Documentary

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1. Cosmos (1980)

TV-PG | 60 min | Documentary

Astronomer Carl Sagan leads us on an engaging guided tour of the various elements and cosmological theories of the universe.

Stars: Carl Sagan, Jaromír Hanzlík, Jonathan Fahn, Alan Belod

Votes: 32,546

2. As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty (2000)

288 min | Documentary, Biography

Director Jonas Mekas provides an intimate glimpse of his personal life by constructing a feature length narrative from over 30 years of private home movie footage.

Director: Jonas Mekas | Stars: Jonas Mekas, Jane Brakhage, Stan Brakhage, Robert Breer

Votes: 755

3. Sans Soleil (1983)

Not Rated | 100 min | Documentary, Drama

A woman narrates the contemplative writings of a seasoned world traveler, focusing on contemporary Japan.

Director: Chris Marker | Stars: Florence Delay, Arielle Dombasle, Riyoko Ikeda, Charlotte Kerr

Votes: 8,539 | Gross: $0.03M

4. Shoah (1985)

Not Rated | 566 min | Documentary, History, War

99 Metascore

Claude Lanzmann's epic documentary recounts the story of the Holocaust through interviews with witnesses - perpetrators as well as survivors.

Director: Claude Lanzmann | Stars: Simon Srebnik, Michael Podchlebnik, Motke Zaïdl, Hanna Zaïdl

Votes: 7,700 | Gross: $0.02M

5. Man with a Movie Camera (1929)

Not Rated | 68 min | Documentary, Music

A man travels around a city with a camera slung over his shoulder, documenting urban life with dazzling invention.

Director: Dziga Vertov | Star: Mikhail Kaufman

Votes: 20,125

6. The Act of Killing (2012)

Not Rated | 117 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

90 Metascore

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.

Directors: Joshua Oppenheimer, Anonymous, Christine Cynn | Stars: Anwar Congo, Herman Koto, Syamsul Arifin, Ibrahim Sinik

Votes: 31,647 | Gross: $0.49M

7. Lessons of Darkness (1992)

Not Rated | 54 min | Documentary, War

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.

Director: Werner Herzog | Star: Werner Herzog

Votes: 4,793

8. Pictures of the Old World (1972)

70 min | Documentary

Pictures of the Old World is an unquestioned masterpiece of European documentary cinema, with existential radicalism that offers a contrast to the shallowness of hundreds of other ... See full synopsis »

Director: Dusan Hanák

Votes: 526

9. Lumière! (2016)

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary

A collection of restored prints from the Lumière Brothers.

Director: Thierry Frémaux | Stars: Thierry Frémaux, Martin Scorsese, François Clerc, Benoît Duval

Votes: 853

10. Black Harvest (1992)

Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary

Joe Leahy is the half-caste son of one of the first explorers of the Papua New Guinean interior. His relations with the local Ganiga tribe who work his coffee plantation on their land are ... See full summary »

Directors: Robin Anderson, Bob Connolly | Star: Joe Leahy

Votes: 174

11. Diaries Notes and Sketches (1969)

Not Rated | 177 min | Documentary

A chronogical about life including self, family, friend, couple and idol in 6 reels

Director: Jonas Mekas | Stars: Timothy Leary, Ed Emshwiller, Franz Fuenstler, Jack Smith

Votes: 482

12. The Great White Silence (1924)

108 min | Documentary

In 1910 the British Antarctic Expedition, led by Capt. Robert F. Scott, embarks from Lyttleton, NZ on a quest to become the first to reach the South Pole.

Director: Herbert G. Ponting | Stars: Robert Falcon Scott, Herbert G. Ponting, Henry R. Bowers, Edgar Evans

Votes: 785

13. The Blue Planet (1982)

83 min | Documentary

The passage of time in different dimensions illustrated by biological evolution, the changing seasons and the everyday moments of human life.

Director: Franco Piavoli

Votes: 208

14. Koyaanisqatsi (1982)

Not Rated | 86 min | Documentary, Music

72 Metascore

A collection of expertly photographed phenomena with no conventional plot. The footage focuses on nature, humanity and the relationship between them.

Director: Godfrey Reggio | Stars: Marilyn Chambers, Lou Dobbs, Ted Koppel

Votes: 32,390 | Gross: $1.72M

15. Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks (2002)

551 min | Documentary

The impact of the decline of heavy industry on workers and their families in the Tiexi district of Shenyang, China, at the turn of the 21st century, documented unflinchingly by a fly-on-the-wall camera.

Director: Bing Wang

Votes: 917

16. Heaven and Earth (1983)

285 min | Documentary

An epic documentary in two parts about life in the Styrian mountain village of St. Anna.

Director: Michael Pilz

Votes: 33

17. Picture of Light (1994)

Not Rated | 83 min | Documentary

A documentary of an expedition to Churchill, Manitoba to film the Northern Lights.

Director: Peter Mettler | Stars: Gavin Connor, Brian Ladoon, Don Lind, Peter Mettler

Votes: 211

18. Workingman's Death (2005)

Not Rated | 122 min | Documentary

67 Metascore

A documentary on the extremes to which workers will go to earn a living.

Director: Michael Glawogger

Votes: 1,584

19. Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927)

Not Rated | 65 min | Documentary

This movie shows us one day in Berlin, the rhythm of that time, starting at the earliest morning and ends in the deepest night.

Director: Walter Ruttmann | Star: Paul von Hindenburg

Votes: 3,531

20. Behemoth (2015)

Not Rated | 95 min | Documentary

85 Metascore

Under the sun, the heavenly beauty of grasslands will soon be covered by the raging dust of mines. Facing the ashes and noises caused by heavy mining , the herdsmen have no choice but to ... See full summary »

Director: Liang Zhao

Votes: 734

21. Sherman's March (1985)

Not Rated | 157 min | Documentary, Biography, Comedy

Documentary filmmaker Ross McElwee sets out to make a movie about Union General Sherman's March to the Sea towards the end of the American Civil War, but keeps getting sidetracked by his own love life.

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

Votes: 2,192

22. The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On (1987)

Not Rated | 122 min | Documentary, War

A documentary following Kenzo Okuzaki, a 62-year-old WW2 veteran notorious for his protests against Emperor Hirohito, as he tries to expose the needless executions of two Japanese soldiers during the war.

Director: Kazuo Hara | Stars: Kenzo Okuzaki, Riichi Aikawa, Masaichi Hamaguchi, Toshio Hara

Votes: 1,295

23. Human (I) (2015)

Not Rated | 190 min | Documentary

A collection of stories about and images of our world, offering an immersion to the core of what it means to be human.

Director: Yann Arthus-Bertrand | Stars: Luis Cancu, Atman, Berthony, Bruno

Votes: 6,457

24. Baraka (1992)

Not Rated | 96 min | Documentary

A collection of expertly photographed scenes of human life and religion.

Director: Ron Fricke

Votes: 33,559 | Gross: $1.33M

25. Samsara (I) (2011)

PG-13 | 102 min | Documentary, Music

65 Metascore

Filmed over nearly five years in twenty-five countries on five continents, and shot on seventy-millimetre film, Samsara transports us to the varied worlds of sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial complexes, and natural wonders.

Director: Ron Fricke | Stars: Balinese Tari Legong Dancers, Ni Made Megahadi Pratiwi, Puti Sri Candra Dewi, Putu Dinda Pratika

Votes: 30,240 | Gross: $2.67M

26. Fire at Sea (2016)

114 min | Documentary

87 Metascore

Capturing life on the Italian island of Lampedusa, a frontline in the European migrant crisis.

Director: Gianfranco Rosi | Stars: Samuele Pucillo, Mattias Cucina, Samuele Caruana, Pietro Bartolo

Votes: 4,962 | Gross: $0.11M

27. For All Mankind (1989)

Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary, History

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

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

Votes: 4,669 | Gross: $0.77M

28. HyperNormalisation (2016)

166 min | Documentary

Adam Curtis explains how, at a time of confusing and inexplicable world events, politicians and the people they represent have retreated in to a damaging over-simplified version of what is happening.

Director: Adam Curtis | Stars: Adam Curtis, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Victor Gotbaum

Votes: 4,158

29. Encounters at the End of the World (2007)

G | 99 min | Documentary

80 Metascore

Film-maker Werner Herzog travels to the McMurdo Station in Antarctica, looking to capture the continent's beauty and investigate the characters living there.

Director: Werner Herzog | Stars: Werner Herzog, Scott Rowland, Stefan Pashov, Doug MacAyeal

Votes: 16,280 | Gross: $0.94M

30. The Gleaners & I (2000)

Not Rated | 82 min | Documentary

83 Metascore

Varda films and interviews gleaners in France in all forms, from those picking fields after the harvest to those scouring the dumpsters of Paris.

Director: Agnès Varda | Stars: François Wertheimer, Agnès Varda, Bodan Litnanski

Votes: 5,234 | Gross: $0.15M

31. Burden of Dreams (1982)

Not Rated | 95 min | Documentary

A documentary on the chaotic production of Werner Herzog's epic Fitzcarraldo (1982), showing how the film managed to get made despite problems that would have floored a less obsessively ... See full summary »

Director: Les Blank | Stars: Werner Herzog, Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards

Votes: 5,723

32. 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.

Director: Robert J. Flaherty | Stars: Allakariallak, Alice Nevalinga, Cunayou, Allegoo

Votes: 9,820

33. A Grin Without A Cat (1977)

240 min | Documentary

81 Metascore

French essay film focusing on global political turmoil in the 1960s and '70s, particularly the rise of the New Left in France and the development of socialist movements in Latin America.

Director: Chris Marker | Stars: Laurence Cuvillier, Davos Hanich, François Maspero, Yves Montand

Votes: 852

34. The Quince Tree Sun (1992)

133 min | Documentary, Biography

82 Metascore

The artist Antonio López tries to capture the sunlight hitting his quince tree all autumn, but the struggle seems futile.

