great ones at the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour.

My name's Haley said...

My favorites:

Rize: Visual overload of kids in south central LA dancing, done by photographer David Lachapelle. By far one of my favorite documentaries.

Born Into Brothels: kids and cameras in the red light district of India

Murderball: parapalegic rugby, very inspiring

I just started Pot:Locs which is a potluck with local foods where we're showing food inc next month.

I really loved your recomendations, and can't wait to rent the ones I haven't seen. Great post topic!

Wh. said...

Thanks for such an interesting list! I love Michael Moore and really enjoyed Bowling for Columbine and Sicko (this one was kind of awsome)
xoxo

Tonia said...

I'd agree with Jane: Stephen Fry's documentary about his bipolar was extremely moving. Chose something with him or David Attenborough - you can't go far wrong!

Stacey said...

Thanks for sharing this great list. A documentary club-what a neat idea!!

The Cottage Cheese said...

Ooh, thanks for the recommendations! I've only seen a few of these, adding the others to my Netflix queue. Most of my recommendations have already been covered in others' comments, but I'll additionally recommend Winged Migration and Vernon, Florida (you should wiki this Errol Morris doc - the originally intended story was completely different from the documentary Morris ended up making - the back story is as interesting as the odd documentary itself).

M. Crane said...

Wordplay is a fantastic, funny look at the New York Times crossword puzzle and the people who master it daily. Gives really cool insight into how puzzles are made and also showcases random New Yorkers and various celebs who enjoy the Times crossword.

rhart said...

I second Born into Brothels. Such a beautiful movie and the children are all amazing individuals.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Man1KT8VkY

Emily said...

I have to second the recommendation that people watch Capturing the Friedmans. It is slightly disturbing at times, but absolutely fascinating. It's about a family in Great Neck, NY and what happens to them when the father and one of the sons get accused of molesting some of the neighbor children. It is crazy.

haylie said...

There's this incredible (and very, very non-partisan) documentary about senior citizens in Maine who have made it their mission to greet every plane coming in from Iraq. It's called "The Way We Get By." I'm also a documentary lover (and have seen many of the ones on your list) and this is one of my favorites. I also really love "Born Into Brothels."

Strawberry Templetons said...

Young at Heart! It's a documentary about older folk that are in a choir that sings rock music. The spunk that these people have is amazing for any age, let alone in their 80s. It's a heartwarming flick.

Joanna Goddard said...

oooh, young and heart, i've been wanting to see that!

Shelby Rice said...

Business of being born (Ricki Lake)
So good!

mercedes. said...

i'd also like to recommend a couple of documentaries i really enjoyed. first, tapped. it's about the bottled water "market" (conspiracy) and the world water crisis. it's kind of a scary, sad film because of how in-your-face real it is. very enlightening though, for anyone who is unaware of the current issues surrounding bottled water.

second, the art of the steal. this one is really tragic, but i think that everyone should see it because it shows just how powerful corporations are, and how unaware the public usually is... so watch the trailer. :)

dio t'ama said...

Nice recommendations. I'm a fan of documentaries and i'll try to find them. Just finished "The Genius of Photography" and currently watching "Philosophy : A Guide to happiness".

Joanna Goddard said...

these recommendations all sound SO good. and i loved capturing the friedmans, i had forgotten about that one!

My name is Anna said...

Some of my faves:

Anvil: The Story of Anvil- A heartbreaking journey of a metal band who influenced a generation of musicians but who could never quite catch their big break. Thirty years later they are still working to make their dreams of success a reality.

Good Hair-Funny and non-judgemental but also posed a through-provoking question: Why is white hair considered "good" and black hair not?

Food, Inc.-Made me become a vegetarian. Period.

Man On Wire-Exuberant and just a joy to watch!

Grey Gardens-Your mind reels watching the cousins of Jackie Onassis live in squalor and trying to figure out how they got their.

Capturing the Friedmans-Again, mind-blowing and thought-provoking look at a seemingly normaly family as they deal with allegations of child abuse.

