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Ask HN: What are some of the best documentaries you've seen?
347 points by spoondocz on Sept 27, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 237 comments

Wild Wild Country on Netflix is outstanding: https://www.netflix.com/title/80145240/

I'm also a big fan of BBC Horizon's episodes, they cover a wide range of topics and generally are quite excellent and well researched. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mgxf

I'm a big documentary fan, and I was excited for this one because of strong recommendations from friends, but I guess the pacing rubbed me the wrong way. It felt like each individual part dragged.

Wild Wild Country completely blew my mind. It didn't happen that long ago, seems like it would have been major national news on a number of occasions, and yet I had never heard anything about it before watching the doc.

Totally agree. Also, can you imagine the response by both the local armed residence + local law enforcement would be today if a group of foreigners took over a town and armed themselves? Total Bloodbath.

Grizzly Man: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0427312/ -- the folly of humans when it comes to interacting with wild animals well illustrated

The Fog of War: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0317910/ -- whoa. Just: whoa.

The Thin Blue Line: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thin_Blue_Line_(1988_film) -- when a conviction goes wrong.

I guess I really like Errol Morris and Herzog? Probably.

Morris is brilliant. His 1999 doc Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr._Death:_The_Rise_and_Fall_o...) sticks with me to this day.

Grizzly Man was a tough watch for me. Treadwell clearly had massive self-esteem and likely mental health issues, which were on display in this film.

The Fog of War is perhaps one of the best documentaries that I have ever seen.

More pathos from Werner Herzog: Little Dieter Needs to Fly


I can recommend The Fog of War.

The BBC's Planet Earth series is fantastic. Reminds me of Shakespeare: "There are more things in heaven and earth then are dreamt of your in philosophy"... Makes you really appreciate the beauty on this planet.

Also - a bit of a curveball answer: I really like Documentary Now! (on Netflix). They are parodies of really well known documentaries. So I ended up watching the parody and then looking for the source material on which it was based. I realized that my wife (art major) knew almost all the original documentaries and I knew almost none (engineer...)

EDIT: Wikipedia has the mapping of parody->original : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Documentary_Now!

Restrepo is a 2010 American documentary film about the Afghanistan war.

The 2nd Platoon is depicted defending the outpost (OP) named after a platoon medic who was killed earlier in the campaign.

The huge success of this film and what separates it from the hundreds of other war pictures is that Junger puts us right in the middle of the action without any political agenda. He simply decides to film these groups of soldiers who have been deployed to one of the most dangerous locations in Afghanistan and lets us experience their day to day lives without making any pro or anti war comments. We are allowed to see a small glimpse of what the American soldiers have to go through and how they live amongst the villagers. In a way Junger allows the soldiers being filmed to tell their own story. We experience what they are going through in this dangerous war zone and how they interact with the local people. The cinematography is actually quite astonishing and I really felt like I was there with the soldiers.

The movie isn`t pro or anti war; it simply places the camera in the middle of the action and lets us experience what is going on. No one`s opinion about War is going to change: those who favor Americans involvement in Afghanistan will still do so after watching this documentary and those who don`t will still feel the same because the directors don't try to manipulate us into thinking the way they do. There aren`t any personal opinions about politics or war; it's all about experiencing what these soldiers have to go through every day whether or not they actually understand what they are fighting for.

It is only 90 minutes long so it is really worth your time.


The sister film is Armadillo (2010) [0] which follows a group of Danish soldiers from pre-deployment shenanigans, to the FOB in Afghanistan, IED attacks, possible war crimes (found to be baseless), and then the return home.

To me, the most striking scenes were the ones where the Danish and UK soldiers would play FPS games, don very high tech gear, bounce about in armour, etc. and then contrast that to the rusty, bent rifles and leftovers from the soviets, the sandals, the dust, the mud, of the afghan fighters. The war has never been close in any way and the Junger quote comes screaming into your head:

“Each Javelin round costs $80,000, and the idea that it's fired by a guy who doesn't make that in a year at a guy who doesn't make that in a lifetime is somehow so outrageous it almost makes the war seem winnable.”

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armadillo_(2010_film)

>“Each Javelin round costs $80,000, and the idea that it's fired by a guy who doesn't make that in a year at a guy who doesn't make that in a lifetime is somehow so outrageous it almost makes the war seem winnable.”

Do you know how useful a Javelin is? I think it's worth that much if it will save the life of the soldier firing it. I'd sure pay that much for it if I had the money and I thought it would save my life, or the lives of my comrades.

I should have been more clear. The quote comes from Sebastian Junger, one of two filmers of Restrepo, the comment I was replying to. My take on his quote was that he was explaining that the cost differentials are insane and a general waste of money for both sides; that the war is not worth fighting in a very real sense of blood and treasure, not that lives are not worth saving.


lol. why not just take that 80k and give 40 to the Afghani and 40 to the US kid. that go much further towards saving both their lives (and the lives of their families/friends/neighbors)

And yet it is a way of attrition that they are winning

Invading afganistan is one of the worst ideas ever...

Also check out Korengal, another documentary that picks up where Restrepo left off:


This film is truly something else. Few documentaries have been as impactful to me as this one.

where can one watch it?

The Act of Killing - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2375605/

"A documentary which challenges former Indonesian death-squad leaders to reenact their mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers."

Mr. Oppenheimer is one of the most interesting film makers I've had the chance to meet and hear in talks at Q&As. I strongly recommend his two films, and if you can ever find your way to see "Titicut Follies", do it. I saw it at Telluride with an intro by Oppenheimer and was blown away.

"Titicut Follies" is a documentary by Frederick Wiseman about a mental institution in Massachusetts, in the 1960's. It's a haunting film about the way the patients are treated, it's quite extreme and sad but fully worth a view. You've never seen anything like it, and probably can't imagine how truly horrifying it is.

Plus its followup, "The Look of Silence" http://thelookofsilence.com

"I have not seen a film as powerful, surreal, and frightening in at least a decade." -Werner Herzog

_The Look of Silence_ is a companion to that film and I personally feel the more powerful of the two.

This is by far the most powerful documentary I've ever seen, along with the sequel "The Look of Silence".

