Your top 5 documentaries?

This is a forum about filmmaking. No tech discussions here!
User avatar
Blue Audio Visual
Posts: 794
Joined: Fri May 05, 2006 7:40 pm
Location: London

Post by Blue Audio Visual » Tue Jun 19, 2007 8:48 am

Lost in La Mancha
When We were Kings
Cracked Actor
The Leader, His Driver and the Driver's Wife
Animal Passions

steve hyde
Senior member
Posts: 2255
Joined: Fri Jun 25, 2004 1:57 am
Location: New York City

Post by steve hyde » Sun Sep 30, 2007 4:01 am

Être et avoir, (2002) ..... it's a very cinematic documentary shot on S16.

I recommend it.

steve hyde
Senior member
Posts: 2255
Joined: Fri Jun 25, 2004 1:57 am
Location: New York City

Post by steve hyde » Sun Oct 07, 2007 6:42 pm

...this is a remarkable documentary:


Michael W
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 3:15 pm

Post by Michael W » Sun Oct 21, 2007 3:44 pm

The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner - Wener Herzog's mid 70s film about a ski jumper.

Demon Lover Diary - Joel DeMott & Jeff Kreines doc about a pair of deranged dreamers attempt to make a horror feature.

Heart of the Angel - short 1989 doc by Molly Dineen about a rundown tube station in London.

Hospital - 1970 doc by Frederick Wiseman. I've seen a few of his docs & could have chosen others. Although Hospital is memorable for the art student freaking out on LSD. I like Wiseman's style - no music, narration or interviews. Immersive & comprehensive coverage that shows a keen but objective interest in the subject. Compare that to the modern style epitomised by Michael Moore where the narrator becomes the hero & we follow him on his quest to set the world to rights. I dislike most modern docs because of this simplistic & distorted structure. My other strong dislikes about modern documentaries are reenactments & too many talking heads.

Michael W
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 3:15 pm

Post by Michael W » Mon Oct 22, 2007 4:52 pm

Zhang's Diner - 2004 doc about a couple from a rural area of China who move to Beijing & open a diner. They are battling at the bottom of the ladder & endure more setbacks than success. A representation of what many people are experiencing as China becomes more capitalist. Also a look at how hard life can be for some. Was filmed over several years.

steve hyde
Senior member
Posts: 2255
Joined: Fri Jun 25, 2004 1:57 am
Location: New York City

Post by steve hyde » Tue Oct 30, 2007 4:23 pm

mattias wrote:Paradise lost, addicted to acting, the mods trilogy, biggie and tupac, shark weekend on discovery, tbc... /matt

...on the subject of "Paradise Lost" - and there are a few of them out there - here is an article on some new DNA evidence from the Arkansas case:

Defense Offers New Evidence in a Murder Case That Shocked Arkansas

ATLANTA, Oct. 29 — In 1994, three teenagers in the small city of West Memphis, Ark., were convicted of killing three 8-year-old boys in what prosecutors portrayed as a satanic sacrifice involving sexual abuse and genital mutilation. So shocking were the crimes that when the teenagers were led from the courthouse after their arrest, they were met by 200 local residents yelling, “Burn in hell.”

But according to long-awaited new evidence filed by the defense in federal court on Monday, there was no DNA from the three defendants found at the scene, the mutilation was actually the work of animals and at least one person other than the defendants may have been present at the crime scene.

Supporters of the defendants hope the legal filing will provide the defense with a breakthrough. Two of the men, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, are serving life in prison, while one, Damien W. Echols, is on death row. There was no physical evidence linking the teenagers, now known as the West Memphis 3, to the crime.

“This is the first time that the evidence has ever really been tested,” said Gerald Skahan, a member of the defense team. “The first trial was pretty much a witch hunt.”

Brent Davis, the local prosecutor, did not respond to requests for comment about the new evidence and the case, but in general prosecutors and investigators have continued to express confidence in their investigation.

The story the defendants’ supporters have presented — of three misfits whose fondness for heavy-metal music made them police targets — has won the men the support of celebrities like Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Marilyn Manson and the creators of “South Park.” Many learned of the case through an HBO documentary, “Paradise Lost,” and a sequel.

The prosecution hinged on a confession riddled with factual errors and a Satanic cult expert with a mail-order degree. Mr. Echols’s own lawyer called him “weird” and “not the all-American boy.”

Many viewers who watched the sequel, in fact, concluded that the police should have been investigating John Mark Byers, the stepfather of one of the children, who made seemingly drug-addled, messianic speeches on camera, gave the filmmakers a blood-stained knife, and had a history of violence and run-ins with the police. His child, Christopher Byers, was the most badly mutilated of the three.

