Documentaries : The Essential List

by AfrocentricFilmsCollaborative | created - 22 Apr 2014 | updated - 2 months ago | Public

Afrocentric Films Collaborative, LLC has put together another exquisite collection of essential cinema. This time we focus on documentary films. AFC loves documentaries, I mean love them, especially powerful encrypted ones with life changing significance. Documentaries are meant to inform and inspire, but most importantly tell a story.

Enjoy!

Afrocentric Films Collaborative

(non-chronological)

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1. Eyes on the Prize (1987–1990)

TV-PG | 360 min | Documentary, History

A documentary about the American Civil Rights Movement from 1952 to 1965.

Stars: Julian Bond, Unita Blackwell, James Hicks, Burke Marshall

Votes: 436

2. Planet Earth (2006)

TV-G | 533 min | Documentary

Emmy Award-winning, 11 episodes, five years in the making, the most expensive nature documentary series ever commissioned by the BBC, and the first to be filmed in high definition.

Stars: David Attenborough, Sigourney Weaver, Huw Cordey, Doug Allan

Votes: 136,514

3. Africa (2013)

360 min | Documentary

Africa, the world's wildest continent. David Attenborough takes us on an awe-inspiring journey through one of the most diverse places in the world. We visit deserts, savannas, and jungles and meet up with some of Africa's amazing wildlife.

Stars: David Attenborough, Simon Blakeney, James Aldred, Katrina Bartlam

Votes: 9,317

4. The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (2015)

Not Rated | 115 min | Documentary

79 Metascore

This documentary tells the rise and fall of the Black Panther Party, one of the 20th century's most alluring and controversial organizations that captivated the world's attention for nearly 50 years.

Director: Stanley Nelson | Stars: Angela Arnold, Erica Ball, Rhon G. Flatts, Eric Lockley

Votes: 1,319 | Gross: $0.48M

5. The Weather Underground (2002)

Unrated | 92 min | Documentary, History, War

77 Metascore

The remarkable story of The Weather Underground, radical activists of the 1970s, and of radical politics at its best and most disastrous.

Directors: Sam Green, Bill Siegel | Stars: Lili Taylor, Pamela Z, Jim Lange, Evan White

Votes: 3,233 | Gross: $0.56M

6. Beautiful People (1974)

G | 92 min | Comedy, Documentary

Hilarious documentary on the wildlife of the Namib Desert.

Director: Jamie Uys | Star: Paddy O'Byrne

Votes: 3,260

7. A Place Called Chiapas (1998)

Not Rated | 89 min | Documentary

When the Zapatista National Liberation Army took over five towns and 500 ranches in southern Mexico, the government deployed its troops and at least 145 people died in the ensuing battle. ... See full summary »

Director: Nettie Wild | Stars: Samuel Ruiz García, Rafael Sebastián Guillén Vicente

Votes: 286 | Gross: $0.23M

8. War Photographer (2001)

96 min | Documentary, War

79 Metascore

Documentary about war photographer James Nachtwey, considered by many the greatest war photographer ever.

Director: Christian Frei | Stars: James Nachtwey, Christiane Amanpour, Hans-Hermann Klare, Christiane Breustedt

Votes: 3,624

9. Chisholm '72: Unbought & Unbossed (2004)

Not Rated | 76 min | Documentary

73 Metascore

A documentary on Brooklyn-based Congresswoman Shirley's Chisholm's 1972 presidential bid.

Director: Shola Lynch | Stars: Shirley Chisholm, Walter Cronkite, George Wallace, Ralph Abernathy

Votes: 181

10. The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (2011)

Not Rated | 100 min | Documentary, History

73 Metascore

Footage shot by a group of Swedish journalists documenting the Black Power Movement in the United States is edited together by a contemporary Swedish filmmaker.

