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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!

  1. 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! :)

  2. 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…

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

  4. 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).

  5. “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/

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

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

  8. 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 :)

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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…

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

  18. 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 ;)

  19. 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.

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

  21. 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.

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

  23. I have been wanting to see babies!

  24. Anonymous says...

    Who Killed the Electric Car?

    Totally awesome :)

  25. PJ says...

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

  26. 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.

  27. 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!

  28. Sharon says...

    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!

  29. 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!

  30. 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.

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

  32. 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

  33. Favorites:

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

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

  35. And I just remembered:

    Riding Giants
    Frontrunners

  36. 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

  37. Wasn’t Deep Water the most disturbing sailing movie ever?! Good list!

  38. I agree with Lillian – The Cove is a MUST SEE!!!

  39. 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.

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

  41. 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!

  42. Thank you for this, what an amazing list!

  43. 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).

  44. 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).

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

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

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

  49. 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

  50. 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!

  51. I’m amazed nobody has mentioned Girls Rock! I found it refreshing :)

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

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

  54. 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.

  55. 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!

  56. 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.

  57. Em says...

    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.

  58. 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!

  59. 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.

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

  61. 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.

  62. 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!

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

  64. 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”.

  65. 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. :)

  66. Business of being born (Ricki Lake)
    So good!

  67. oooh, young and heart, i’ve been wanting to see that!

  68. 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.

  69. 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.”

  70. 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.

  71. 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.

  72. 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).

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

  74. 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!

  75. 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

  76. 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!

  77. dc says...

    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.

  78. 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!

  79. 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.

  80. E says...

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

  81. Rachel says...

    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.

  82. 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!

  83. “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.

  84. 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

  85. 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 :)

  86. 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!

  87. 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.

  88. 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.

  89. 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.

  90. yes! spellbound is amazing!

  91. 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!

  92. 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)

  93. C. says...

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

  94. 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.

  95. 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…

  96. 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.

  97. Oh, and the doc “Children Underground” broke my heart, but do see it.

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

  99. Kristin says...

    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.

  100. 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.

  101. 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!

  102. The Seven Up series is so amazing!

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

  104. 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.

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

    thanks for sharing! I love documentaries!

  106. 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.

  107. 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.

  108. SFDC says...

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

  109. 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.

  110. 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. ;-)

  111. 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.

  112. 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!!

  113. I forgot to say – {Undercover in Secret State} is one of the most heartbreaking documentaries I’ve ever saw….

  114. 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!

  115. Born into Brothels – beautiful, sad, inspiring

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

  117. 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!).

  118. Two words: Hoop. Dreams.

  119. 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

  120. 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’.

  121. 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!!

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

  123. 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!.

  124. 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!

  125. 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. :)

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

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

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

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

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

  130. 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.

  131. love these recommendations…i’m going to check my netflix now

  132. (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!!)

  133. 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.

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

  135. 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!!

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

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

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