Documentaries

by filip_akerman | created - 10 Dec 2014 | updated - 21 May 2015 | Public
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1. 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: 903

2. 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: 19,947

5. Blue (1993)

R | 79 min | Biography, Drama

Against a plain, unchanging blue screen, a densely interwoven soundtrack of voices, sound effects and music attempt to convey a portrait of Derek Jarman's experiences with AIDS, both ... See full summary »

Director: Derek Jarman | Stars: Derek Jarman, Tilda Swinton, John Quentin, Nigel Terry

Votes: 1,734 | Gross: $1.72M

6. Our Century (1983)

47 min | Documentary

A man paves his own way to his own soul through an intellectual quest, tragedies of nations and personal drama. The road moving through the cosmic distances is a flight into one's internal ... See full summary »

Director: Artavazd Peleshian

Votes: 270

7. Land of Silence and Darkness (1971)

Not Rated | 85 min | Documentary

Through examining Fini Straubinger, an old woman who has been deaf and blind since adolescence, and her work on behalf of other deaf and blind people, this film shows how the deaf and blind... See full summary »

Director: Werner Herzog | Stars: Fini Straubinger, M. Baaske, Elsa Fehrer, Heinrich Fleischmann

Votes: 2,220

8. Warrendale (1967)

100 min | Documentary

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.

Director: Allan King | Star: Martin Fischer

Votes: 468

9. From the East (1993)

107 min | Documentary

A look at life in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Director: Chantal Akerman | Star: Natalia Chakhovskaia

Votes: 508

10. Taiga (1992)

501 min | Documentary

Taiga is an eight-hour documentary directed and photographed by Ulrike Ottinger. It focuses on the life and rituals of nomadic peoples in Northern Mongolia, specifically the Darkhad nomads and the Sojon Urinjanghai.

Director: Ulrike Ottinger

Votes: 62

11. A Divided World (1948)

8 min | Documentary, Short

A ten-minute study of wild animal life in a Swedish forest; stoat, fox, hare, and owl, who stalk and savage one another, are photographed with extraordinary vividness and intimacy. It is ... See full summary »

Director: Arne Sucksdorff

Votes: 46

12. India: Matri Bhumi (1959)

90 min | Documentary, Drama

Several stories depicting the landscapes and fauna of India are mixed with documentary footage.

Director: Roberto Rossellini

Votes: 490

14. 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: 32,044

15. Häxan (1922)

Not Rated | 91 min | Documentary, Fantasy, Horror

Fictionalized documentary showing the evolution of witchcraft, from its pagan roots to its confusion with hysteria in modern Europe.

Director: Benjamin Christensen | Stars: Benjamin Christensen, Elisabeth Christensen, Maren Pedersen, Clara Pontoppidan

Votes: 10,264

16. The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner (1974)

45 min | Documentary, Biography, Sport

A study of the psychology of a champion ski-jumper, whose full-time occupation is carpentry.

Director: Werner Herzog | Stars: Walter Steiner, Werner Herzog

Votes: 2,036

17. Two Years at Sea (2011)

Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary

77 Metascore

After working at sea, a man realizes his dream of moving to the middle of the forest.

Director: Ben Rivers | Star: Jake Williams

Votes: 469

18. Mysterious Object at Noon (2000)

Not Rated | 83 min | Documentary, Drama, Fantasy

69 Metascore

A film crew documents a folk story-exquisite corpse combination by random Thai people; the story is reenacted.

Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul | Stars: Djuangjai Hirunsri, Kongkiat Khomsiri, Saisiri Xoomsai

Votes: 1,045

19. Milestones (1975)

195 min | Documentary, Drama

"A many-faceted portrait of those individuals who sought radical solutions to social problems in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s. It cuts back and forth between six major story... See full summary »

Directors: John Douglas, Robert Kramer | Stars: Mary Chapelle, Sharon Krebs, Jim Nolfi, Grace Paley

Votes: 176

20. Zum Vergleich (2009)

61 min | Documentary

In Comparison revisits issues explored in the director's 2007 two channel installation Comparison Via a Third. Spanning continents and cultures, the film focuses on the brick in its many ... See full summary »

Director: Harun Farocki

Votes: 96

21. 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: 8,476 | Gross: $0.03M

22. Belfast, Maine (1999)

245 min | Documentary

Add a Plot

Director: Frederick Wiseman

Votes: 180

23. Enthusiasm (1931)

Not Rated | 67 min | Documentary

How the miners of the Don coal basin (one of the industrial regions of Ukraine) were striving to fulfill in four years their part of the Five Year Plan.