The Cove-Eye-opening look at the slaughtering of dolphins in Japan.

I love docs. so it's hard to pick my favorites. I haven's seen the 7 Up series but want to watch them all. Great post!

Claire said...

LOVED American Teen and Mad Hot Ballroom.
Actually, just did some work in one of the schools featured in Mad Hot Ballroom, with the teacher in charge of ballroom dancing. It's the one in Forest Hills, Queens.

Joanna Goddard said...

oh yes, the september issue was great!! so fun to read all your recs!!

The French said...

I can't get enough of docs. Ditto a lot of the ones mentioned...definitely want to give a shout out to "Dear Zachary."

"Stevie" is one of my faves. By director of "Hoop Dreams." Follows his relationship with a troubled kid from his past.

Another great one is "My Best Fiend: Klaus Kinski." It's by Werner Herzog and chronicles his friendship/working relationship with the famous German actor from Nosferatu. Really fascinating.

jessica quadra said...

what a great post! i LOVE mad hot ballroom and food inc. changed the way i eat and shop for food. i will definitely check out seven up! thank you!

Em said...

Encounters at the End of the World is Werner Herzog's documentary about the South Pole and the people who live and work there. Incredibly beautiful.

I also love Moving Midway, which follows the filmmaker's family's attempt to literally move their 150 year old plantation house. Really interesting look at the impact of the Southern plantation on American culture and race relations.

Kelsi said...

I'm such a doc snob! Here are some of my suggestions: "Thin Blue Line," which is about a man who may or may not be wrongly accused of murder; "Fog of War," about former Secretary of Defense to JFK and LBJ, Robert McNamara; "Triumph of the Will," the infamous Nazi Party prpoaganda film; "Sleepwalking Through the Mekong,"about a Cambodian musician who visits her homeland after the Khmer Rough tried to kill off all similar musicians; "Home Movie," which looks into several quirky homes like one that floats on water; "Unknown Chaplin," which showcases footage of his work that was once though lost to a fire.

Taylor K said...

A few of my favorite documentaries are Very Young Girls (about prostitution in NYC), BOTH of the Paradise Lost documentaries were both moving and infuriating AND, of course, The Business of Being Born!

Michelle Kendrick Hartney said...

I'm obsessed with the Up series!

kate reymann said...

Oh Mad Hot Ballroom was so wonderful! I hadn't thought about that movie in ages.

I loved Wordplay about Will Shortz's annual crossword puzzle competition. My husband and I saw it the night it came out and we were the only people in the theatre. Nerds! That would be us.

Although not a documentary movie, I thought Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution miniseries was some of the best television I have seen in a long time.

Jenn McDaniel said...

All of these are great documentaries. I just watched "The Cove", and I highly recommend it.

AmandaPants said...

yes YES ... the cove was amazing!!! also, if youre into docs... anything from ted.com!!!

monpetitpoi said...

I'm amazed nobody has mentioned Girls Rock! I found it refreshing :)

kim said...

I love Food, Inc. It actually pushed me to finally be a vegetarian, and I've been one since the first of November now. I am dying to see Babies!

Serena said...

I absolutely love documentaries. It's nice to know that a person can get some good, solid info and still watch TV ;) I find themso interesting! Food INC is great...you should see The Cove

Kathryn said...

I just watched (and LOVED) Surfwise! I have to second Dear Zachary. I also enjoyed Commune, The Education of Shelby Knox, and Mine.

Meg - [Life of Meg] said...

Young@Heart is amazing!!

It documents a group of elderly folks in a rock and roll show choir! So funny and so sweet...

http://www.youngatheartchorus.com/


-Thanks for your list! Adding it to mine!! :)

Joanna Goddard said...

wow, everyone loves the Cove, totally adding it to my netflix queue.

Jeanette said...

My list of rentals has just doubled. I also adored "Mad Hot Ballroom" - would like to see a little footage of what those kids are up to now. LOVE the idea of a monthy documentary club - must get that in the works.

Giulia said...