Director: Víctor Erice | Stars: Antonio López, María Moreno, Enrique Gran, María López

Votes: 1,539

35. Turksib (1929)

Not Rated | 57 min | Documentary

Resisting the character-driven narrative adhered to by the rest of the world's filmmakers, Victor Turin formulated a grand, elemental drama centered around the struggle for survival in Asia... See full summary »

Director: Victor A. Turin

Votes: 304

36. La Soufrière (1977)

30 min | Documentary, Short, Biography

Herzog takes a film crew to the island of Guadeloupe when he hears that the volcano on the island is going to erupt. Everyone has left, except for one old man who refuses to leave. Herzog ... See full summary »

Director: Werner Herzog | Star: Werner Herzog

Votes: 1,721

37. A Tale of the Wind (1988)

80 min | Documentary

An elderly, asthmatic filmmaker travels to China, hoping to film the wind.

Director: Joris Ivens | Stars: Joris Ivens, Henxiang Han, Zhuang Liu, Delong Wang

Votes: 688

38. Olympia Part One: Festival of the Nations (1938)

Not Rated | 111 min | Documentary, Sport

The document of the 1936 Olympics at Berlin.

Director: Leni Riefenstahl | Stars: David Albritton, Arvo Askola, Jack Beresford, Erwin Blask

Votes: 3,991

39. Ghost Town (2008)

169 min | Documentary

A remote village in southwest China is haunted by traces of its cultural past while its residents piece together their existence. Zhiziluo is a town barely clinging to life. Tucked away in ... See full summary »

Director: Dayong Zhao

Votes: 35

40. The White Diamond (2004)

Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary

83 Metascore

About the daring adventure of exploring rain forest canopy with a novel flying device-the Jungle Airship. Airship engineer Dr. Graham Dorrington embarks on a trip to the giant Kaieteur ... See full summary »

Director: Werner Herzog | Stars: Werner Herzog, Graham Dorrington, Dieter Plage, Adrian de Schryver

Votes: 4,089

41. The Salt of the Earth (2014)

PG-13 | 110 min | Documentary, Biography, History

83 Metascore

The life and work of photographer Sebastião Salgado, who has spent forty years documenting deprived societies in hidden corners of the world.

Directors: Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, Wim Wenders | Stars: Sebastião Salgado, Wim Wenders, Lélia Wanick Salgado, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado

Votes: 17,567 | Gross: $1.34M

42. Crumb (1994)

R | 119 min | Documentary, Biography, Comedy

93 Metascore

An intimate portrait of controversial cartoonist Robert Crumb and his traumatized family.

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

Votes: 17,076 | Gross: $3.17M

43. The Missing Picture (2013)

Not Rated | 92 min | Documentary

87 Metascore

Rithy Panh uses clay figures, archival footage, and his narration to recreate the atrocities Cambodia's Khmer Rouge committed between 1975 and 1979.

Director: Rithy Panh | Stars: Randal Douc, Jean-Baptiste Phou

Votes: 2,836 | Gross: $0.05M

44. Titicut Follies (1967)

Unrated | 84 min | Documentary

Documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman takes us inside the Massachusetts Correctional Institution Bridgewater where people stay trapped in their madness.

Director: Frederick Wiseman

Votes: 3,635

45. Mother Dao, the Turtlelike (1995)

90 min | Documentary

In a span of ninety minutes the film aims to show how the Netherlands administered its colony as a colonial enterprise and what the relations were like at the time. The usual commentary has... See full summary »

Director: Vincent Monnikendam

Votes: 137

46. À Propos de Nice (1930)

Not Rated | 25 min | Documentary, Short, Comedy

What starts off as a conventional travelogue turns into a satirical portrait of the town of Nice on the French Cote d'Azur, especially its wealthy inhabitants.

Directors: Boris Kaufman, Jean Vigo

Votes: 3,456

47. London (1994)

Not Rated | 85 min | Documentary

An inspiring tale through London by pictures narrated by Paul Scofield.

Director: Patrick Keiller | Stars: Paul Scofield, John Major, Norma Major, Dennis Skinner

Votes: 472

48. Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life (1925)

Passed | 71 min | Documentary

The struggles of a hardscrabble Iranian nomadic tribe as they journey through bleak country to reach the grasslands that will save their livestock.

Directors: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack | Stars: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack, Marguerite Harrison, Haidar Khan

Votes: 873

49. The Endless Summer (1966)

Not Rated | 95 min | Documentary, Sport

The crown jewel to ten years of Bruce Brown surfing documentaries. Brown follows two young surfers around the world in search of the perfect wave, and ends up finding quite a few in addition to some colorful local characters.

Director: Bruce Brown | Stars: Robert August, Michael Hynson, Lord James Blears, Bruce Brown

Votes: 4,730

50. Man on Wire (2008)

PG-13 | 94 min | Documentary, Biography, History

7.7