But there was a surprise in the new forensic report filed by Mr. Echols’s lawyers: a hair found in one of the knots binding the children belonged most likely to the stepfather of another of the victims, not to Mr. Byers.

The three victims — Christopher, Steve Branch and James Michael Moore — were last seen riding their bikes on May 5, 1993. They were found the next day in a drainage ditch in Robin Hood Hills, near West Memphis, a low-rent town across the Mississippi River from Memphis. The boys were naked and hogtied with shoelaces.

The police quickly zeroed in on Mr. Echols, then 18, who was familiar to them because he was on probation for trying to run away with his girlfriend. They also believed he was involved in cult activities.

But they could find little evidence against him until Mr. Misskelley, mildly retarded and with a history of substance abuse, came in to speak with them. At the time there was a $30,000 reward.

After hours of questioning, Mr. Misskelley, 17, gave the police a taped statement that implicated himself, Mr. Baldwin, then 16, and Mr. Echols, then 19. Despite coaching by the investigators, Mr. Misskelley was incorrect in several significant details, including the time of the crime, the way the victims were tied and the manner of death. He said the children had been sodomized, an assertion that even the state medical examiner’s testimony appears to refute.

The team of forensic experts assembled by Mr. Echols’s lawyers, which included Dr. Michael Baden, the former medical examiner of New York City, also said there was no evidence of sexual abuse. Many of the wounds sustained by the victims were caused by animals, they said, including the castration of Christopher.

As for the stray hair, the West Memphis Police Department and the stepfather it appears to belong to, Terry Hobbs, have discounted the finding, saying it could easily have been picked up at home by his stepson, Steve Branch. But Dennis P. Riordan, a lawyer for Mr. Echols, said the hair was found in the shoelaces tying Michael Moore, not Steve Branch.

Further, Mr. Riordan said, a hair was found at the scene that most likely belongs to a friend of Mr. Hobbs who was with him for part of the evening.

The court filing also argues that jurors relied on the statement Mr. Misskelley gave the police to convict Mr. Echols and Mr. Baldwin, even though it was deemed inadmissible except in Mr. Misskelley’s trial. Several jurors have acknowledged that they knew about the confession before the trial, though they did not say so during jury selection.

The passing of time has not only allowed the defense to gather new information, but has also softened the public’s belief in the guilt of the convicted men, said Mara Leveritt, the author of “Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three.”

“What I’ve seen in the past 14 years has been not quite a 180-degree, but maybe a 170-degree turn,” Ms. Leveritt said. “It all comes down to, ‘Where’s the evidence?’”

source: ... KW9BqAqksg

User avatar
Senior member
Posts: 1796
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2005 4:15 am
Location: Los Angeles

Post by etimh » Tue Oct 30, 2007 7:43 pm

Top Ten:

Man with a Movie Camera (Vertov, 1929)
F for Fake (Welles, 1974)
The Thin Blue Line (Morris, 1988)
Hearts and Minds (Davis, 1974)
Olympia (Riefenstahl, 1938)
Sherman's March (McElwee, 1986)
Titicut Follies (Wiseman, 1967)
Nanook of the North (Flaherty, 1922)
Grey Gardens (Maysles Bros., 1976)
Burden of Dreams (Blank, 1982)

Bonus 11th:

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm (Greaves, 1968)
FilmAid International

steve hyde
Senior member
Posts: 2255
Joined: Fri Jun 25, 2004 1:57 am
Location: New York City

Post by steve hyde » Wed Dec 26, 2007 8:07 pm

...some great recommendations here. Thanks for posting. I just saw a fantastic doc shot on S16mm - a blood, sweat and credit card debt production made by gen-X filmmaker Mark Becker. I can't say enough good things about this film. Go see it.

Romantico, 2005

Filming started in 2000 and released in 2005. The film picked up some awards at festivals. The film is just now getting a limited theatrical run for 2008


Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2008 3:45 am
Location: Manchester and Dudley

Post by likebenjireadingovid » Fri Mar 07, 2008 12:21 pm

F For Fake
Man with a Movie Camera
The Sorrow and the Pity
Night and Fog

User avatar
Posts: 141
Joined: Sat Nov 24, 2007 7:20 pm
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

Re: Your top 5 documentaries?

Post by brokenflashlight » Wed May 28, 2008 5:13 am

1. Crumb (a must see for any creative mind)
2. Paradise Lost
3. The Fog of War
4. The Corporation
5. In The Realms of the Unreal
There can be no thought of finishing, for "aiming at the stars" both literally and figuratively is a problem to occupy generations, so that no matter how much progress one makes there is always the thrill of just beginning.