Director: Göran Olsson | Stars: Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael, Bobby Seale, Abiodun Oyewole

Votes: 1,622 | Gross: $0.26M

11. Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People (2006 Video)

50 min | Documentary, History, War

This groundbreaking documentary dissects a slanderous aspect of cinematic history that has run virtually unchallenged form the earliest days of silent film to today's biggest Hollywood ... See full summary »

Directors: Jeremy Earp, Sut Jhally | Stars: Bo Derek, Ana Obregón, Jack Shaheen

Votes: 500

12. The Central Park Five (2012)

Not Rated | 119 min | Documentary, Crime, History

79 Metascore

A documentary that examines the 1989 case of five black and Latino teenagers who were convicted of raping a white woman in Central Park. After having spent between 6 and 13 years each in prison, a serial rapist confessed to the crime.

Directors: Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon | Stars: Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Kharey Wise, Raymond Santana

Votes: 5,670 | Gross: $0.27M

13. Living in Emergency (2008)

Unrated | 120 min | Documentary

76 Metascore

In the war-zones of Liberia and Congo, four volunteers with Doctors Without Borders struggle to provide emergency medical care under extreme conditions.

Director: Mark N. Hopkins | Stars: Davinder Gill, Tom Krueger, Chiara Lepora, Chris Brasher

Votes: 1,003 | Gross: $0.03M

14. The Interrupters (2011)

Unrated | 125 min | Documentary, Crime

86 Metascore

A year in the life of a city grappling with urban violence.

Director: Steve James | Stars: Tio Hardiman, Ameena Matthews, Toya Batey, Cobe Williams

Votes: 3,278 | Gross: $0.28M

15. Soul Power (2008)

PG-13 | 92 min | Documentary, Music

76 Metascore

A filmed account of the Zaire 74 soul music festival, originally intended to be in concert with the famous Rumble in the Jungle bout in Kinshasa, Zaire in 1974.

Director: Jeffrey Kusama-Hinte | Stars: Muhammad Ali, James Brown, Don King, Celia Cruz

Votes: 713 | Gross: $0.21M

16. Scared Straight! (1978)

96 min | Crime, Documentary

The filmed depiction of a program where convicts tell troubled kids about the horrors of prison life.

Director: Arnold Shapiro | Stars: Peter Falk, Mickie Cold, Doug Cronin, Carlo Gallo

Votes: 682

17. The Last Lions (2011)

PG | 88 min | Documentary, Family

69 Metascore

Fifty years ago there were close to half-a-million lions in Africa. Today there are around 20,000. To make matters worse, lions, unlike elephants, which are far more numerous, have ... See full summary »

Director: Dereck Joubert | Star: Jeremy Irons

Votes: 3,721 | Gross: $0.64M

18. The Murder of Fred Hampton (1971)

Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

86 Metascore

Fred Hampton was the leader of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party. This film depicts his brutal murder by the Chicago police and its subsequent investigation, but also ... See full summary »

Director: Howard Alk | Stars: Skip Andrew, Edward Carmody, James Davis, Rennie Davis

Votes: 193

19. Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony (2002)

PG-13 | 108 min | Documentary, History, Music

78 Metascore

Interviews, archival footage, and filmed performances highlight the role of music in the South African struggle against apartheid.

Director: Lee Hirsch | Stars: Abdullah Ibrahim, Duma Ka Ndlovu, Vusi Mahlasela, Walter Cronkite

Votes: 536 | Gross: $0.40M

20. Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple (2006)

86 min | Documentary, History

79 Metascore

Featuring never-before-seen footage, this documentary delivers a startling new look at the Peoples Temple, headed by preacher Jim Jones who, in 1978, led more than 900 members to Guyana, where he orchestrated a mass suicide via tainted punch.

Director: Stanley Nelson | Stars: Rebecca Moore, Janet Shular, Tim Carter, Stanley Clayton

Votes: 4,493

21. Maya Angelou and Still I Rise (2016)

Not Rated | 114 min | Documentary, Biography, History

66 Metascore

The first feature documentary about the remarkable writer, poet, actress, activist Maya Angelou.