Director: Dziga Vertov

Votes: 652

24. Histoire(s) du cinéma (1989–1999)
Episode: Une histoire seule (1989)

42 min | Documentary

An 8-part documentary chronically the history of cinema: "All the Histories", "A Single History", "Only Cinema", "Deadly "Beauty", "The Coin of the Absolute", "A New Wave", "The Control of the Universe", and "The Signs Among Us".

Director: Jean-Luc Godard

Votes: 704

Represents the whole series

25. Far from Vietnam (1967)

Not Rated | 120 min | Documentary, Drama, War

In seven different segments, Godard, Klein, Lelouch, Marker, Resnais and Varda show their sympathy and support for the North Vietnamese army during the Vietnam war.

Directors: Joris Ivens, William Klein, Claude Lelouch, Agnès Varda, Jean-Luc Godard, Chris Marker, Alain Resnais | Stars: Anne Bellec, Karen Blanguernon, Bernard Fresson, Maurice Garrel

Votes: 543

26. We (1969)

27 min | Documentary, Short

Monumental picture exploring the identity and fate of the Armenian nation.

Director: Artavazd Peleshian

Votes: 333

27. Four Seasons (1975)

29 min | Documentary, Short

The last collaboration of Artavazd Peleshian and cinematographer Mikhail Vartanov is a film-essay about Armenia's shepherds, about the contradiction and the harmony between man and nature, scored to Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

Director: Artavazd Peleshian

Votes: 668

28. Beginning (1967)

10 min | Short, Documentary

Philosophical essay about the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia, its influence on the destiny of the world in the 20th century.

Director: Artavazd Peleshian | Stars: Feliks Dzierzynski, V.I. Lenin, Sergo Ordzhonikidze, Joseph Stalin

Votes: 254

29. On the Road: The Document (1964)

54 min

The film focuses on the taxi drivers of Tokyo in the year before the Tokyo Olympics and the difficulties they face: construction obstructing traffic, poor working conditions, numerous accidents, and bad pay.

Director: Noriaki Tsuchimoto | Star: Kimio Kawasaki

Votes: 39

30. Sink or Swim (1990)

Not Rated | 48 min | Documentary

Through a series of twenty six short stories, a girl describes the childhood events that shaped her ideas about fatherhood, family relations, work and play. As the stories unfold, a dual ... See full summary »

Director: Su Friedrich | Star: Jessica Meyerson

Votes: 298

31. 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: 463

32. Robinson in Space (1997)

82 min | Documentary

Robinson is commissioned to investigate the unspecified "problem of England." The narrator describes his seven excursions, with the unseen Robinson, around the country. They mainly ... See full summary »

Director: Patrick Keiller | Star: Paul Scofield

Votes: 270

33. New York Subway (1905)

Unrated | 6 min | Short, Documentary

Starting at Union Square, we are taken for an underground excursion, following the path of a subway train as it makes its way through New York City subway tunnels on its journey to the old ... See full summary »

Director: G.W. Bitzer

Votes: 600

34. Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010)

G | 90 min | Documentary, History

86 Metascore

Werner Herzog gains exclusive access to film inside the Chauvet caves of Southern France and captures the oldest known pictorial creations of humanity.