-Dr. Robert Goddard

User avatar
Posts: 49
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2008 10:25 am
Location: Malibu, CA USA

Re: Your top 5 documentaries?

Post by Ace » Sat Jun 21, 2008 9:16 pm

Buena Vista Social Club
Dogtown and The Z Boys
Paradise Lost: The Child Murders At Robin Hood Hills
The Thin Blue Line

The above are my favorites for originality, approach, uniqueness, style, and subject matter.

Just saw this when I was at Cannes Film Fest this year (now on HBO Doc series; Mon @ 8 ):
Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired

I saw Chelsea On the Rocks there also, met Dennis Hopper and the filmmaker, Abel Ferrara, The film gives an account of the history of the Chelsea Hotel in New York and it's uncertain future.

Another great mention is Capturing the Friedmans; here is a review I wrote from film school (I have reviews of most of the above, if anyone is interested):

Capturing the Friedman’s

(USA, 2003, 107 mins.)
Directed & Written by Andrew Jarecki

Capturing the Friedmans

In a documentary that takes on such a controversial subject can be a daunting task, but the filmmakers make it possible with use of extensive home footage shot by the Friedman’s themselves even through the ordeal of being accused of the heinous crime of pedophilia. One is hesitant to call a film good when it deals with such subject matter, but this films execution was just that, good. As for the execution of the Friedman’s character and intent, that unfolds like an onion, layer after layer. The filmmakers take the approach to stay objective, giving the opportunity for the viewer to make up their own mind on whether or not a father and son are responsible for molesting the students in the computer class taught in their home.
The true strength of this documentary is the masterful use of archival footage of home movies shot by the Friedman family and current interviews to tell the story. The films mode is observational, and some of the best I’ve ever seen, due to the endless footage obtained by the family. This gives the viewer a ‘fly on the wall’ view into the lives of what seems like a normal family on the surface. As we delve more deeply and

peel away the layers of this complicated onion, the dysfunctional family becomes evident as well as the inevitable tears as revelation after revelation make themselves visible.
One fascinating piece of footage was the confessional made by the son that he states on the video “is only for him” and that he does not even know if even he will ever watch it again. This brings us closer into this family and their struggle. The viewer feels as if we are taking this ride with them, if not to fully understand how or why this took place, but more in understanding the emotions and reactions, guilty or not, that the family is faced to confront.
What makes this an interesting subject is that the viewer cannot even fathom this happening to their family. Looking at the Friedman’s superciliously, one would be hard pressed to see anything wrong with this upper middleclass Jewish family in the suburbs. Again the idea that we are given a spyglass to peel away the onion to see the relationship dynamics between each of the family members makes it real. Without the footage and interviews the viewer might immediately conjure up visions of maniacal monsters or deny plausibility. By the filmmaker’s approach of weaving footage and interviews together, the viewer has some point of reference, some semblance of almost understanding the truth.
In another piece of incredible footage are the mother and son reuniting after his release from jail. Even after all those years the family still seems to hold on to humor to soften the intensity of the situation. The son hesitates to come in through the door making a joke as to whether he’s in the right room. The filmmakers capture and encapsulate the family and their thread of understanding each other poetically in this scene. This seems to

come through throughout the footage of home movies, sort of a defense or coping mechanism. Each family has their nuances and the filmmakers capture that very well. In the home footage the need to “perform” in front of the camera emphasizes that coping mechanism, almost cathartic, and it comes through especially in that reuniting scene as well as the current interviews.
The title is quite fitting for this film, aside from the double entendre of capturing the Friedman’s on film and for the crime in which they are accused, but for capturing the true essence of this families struggle, credit goes to the filmmakers. The story seems to be waiting to be told, and like that title one could make assumptions about what happened, but after delving into this onion the viewer truly can get to the core of capturing the true Friedman’s.

User avatar
Posts: 49
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2008 10:25 am
Location: Malibu, CA USA

Re: Your top 5 documentaries?

Post by Ace » Mon Jun 23, 2008 10:06 pm

Check out this article on the trend of first person Docs:

User avatar
Harry Walder
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon May 15, 2017 9:22 am
Real name: Harry

Re: Your top 5 documentaries?

Post by Harry Walder » Mon May 15, 2017 9:36 am

My top list:

1. Overnight
2. Grizzly Man
3.Fog of War
4. Phantom Limb
5. The Thin Blue Line
I try to save time every day. Now it's time to play the best games for phone at online mobile casino It's entertaining in every possible way. Starspins Slots is my fave so far!

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests