Winners of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize: Documentaries

by kingwilson | created - 28 Apr 2011 | updated - 28 Apr 2011 | Public

1985 - 2011. Great way to seek out new documentaries, I figure. If you like this list, you'll like my others.

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1. Seventeen (1983)

Not Rated | 120 min | Documentary

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

In their final year at Muncie's Southside High School, a group of seniors hurtles toward maturity with a combination of joy, despair, and an aggravated sense of urgency. They are also ... See full summary »

Directors: Joel DeMott, Jeff Kreines

Votes: 135

2. American Masters (1985– )
Episode: Private Conversations: On the Set of 'Death of a Salesman' (1985)

Not Rated | 82 min | Documentary, Biography

7.2
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Add a Plot

Director: Christian Blackwood | Stars: Arthur Miller, Dustin Hoffman, John Malkovich, Volker Schlöndorff

Votes: 82

3. Sherman's March (1985)

Not Rated | 157 min | Documentary, Biography, Comedy

7.5
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Ross McElwee sets out to make a documentary about the lingering effects of General Sherman's march of destruction through the South during the Civil War, but is continually sidetracked by ... See full summary »

Director: Ross McElwee | Stars: Ross McElwee, Dede McElwee, Ross McElwee Jr., Patricia Rendleman

Votes: 2,046

4. Beirut: The Last Home Movie (1987)

123 min | Documentary

7.0
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Documentary about the Bustros Family

Director: Jennifer Fox

Votes: 32

5. For All Mankind (1989)

Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary, History

8.2
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An in-depth look at various NASA moon landing missions, starting with Apollo 8.

Director: Al Reinert | Stars: Jim Lovell, Kenneth Mattingly, Russell Schweickart, Eugene Cernan

Votes: 3,881 | Gross: $0.77M

6. H-2 Worker (1990)

Not Rated | 70 min | Documentary

7.6
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Expose on the exploitation of workers in the Florida sugar cane industry.

Director: Stephanie Black | Stars: Michael Manley, Samuel Manston

Votes: 22

7. Water and Power (1989)

57 min | Documentary

7.3
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By using a series of visually and aurally dense tableaux created with advanced motion control, optical printing and animation techniques, the film explores the complex battle for natural ... See full summary »

Director: Pat O'Neill | Stars: Joel Lorimen, Beth Block, George Lockwood, Megan Williams

Votes: 184

8. American Dream (1990)

PG-13 | 98 min | Documentary

7.9
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Chronicles the six-month strike at Hormel in Austin, Minnesota, in 1985-86. The local union, P-9 of the Food and Commercial Workers, overwhelmingly rejects a contract offer with a $2/hour ... See full summary »

Directors: Barbara Kopple, Cathy Caplan, Thomas Haneke, Lawrence Silk | Stars: Jesse Jackson, Juan Munoz, Ray Rogers, Mike Kinney

Votes: 652 | Gross: $0.27M

9. Paris Is Burning (1990)

R | 71 min | Documentary

8.1
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A chronicle of New York's drag scene in the 1980s, focusing on balls, voguing and the ambitions and dreams of those who gave the era its warmth and vitality.

Director: Jennie Livingston | Stars: Brooke Xtravaganza, André Christian, Dorian Corey, Paris Duprée

Votes: 6,480 | Gross: $3.78M

10. A Brief History of Time (1991)

G | 80 min | Documentary, Biography

7.4
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78 Metascore

A film about the life and work of the cosmologist, Stephen Hawking, who despite his near total paralysis, is one of the great minds of all time.

Director: Errol Morris | Stars: Stephen Hawking, Isobel Hawking, Janet Humphrey, Mary Hawking

Votes: 4,271 | Gross: $2.28M

11. Finding Christa (1991)

55 min | Documentary

7.0
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A filmmaker reunites with the daughter she gave up for adoption twenty years later.

Directors: Camille Billops, James Hatch | Star: Camille Billops

Votes: 19

12. Silverlake Life: The View from Here (1993)

99 min | Documentary

8.1
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A documentary about two gay men as they live through their last months of life with AIDS.

Directors: Peter Friedman, Tom Joslin | Stars: Liane Bonin, Tom Joslin, Mark Massi

Votes: 378

13. Freedom on My Mind (1994)

105 min | Documentary

7.7
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Chronicles the Mississippi voter registration drive from 1961- 64.

Directors: Connie Field, Marilyn Mulford | Star: Ronnie Washington

Votes: 106 | Gross: $0.07M

14. Crumb (1994)

R | 119 min | Documentary, Biography, Comedy

8.0
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93 Metascore

An intimate portrait of the controversial cartoonist and his traumatized family.

Director: Terry Zwigoff | Stars: Robert Crumb, Aline Kominsky, Charles Crumb, Maxon Crumb

Votes: 15,616 | Gross: $3.17M

15. Troublesome Creek: A Midwestern (1995)

Unrated | 88 min | Documentary

7.0
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Troublesome Creek is the acclaimed story of the Jordan family's gamble to save their Iowa farm. From fighting the Crooked Creek Gang in 1867 to fighting off the bank today. An ... See full summary »

Directors: Steven Ascher, Jeanne Jordan | Stars: Bob Blankenship, Dean Eilts, Marge Harold, James Jordan Jr.

Votes: 53 | Gross: $0.14M

16. Girls Like Us (1997)

60 min | Documentary

7.1
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Documentary about four urban teenage girls, and their opinions about religion, music and sex.