Director: Werner Herzog | Stars: Werner Herzog, Jean Clottes, Julien Monney, Jean-Michel Geneste

Votes: 14,063 | Gross: $5.23M

35. Le joli mai (1963)

Not Rated | 165 min | Documentary

Chris Marker and Pierre Lhomme's LE JOLI MAI (The Lovely Month of May) is a portrait of Paris and Parisians during May 1962;the first springtime of peace after the ceasefire with Algeria ... See full summary »

Directors: Chris Marker, Pierre Lhomme | Stars: Chris Marker, Yves Montand, Simone Signoret, Jean-Luc Godard

Votes: 614 | Gross: $0.02M

36. 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: 3,599

37. High School (1968)

Not Rated | 75 min | Documentary

Documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman takes us inside Northeast High School as a fly on the wall to observe the teachers and how they interact with the students.

Director: Frederick Wiseman

Votes: 1,565

38. Pour le Mistral (1966)

33 min | Documentary, Short

Scenes of life and landscape in Provence where a chilly wind called the Mistral blows down the valley of the Rhône to the Mediterranean. The Provençal terrain is dry and parched; the ... See full summary »

Director: Joris Ivens | Star: Roger Pigaut

Votes: 126

39. Depeche Mode: 101 (1989)

R | 117 min | Documentary, Music

Depeche Mode prepares for the 101st and final concert of its massive world tour at the Rose Bowl Stadium, Pasadena, California, while a group of fans who won a contest travel to the concert through the United States on a bus.

Directors: David Dawkins, Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker | Stars: Andrew Fletcher, David Gahan, Martin Gore, Alan Wilder

Votes: 1,350

40. Oxhide (2005)

Not Rated | 110 min | Documentary

Daily life in an impossibly cramped Beijing apartment takes on epic proportions in this, intimate portrait, with unprecedented access, of a working-class Chinese family.

Director: Jiayin Liu | Stars: Huifen Jia, Jiayin Liu, Zaiping Liu

Votes: 156

41. The Eleventh Year (1928)

52 min | Documentary

This documentary film is showing the hard labor of countrymen in industrial production to strengthen the U.S.S.R. economy and turning their country into a world power.

Director: Dziga Vertov

Votes: 237

42. Too Early/Too Late (1982)

100 min | Documentary

A sequence of shots of rural landscapes accompanied by readings of texts about the struggles of poor farmers.

Directors: Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub | Stars: Danièle Huillet, Bahgat Elnadi, Gérard Samaan, Gamal Abdel Nasser

Votes: 351

43. Disorder (2009)

Not Rated | 58 min | Documentary, News

Footage collected from a dozen amateur videographers woven into a unique city symphony of social dysfunction.

Director: Weikai Huang

Votes: 140

44. American Dreams: Lost and Found (1984)

58 min | Documentary, Crime

American Dreams is chock full of concrete, discrete elements that comprise an American iconography of the past three decades. The film encourages a kind of perverse nostalgia for 'the good ... See full summary »

Director: James Benning

Votes: 89

45. A Sunday Day in Hell (1977)

111 min | Documentary, Sport

The film follows the French Paris-Roubaix spring classic, notorious for the hellish paves or cobbled roads of the north "which are no longer used for traffic but only for transporting ... See full summary »

Director: Jørgen Leth | Stars: David Saunders, Roger De Vlaeminck, Marc Demeyer, Freddy Maertens

Votes: 636

46. Manhatta (1921)

Not Rated | 11 min | Documentary, Short

This groundbreaking silent documentary captures the beauty and majesty of the New York City in its streets, skyscrapers, bridges, rail yards and harbors.

Directors: Charles Sheeler, Paul Strand

Votes: 1,208

47. Route One USA (1989)

255 min | Documentary

Doc (McIsaac), back from a decade in in Africa, and filmmaker Kramer, decide to follow Route 1, from the Canadian border all the way to the tip of Florida.

Director: Robert Kramer | Stars: Jesse Jackson, Paul McIsaac, Pat Robertson

Votes: 203

48. In Memory of the Day Passed By (1990)

40 min | Documentary, Short

The film is a day in the life that passes by, even if it seems neverending.

Director: Sharunas Bartas

Votes: 213

49. 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: 868

50. Forest of Bliss (1986)

Unrated | 90 min | Documentary

7.4