Lots of good ones already mentioned, but here's a few nobody's brought up yet:

Orson Welles' F for Fake: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072962/

Robert X. Cringely's Triumph of the Nerds: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triumph_of_the_Nerds

The Maysles Brothers' Gimme Shelter: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065780/

Randy Olson's Flock of Dodos: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0800334/

Les Blank's Burden of Dreams: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083702/

Steve James' Hoop Dreams: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110057/

Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker's The War Room: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108515/

I really loved 'Jiro Dreams of Sushi', showing how much care and effort he puts into making it:


I suggest following up with Chef's Table on Netflix, which is a documentary series in a very similar vein from David Gelb, the creator of Jiro.

People seem to think that _Jiro_ is good because it is about food. It's not. It is good because it's about Jiro. Chef's Table might get the people who salivate over a upward pan over a pan, but it doesn't have the same secret sauce in my opinion.

Let's see then Chef Table S01E03 about the Argentinian Chef Francis Mallmann [1].

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Mallmann

There was a pretty good discussion of Jiro back in 2012 on HN:


Spoiler: there's a dark side to levels of devotion such as this.

From the top comment:

>This is exactly what Apple has been going through in the last year, exacting a level of polish that is on par if not above what they released last year, but still leaving nagging doubts in the hearts of the faithful. The one thing that would silence critics and quell fears would be that something twice as revolutionary as the original iPhone be straight up imagined, developed, and hoisted by the post-Jobs Apple--just to claim par.

I guess they decided to stop trying. My 2017 MBP is hands-down the worst computing device I've ever owned. It has nothing to do with my perception of Steve Jobs because I didn't start using Apple laptops until 2014. Performance seems barely better than my 2013, the super-awkward keyboard is just as bad as everyone says it is, and I started having hardware issues after just a few months.

I loved Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It was very interesting, but I agree there's a dark side to that level of perfectionism. His non-relative employee had to wash dishes for years before they would even let him try to make sushi, and then he gets to spend several more years making the same kind of sushi. Being told that he sucks at his job the entire time.

I can believe that Jiro makes really good sushi. I can't believe that all of the stupid, obsessive little things he does makes a significant difference in the quality. If you perform an objective analysis of his restaurant operation, instead of buying into the philosophy that he's some kind of sushi wizard, he's just a guy thats good at a making sushi but is also a toxic asshole with zero leadership ability.

Don't get me wrong, many of the things he does in an attempt to master his craft are admirable. However, in some cases he's an extremist to the detriment of himself and everyone else in his life. You don't have to be a psycho to be the best at something.

That was an amazing doc! I googled their place and some people were like "This place sux" "it's overrated"... I still wanna go though!

I'd love to go too! Japan is definitely my favourite place I've been, for the food and culture etc.

Lookup Ramen Heads same inspiration but for ramen.

I think it was pretty good, but it failed to leave a lasting impression. Maybe I have just seen too many similar things.

Jiro is such a heartwarming story. The dedication to ones craft displayed is truly inspiring!

That's interesting. I was left with a sickening hollowness after watching it.

Came to post this. Saw already 5 times mentioned.

Same. Watched it 3 times over the years

Adam Curtis' short "Oh Dearism" (https://thoughtmaybe.com/oh-dearism/) 12 minute mini-documentary is a good ramp up to his longer movies and is a critique of the failings of television news media in the late 20th century. My favorite of his is "Bitter Lake" (https://thoughtmaybe.com/bitter-lake/), a haunting "how did we get here" view of the middle east. His 3 part miniseries "All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace" (https://thoughtmaybe.com/all-watched-over-by-machines-of-lov...) is a pretty good examination of 1970s silicon valley ruh-roh cybernetics culture and how it collided with the rest of the world vis-a-vis objectivism, finance, etc.

Somebody in this thread mentioned Wiseman's titicut follies, a lesser known but equally fascinating documentary of his is called The Store (http://www.zipporah.com/films/19) and just follows and examines the goings on at the Nieman-Marcus flagship in Dallas during holiday season of 1983.

Another favorite documentary that's more like watching a really good lecture is Thom Andersen's Los Angeles Plays Itself (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Angeles_Plays_Itself ). it's a survey and exploration of the history of Los Angeles and its relationship and portrayal in hollywood and pop culture in general.

thought maybe has amazing documentaries. It's a shame these aren't easily available elsewhere. I'm horrified this website will go away, and I'll lose access to all these documentaries.

I just watched "The Idiot Cycle" which was very good. https://thoughtmaybe.com/the-idiot-cycle/

Oh boy.

How can you mention Adam Curtis without mentioning 'The Century of the Self' series?

ok, i love that series, but i am not sure i would necessarily recommend it as a starting point (plus i felt like i had maxed out on recs) but i strongly endorse it as a great series!

Hypernormalisation from Adam Curtis. I have been looking for another documentary as visual appealing, as evolving as this one but haven't found any other documentary. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fny99f8amM

Do you know another documentary as good as this one?

If you like Hypernormalisation you should definitely look into his other documentaries, especially Century of the Self.

It explores the rise of advertising in the 20th century, revealing how it emerged from propaganda during the wars and deeply wove itself into social norms. It might be the most powerful documentary that I've seen, because I watched it as an advertising undergrad and it unnerved me enough to move away from the field.

For example, it wasn't socially acceptable for women to smoke until the 20's, when the American Tobacco Company paid a group of suffragettes to prominently light up cigarettes whilst on public display during the Easter Day Parade. They positioned smoking as a display of independence for women, piggybacking the feminist movement and calling cigarettes "Torches of Freedom". There are several examples like this in the documentary, along with interviews from their creators.

It's shocking how easily public opinion can be swayed, and the techniques are far more powerful now through the Internet and social media. If I could ask every human to watch a documentary, it would be this one followed by Hypernormalisation.

You can watch most of Curtis' work for free at https://thoughtmaybe.com/by/adam-curtis/

I thought this was fascinating as well - while I found many aspects/linkages tenuous at best - it was really entertaining. I did find quite compelling the thesis around the idea that politicians have become incapable of confronting the large structural issues that are confronting us, and that they instead try to refocus the peoples' attention on the trivial

I wouldn't call it the best documentary, but I think people here will like it, it's a 4 part documentary: "A Video History of Japan's Electronic Industry"

I. Birth of the transformer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihkRwArnc1k

II. Circuits in stone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGRNXmWng3M

III. Calculator wars: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ansXGewduN4

IV. Tech Giant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G40YwOg0_B8

Into Great Silence, a very intimate portrayal of life in a monastery in southern France.

" The idea for the film was proposed to the monks in 1984, but the Carthusians said they wanted time to think about it.

They responded to Gröning 16 years later to say they were willing to permit him to shoot the movie if he was still interested. "


Forks over Knives. Details the findings of an extensive string of studies on the consumption of animal protien. What is not covered in this particular documentary was how the US government was about to change thier food recommendations in 1977 but was stopped by agricultural power brokers invested in meat production. Uphill battle ever since but we can see exploding diabetes, heart disease, and cancer--all demonstrated as controllable I the studies talked about in this documentary. Changed my life.

Surprised no one mentioned this one yet:

> The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is a 2007 American documentary film about competitive gaming directed by Seth Gordon. It follows Steve Wiebe in his attempts to take the high score record for the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong from the previous holder, Billy Mitchell. - Wikipedia

Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, first and foremost.

Much of Adam Curtis’ work is fantastic. Hypernormalization and The Trap were as fascinating as they were frightening. If I had the authority, I would mandate every child see A Century of the Self in school, and then again in college.

James Burke’s Connections was also excellent. Kind of like a link between Carl Sagan and Adam Curtis.

I personally loved the History Channel’s Engineering an Empire, not least because of the hilariously hyper-American host, Peter Weller (best known as RoboCop).

James Burke's "The Day the Universe Changed" is likewise excellent.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned HBO's 'Going Clear', which dives deep into what's happening in the Church of Scientology.

Granted, the topic is probably not the most surprising, but it covers a wide range of issues and scary on-goings within the group. Maybe I'm just young, but I didn't know the full extent of what they do and how they do it. 'Going Clear' does a fantastic job of informing the viewer while giving a voice to those who've escaped and are now dealing with the backlash.

Jesus Camp is another one if you want to be frightened by cultists and religion.

Fundamentals of Small Arms Weapons. It's a documentary by the US Army showing how firearms work starting with just a barrel and a bullet and progressing in design all the way up to selectable fully automatic.


The Century of the Self: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ3RzGoQC4s

The Mystery of the Gnome Homes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLoBWpiOczQ

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2xz5fs

>The Century of the Self: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ3RzGoQC4s

I think all of Adam Curtis' documentaries are worth a watch:


Some others favourites off the top of my head:

808 (about the drum machine): https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2268622/

Scratch: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0143861/

Hoop Dreams: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110057/

Startup.com (a classic!) : https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0256408/

The Fog of War: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0317910/

Do you know any other documentary as good as this one? Any suggestion?

Sticking with Adam Curtis, I greatly enjoyed The Power of Nightmares.

Requiem for the American Dream

Paris is Burning: a classic that explores the "ball culture" of New York in the 80s, and the impact it had on the city's gay, transgender, black and Latino communities. It's great for how it follows the various characters as they prepare for balls, while explaining the subculture and its slang/practices along the way. Very entertaining and historically important too.

In the same vein, does anyone have any other recommendations for docs that dive deep into a subculture?

These are both nerdier subcultures than the one you cited, but:

Darkon: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0462246/

The King of Kong: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0923752/

Demoscene - The Art of the Algorithms https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3840830

Back in 1995 warez demos were one of the things that most drove my interest in programming.

Tangent: 'BBS: The Documentary'. Great film, I only wish it were about 4 hours longer -- it seems much too brief.

I loved Icarus; it was just amazing how more and more off track the filmmaker's original plan went as he got entangled with this Russian doctor and found himself documenting a much more interesting story than the one he originally set out to do.

Agree, but to be honest it seems to me really weird that such type of evolvement etc wouldn't be pre-discussed. Also, about that amazing documentary: -I find it annoying that the involvement of other nations isn't dragged in more, leaving it all on Russia making it a little political oriented. -Its interesting how little is the dosage of testosterone taken by that guy, and that other molecules are not used + I don't really remember if they discussed about a PCT (you cant just take test and hope that your natural levels will re-establish again, it's like flipping a coin, specially considering how little research there is on those molecules).

This is an engrossing documentary. While watching this documentary, the back story of the coach escaping to the US is also amazing. I wondered who played who in this documentary.

Not a true documentary (since it was released as a TV series in episodes), but I'd say The Long Way Round. It documents the real life journey by Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman as they attempt to road trip from London to New York on motorcycles (except for a plane from eastern Russia to Alaska).

They come across a number of different cultures and outdoor adventures along the way. It's very entertaining and an interesting look into different countries of the world.

I'm rarely hooked to TV shows, but this one got me.

Along the same lines. Without as much production/support behind them.

Sibirsky Extreme Trail( To map an offroad trail route all the way from the edge of the European Union, across Eurasia to the Pacific Ocean at Magadan) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_ZC2WPnkfc

Races to Places(Rider traveling the world while competing in some Rallies) Fairly laid back fellow, and 9 seasons so far. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utXZKuo8iws

Also c90adventures - a very low budget but hilarious series of long distance rides.

The World at War


It's a BBC series that chronicles the second world war. It was made in the 1970s and features interviews with the people who were actually there. I really recommend everybody watch it at least once in their life.

I think you can find it on YouTube.

"The Sorrow and the Pity" -- interviews with former French irregulars of WWII.

French Resistance veteran: "You had to be a little bit crazy to join the Resistance."

French SS volunteer: "We were raised on stories of the Spanish Civil War: priests being murdered, nuns raped."

For some reason that reminded me of "The Ascent of Man":


My father made me watch this even though I was only 8 or so!

If not the most viewed documentary ever it is probably close to it.

Narrated in the dulcet tones of one of the great Shakespearian actors, Lawrence Olivier.

I would recommend Kevin Kelly's website truefilms.com for a great list of documentaries on a large variety of topics. No matter what your interests are you're sure to find something interesting on here.

Werner Herzog has produced a number of fascinating documentaries that are just as good as his fictional films in my opinion. Wings of Hope, Encounters at the End of the World, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Grizzly Man--he has an enormous talent for drawing profound, almost mythical ideas out of the subjects he captures. He's not for everyone, certainly, but his films have a unique vision you don't often see in documentaries.

Only because no one has mentioned it yet, "When We Were Kings". About The Rumble in the Jungle. We forget that, at the time, people were worried that Foreman, the hardest hitter who ever lived, might _kill_ Ali in the ring.

The savvy of Ali's "rope a dope" strategy, combined with the way he got in Foreman's head, whispering in his ear in the clinches, was genius. IMO, you can't watch this film and not agree -- GOAT.

If anyone wants to watch the the match in full it can be found here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55AasOJZzDE

"The Isle of Flowers". It's heart wrenching and it's only 13 minutes:


I could give you a summary but watching it with no context makes it as powerful as it was intended to be.

The 'videoclip' editing has been somewhat overdone, but this was done in 1989 so please give it a break and stick to it.

The doc itself was very famous in its time, but has since somewhat faded from public memory. Kinda like Marjoe and others, come to think about it

Wow, thanks for sharing that. It is powerful.

The Vietnam War: A film by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick

I watch it on Netflix. It is an even handed look of the war from both sides. It was so good. Be prepared to get angry and to cry.

I second this. Amazing documentary. Icing on the cake are the songs (from Bob Dylan and other legends) that overlay the outstanding narration.

Samsara - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samsara_(2011_film) A non-narrative film, with stunning visuals. I feel it shows some of the best and worst of humanity, but in a non-pushy or judgemental way. It just leaves you to make your own conclusions.

I watched Samsara while on LSD it was a very beautiful experience. Some of the scenes really hurt me deeply. I couldn't help but cry.

Also check out Ron Fricke's Baraka (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baraka_(film)). It's just as beautiful in my opinion.

The entire Qatsi trilogy

Was about to suggest that as well. Its a superb film.

Netflix: "The Farthest: Voyager in Space" (2017) - "This documentary chronicles NASA's 1977 launch of twin space probes, sent to capture images of remote planets and bear messages from Earth."


Road - The story of Joey Dunlop, and the motorcycling family he came from: https://www.netflix.com/title/80079364

Meru - Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Renan Ozturk climb the Shark's Fin on Mount Meru in India: https://www.netflix.com/title/80039641

Valley Uprising - A history of climbing in Yosemite: https://www.netflix.com/title/80084836

Touching the Void - The story of Joe Simpson's accident and harrowing survival in his climb with Simon Yates on Siula Grande in the Andes. I'm not sure the best way to view this.

The part in Touching the Void where the the man begins to hallucinate that happy, irritating song ought to have a scientific explanation for it. I often have a song play in my mind when I hike, but doubt that my experience is even close to what he experienced.

Some of my favourite nerdy documentaries:

BBS: The Documentary https://youtu.be/nO5vjmDFZaI

The KGB, the Computer, and Me https://youtu.be/EcKxaq1FTac

8 Bit Generation: The Commodore Wars https://youtu.be/Jq_t-v0bDZ8

Watching KGB and me. Really cheesy, but I am enjoying it. Thanks.

BBS :). It brought back nice memories.

I love, love, love music documentaries. The great ones have a great story to tell. I also believe that the ones about bands have some lessons for people starting businesses and dealing with cofounder friction, creative dynamics, licensing, etc. Many of them also deal with the impact of technology on recording, performing, and marketing. Recommended:

"Anvil! The Story of Anvil" (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1157605/)

"What Happened, Miss Simone?" (https://www.netflix.com/title/70308063)

"Soundbreaking: Stories from the cutting edge of recorded music" (PBS documentary on history of sound recording) (http://www.pbs.org/soundbreaking/home/)

"Sound City" (about legendary recording studio in LA, narrated by Dave Grohl) (https://www.netflix.com/za/title/70265771)

"Last Days Here" (About the singer of early doom metal band Pentagram) (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1723126/)

"As The Palaces Burn" (Lamb Of God's singer tried in Czech Republic for an incident at a concert) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB6k-Ev_H7c)

People love to hate on "Some Kind of Monster" because they don't like the album St. Anger but I really believe that it caught Metallica at a vulnerable and revealing time in their history. (https://www.netflix.com/title/80174429)

A few more great musical documentaries:

Searching for Sugarman: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2125608

Don't Think I've Forgotten: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2634200

Crumb. Its about the iconic counter-cultural cartoonist Robert Crumb (creator of the 1960s/1970s underground comics Fritz the Cat, Keep on Trucking, etc.). The Wikipedia entry for it[1] says (along with other accolades):

"Crumb was met with wide acclaim from critics, earning a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Gene Siskel rated Crumb as the best film of the year...Roger Ebert gave the film four (of four) stars, writing that 'Crumb is a film that gives new meaning to the notion of art as therapy.'"

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crumb_(film)

Andrew Marr's History of the World https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQupjl7KjR5vqzfweATuw...


"Andrew Marr's History of the World is a 2012 BBC documentary television series presented by Andrew Marr that covers 70,000 years of world history from the beginning of human civilisation, as African nomadic peoples spread out around the world and settled down to become the first farmers, up to the twentieth century."

"Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media"


I really like Alone in the Wilderness, which is about Dick Proenneke building his log cabinby hand and living a solitary life in Alaska.

I was so happy to see somebody else mention this great movie. I just love the tranquility and watching him build all those things.

I bought this one! It's so pleasant. Thanks for reminding me about it. I think I will watch it again soon.

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse

It's all about the making of Apocalypse Now. It's really great, I'd say it's almost as good as Apocalypse Now the movie itself. The mental state of the characters and what it took to make this movie blew my mind.


Titicut Follies: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titicut_Follies

The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emperor%27s_Naked_Army_Mar...

Grizzly Man: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grizzly_Man

Burden of Dreams: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083702/

Boatman: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106445/

For wild-life I'll pick any Cousteau or BBC documentary

---Below are French movies (but worth trying to find in English)---

Depardon's Profils Paysans trilogy : https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0284409/

L'Inde fantôme : https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063914/

"The Cove", (2009) about the secret practice of commercial Cetacea (dolphins, mainly) hunting in Japan (a Metascore value == 84, fwiw).

And +1 for "Grizzly Man."

I bought the DVD after it was released, but could never bring myself to watch it. The few clips I watched were extremely disturbing for me.

The Cove was a tough watch, but necessary.

My favourite is probably This is Spinal Tap. It really captured the creative power of a rock band on tour.

That made me laugh out loud. Well done.

Watch the Anvil doc for a sorta-of real-life Spinal Tap type story.

