1994 • 172 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #289 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Hulu Plus, iTunes
This landmark film, which documents the journeys of two remarkable families, continues to educate and inspire viewers, and it is widely considered one of the great works of American nonfiction cinema.
1975 • 88 minutes • 1.66:1 • United States
Spine: #288 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Hulu Plus, iTunes
Trickery. Deceit. Magic. In F for Fake, a free-form sort-of documentary by Orson Welles, the legendary filmmaker (and self-described charlatan) gleefully reengages with the central preoccupation of his career: the tenuous lines between illusion and truth, art and lies.
Meet Big and Little Edie Beale: mother and daughter, high-society dropouts, and reclusive cousins of Jackie Onassis. The two manage to thrive together amid the decay and disorder of their East Hampton, New York, mansion.
The fascinating result of a collaboration between filmmaker-anthropologist Jean Rouch and sociologist Edgar Morin, this vanguard work of what Morin would term cinéma verité is a brilliantly conceived and realized sociopolitical diagnosis of the early sixties in France.
1984 • 88 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #557 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Hulu Plus, iTunes
The Oscar-winning The Times of Harvey Milk, was as groundbreaking as its subject. One of the first feature documentaries to address gay life in America, it’s a work of advocacy itself, bringing Milk’s message of hope and equality to a wider audience.
1995 • 120 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #533 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray
Terry Zwigoff’s landmark 1995 film is an intimate documentary portrait of the underground artist Robert Crumb, whose unique drawing style and sexually and racially provocative subject matter have made him a household name in popular American art.
1985 • 60 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #532 Editions: DVD, Hulu Plus, iTunes
Crumb director Terry Zwigoff’s first film is a true treat: a documentary about the obscure country-blues musician and idiosyncratic visual artist Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong, member of the last known black string band in America.
D. A. Pennebaker
1967 • 78 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #168 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Collector’s Sets
In 1967, at the height of the Summer of Love, the first and only Monterey International Pop Festival roared forward, capturing a decade’s spirit and ushering in a new era of rock and roll. Monterey would launch the careers of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Otis Redding, but they were just a few.
Jimi Plays Monterey and Shake! Otis at Monterey, acclaimed documentarian D. A. Pennebaker’s Monterey Pop companion pieces, feature the entire sets by these legendary musicians, performances that have entered rock-and-roll mythology.
1989 • 79 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #54 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Hulu Plus, iTunes
Al Reinert’s visually dazzling documentary For All Mankind is the story of the twenty-four men who traveled to the moon—told in their words, in their voices, using the images of their experiences.
2006 • 83 minutes • 1.77:1 • Sweden
Spine: #477 Editions: DVD, Hulu Plus
The most breathtakingly candid series of interviews that the famously reclusive director ever took part in, Bergman Island features legendary filmmaker Ingmar Bergman sitting down just four years before his death with Swedish documentarian Marie Nyreröd in his home on Fårö Island.
1984 • 72 minutes • 1.33:1 • Japan
Spine: #425 Editions: DVD, Hulu Plus, iTunes
A unique, enthralling cinematic experience, Teshigahara’s Antonio Gaudí, less a documentary than a visual poem, takes viewers on a tour of Gaudí’s truly spectacular architecture.
The filmmakers of Grey Gardens went back to their vaults of footage to create part two, The Beales of Grey Gardens, a tribute both to these indomitable women, Big and Little Edie Beale, and to the landmark documentary’s legions of fans, who have made them counterculture icons.
1978 • 80 minutes • 1.33:1 • France
Spine: #340 Edition: DVD
In 1977, acclaimed director Barbet Schroeder entered the universe of the world’s most famous primate to create the entertaining, troubling, and still relevant documentary Koko: A Talking Gorilla.
1976 • 103 minutes • 1.78:1 • United States
Spine: #334 Edition: DVD
Barbara Kopple’s Academy Award–winning Harlan County USA unflinchingly documents a grueling coal miners’ strike in a small Kentucky town. With unprecedented access, Kopple and her crew captured the miners’ sometimes violent struggles with strikebreakers, local police, and company thugs.
1982 • 95 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #287 Editions: DVD, Hulu Plus, iTunes
Les Blank documents acclaimed German filmmaker Werner Herzog’s ambitious and troubled production of Fitzcarraldo, the story of one man’s attempt to build an opera house deep in the Amazon jungle.
1955 • 31 minutes • 1.33:1 • France
Spine: #197 Editions: DVD, Hulu Plus, iTunes
One of the first cinematic reflections on the horrors of the Holocaust, Alain Resnais’ documentary Night and Fog (Nuit et Brouillard) contrasts the stillness of the abandoned camps’ quiet, empty buildings with haunting wartime footage.
1965 • 170 minutes • 2.35:1 • Japan
Spine: #155 Edition: DVD
Utilizing glorious widescreen cinematography, Kon Ichikawa examines the beauty and rich drama on display at the 1964 Summer Games in Tokyo. A spectacle of magnificent proportions, Tokyo Olympiad ranks among the greatest documents of sport ever committed to film.
1974 • 90 minutes • 1.33:1 • France
Spine: #153 Editions: DVD, Hulu Plus
In 1971, self-styled dictator General Idi Amin Dada took control of Uganda; director Barbet Schroeder turns his cameras on the dynamic, charming, and appallingly dangerous tyrant.
While laboring to sell a gold-embossed version of the Good Book, Paul Brennan and his colleagues target the beleaguered masses—then face the demands of quotas and the frustrations of life on the road. A landmark American documentary.
1992 • 147 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #42 Editions: DVD, Hulu Plus
John Lurie knows absolutely nothing about fishing, but that doesn’t stop him from undertaking the adventure of a lifetime in Fishing with John. Featuring Jim Jarmusch, Willem Dafoe, and Tom Waits.
1922 • 79 minutes • 1.33:1 • United States
Spine: #33 Edition: DVD
Robert Flaherty’s classic film tells the story of Inuit hunter Nanook and his family as they struggle to survive in the harsh conditions of Canada’s Hudson Bay region.
1982 • 110 minutes • 1.33:1 • Sweden
Spine: #264 Edition: Collector’s Sets
Directed by Ingmar Bergman himself, this feature-length documentary chronicles the methods of one of cinema’s true luminaries as he labors to realize his crowning production.