God Grew Tired Of Us

In the Arms of Strangers

Neil Young: Heart of Gold

Born into Brothels

The Horse Boy

Pray the Devil Back to Hell

Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten

Seen in this order (esp. if not familiar, because people are constantly (still!) apologizing for LR (ugh) & it's good to test one's reaction):

Triumph of the Will

The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl

Good idea, Joanna.

Carol {Everyday Delights} said...

Food Inc totally changed the way I eat too! I only buy the organic milk and meat now too and try to get as much local food as possible. If you enjoyed it, you should also check out Michael Pollan's books (he was interviewed in the movie too).

ampersandity said...

these look so good. my husband is a documentary-nerd, so i watch them with him every now & then. he loves ken burns: the war & word wars (about scrabble hahah).

La Feem said...

Thank you for this, what an amazing list!

iamchasingthirty said...

I am doc OBSESSED! You HAVE to watch The Horse Boy. Babies was awesome.

Other faves:

Grey Gardens. Born in Brothels. God Grew Tired of Us. The Business of Being Born. American Movie. I Like Killing Flies. Crazy Love. Jesus Camp. Sound and Fury. Valentino. Capturing the Friedmans (disturbing yet compelling). Every Little Step. Please Vote for Me. Grizzly Man. The September Issue. Promises. Trekkies. Confessions of a Superhero.

AH I could go on and on! So many of these are available on Netflix Instantly - which I love. Enjoy!

Her name was Lola said...

Recently: NO IMPACT MAN. Awesome. Can't stop thinking about it. Cheers.

Audrey said...

My two favorites are:

Harlan County USA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlan_County,_USA)

and Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room.

MyLittlePhotographs said...

The Cove is my favorite right now. I also like Food Matters.

LisaBohnCreative said...

A couple really good documentaries focusing on sustainability and social issues...

Sweet Crude: the story of Nigeria's Niger Delta - the human and environmental consequences of 50 years of oil extraction, and the history of non-violent (and violent) protest.

Pirate for the sea: AMAZING! You have to see this. it is a biographical film of Captain Paul Watson, He organized early campaigns protesting the killing of seals, whales, and dolphins. He is amazing, controversial, and actually does something about illegal whaling etc. This documentary witnesses his latest campaigns and explores the personal and environmental history of this controversial marine conservationist.

Amy Carter said...

I agree with Lillian - The Cove is a MUST SEE!!!

autumn said...

Wasn't Deep Water the most disturbing sailing movie ever?! Good list!

deanna said...

I LOVE the Seven Up series. I think everyone should watch them. Also a big fan of Man on Wire, but felt very "meh" about American Teen. All of my recommendations have already been mentioned, but I'll list them again to give them a little more weight:

Anvil!: The Story of Anvil (watch this!! even if you're not into Heavy Metal!!)
Murderball
Dear Zachary
The Thin Blue Line
American Movie
The September Issue
Dark Days
Good Hair
Under Great Northern Lights (White Stripes Doc)
King of Kong
Stevie
Grizzly Man
Devil's Playground (when amish teens go on rumsringer and sell crack)

And I haven't seen them yet, but I really want to see: Crazy Love and The Bridge

deanna said...

And I just remembered:

Riding Giants
Frontrunners

Eva said...

You should watch "Trip to Asia", a wonderful documentary about the Berlin Philarmonic Orchestra. It's so great and fits perfectly into your list.

Get + Togetha said...

Favorites:

Jesus Camp
The Cove
Born into Brothels
HBO's: The BlackList
Life and Debt
WattStax

Heather said...

I really enjoyed the September Issue. And my boyfriend has Food, Inc. we jsut haven't gotten around to watch it. Have you watch the Cove? My boyfriend saw it and said it was amazing. It's about Japanese dolphin hunting and this ex dolphin trainer on a mission to stop it. I know I wouldn't be able to watch it bc I would cry through the whole thing. But if you haven't seen it yet here's a link to imdb about it: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1313104

Ann said...

I cant wait to see Seven Up! Sounds really interesting.

j. vorwaller said...