Bigger Stronger Faster*

"... is a 2008 documentary film directed by Christopher Bell, about the use of anabolic steroids as performance-enhancing drugs in the United States and how this practice relates to the American Dream." -- Wikipedia

Lots of good suggestions here already, so a few lesser-known ones I've enjoyed:

Typeface - follows the volunteers at the Hamilton Wood Type museum. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1207998/?ref_=nv_sr_1 / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typeface_(film)

Dogtown and the Z Boys. On the birth of professional skateboarding. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0275309/?ref_=nv_sr_2 / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogtown_and_Z-Boys

Riding Giants. From the director of Dogtown. This one focuses on the development of big wave surfing. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0389326/?ref_=nv_sr_1 / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riding_Giants

Pumping Iron. Follows Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno as they attempt to win the 1975 Mr Olympia competition. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076578/?ref_=nv_sr_1 / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumping_Iron

'Chasing Ice'! It's about a photographer (James Balog) who set up cameras in parts of Greenland, Iceland and Alaska to take time lapses of glaciers over the course of a couple of years. The images (and the difference that a couple of years makes) is astounding -- it truly is the most stunning visualization of global warming/climate change that I have ever seen.

And it's on Netflix.

There is a category of documentaries I never see mentioned in these lists. It is the kind which often is shown in Sweden under the name "Dokument utifrån" and is about foreign affair events that are current or about a year or few years old. These productions are, I guess, often from the BBC but also french, dutch, german etc productions that I assume are made by television companies associated with the EBU (European Broadcasting Union)

They often include interviews with people who "were there when it happened", such as ministers, diplomats, military brass etc.

Do people get what I am trying to describe? I kind of fail to do so, I feel...

Edit: I just checked what is up next in this series. It is this italian documentary about events in Egypt, "Our man in Cairo"


Quite illustrative to what I mean. I haven't seen this one but it seems interesting

'Shoah', by Claude Lanzmann, who passed away earlier this year after a career of excellent documentary filmmaking.

Review by Roger Ebert when it was first released: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-shoah-1985

Searching for Sugar Man, do not watch the trailer or read on it. It will spoil the documentary! If you like music, 60s, justice, Bob Dylan and feel good story its a must watch.

Read about it after though, they told a story that doesn't really match reality.

I've seen those criticisms but you have to remember this is before the Internet and before cross communication with other countries, etc. It's a stretch, do those critics expect them to be investigating something and spending hard earned money visiting all countries around the world to verify some random fact of an artist? The documentary is based on the personal experience of some fans in South Africa and people that give that criticism don't seem to understand the context. Plus, the film (as its title is named) is about THEIR search for sugar man not about the life of the guy itself or all the facts around his life.

Fair points, also I see this on Wikipedia

> South Africans were unaware of his Australian success due to the harsh censorship enacted by the apartheid regime coupled with international sanctions that made any communication with the outside world on the subject of banned artists virtually impossible.

Cizenfour is hands-down my favorite movie of all time. It’s cinematically beautiful and the inside perspective on the Snowden leaks is tantalizing. I can’t receomend it enough.

Food, Inc. It may come across as propaganda for organic food, but I found the insight into industrial style farming and the major consolidation of food providers fascinating. Made me much more appreciative of places that try to buy locally and well-treated (relatively well) animals.

How Buildings Learn, based on (and in some ways better than) the Stewart Brand book. Definite takeaways for software architecture, and includes appearances by Christopher Alexander, a key instigator of the patterns movement. Produced by the BBC in the 90's, now on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvEqfg2sIH0

Turns out that many architects of the built environment are just as prone as those of the software kind to not caring about the usability and maintainability of their systems, let alone how how they will evolve over extended periods of time.

On early 90's, there was, on Spain,collection of documentals about astronomy. They were pretty good! Even as a little kid I understand everything, and the documentals were pretty straightforward explain everything. I would say that are at the same level that Sagan's Cosmos.

I'm trying to get the original source, but I only managed to discover that could be a translation of "A galactic odyssey" of NHK-TV, or reused some stuff from it.

I ripped some of my old VHS to YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL32C7C4EF477AB37D

I am a documentary filmmaker and the one title I am surprised not to have seen here is American Movie. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0181288/

True documentary classic- incredible characters, editing, treatment. Just an overall gem.

And if you dig that, check out Home Movie, a follow up from Chris Smith & excellent example of the vignette approach to a feature doc https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0275408/

I used to distribute docs and produce them for a living. It's awesome that docs are in the spotlight again, but it's pretty remarkable how limited the selection can be on streaming services, in terms of critically acclaimed work. If there's a hole in the marketplace, this might be it.

Some of my favorites:

Hoop Dreams

Jesus Camp


Lost in la Mancha


Anvil: the Story of Anvil

When We Were Kings

Sherman's March

F is for Fake

The Thin Blue Line

Sans Soleil

Don't Look Back

Up the Yangtze

I Am Not Your Negro

Grizzly Man still gives me goose bumps: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0427312/

Wow. I'm a bog Doc fan. I'll list a few of my favs:

Touch the Sound. For me this was life changing. The story of a deaf percussionist. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0424509/

Man on Wire. Also life changing. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1155592/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Winnebago Man. Fascinating!You've probably seen his vids on youtube. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1396557/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Anvil: The Story of Anvil. I worked in the music scene in the 80s and heard of these guys, and always wondered what happened. This film answers that question. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1157605/?ref_=fn_al_tt_4

My Architect. A sons journey learning about his dad, through his dad's architecture. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0373175/

Touching the Void. Based on a book by Joe Simpson

Amazing story and perspective.

I like those documentaries because they bring my ordinary personal worries and fears back into perspective. Very inspiring.

The only thing that kept me going through that movie is the fact that he is there narrating it. The situation seems dire after around ten minutes or so into the film.

I was surprised that nobody had yet suggest Ken Burns' The Dust Bowl. While not particularly exciting, to be honest, I found it incredibly moving and educational. The origins and extent of the plight and its ramifications across the whole country are nothing short of country-defining.

That the solutions to come out of at are so far removed from where we are today and how the US seeks to solve similar wide-spread economic challenges is deeply saddening.

This documentary compelled me to study more about this calamity

If you have any interest in the Apollo missions...

In the Shadow of the Moon [0]

The film follows the manned missions to the Moon made by the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The documentary reviews both the footage and media available to the public at the time of the missions, as well as NASA films and materials which had not been opened in over 30 years.

For All Mankind [1]

A 1989 documentary film drawn from original footage of NASA's Apollo program which successfully landed the first humans on the Moon from 1969 to 1972.

Moon Machines [2]

The miniseries features interviews with around 70 of the 400,000 engineers who worked on the Apollo program during the 1960s and early 70s.

These are variously available on DVD and YouTube.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_the_Shadow_of_the_Moon_(fil...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/For_All_Mankind

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_Machines

The entire genre of 'non-narrative documentary' film https://www.imdb.com/list/ls073014744/ notably Manufactured Landscapes @ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manufactured_Landscapes

Many BBC documentary series. Personal favourites include History of India and Islamic History of Europe.

The extremely unique (probably never to be repeated in spirit) and zeitgeist-defining Julian Assange Show @ https://www.rt.com/tags/the-julian-assange-show/ and Citizenfour.

A post-facto interview based documentary whose name I forget, perhaps Real War, about Russian military human rights abuses in the Caucasus, which was extremely shocking.

Many SBS Dateline reports.

"Big River Man" - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0956101/

It follows Martin Strel a Slovenian long distance swimmer as he attempts to swim the 3000+ miles of the Amazon and chronicles his struggles with the sheer effort of the swim, his personal life and alcoholism.

You don't need to have an interest in swimming or sport at all. It's just a really well-made documentary with many layers.

"Valley Uprising" - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3784160/ Rock climbing in Yosemite. The story begins innocently enough but as it proceeds through history of the climbs, it becomes more and more astonishing. Well worth a watch! Again, you don't need to be interesting in climbing at all. A good story is a good story.

Good recent selection is Steve Aoki's I'll Sleep When I'm Dead. There is something inspiring about an inside look in real time at someone playing at the absolute peak of their game and the backstory of how hard they had to struggle to get there ;)

Active Measures is also pretty much required watched for the current conversation.

Indecline Volume 1: It's Worse Than You Think https://youtu.be/imbA7eExNhE (^^^ Totally NSFW!)

This is a ridiculous film, made by the guy who put out Bum Fights volumes 1 and 2 (but not 3 -- he sold the rights and another guy put out volume 3 using some of Ryan McPherson's old footage as well as new footage where the new film makers literally assaulted unsuspecting homeless people while dressed like Steve Irwin). In Bum Fights, McPherson paid homeless people to fight each other and do dangerous stunts. This isn't the case with Indecline. Indecline shows the film makers vandalizing property (think graffiti), and it shows other people doing stupid shit (a guy breaking into cars, a guy stabbing another guy through the chest, etc.), but the film makers don't seem to be paying other people to endanger themselves this time around, just filming it. This is a horribly depressing film. Expect to see a lot of human misery. Expect to question the motivations of the film makers. Expect to question the half-expressed political opinions of the film makers.

Since this film was made they've put out some other, shorter, less cringey, more banky pieces. Probably most well known is The Emperor Has No Balls (they made news for leaving these statues in some major cities without prior announcement): https://youtu.be/f7TeTzOgkMs

I prefer this large scale graffiti they did on a US military weapons testing site: https://youtu.be/HJWFHoyW-3g

McPherson also made the news for shipping human body parts (including an adult heart and an infant head) to the US from Thailand. He said he bought them at a local market, and was sending them to a friend "as a prank." They were later traced back to a hospital.

The Kid Stays in the Picture: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Kid_Stays_in_the_Picture

It's an autobiographical film about somebody you probably don't know or would ever care to know. It primarily uses collage (e.g. photographs, press clippings) for the visuals, narrated by the subject.

What's most memorable is just how darn good the film is. It's like your uncle presenting an Oscar-worthy slideshow in his basement. It felt like a masterpiece of film making. No film has ever left such an impression on me. I deeply appreciated and was in awe of its artistic merit. But I haven't seen it since its original release. Maybe it really only works on the big screen or similar environment.

Haven't seen a mention of Louis Theroux yet, but he is easily my most favorite documentary maker. His style of straight forward questioning of difficult or taboo topics creates a very authentic impression of people. Definitely check him out. The one about pedophilia in particular was very gripping.

edit: language

Maybe not a documentary, but I can watch "How it's made" like people binge-watch netflix shows...

Chronicle of a Summer (Chronique d'un été): On one hand, a simple documentary where they conduct Studs Terkel-like interviews with working-class people in Paris in 1960, asking a simple question: Are you happy? As do all the best documentarians, they magically bring out the most profound, innermost thoughts of their subjects. On the other, a documentary about documentaries and their realism - interspersed are questions of how real and honest what we see is, and near the end the subjects watch the finished product together and discuss how real and honest they were in front of the camera.


Considered an innovative milestone in documentary film-making.

Lots of great documentaries already mentioned, but one of my favorites "Tim's Vermeer" hasn't been yet. https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/tims_vermeer_2014

A Map for Saturday, definitely opened my eyes to spending a gap year traveling the world. Maybe some day.

Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00R07DF6C/ref=cm_sw_su_dp

A movie about the wine industry and fraud, Sour Grapes: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/sour_grapes_2016/

If you want to do long dives anything by Ken Burns, baseball is a classic: http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/baseball/

A documentary about Napster directed by not Keanu of Bill and Ted's Excellent adventure, Downloaded: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2033981/

Icarus (2017). Won an Oscar, has 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Not just the story of how state-sponsored doping and corruption kill Olympic games and major sport competitions, but the emotional and sometimes artsy way the movie is made is very impressive.

Earth From Space (2012)


This documents Earth by combining imagery and data from many different satellites, to model the Earth in a way never before seen before. It shows how different systems of the Earth interact with each other that is absolutely mind-blowing.

For example, you see how a stirring of dust in the desert creates a daily migration of minerals into the Amazon rainforest which allows the rainforest to survive and thrive.

It shows daily, and weekly, and Millennial long cycles that power the planet and really changes how you see the Earth.

And it's gorgeous.

I really liked "I'll sleep when i'm dead", the Steve Aoki documentary : https://www.netflix.com/title/80118930

Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World


Hoop Dreams (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoop_Dreams) - 1994.

This is a long basketball documentary following two youngsters from the housing projects of Chicago. I was lucky enough to visit Chicago for a week with work just a couple of months after seeing this; it led me to learning so much more about the struggles of people living in the housing projects of Cabrini Green, Robert Taylor Homes etc. Whether you're a fan of basketball or not, this is an eye opener into much wider issues.

Sean Carroll's "Great Courses" production on the "Higgs Boson, and Beyond" [1] offers like 5 hours of what you'll likely gradually find to be a very accessible, informative and entertaining audio/aural chronology of the Higgs boson's conception; through its planning, and on through the LHC experiment, and finally past its discovery, into the current state of affairs regarding field theory. 1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUv1OJ2PE0s

"Tickled" will absolutely blow your mind. It feels like you have a front-row seat to a real scandal in a way that no other documentary I've ever seen does.

