Channel 4's "50 Greatest Documentaries"by deadmonger | created - 18 Apr 2011 | updated - 09 Nov 2014 | Public
The 50 Greatest Documentaries was a Channel 4 television programme which was broadcast on 9 October 2005 and was narrated by British actress, Zoë Wanamaker. The list was compiled based on the nominations submitted to Channel 4 by a series of factual filmmakers.
Some entries are imperfect as explained within their description and numbers 34 - "Signs of the Times" (1992) and 35 - "An Impossible Job: Graham Taylor" (1993) are unfortunately totally absent as there is no entry in IMDb for them.
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1. Seven Up! (1964 TV Short)
39 min | Documentary, Short, Biography
A group of seven-year-old British children from widely ranging backgrounds are interviewed about a range of subjects. Director Michael Apted plans to reinterview them at seven-year ... See full summary »
This is for the entire "Up" series; Seven Up! (1964), Seven Plus 7 (1970), 21 Up (1977), 28 Up (1984), 35 Up (1991), 42 Up (1998) & 49 Up (2005). Another instalment is due in 2012.
2. Touching the Void (2003)
R | 106 min | Documentary, Adventure, Drama
The true story of two climbers and their perilous journey up the west face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985.
Votes: 29,659 | Gross: $4.58M
5. Capturing the Friedmans (2003)
Not Rated | 107 min | Documentary, Biography
Documentary on the Friedmans, a seemingly typical, upper-middle-class Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crimes.
Votes: 21,123 | Gross: $3.12M
6. The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off (2004 TV Movie)
50 min | Documentary
A year ago, 36-year-old Jonny Kennedy died. He had a terrible genetic condition called Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) - which meant that his skin literally fell off at the slightest ... See full summary »
8. Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
R | 122 min | Documentary, Drama, War
Michael Moore's view on what happened to the United States after September 11; and how the Bush Administration allegedly used the tragic event to push forward its agenda for unjust wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Votes: 118,863 | Gross: $119.19M
9. When We Were Kings (1996)
PG | 88 min | Documentary, Sport
A documentary of the 1974 heavyweight championship bout in Zaire, "The Rumble in the Jungle," between champion George Foreman and underdog challenger Muhammad Ali.
Votes: 13,301 | Gross: $2.67M
11. Hoop Dreams (1994)
PG-13 | 170 min | Documentary, Drama, Sport
A film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional.
Votes: 21,179 | Gross: $7.83M
Not Rated | 85 min | Documentary
From the award-winning Director Nick Broomfield, The Leader, His Driver, and the Driver's Wife portrays the sinister and comic sides of Eugene Terre'Blanche, leader of the neo-Nazi AWB Afrikaner Party in South Africa.
14. One Day in September (1999)
R | 94 min | Documentary, History, Sport
The Palestinian terrorist group Black September holds Israeli athletes hostage at the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich.
Votes: 5,229 | Gross: $0.16M
15. Fourteen Days in May (1988)
Fourteen Days in May is a documentary film directed by Paul Hamann and originally shown on television by the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1987. The programme recounts the final days ... See full summary »
16. The Family (1974– )
30 min | Reality-TV
"The Family" (1974) is one of the first "reality" shows in the history of television. Modelled after the US TV series "An American Family (1972), this 12-part series documents the daily life of a working-class family from Reading, UK.
19. Super Size Me (2004)
PG | 100 min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama
While examining the influence of the fast food industry, Morgan Spurlock personally explores the consequences on his health of a diet of solely McDonald's food for one month.
Votes: 92,085 | Gross: $11.53M
20. The Death of Yugoslavia (1995– )
50 min | Documentary, History
This captivate documentary covers the struggles of the Yugoslavian people during the collapse of their country, and the subsequent wars to finally find hope with the signing of the Final Peace Accords.
22. Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003)
R | 93 min | Documentary, Crime
Nick Broomfield's second documentary on Aileen Carol Wuornos, a highway prostitute who was executed in 2002 for killing six men in the state of Florida. This second installment includes the filmmaker's testimony at Wournous's trial.
Votes: 5,362 | Gross: $0.10M
Panorama (1953– )
The Secret Policeman Returns
30 min | Documentary, News
This entry is for the 2003 documentary "The Secret Policeman" for which this is a sequel, however there is no IMDb page for the original.
28. The Thin Blue Line (1988)
Not Rated | 101 min | Documentary, Crime, Drama
A film that successfully argued that a man was wrongly convicted for murder by a corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas.
Votes: 18,344 | Gross: $1.21M
157 min | Documentary, History
A series of three documentaries about the use of fear for political gain.
36. Beneath the Veil (2001 TV Movie)
British journalist Saira Shah travels to Afghanistan with a camera crew to document the realities of life under the Taliban. Filmed just months prior to the terrorist attacks of September ... See full summary »
37. Feltham Sings (2002 TV Movie)
60 min | Documentary, Music
A documentary film crew go into Feltham young offenders prison where the teenagers who left are 75% likely to re-offend. The film talks to a handful of inmates about life in prison and how ... See full summary »
Director: Brian Hill
41. Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991)
R | 96 min | Documentary
Documentary that chronicles how Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979) was plagued by extraordinary script, shooting, budget, and casting problems--nearly destroying the life and career of the celebrated director.
Votes: 15,630 | Gross: $1.32M
42. Nanook of the North (1922)
Not Rated | 78 min | Documentary
In this silent predecessor to the modern documentary, film-maker Robert J. Flaherty spends one year following the lives of Nanook and his family, Inuits living in the Arctic Circle.
Forty Minutes (1981–1994)
Home from the Hill
Documentary about Colonel Hilary Hook, formerly of the Indian cavalry and leader of extravagant safaris in Kenya. Hook returned home to England after being evicted from his home in the ... See full summary »
44. Civilisation (1969– )
50 min | Documentary, History, Music
Sir Kenneth Clarke guides us through the ages exploring the glorious rise of civilisation in western man. Beginning with the bleakness of the dark ages to the present day, we consider ... See full summary »
PG-13 | 107 min | Documentary, Biography, History
Votes: 20,710 | Gross: $4.19M