Intro: The documentary genre is exciting and offers variety from comedic to dramatic, but some get overlooked. They can help broaden your horizons and expose you to topics that interest you, but they might not be covered in the news or mainstream media outlets.
You'll learn about things like the environment, human rights issues, and social justice movements – all of which are important for us to know more about as informed citizens of this world.
Documentaries might help you understand a situation better than the news or social media posts. The documentary genre is exciting and offers variety, from comedic to dramatic, but some get overlooked.
- Trouble the water:
This documentary tells the story of Kimberly Rivers Roberts and her husband Scott, a New Orleans couple who decide to stay where they are in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The filmmakers follow the couple as they help others escape the flooding and aid those who need it most. It's a great look at everything that went wrong after Katrina, but also an intimate portrait of a brave and inspiring couple.
The film received an Oscar nomination for the best documentary but was controversially passed over by the committee in favor of Michael Moore's Sicko. David Sutherland directed the documentary. Its first screening date was December 9, 2006, at the AFI Fest.
- An honest liar:
James Randi takes on Uri Geller. James Randi has spent his life exposing scams, but he's also the subject of one. It wasn't until after this documentary was made that it was revealed that director Tyler Measom had been working with magician Jamy Ian Swiss to create a fictionalized version of events that appear more dramatic than they were.
The film takes no sides and doesn't tell you which side-Jamy Ian Swiss' or James Randi's-is the truth (though it does share some thoughts on why both men act as they do). What you're left with is an exciting portrayal of someone who maybe isn't what everyone thinks he is.
- Searching for Sugar Man:
Sixto Rodriguez was a 1970s singer-songwriter from Detroit whose two albums failed to generate attention.
Despite his lack of success, he continued performing for nearly 40 years living in relative obscurity. That is until a fantastic discovery was made by two South African fans who learned that Rodriguez's music had become massive hits there long after the artist had faded away with few clues as to why or how they happened.
Director Malik Bendjelloul attempts to unravel this mystery by tracking down the singer and talking to those involved with him back then. The answers are surprising in what they reveal about Rodriguez's career and state of mind at the time of its collapse.
- Grey Gardens:
The story of the unapologetically eccentric Bouvier family, Jackie O's relatives. They were rich but chose to live in squalor and isolation. Filmmakers Albert and David Maysles tracked them down, living in a crumbling East Hampton mansion where they ran their business out of the kitchen, which they also used for storing dead animals.
The film captures all kinds of moments, from Edith singing at the piano to Little Edie doing a dance number which culminates with her stripping down naked right before your eyes! Legend has it that when Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis saw this footage, she became livid and got the documentary banned from being shown on television in 1975.
- Nanook of the north:
Robert Flaherty's 1922 silent documentary is possibly the oldest film on this list, but it's also one of the very best. For many people, it's their first exposure to ethnographic filmmaking, and for a good reason. It follows a real family living in extreme conditions in Northern Canada.
With its spare narration, lack of dialogue, and beautiful grace shots of the children playing with their dogs or building igloos with their parents, you can't help but feel an emotional connection to these people. Although a bit hard to find, you can download this movie from u1337x that consists of a comprehensive set library where you can find all the obscure content.
- The thin blue line (1988):
This documentary directed by Errol Morris is a masterpiece known for its facts and investigation following. Focusing on a man named darwin fisher who was wrongly convicted of murder, Some consider this documentary to be the first “modern” documentary as the film delves into the crime and trial while exploring the justice system itself. It's significant in that it employs reenactments, voice-over narrator interviews, newscasts, and beautiful still images shot by Morris himself to engage the viewer in narrative storytelling while simultaneously staying away from any talking heads or experts on screen. Throughout his career, director Errol Morris has done several other acclaimed documentaries.
Conclusion: these documentaries are the combined efforts of directors who wanted to show the world something they were passionate about. You will reap great value and insight in the time the documentary tells the story. It's up to you now to choose which one will be your favorite.