Joanna, I just put together a list of movies about art/artists on my blog, the majority of them are documentaries! I've been watching them as I go and I recently found a new favorite...

The rape of Europa = so terrifying and absolutely fascinating... Hitler wanted more than to take on the world, he was an insane art thief. A lot of people don't know or remember that he was a rejected artist - his attempt to control the world with race happened with trying to control culture, too. You see the actual footage of the Louvre actually getting completely emptied of it's art and rushed to the chateaus in the country to protect them. You see the now grown woman who was a little girl who lived in the castle with her father who's job it was to protect the Mona Lisa and how they would peel back the red velvet covering the painting to see her smile... and so on! There are still THOUSANDS of pieces or artwork missing from the war that could come up at any time. I could go on.. I love this one!

I'll let you see the rest from the list - http://www.jennyvorwaller.com/blog/2009/03/movies-about-artartists/

And this one isn't from that list, but I adored it all the same -

God Grew Tired of Us.. SO amazing - the scenes of these African boys who are placed into american culture ..into pristine, well lit grocery store with perfect, ripe fruit in abundant piles is the most alien thing ever. You have to see it for that moment.

x.

amy said...

Thanks for this fab list! I happen to love Mad Hot Ballroom, Man on Wire and Spellbound.

Some others that are more serious--
Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple
Grizzly Man
The Corporation
Hell House

And lighter fare:
Life After Tomorrow (a documentary on girls who played in the musical Annie!)
Stolen (a documentary about stolen art)
Helvetica (yes, the font)
Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision
Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Impassioned Eye

So many good ones!

EDYTA and CO. INTERIOR DESIGN said...

Ooo
thank you for listing these,, I wanted to see a few of them and always forget,, Now I am making a list :)

Great post!!
xoxo
Edyta
http://edytaandco.blogspot.com/

GA+E said...

You MUST add Helvetica (http://www.helveticafilm.com/about.html) and The Cove (http://www.thecovemovie.com/) to that list!!! Make it the Top Dozen Best Docs!
GA+E

Sharon said...

I recommend The Gleaners and I. That's a great documentary. I might also add Southern Comfort- though that one is also not for the faint of heart.

I must say Food, Inc. could've done a much better job though it gets the conversation started. For people who have yet to read Fast Food Nation or Omnivore's Dilemma and such, or who don't live in areas where "local" and "community" are not heavily emphasized, I can image it is eye-opening!... though it was not well rounded enough, only focused on a small segment of the organic market (Stonyfield!) and did not create a real sense of what people can do indivually to change the food system- other than eating organic or going to farmers markets. Those are important steps people can take, but there is so much more!

Good + Happy Day said...

Oh, I love documentaries! I've seen almost all of these you post about Joanna and really liked them. A few others I enjoyed: Good Hair, Helvetica, Grizzly Man and The Business of Giving Birth, which you might like since you're pregnant!

j. vorwaller said...

oh p.s.!! I forgot to mention that I had never heard of Stranded and I'm rushing to go see it now because when we lived in Uruguay, we knew people who had worked with Nando and it was crazy to hear the REAL side of the story...!!! so I can't wait to see this one.
Thanks again for the recommendations.

PJ said...

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed The King of Kong!

Anonymous said...

Who Killed the Electric Car?

Totally awesome :)

Christina said...

I have been wanting to see babies!

elysabeth said...

What a great post! I really want to see Autism: The Musical and Man on Wire. Babies is absolutely wonderful.

kylee said...

I LOVE documentaries! They are my favorite thing to watch. I find every single one fascinating even if it's a subject I'm not particularily interested in. Here are a few off the top of my head...
Murderball - there's a scene with a little boy and a question he has about pizza that will choke up even the stone coldest.
Wordplay - crossword fanatics! I found it interesting that a movie of said description could draw you in even though I am an avid crossworder( is that a word?)very well put together.
Anvil - the Story of Anvil - a story about a heavy metal band that never makes it big. I have no interest in this genre of music but this doc. will make you feel a range of emotions even though at times you wonder if it's all a joke. I liked that. I felt pity and proud at the same time. The drive,tenacity and determination of the head of the band left me with a hopeful feeling for all things. I found that refreshing and at the end of the movie you'll say "WTF did I just watch?" but you'll feel good in a strange way.

Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen said...

If you love UP, then you'll absolutely love Time Indefinite. It's probably my all-time favorite documentary.

Niki said...

I second (third?) Jane's comment about Stephen Fry's bipolar doc. He's also done a series where he roadtrips around the US that was highly entertaining. Most of my faves are already mentioned, but one of my very favorites is a French documentary from a few years ago called To Be and To Have (Etre et Avoir) about a one room school house in a small town in France, the teacher and his relationship with his students. It's remarkable.

kylee said...

OH! and I can't wait to see 'Helvicta' ! We are actually planning on having a 'Helvicta' party. Not sure how this will be planned but I have a few friends that are a lover of fonts and such so having a party around a 'font' movie just seems strange enough to make it fun ;)

carina said...

'a monthly documentary club' Wow, tha's so cool. I want one of those:-)

Jill said...

Capturing the Friedmans!

It's about a family where the father and son are on trial for molesting their computer class that they taught in their basement. But the interesting thing is that one of the sons documents them during the trial at home. Lot's of home movies. I thought it was amazing and I don't think they did it...

sweetcheeks317 said...

Such great movies! Check out "Who the F&%k is Jackson Pollock" and "This Film is Not Yet Rated." The first is a fantastic story about a long haul trucker who stumbled upon a Pollock for $8. The latter is about the movie rating system and is equal parts interesting and disturbing.

Nik said...

I just ordered Deep Water on Netflix. My husband will love it! I just hope I still want to sail after. :)

Looking forward to Babies too!

Stephanie said...

Touching the Void is an AMAZING documentary. It is intense and full of emotion. I actually bought Deep Water for my husband based on your reccomendation (loved it!). I realized when it came in the mail that it's from the makers of Touching the Void, which we already owned. Both are must-sees!

mo-mo said...

Great post, I love docs! Thanks for the suggestions.

One mini-doc that I saw recently that really moved me was a part of the HBO Miniseries called The Alzheimer's Project. There were a few parts to it - all good but most of it is scientific - but the first chapter of the series is called "The Memory Loss Tapes", which follows 7 people living with Alzheimer's. I highly recommend watching it. It's heartbreaking but SO so good.

Lindsay said...

One of my favorite documentaries is The Bridge. It's a year in the life of the Golden Gate bridge, and the mystery of why it draws people there to end their lives. Very moving footage, with interviews from friends and families of those who jumped.

mo-mo said...

Regarding my earlier post about The Memory Loss Tapes, I just realized you can watch it online! If you're interested:

http://www.hbo.com/alzheimers/memory-loss-tapes.html

Julka Almquist said...

I absolutely loved the documentary
Rivers and Tides about the artist Andy Goldsworthy. It has such great overarching messages about the impermanence and ephemerality of his work and of life. I am making it sound a bit pretentious, but it is really quite poetic and magical.

Beth B said...

THANK YOU so much for posting this! I've just started falling in love with documentaries, and I can't wait to watch these. I've seen "Man on Wire" (Awesome) - and have "Food Inc" on my watchlist....

Have you ever seen "Exit through the gift shop"? It JUST came out, and it's awesome. All about street artists / graffiti art!

Pera Chapita said...

I STRONGLY recommend the documentary Baraka, i'ts BEAUTIFUL and wordless, only music and AMAZING images, but you will definitely get hooked! Great selection! I'll add a few to my list :)

Allison said...

Check out Darwin's Nightmare. It's not uplifting, but it is incredible.

Sarah said...

Unfolding Florence - about the life of Florence Broadhurst and her murder. She led an amzing life!

Maimoona said...

"Please Vote for Me" is probably the funniest documentary I've ever seen. It's about third graders in china running for hall monitor and things get intense!!
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1097256/

Claire Kiefer said...