All the "Dirty Money" episodes are pretty good, but the best one by far IMHO is the one about the racecar driver / payday loan scam empire. Just amazing.

"Plastic China" is really tough to watch (and may be even more deeply uncomfortable for people who pat themselves on the back for recycling) but I think it's one of the most important revelations in documentary filmmaking in the past 5 years or so.

> It feels like you have a front-row seat to a real scandal

I haven't seen it yet myself, but lots of people whose opinions I respect have told me that Weiner (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5278596/) is good for this as well.

As is "Icarus" (PEDs in cycling)

Nobody else has mentioned this, so I will:

When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions


Pretty great, with high quality historical footage as well. I think you can buy the HD streaming version on Amazon for $10 (258 minutes long, broken into six segments).

Silicon Valley (by PBS) is another:


I just tweeted about this coincidentally. https://www.amazon.com/11-Filmmakers-Commemorative-Tony-Bena... is good watching multiple times.

Definitely anything Steve James has done too - currently America to Me (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7768836/).

Jodorowsky's Dune (2013) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1935156/

Buck - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1753549/ - Story of the actual real life horse whisperer.

Chicken People -https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4819510/ - follows three people for a year as they show their chickens at chicken fancier shows. Pretty gentle and just a nice film.

A few that have not been mentioned yet-

We Are Legion - The Story of the Hacktivists (about Anonymous)


The Commodore Story https://thecommodorestory.com/

From Bedrooms to Billions http://www.frombedroomstobillions.com/

"The Magic Pill" (https://www.netflix.com/title/80238655) defied my preconceptions, along with https://youtu.be/1rz-8H_i1wA. They're about low-carb, keto diets and how decades of "low fat" conventional wisdom was based on bad science, industry pressure, etc.

One that had a huge impact on me as a kid was "QED - A Guide to Armageddon" - which is a very factual analysis of the effects of a nuclear weapon on a modern city.

It's available on YouTube.

The director went on to make Threads.

Also - "Behind the Lines" about the training done by the Arctic and Mountain Warfare Cadre of the Royal Marines:


I found this one very interesting:

"How Big Oil Conquered The World"

"From farm to pharmaceutical, diesel truck to dinner plate, pipeline to plastic product, it is impossible to think of an area of our modern-day lives that is not affected by the oil industry. [...]"


Muscle Shoals. About all the music recorded in muscle shoals Alabama. From Percy Sledge and Areatha to the Rolling Stones and many many more.

Waco: The Rules of Engagement

It is a 1997 Documentary covering the 1993 FBI siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas that ended with the death of almost all of the men, women and children in the compound.

Waco is considered by many to be the second part in a sad trilogy that starts in Naples, ID and ends in Oklahoma City, OK. I'd be interested in knowing of good documentaries that cover the other parts.

There was a documentary on the City of God DVD that was better than the film (and I thought it was an amazing film).

A few from Netflix that I could find that I rated:

Endless Summer

Death in Gaza

The Filth and the Fury

Jiro Dreams of Sushi


March of the Penguins

The Art of the Steal

Born Into Brothels

The Aristocrats

God Grew Tired of Us

The Fog of War

The Lost Wave

The Last Waltz

Festival Express

Forgot about March of the Penguins! Everything about that documentary was great, especially Freeman as narrator.

The Overnighters fundamentally shifted how I think about selflessness, greed, apathy, and NIMBYism. I think about it on a near-daily basis.

I was very much impressed by this documentary on many different levels. The time I watched it fell right into the time when lots of refugees seeked shelter in Germany and when Trump agitated about Mexican migrants.

Because this film is also about xenophobia - but fascinatingly the targets of this sentiment aren't Arabs or Mexicans but Americans! That shows how detached society even within one country became detached from itself.

Quincy - just out on Netflix about Quincy Jones. What a fascinating life he's had. Watched it with a smile on my face the whole time.

Also worth seeing is another doco made about him years earlier, 'Listen Up: The Lives Of Quincy Jones.'

Particle Fever about the CERN http://particlefever.com/

Alpha go 2017

Absolute zero was really interesting, Found some 720p ones but the audio is super quiet

Pt 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCDsXU15USI

Pt 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxKFeQF6_zc

Cartel Land. Spoiler: Includes serendipitously captured footage of a local thug's takedown by vigilantes.

Shows how Mexican drug lords aren't so much entrepreneurs, as rather players within a bigger system. This came as a much-belated epiphany to me.

Art & Copy. A great look into what goes into great advertising. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBksrtEXGCw&t=

Best quote?

"Advertising is poison gas. It should bring tears to your eyes, unhinge your nervous system and knock you out."

So many Ken Burns documentaries come to mind but I think the National Parks one is my favorite. The Vietnam War, his latest work, was excellent too.

"Lo and Behold" by Herzog depressed the hell out of me. It gives me the impression that society is being torn apart by the independence that technology enables.

Farenheit 9/11.

Michal Pollan's Cooked series.

One I haven't seen recommended yet is "Stories We Tell". A bit unique and definitely one to see without reading too much on it.

As for others that people have already mentioned, I'd second the nods to "Touching the Void", "Encounters at the End of the World", and "The Act of Killing".

I am a documentary nut! Lots of amazing ones mentioned but one that I have to point out that has not been mentioned is "Winters on Fire". Really does a great job of documenting the lead up to Ukrainians finally having enough of Russia's puppet Prime Minster. Warning! Not for the faint of heart.

For something bite-sized I enjoy the netflix "Explained" series.

And maybe "Dark Tourism" still fits this genre?

Samsara is utter beauty https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samsara_(2011_film)

No (spoken) narrative, so I can't tell you what you're meant to learn, but it gave me a big overview effect of the world.

Somm and The Imposter. Somm delves into the lives of a few guys as they study for their sommelier exam. You get to see how intense this niche of the world is. I won’t spoil anything about The Imposter, but definitely check out a trailer. It’s about a boy that goes missing and is found much later.

I thought Somm was over the top, even cringeworthy at times. Somm 2 was actually enjoyable and I'm looking forward to their third film.