Directors: Tina Di Feliciantonio, Jane C. Wagner

Votes: 42

17. Frat House (1998)

60 min | Documentary

6.9
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Directors: Andrew Gurland, Todd Phillips

Votes: 318

18. The Farm: Angola, USA (1998)

88 min | Documentary

7.6
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Documentary depicting day to day life in Angola Prison mostly from an inmate's perspective. Interviews are with several inmates including one with a life sentence who is about to die.

Directors: Liz Garbus, Wilbert Rideau, Jonathan Stack | Stars: Bernard Addison, Burl Cain, George Crawford, Wilbert Rideau

Votes: 675

19. American Movie (1999)

R | 107 min | Documentary, Comedy

7.9
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84 Metascore

Documentary about an aspiring filmmaker's attempts to finance his dream project by finally completing the low-budget horror film he abandoned years before.

Director: Chris Smith | Stars: Mark Borchardt, Mike Schank, Tom Schimmels, Monica Borchardt

Votes: 14,716 | Gross: $1.16M

The documentary that got me hooked on film.

20. Long Night's Journey Into Day (2000)

Not Rated | 94 min | Documentary

7.7
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85 Metascore

This documentary tells four stories of Apartheid in South Africa, as seen through the eyes of the Truth and Reconciliation commission. White soldiers who have killed ANC activists, black ... See full summary »

Directors: Deborah Hoffmann, Frances Reid | Stars: Mary Burton, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Mongezi Manqina, Thapelo Mbelo

Votes: 208 | Gross: $0.01M

21. Southern Comfort (2001)

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary

6.6
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78 Metascore

Southern Comfort documents the final year in the life of Robert Eads, a transgender man. Eads, diagnosed with ovarian cancer, was turned down for treatment by two dozen doctors out of fear ... See full summary »

Director: Kate Davis | Stars: Robert Eads, Lola Cola, Maxwell Scott Anderson, Cas Piotrowski

Votes: 830

22. Daughter from Danang (2002)

PG | 83 min | Documentary, War

7.5
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77 Metascore

Separated at the end of the Vietnam war, an "Americanized" woman and her Vietnamese mother are reunited after 22 years.

Directors: Gail Dolgin, Vicente Franco | Stars: Mai Thi Kim, Heidi Neville-Bub, Gerald Ford, Tom Miller

Votes: 529

23. Capturing the Friedmans (2003)

Not Rated | 107 min | Documentary, Biography

7.8
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90 Metascore

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.

Director: Andrew Jarecki | Stars: Arnold Friedman, Jesse Friedman, David Friedman, Elaine Friedman

Votes: 21,043 | Gross: $3.12M

One of my faves of all-time.

24. Dig! (2004)

R | 107 min | Documentary, Music

7.8
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76 Metascore

A documentary on the once-promising American rock bands The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols, and the friendship/rivalry between their respective founders, Anton Newcombe and Courtney Taylor.

Director: Ondi Timoner | Stars: Anton Newcombe, Courtney Taylor-Taylor, Joel Gion, Matt Hollywood

Votes: 5,456 | Gross: $0.13M

25. Why We Fight (2005)

PG-13 | 98 min | Documentary, History, War

8.1
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68 Metascore

Is American foreign policy dominated by the idea of military supremacy? Has the military become too important in American life? Jarecki's shrewd and intelligent polemic would seem to give an affirmative answer to each of these questions.

Director: Eugene Jarecki | Stars: Gore Vidal, John McCain, Ken Adelman, John Ashcroft

Votes: 9,386 | Gross: $1.44M

26. God Grew Tired of Us (2006)

PG | 89 min | Documentary

8.0
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72 Metascore

Four boys from Sudan embark on a journey to America after years of wandering Sub-Saharan Africa in search of safety.

Directors: Christopher Dillon Quinn, Tommy Walker | Stars: Panther Bior, John Bul Dau, Nicole Kidman, Daniel Abol Pach

Votes: 2,592 | Gross: $0.28M

27. Manda Bala (Send a Bullet) (2007)

Unrated | 85 min | Documentary

7.3
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71 Metascore

An examination of corruption and class warfare in Brazil as told through the stories of a wealthy businessman, a plastic surgeon who assists kidnapping victims and a politician whose income relies on a frog farm.

Director: Jason Kohn

Votes: 1,038 | Gross: $0.11M

28. Trouble the Water (2008)

Unrated | 93 min | Documentary

7.4
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83 Metascore

A redemptive tale of an aspiring rap artist surviving failed levees and her own troubled past and seizing a chance for a new beginning.

Directors: Carl Deal, Tia Lessin | Stars: Michael Brown, George W. Bush, Julie Chen, Ray Nagin

Votes: 1,793 | Gross: $0.52M

29. We Live in Public (2009)

Unrated | 91 min | Documentary

7.2
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69 Metascore

A documentary focusing on the life of dot-com entrepreneur Josh Harris, and his exploits over the last decade.

Director: Ondi Timoner | Stars: Josh Harris, Tom Harris, Carlos Alvarez, David Amron

Votes: 1,640 | Gross: $0.04M

30. Restrepo (2010)

R | 93 min | Documentary, War

7.6
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85 Metascore

A year with one platoon in the deadliest valley in Afghanistan.

Directors: Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger | Stars: The Men of Battle Company 2nd of the 503rd Infantry Regiment 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Juan 'Doc Restrepo, Dan Kearney, LaMonta Caldwell

Votes: 19,051 | Gross: $1.33M

31. How to Die in Oregon (2011)

Not Rated | 107 min | Documentary, Drama, Family

8.3
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In 1994 Oregon became the first state to legalize a terminally ill person's request to end his or her life with medication. At the time, only Belgium, Switzerland, and the Netherlands had ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Richardson | Stars: Harry Bruton, Ray Carnay, Cody Curtis, Paul Darley

Votes: 1,715