My favorite: Paradise Lost 1 & 2, about the West Memphis Three murders and wrongful convictions (one is still on death row; the other two are still incarcerated . . . over 15 years later).

leni said...

have you seen the sequal to food, inc. yet? it's called fresh. it's a must see, just like the first movie.

Courtney said...

King Corn was really interesting to me, and definitely made me more conscious of what our food is made of!

Also, an all time fav is the original Grey Gardens. Extremely fascinating peek into the lives of two interesting women. Haven't seen the new Drew Barrymore remake yet...

katie said...

I have seen most of these and like them all. but you MUST watch "to be and to have". as much as you love kids & france (and french-kids!), you would absolutely ADORE this film! definitely add it to your queue! :)

lbs said...

Great post; great suggestions! So many people recommend the cove, food inc and born into brothels. These are all things I would have eagerly watched a couple of years ago. But since having a baby, I just can't stomach that kind of stuff anymore. I would dissolve into a puddle of tears. I am very interested in the 7 up series. I'm fascinated by how peoples' lives evolve thru the choices they make along the way.

EP said...

I just watched The One Percent and Born Rich, both by Jamie Johnson, about wealth in the US. Very interesting!

Gennie said...

Love, love, LOVED Autism The Musical. They made such a tough topic absolutely delightful!! (So difficult to do in this compassion cause oriented world.)

As We Forgive, on the reconciliation happening after the genocide in Rwanda is also fantastic!

inspir-ed. said...

I'm dying to watch Man on Wire after reading the phenomenal book Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. He weaves a wonderful web of stories that essentially all come back to the tightrope walker. I highly recommend it!

Wahzat Gayle said...

I saw Autism the Musical ... cried. of course it made me think of my son!

My kid could Paint that was good but so sad.. I felt for the parents. I believed that she did it.. why not even if her dad may have done some prompting she still executed the wonderful pieces.

Looking forward to seeing Babies

Elsa May said...

ooh great list - definitely plan to search out Autism the Musical. I've yet to see this but it looks really interesting "Oh My God" - http://www.omgmovie.com/

bussbuss said...

Oh how perfect! We've been on a documentary kick lately, so will have to add these to the list. Seven Up sounds right up my alley.

This week, we watched Herb & Dorothy -- about the unlikely art world darlings. She was a librarian, he was a postal worker. They loved art, but had little money, and had the biggest private collection of minimalist art in their tiny rent-controlled New york City apartment! I like the message that space and money shouldn't limit passion.

Also, I enjoyed the Jay McCarroll documentary, Eleven Minutes. He needs to watch Herb & Dorothy!

Next up: Lagerfeld Confidential... guess I'm on an art and fashion kick (and yes, The September Issue was pretty great).

pigeon.toed said...

i love food inc & man on wire!

Kathy said...

Grey Gardens!

Pretty much anything Michael Moore has done--Roger and Me, Bowling for Columbine and especially Sicko.

In the Realms of the Unreal (about visionary artist Henry Darger)

Gaia• Illustration said...

Check out "In A Dream" and shameless plug, "We Are Wizards!"
http://www.inadreammovie.com/
http://wearewizards-themovie.com/

Ms. Pink said...

Me and the hubs loved Surfwise!!! Although the whole living together in one rv and not going to school part kinda made me uncomfortable... but other then that- a very compelling true life tale... i also LOVE man on wire, it was terrific! Great post!

thepinkandblueblog.blogspot.com

Claire said...

Have you seen Little Dieter Needs to Fly? It is a must.

(i've been silently watching your blog for months and could not live without it. actually, my husband and i just finished eating the aged cheddar and apple on raisin bread grilled cheese, but i added some goat cheese and loads of fresh dill, which worked well. )

KATIE said...

I love going to the Sundance Film Festival here each year and seeing the short documentaries. I remember one especially about a beauty pagent in a Colombian womens' prison. It was so unique. I have no idea where you'd find those short films from the festivals but it'd be worth it if you could.

Keri said...

You HAVE to see Sharkwater
It is one of the greatest movies I have ever seen!
It is about sharks, and shark hunting, and the devestation of our oceans.
I learned so much from this movie and all the footage of the sharks is beautiful.
everyone needs to see Sharkwater

Jen said...