Directors: Bob Hercules, Rita Coburn Whack | Stars: Cicely Tyson, Guy Johnson, Diahann Carroll, Don Martin

Votes: 325

22. Buena Vista Social Club (1999)

G | 105 min | Documentary, Music

81 Metascore

Aging Cuban musicians whose talents had been virtually forgotten following Castro's takeover of Cuba, are brought out of retirement by Ry Cooder, who travelled to Havana in order to bring the musicians together, resulting in triumphant performances of extraordinary music, and resurrecting the musicians' careers.

Director: Wim Wenders | Stars: Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer, Rubén González, Eliades Ochoa

Votes: 14,923 | Gross: $7.00M

23. Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (1988)

PG-13 | 90 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

A documentary film about the life of pianist and jazz great Thelonious Monk. Features live performances by Monk and his band, and interviews with friends and family about the offbeat genius.

Director: Charlotte Zwerin | Stars: Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Jimmy Cleveland, Harry Colomby

Votes: 848 | Gross: $0.52M

24. Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest (2011)

R | 97 min | Documentary, Music

76 Metascore

Michael Rapaport documents the inner workings and behind the scenes drama that follows this innovative and influential band to this day.

Director: Michael Rapaport | Stars: Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Jarobi White

Votes: 3,145 | Gross: $1.20M

25. Mama Africa (2011)

90 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

Documentary about Miriam Makeba.

Director: Mika Kaurismäki | Stars: Miriam Makeba, Bageot Bah, Harry Belafonte, Stokely Carmichael

Votes: 243 | Gross: $0.01M

26. Dark Girls (2011)

Not Rated | 71 min | Documentary

Documentary exploring the deep-seated biases and attitudes about skin color---particularly dark skinned women, outside of and within the Black American culture.

Directors: D. Channsin Berry, Bill Duke | Stars: Stephanie A., Soren Baker, Ronald Boutelle, Joni Bovill

Votes: 465

27. Tango Negro: The African Roots of Tango (2013)

93 min | Documentary

Tango Negro, The African Roots of Tango by Angolan filmmaker Dom Pedro explores the expression of Tango's Africanness and the contribution of African cultures in the creation of the tango. ... See full summary »

Director: Dom Pedro | Star: Juan Carlos Cáceres

Votes: 9

28. Mississippi Chicken (2007)

82 min | Documentary

Questions of race, workers' rights and exploitation form the crux of this intriguing documentary about Latin American immigrants living in rural Mississippi, where poultry plants promise ... See full summary »

Director: John Fiege

Votes: 22

29. When We Were Kings (1996)

PG | 88 min | Documentary, Sport

83 Metascore

A documentary of the 1974 heavyweight championship bout in Zaire, "The Rumble in the Jungle," between champion George Foreman and underdog challenger Muhammad Ali.

Director: Leon Gast | Stars: Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Don King, James Brown

Votes: 13,494 | Gross: $2.67M

30. Cocaine Cowboys (2006)

R | 118 min | Documentary, Crime, History

59 Metascore

In the 1980s, ruthless Colombian cocaine barons invaded Miami with a brand of violence unseen in this country since Prohibition-era Chicago - and it put the city on the map. "Cocaine ... See full summary »

Director: Billy Corben | Stars: Jon Roberts, Al Sunshine, Sam Burstyn, Mickey Munday

Votes: 11,612 | Gross: $0.15M

31. Style Wars (1983 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 69 min | Documentary, Music

A documentary that exposes the rich growing subculture of hip-hop that was developing in New York City in the late '70s and early '80s, specifically focusing on graffiti art and breakdancing.

Director: Tony Silver | Stars: Demon, Kase 2, Eric Haze, Spank

Votes: 2,344

32. Home (I) (2009)

Not Rated | 120 min | Documentary, Drama, Family

47 Metascore

With aerial footage from fifty-four countries, 'Home' is a depiction of how Earth's problems are all interlinked.

Director: Yann Arthus-Bertrand | Stars: Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Glenn Close, Jacques Gamblin

Votes: 20,052

33. Urbanized (2011)

Not Rated | 85 min | Documentary

A documentary about the design of cities, which looks at the issues and strategies behind urban design and features some of the world's foremost architects, planners, policymakers, builders, and thinkers.

Director: Gary Hustwit | Stars: Rem Koolhaas, Joshua David, Amanda M. Burden, Norman Foster

Votes: 1,871

34. 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: 28,263 | Gross: $2.60M

35. Undefeated (2011)

PG-13 | 113 min | Documentary, Sport

71 Metascore

Chronicles three underprivileged students from inner-city Memphis and their volunteer coach who tries to help them beat the odds on and off the field.

Directors: Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin | Stars: Bill Courtney, O.C. Brown, Montrail 'Money' Brown, Chavis Daniels

Votes: 6,333 | Gross: $0.56M

36. The Seven Five (2014)

R | 104 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

69 Metascore

Meet the dirtiest cop in NYC history. Michael Dowd stole money and dealt drugs while patrolling the streets of 80s Brooklyn.

Director: Tiller Russell | Stars: Mike Dowd, Ken Eurell, Walter Yurkiw, Chickie

Votes: 4,380 | Gross: $0.01M

37. 13th (2016)

TV-MA | 100 min | Documentary, Crime, History

90 Metascore

An in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation's history of racial inequality.

Director: Ava DuVernay | Stars: Melina Abdullah, Michelle Alexander, Cory Booker, Dolores Canales

Votes: 17,671

38. Bastards of the Party (2005)

95 min | Documentary

Surrounded by death and the brutal lifestyle that feeds it, a Los Angeles gangbanger explores the history of Southern California street gangs from the 1950s through the 1990s in an attempt ... See full summary »

Director: Cle Sloan | Stars: Daryl Gates, Fred Hampton, Joe Hicks, Ericka Huggins

Votes: 490

39. Earthlings (2005)

95 min | Documentary, Horror

Using hidden cameras and never-before-seen footage, Earthlings chronicles the day-to-day practices of the largest industries in the world, all of which rely entirely on animals for profit.

Director: Shaun Monson | Star: Joaquin Phoenix

Votes: 15,443

40. The Union: The Business Behind Getting High (2007)

104 min | Documentary

BC's illegal marijuana trade industry has evolved into a business giant, dubbed by some involved as 'The Union', Commanding upwards of $7 billion Canadian annually. With up to 85% of 'BC ... See full summary »

Director: Brett Harvey | Stars: Adam Scorgie, Chris Bennett, Steve Bloom, Renee Bojee

Votes: 7,412

41. The Bro Code: How Contemporary Culture Creates Sexist Men (2011 Video)

Documentary

The film examines the ways in which media and popular culture trains American boys and men to adopt and celebrate sexist views toward women.

Director: Thomas Keith | Stars: Angel Acosta, Robert Jensen, Thomas Keith, Michael Kimmel

Votes: 20

42. I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

PG-13 | 93 min | Documentary

95 Metascore

Writer James Baldwin tells the story of race in modern America with his unfinished novel, Remember This House.

Director: Raoul Peck | Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X

Votes: 12,438 | Gross: $7.12M

43. Life and Debt (2001)

Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary

67 Metascore

Documentary look at the effects of globalization on Jamaican industry and agriculture.

Director: Stephanie Black | Stars: Belinda Becker, Buju Banton, Horst Köhler, Michael Manley

Votes: 913 | Gross: $0.24M

44. Beyond Treason (2005 Video)

89 min | Documentary

This extremely powerful 89 minute film presents comprehensive documentation from United States Government archives of a massive cover-up, including military and civilian experimentation, ... See full summary »

Director: William Lewis | Stars: William Cohen, Matt Gonzalez, David Huxsoll, Bob Jones

Votes: 143

45. Speed Sisters (2015)

78 min | Documentary, Adventure, Drama