JMG's Favorite Documentaries

Filmmaker & film curator Jeff M. Giordano's favorite documentaries of all-time.
In no particular order.
Check back often.

NOTE: Jeff has yet to see "Shoah," "West of the Tracks," "The Battle of Chile," "The Up Series," Shinsuke Ogawa's Narita series, "The Sorrow and the Pity" and a few more epic documentaries.

Check out his other lists:
http://www.imdb.com/user/ur14886407/lists

Enjoy and please notify Jeff if you discovered a film from seeing this list! (http://www.jeffmgiordano.com)
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1.
Into Great Silence (2005 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
An examination of life inside the Grande Chartreuse, the head monastery of the reclusive Carthusian Order in France. (169 mins.)
Director: Philip Gröning
 
2.
Forest of Bliss (1986 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A look at daily life in the city of Benares, India, one of the most religious places in the country. (90 mins.)
Director: Robert Gardner
 
3.
Dark Days (2000 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A cinematic portrait of the homeless population who live permanently in the underground tunnels of New York City. (82 mins.)
Director: Marc Singer
 
4.
Sans Soleil (1983 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
"He wrote me...." A woman narrates the thoughts of a world traveler, meditations on time and memory... (104 mins.)
Director: Chris. Marker
 
5.
Cocksucker Blues (1972 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
This fly-on-the-wall documentary follows the Rolling Stones on their 1972 North American Tour, their... (93 mins.)
Director: Robert Frank
 
6.
Near Death (1989 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
Renowned documentarian Frederick Wiseman profiles the doctors, nurses, physicians, and patients at the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston... (358 mins.)
 
7.
The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Daniel Johnston, manic-depressive genius singer/songwriter/artist is revealed in this portrait of madness, creativity and love. (110 mins.)
Director: Jeff Feuerzeig
 
8.
F for Fake (1973 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A documentary about fraud and fakery. (89 mins.)
Director: Orson Welles
 
9.
Tyson (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A mixture of original interviews and archival footage and photographs sheds light on the life experiences of Mike Tyson. (90 mins.)
Director: James Toback
 
10.
Waltz with Bashir (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
An Israeli film director interviews fellow veterans of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon to reconstruct his own memories of his term of service in that conflict. (90 mins.)
Director: Ari Folman
 
11.
Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974 (1974 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
In this uncomfortably intimate film, documentary filmmaker Kazuo Hara visits his ex-girlfriend Miyuki and records her new relationships. (98 mins.)
Director: Kazuo Hara
 
12.
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Kazakh TV talking head Borat is dispatched to the United States to report on the greatest country in the world. With a documentary crew in tow, Borat becomes more interested in locating and marrying Pamela Anderson. (84 mins.)
Director: Larry Charles
 
13.
Tokyo Olympiad (1965 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Ichikawa's cameras follow the 1964 Summer Olympics from opening to closing ceremonies. Sometimes he focuses on spectators... (170 mins.)
Director: Kon Ichikawa
 
14.
Zoo (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
A look at the life of an Enumclaw, Washington man who died as a result of an unusual encounter with a horse. (75 mins.)
Director: Robinson Devor
 
15.
The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
The story of America as seen through the eyes of the former Secretary of Defense under President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara. (107 mins.)
Director: Errol Morris
 
16.
I'm Dangerous with Love (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Filmmaker Michel Negroponte (Methadonia, Jupiter's Wife) enters the ibogaine subculture and follows Dimitri Mugianis over three years, as he takes drug users through the same detox that saved his life. (82 mins.)
 
17.
Lessons of Darkness (1992 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
This film shows the disaster of the Kuwaitian oil fields in flames, with few interviews and no explanatory narration. Hell itself is presented in such beautiful sights and music that one has to be fascinated by it. (54 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
 
18.
Crumb (1994 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
An intimate portrait of the controversial cartoonist and his traumatized family. (119 mins.)
Director: Terry Zwigoff
 
19.
Mysterious Object at Noon (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
This film is an experimental mix of documentary and fiction. The film crew travels from the Thai countryside to Bangkok... (83 mins.)
 
20.
Stranded in Canton (2005 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
In 1973, photographer William Eggleston picked up a Sony PortaPak and took to documenting the soul of Memphis and New Orleans. (76 mins.)
 