Riding Solo to the Top of the World (2006) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0903013/

The Atomic Cafe (1982) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083590/

At Sea (2007) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1829648/

The Vietnam War (2017) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1877514/

Lessons of Darkness (1992) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104706/

Tim's Vermeer (2013) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3089388/

Weiner (2016) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5278596/

Jodorowsky's Dune (2013) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1935156/

Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0379357/

The Art of Japanese Life (2017) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7002974/

The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief (2006) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0493420/

The Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires (1996) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115398/

The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (2015) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4299972/

Dancing with the devil. Violence in Rio's favelas https://m.imdb.com/title/tt1379064/plotsummary?ref_=m_tt_ov_...

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room


Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiFo-osFHwQ

Brilliant documentary about the life of Shane McConkey and his progression from skiing, BASE jumping and ski wingsuiting.

"Crime + Punishment" is a very strong one. It includes hidden camera and hidden microphone documentation of what goes on inside the New York City police and justice system and documents how hard it is to make anything better nowadays.

Our Daily Bread was really fascinating for its unflinching look at food production.

101 Rent Boys about prostitutes on the Sunset strip.

Unknown Knowns was amazing.

also two old documentaries from Frontline on credit cards: “ The secret history of the credit card“ and “the card game“

Baraka. No narrative, no traditional story, just stunning images from around the world. https://m.imdb.com/title/tt0103767

Netflix’ Icarus had me on the edge of my seat. Details the Russian doping scandal.

Just For Kicks. It's probably 10+ years old now, but a fascinating and super, super well put together doc on sneakers and the culture around it. Entertaining even if you're not sold on the subject matter.

Style Wars "The Original Hip-hop Documentary" http://www.stylewars.com/site/

Amazing, gritty portrait of NYC in the 80s.

Just saw Finding Vivial Maier, which gives details about the everyday life of the most underrated photographer ever. This shows a mix of both complex personality and pure talent. This was a very interesting show!

The Secret Life Of Waves. It made me think differently about life, the universe and the nature of complex systems.

I also found The Brain with David Eagleman a series that gave me revelations about all sorts of things.

You’d probably enjoy David Eagleman’s book Incognito and also maybe his quirky book of short stories Sum.


Asif Kapadia's 'Senna'. 'India's Daughter' by Leslee Udwin for an interesting record of modern India.

Generally I do think, documentaries work better when they avoid talking heads.

A few I've seen recently:

1. Vietnam series by Ken Burns 2. Icarus 3. Barca Dreams

BBC's Planet Earth.

The entire Life series too. Every part is fantastic.

Apocalypse: Documentary on 1st and 2nd world war. I thought it was great because it used original videos. There are 5 episodes for 1st world and I think 5 for 2nd world war.

Earthlings. It goes into detail about how non-human animals are used to create animal products, and what our alternatives are.

My only note is that the narration is hit or miss in some parts.

The Venus Project: Future by Design

The Corporation

Inside Job

HBO's documentary on Warren Buffet

Who Killed The Electric Car?

I liked "One Strange Rock" by Darren Arronofsky.

It's a couple of astronauts talking (mostly) about space and life and physics. It has crazy beautiful visuals

‘Pulling John’.

If your first inclination is to say, “A documentary about arm wrestling In shall not watch!”, check yourself at the Netflix login.

It's really compelling.

"The architect and the painter" "How the dutch got their cycle paths" "Helmut by June"

No one's mentioned _"Exit Through The Gift Shop"_; the documentary about Banksy??

Power of nightmare by Adam Curtis.

Happy People (2010). Focuses on isolated communities living in remote areas of Siberia and their way of life.


Chef's Table

Wild Wild Country


Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Tickled and the short follow up were both amazing.

stewart brand how buildings learn - free on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvEqfg2sIH0 (uploaded by the man himself)

In addition to lots of the ones mentioned here, I enjoyed OJ: Made in America.

“13th” kind of a history of about the 13th Amendment and mass incarceration.

Recently, I really like "The Untold History of the United States".

Dear Zachary had me balling my eyes out alone at midnight.

Something ventured and silicon valley are two great ones.

The Untold History of the United States by Oliver Stone

Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies

It's on Youtube somewhere...

Empire of Dust

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Zero Days


Wild, Wild Country

10 Days in Gaza

World War Two in Colour

The Horn

documentaryheaven.com has a lot of dross and a few nuggets

I watched some ' extraordinary lives' documentaries with modern day video footage

1. Stalin's Daughter : https://www.amazon.com/Stalins-Daughter-Svetlana-Alliluyeva/...

2. Last emperor of China Puyi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KnlcJk2w4E

Crazy ups and downs.

Try these: On the rise of Al Qaeda: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Power_of_Nightmares

Exploration of lives of John Maynard Keynes, Friedrich Hayek, and Karl Marx https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masters_of_Money

Quincy, what an incredible man.

1. The Look of Silence

2. Let the Fire Burn

3. Koyaanisqatsi

4. Samsara

5. Baraka

6. Vernon, Florida

7. Art and Craft

8. Black Panthers

9. F for Fake

10. Du Côté de la côte

Exit through the gift shop

What a bleep do we know

planet earth (both the parts) for me


1. Fire in the blood: It's about "battle between pharmaceutical companies and the global public health community over access to lower-cost AIDS drugs for Africa" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_in_the_Blood_(2013_film)

2. Capitalism a Love Story: Questions unrestrained capitalism in the backdrop of 2008 financial crisis

Here's my list of 10/10 documentaries:

Biopics and Portraits:

- Kung Fu Elliot (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3228302/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- Listen to Me Marlon (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4145178/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- Man on Wire (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1155592/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- My Winnipeg (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1093842/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- A Gray State (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6794380/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- Happy People: A Year in the Taiga (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1683876/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- Valley Uprising (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3784160/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- You've Been Trumped (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1943873/?ref_=rt_li_tt)


- Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3302820/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- The Cove (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1313104/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- Chasing Coral (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6333054/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- Virunga (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3455224/?ref_=rt_li_tt)


- Cartel Land (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4126304/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- The Act of Killing (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2375605/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- The Culture High (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1778338/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4299972/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- West of Memphis (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2130321/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- How to Make Money Selling Drugs (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1276962/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- The Fear of 13 (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5083702/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- Brother's Keeper (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103888/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- Auschwitz: The Nazis and the 'Final Solution' (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0446610/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

Reflecting on Life and Death:

- Given (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4890452/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- Extremis (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5538078/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- Touching the Void (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0379557/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- Attention: A Life in Extremes (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2846628/?ref_=rt_li_tt)


- Israel vs Israel (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1753960/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- Inside Job (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1645089/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

- The Overnighters (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3263996/?ref_=rt_li_tt)

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