I haven't seen any of these, except Food Inc., which I loved. Boyfriend and I are going to watch all of the Oscar-nominated documentaries this year, and that was one of them. The other we've seen so far is "The Cove," about dolphin slaying in Japan. You have to see it. I cried, and I signed a petition to hopefully end this practice.

Copious Couture said...

Remember "DISH" it won't be out for awhile... as it was just debut at hotdocs but it's about woman in the waitressing industry... it's suppose to be amazing!

Carissa
http://copiouscouture.blogspot.com

marcum and laura said...

those are all awesome documentaries.

I also like:
Crazy Love (although it is a bit disturbing http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0790706/)

and anything by Frederick Wiseman, his latest movies is about the Paris Opera Ballet called la danse http://www.filmforum.org/films/ladanse.html

abby said...

i agree with the rape of europa- i bit off all my nails!

NellElizabeth said...

I always bought organic/free range before watching Food Inc. but if there was ever a part of me that sometimes secretly craved a fast food cheeseburger...after watching this doc...NEVER again!

tinypaperheart said...

oh, i LOVED food inc! i can't wait to watch these, too. thanks so much for these recommendations!! :)

Jennifer said...

There's one I've got to borrow from my local library. "Disconnected" is about three college students who decide to go without computers for one month. I see you can watch it for free on Hulu, too. Sounds really interesting! I also loved "Helvetica" and have "Objectified" waiting on my iTunes.

{lilac wishes & honeysuckle riches} said...

Fabulous list, and I am surprised so many people have suggested Food Inc. and not Earthlings. Earthlings is fabulous, directed by Joaquin Pheonix and just lays out the meat industry, puppy mills and all the other awful things that occur that most Americans have no idea about. I HIGHLY recommend it!

Trish said...

I love 'When We Were Kings' - great story-telling.

iheartfacts said...

I'm a film festival programmer and I specialize in Documentaries. I'm so happy to see such an outpouring of female doc lovers on this blog! I absolutely loved My Kid Could Pain That, it still haunts me to this day, I want to know the truth! But, everyone seriously owes it to themselves to watch DEAR ZACHARY, as has already been suggested. I've seen A LOT of docs and have never cried as much as I did while watching Dear Zachary!

Ana Patricia said...

I watched a docudrama called Krakatoa: the Last Days and it was really incredible. Brings you right back to 1883 and the second greatest volcanic eruption in recorded history while explaining the science behind it all as well :)
Oh! Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution is definitely worth watching as well!

anotherfishinthesea said...

I recently saw Convention about the 2008 DNC. I loved it even more than I thought I would, it follows all the people behind the planning of the convention and its so warming and makes you feel like you know them.

I'm going to have to check out the ones you've listed :)

Katie said...

YES!!! I adore The Specials! The Specials were nominated for 2 Webby Awards: Best Documentary Series and Best Reality. They won Best Reality, and I am sooo thrilled. Everyone just falls in complete love with this young group of British housemates, most of whom have Down syndrome. Sam is my man -- the ladies man of the bunch. The joy and vulnerability of the group will just suck you right in.

http://www.the-specials.com/

I would love to know what you think!

Rebecca said...

Love all the posts here! What a great bunch of readers you have!

"Random Lunacy" really, really stuck with me--even more than "Surfwise" did. It's the story about a man who decided that rather than live a conventional life defined by "stuff", he'd live off whatever he found, wherever he found himself. He was a father, foster parent, husband, circus ringleader and sailed the Atlantic on a barge made of garbage found in NYC.

Couldn't recommend it enough.

Leigh said...

I liked Paper Hearts and Sound of Fury.

{lovely little things} said...

I've seen Food Inc. & My Kid That Could Paint.

I'd also recommend "Born into Brothels" about children born into prostitution in India and "The Business of Being Born," all about home birth.

mle jean said...

perfect timing. i have seen a few of those but been looking for some new ones to watch.

have you seen the business of being born? it might be a little too intense this close to your delivery but it is a good one. And my favorite documetary so far has been: Short cut to Nirvana.

thanks!