21.
Lake of Fire (2006 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A graphic documentary on both sides of the abortion debate. (152 mins.)
Director: Tony Kaye
 
22.
The Rough South of Harry Crews (1991 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Writer-director Gary Hawkins's first "Rough South" entry, "The Rough South of Harry Crews," bases his show on Crew's revealing remark... (54 mins.)
Director: Gary Hawkins
 
23.
Koyaanisqatsi (1982 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A collection of expertly photographed phenomena with no conventional plot. The footage focuses on nature, humanity and the relationship between them. (86 mins.)
Director: Godfrey Reggio
 
24.
The Gleaners & I (2000 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
An intimate, picaresque inquiry into French life as lived by the country's poor and its provident, as well as by the film's own director... (82 mins.)
Director: Agnès Varda
 
25.
The End of an Old Song (1973 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
(26 mins.)
Director: John Cohen
 
26.
Space Coast (1979 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
(90 mins.)
 
27.
Stevie (2002 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
In 1995 Director Steve James (Hoop Dreams) returned to rural Southern Illinois to reconnect with Stevie Fielding, a troubled young boy he had been an 'Advocate Big Brother' to ten years earlier. (140 mins.)
Director: Steve James
 
28.
Sherman's March (1985 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Ross McElwee sets out to make a documentary about the lingering effects of General Sherman's march of... (157 mins.)
Director: Ross McElwee
 
29.
The Redemption of General Butt Naked (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Tells the story of Joshua Milton Blahyi - aka General Butt Naked - a brutal warlord who murdered thousands during Liberia's horrific 14-year civil war... (85 mins.)
“ This dark, yet inspirational film is the inverse of Kazuo Hara's controversial documentary from 1987, "The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On."

Joshua is on a mission to save both his soul and the soul of Liberia. ” - JMG_Films
 
30.
Fetishes (1996 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
Masochism, rubber, corporal punishment, wrestling, and infantilism are all examined into detail as a documentary crew visits a bondage house and its mistresses in upstate New York. (84 mins.)
Director: Nick Broomfield
 
31.
The Dhamma Brothers (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
East meets West in the Deep South. An overcrowded maximum-security prison-the end of the line in Alabama's... (76 mins.)
 
32.
The Charles Bukowski Tapes (1987 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
Barbet Schroeder interviews Bukowski. (240 mins.)
 
33.
Man with a Movie Camera (1929 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A man travels around a city with a camera slung over his shoulder, documenting urban life with dazzling invention. (68 mins.)
Director: Dziga Vertov
 
34.
Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
German-American Dieter Dengler discusses his service as an American naval pilot in the Vietnam War. Dengler also revisits the sites of his capture and eventual escape from the hands of the Vietcong, recreating many events for the camera. (80 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
 
35.
Gates of Heaven (1978 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A documentary about a pet cemetery in California, and the people who have pets buried there. (85 mins.)
Director: Errol Morris
 
36.
American Movie (1999 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Documentary about an aspiring filmmaker's attempts to finance his dream project by finally completing the low-budget horror film he abandoned years before. (107 mins.)
Director: Chris Smith
 
37.
Different Drummer (1989 TV Series)
Episode: Dancing Outlaw (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
This documentary short, produced for West Virginia public TV's "Different Drummer" series, introduces us to Jesco White... (30 mins.)
Director: Jacob Young
 
38.
Cannibal Tours (1988 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
When tourists journey to the furthermost reaches of the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea, is it the indigenous... (70 mins.)
Director: Dennis O'Rourke
 
39.
American: The Bill Hicks Story (2009 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Photo-animated feature documentary, uniquely narrated by the 10 people who knew Bill best. (102 mins.)
 
40.
Man and Dog (1999 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
"Man and Dog" is the portrait of an animal control officer. It tells the story of a dedicated public servant forced to make fatal choices. (15 mins.)
Director: Randolph Benson
 
41.
The Fearless Freaks (2005 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A documentary on the evolution of the Oklahoma band The Flaming Lips. (103 mins.)
Director: Bradley Beesley
 
42.
Picture of Light (1994 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A documentary of an expedition to Churchill, Manitoba to film the Northern Lights. (83 mins.)
Director: Peter Mettler
 
43.
Two Laws (1982 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Docu-drama outlining the culture clash in law between indigenous Australians and white European settled Australia. (130 mins.)
 
44.
Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Be Here to Love Me - Chronicles the fascinating and often turbulent life of Townes Van Zandt. (99 mins.)
Director: Margaret Brown
 
45.
Dont Look Back (1967 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Documentary covering Bob Dylan's 1965 tour of England, which includes appearances by Joan Baez and Donovan. (96 mins.)
Director: D.A. Pennebaker
 
46.
Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (1999 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A cinematic portrait of the life and career of the infamous American execution device designer and holocaust denier. (91 mins.)
Director: Errol Morris
 
47.
Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The story of how an eccentric French shop-keeper and amateur film-maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy... (87 mins.)
Director: Banksy
 
48.
The Invention of Dr. Nakamats (2009 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
The film is about the utterly fantastic and eccentric 80-year-old Japanese inventor responsible for 3,357 inventions... (57 mins.)
 
49.
Cane Toads: An Unnatural History (1988 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A documentary detailing the spread of Hawaiian sugar-cane toads through Australia in a botched effort to introduce them as counter pests. (47 mins.)
Director: Mark Lewis
 
50.
WR: Mysteries of the Organism (1971)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A homage to the work of psychologist Wilhelm Reich, matched with a story about a Yugoslavian girl's affair with a Russian skater. Sexual repression, social systems and the orgone theory are explored. (84 mins.)
Director: Dusan Makavejev
 
51.
American Boy: A Profile of: Steven Prince (1978 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Director Martin Scorsese talks to actor Steven Prince about his past. As the night goes on, Prince reveals some very amusing and moving stories of his experiences with drugs and violence. (55 mins.)
Director: Martin Scorsese
 
52.
Pina (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A tribute to the late German choreographer, Pina Bausch, as her dancers perform her most famous creations. (103 mins.)
Director: Wim Wenders
 
53.
A (1998 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Aum Shinrikyo, the Buddhist sect led by Shoko Asahara and responsible for the 1995 Sarin gas attack on a Tokyo subway, becomes the subject of this documentary. (136 mins.)
Director: Tatsuya Mori
 
54.
A2 (2001 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
(131 mins.)
Director: Tatsuya Mori
 
55.
Dying at Grace (2003 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
Director Allan King documents the final months of five terminally ill cancer patients at the Toronto Grace Health Centre. (148 mins.)
Director: Allan King
 
56.
Warrendale (1967 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Chronicles 7-weeks in the lives of 12 emotionally disturbed children and their therapist's experimental method of treatment at the Toronto-area Warrendale facility. (100 mins.)
Director: Allan King
 
57.
The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner (1974 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A study of the psychology of a champion ski-jumper, whose full-time occupation is carpentry. (45 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
 
58.
The Decline of Western Civilization (1981 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
The Los Angeles punk music scene circa 1980 is the focus of this film. With Alice Bag Band, Black Flag... (100 mins.)
 
59.
And Everything Is Going Fine (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A look at the art of Spalding Gray who drew from real life experience to create a compelling and deeply personal series of monologues. (89 mins.)
“ Three months after the viewing the film, I had a dream about Spalding Gray. ” - JMG_Films
 
60.
In the Bathtub of the World (2001 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
(73 mins.)
Director: Caveh Zahedi
 
61.
Night and Fog (1956 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
The history of Nazi Germany's death camps of the Final Solution and the hellish world of dehumanization and death contained inside. (32 mins.)
Director: Alain Resnais
 
62.
Kurt Cobain About a Son (2006 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
In this visual essay style documentary, intimate audio of journalist Michael Azerrad's interviews with Kurt Cobain is played over more recently photographed footage of Cobain's Washington state homes and haunts. (96 mins.)
Director: AJ Schnack
 
63.
Young Yakuza (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A young man is initiated into a Yakuza band. (90 mins.)
Director: Jean P. Limosin
 
64.
A.K. (1985 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A documentary that shows the production of Ran and discusses the film techniques of Kurosawa himself. (75 mins.)
Director: Chris Marker
 
65.
Voyage in Time (1983 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Like the Russian poet of 'Nostalghia', who, accompanied by his Italian guide and translator, traveled... (62 mins.)
 
66.
Eat the Document (1972 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Bob Dylan and The Hawks (aka The Band) on their infamous 1966 "Judas" tour of the UK. (54 mins.)
Director: Bob Dylan
 
67.
Madonna: Truth or Dare (1991 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
Documentary following singer Madonna on her controversial Blond Ambition tour in 1990. (120 mins.)
Director: Alek Keshishian
 
68.
Marjoe (1972 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Part documentary, part expose, this film follows one-time child evangelist Marjoe Gortner on the "church tent" Revivalist circuit... (88 mins.)
 
69.
Sister Helen (2002 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
In this emotionally compelling documentary, Sister Helen opens a private home for recovering addicts... (90 mins.)
 
70.
Antonio Gaudí (1984 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Hiroshi Teshigahara's camera takes us over, under, around, and into buildings and a park designed by Antonio Gaudí (1852 - 1926)... (72 mins.)
 
71.
Crazy Horse (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
A look inside Paris' Crazy Horse, a club that boasts the greatest and most chic nude dancing in the world. (134 mins.)
 
72.
Karayuki-san, the Making of a Prostitute (1975 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Documentary - (The interviewer is an Asian male director, Shohei Imamura.) Interview with Kikuyo Zendo... (75 mins.)
Director: Shôhei Imamura
 
73.
Two Laws (1982 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Docu-drama outlining the culture clash in law between indigenous Australians and white European settled Australia. (130 mins.)