Shannon said...

I would add Blue Vinyl as a must see for everyone

eleise said...

Okay, haven't read all of these, so someone probably already mentioned them, but, A Man named Pearl is wonderful!!! Also, Young @ heart (you will laugh and cry) and It might get Loud, Herb and Dorothy, Not your typical Bigfoot Movie (it isn't), I could go on and on.

Sarah said...

Seven Up and Man on Wire are astounding! Sigh. I must watch Surfwise!

Claire said...

Man on wire is on my top five favorite movies of all time. It's amazing! I really want to watch all of these... they look so good. I was so glad Man on Wire won the Oscar, I was worried that it wouldn't for some reason!

Hannah R said...

The Cove!! So sad, but such an eye-opener!

iamchasingthirty said...

One more! Loved - "Glass" - documentary on Philip Glass. What a brain and spirit.

brianne said...

my FAVE is Spellbound - but i love everything about the spelling bee :)

Heather said...

My all time FAVORITE documentary is Grey Gardens! I love Big Edie and Little Edie. They are so fabulously crazy!

craftysunday said...

I love documentaries, too! These recommendations are great. I've seen a couple remarks on "Dear Zachary" and "Anvil" (two VERY different moods!) and I would have to second those. A friend of mine made an excellent doc two years ago called "Break Up Date". There is a wonderful trailer for it on youtube.

Thanks for the post, Joanna.

Alycia said...

A State of Mind-a documentary about the Mass Games in North Korea. So good.

I also agree about King Korn, Jesus Camp, The Business of Being Born, and Word Play. I think most of them are available as "watch instantly" on Netflix.

Meg said...

these sound really interesting. i like a good documentary once in awhile. i am scared to see food, inc. but i know i should!

Abbey said...

Surfwise and Man on Wire are two of my favorites! Documentaries are my favorite kind of movie, so I can't wait to check out some of your recommendations. Here are three I've seen in the past year and LOVE:

Unmistaken Child -- unbelievable story of a Tibetan monk's search to find the reincarnated Lama he was a very close student of. Maybe my favorite documentary ever. So sweet, poignant, and thoughtful. I think you'll love it.

No Impact Man -- really interesting and inspiring story of a totally average guy and his wife and toddler who, for a year, go as absolutely low environmental impact as they possibly can. And they live in NYC.

Tyson -- who loves Mike Tyson and wants to hear the story of his life? ... ummm... yeah, that's what I thought too. But my brother saw this premiered at Cannes and was raving about it so much when he got back that I had to see it. Fantastic. Utterly blown away by this one.

annika said...

thank you, thank you all!

i've realised documentaries are perfect for me, and am super excited to watch my long list!

amynicole said...

these look amazing! i'm definitely going to watch them! I LOVE documentaries!

Anonymous said...

I loved Man on a Wire too.

I recently watched The English Surgeon - amazing.

All about a doctor who goes to the Ukraine to perform brain surgery.

Carolyn

Anonymous said...

I recently watched 'The English Surgeon' - amazing story of a neurosurgen who goes to the Ukraine.

'Baraka' is wonderful
'Koyanaquasti' is amazing (sorry about the spelling
'Yellowstone' is fantastic

Love the 7 Up series and Man on a Wire too.

Carolyn

missmehoneybee said...

Have you seen The Business of Being Born? Its one of my favorites too. I just watched it with a friend last night, it was the first time Ive seen it since I gave birth (at home) to my sweet lil baby guy six months ago, wow after you have experianced birthing a baby it really hits you alot harder than before. What a joy.

ciupa said...

I really enjoyed Seven Up and Autism: The Musical.

Another good one: Young @ Heart about a chorus of senior citizens. So inspiring!

ciupa
http://ciupabiksemad.blogspot.com/

Elle Sees said...

I'm glad to say I've seen most of these. And a doc club! How wonderful. I'm gonna con my friends into seeing one.

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