We humans are a visual species. Of all our senses we rely on the sense of sight more than any other sense, including common sense (which is ironically not that common). We prefer to trust on what we see and what we are shown and what we see becomes our reality, no matter how different the actual reality might be; and this is exactly why Documentary films have played such a pivotal role in shaping our civilisation. Documentary Films are by far the best tool to spread awareness and give people a much needed dose of reality. We sifted through some of the best documentaries to bring you the Top 10 documentary films that you cannot miss out on.
Top Ten Documentary Films of all Times
For your dose of reality you definitely need to check out these top ten Documentary films, screened all around the globe in numerous documentary film festivals.
1. Night and Fog
A simple warning before you hit the play button on this one. Only watch if you have a strong stomach and if you don’t watch it BEFORE you eat anything. Night and the Fog is a French documentary directed by Alain Resnais and narrated by Michel Bouquet and is probably one of the most powerful depictions of the Holocaust. The documentary forces you to think about the dark bowels of humanity which makes us a species capable of absolute sadistic behaviour. It was screened in the Cannes film festival after a lot of the deported prisoners threatened to occupy the theatre in their camp uniforms. The documentary was awarded the Jean Vigo prize and was also nominated for a BAFTA.
2. The Cove
If you like dolphins (who doesn’t?) this one will probably (read: most definitely) pinch a few nerves. The film addresses the annual slaughter of Dolphins on a massive scale in Taiji, Wakayama, Japan. Directed by Louie Psihoyos and written by Mark Monroe, the film revolves around a group of activists who try to capture the dolphin slaughter on film. A lot of hidden camouflaged cameras and some extreme technology were used in the making of this film; the people involved with the documentary received a lot of threats and at many points were endangering their own lives. The Movie received a lot of positive feedback from the crowd however there were also a lot of controversies that shot up after the release.
3. Zeitgeist: The Movie
If ever there was a movie for the conspiracy theorists it has to be Zeitgeist. Zeitgeist basically has a simple motive, to force people to question certain, so called, truths about life that we usually take on their face value. As expected this movie was widely criticised mostly for its content; The Irish times printed a review about the movie entitled ‘Zeitgeist: The Nonsense’ along with a lot of other reviews which classified the movie as ‘conspiracy crap’.
Samsara is an excellent example of the fruits of patience. The documentary was shot in over four years and 25 countries and there was no CGI used. The film still offers some of the most resplendent scenes and breath-taking cinematography. The movie explores the wonders of the world, both mundane and miraculous, and inspires its viewers to look into the depths of their souls. Then again that is exactly something you might expect off Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson, the duo who brought to you hits like, Baraka and Chronos.
5. The Thin Blue Line
The thin blue line is a documentary surrounding the murder trial of Randal Dale Adams who was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life. The Documentary is basically a re-enactment of the entire incident but after a lot of investigation by Director/writer Errol Morris it was proved that a lot of the evidence gathered by the Texas police was purely circumstantial. The Randal Adams case was later dismissed by the court and he was set free.
6. Exit Through the Gift Shop
Exit through the Gift shop is a little more than just hard to explain. It starts off as a French baker trying to film and befriend the infamous graffiti artist Banksy, but halfway through Banksy takes over the film and starts shooting the French baker instead. The Movie is actually quite hilarious and also features some footage of Banksy who has usually been known to guard his identity viciously to avoid persecution.
This one is a must watch for music lovers Michael Wadleigh takes you through the Woodstock music festival held in Bethel New York in 1969. The film gives you a sneak peek review of the entire festival with the footage of the concerts and interviews with the artists. The Film captures both the positive and the negatives of the event including the drug abuse to the arrival the National Guard’s helicopters with food and medical supplies for the impromptu city in the middle of nowhere.
8. Grey Gardens
This is once again an enactment of the lives of Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale and Edith Bouvier Beale, and their life after Phelan, Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale’s husband, leaves her and her daughter, leaving them to survive on their own means. The film revolves around the mother and daughter, used to living in luxury, now living in squalor like situation. The film depicts their house infested with racoons and vermin later on in the film. Directed Michael Sucsy, it is an exceptional movie and a definite must watch.
9. Grizzly Man
The Grizzly Man is the story of an amateur Grizzly expert, Timothy Treadwell, who went in to live among a group of Grizzlies in Alaska. The story revolves around how he and his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard, found solace in the company of these endangered animals and how they were later killed by a rogue Grizzly. The film focuses more on the life and death of Timothy and his love for animals. It is a movie that will definitely make you shed a few tears.
10. An Inconvenient Truth
This one is probably a movie that you must have definitely heard of. The Inconvenient Truth is a documentary of Al Gore’s campaign against global warming. Directed by Davis Guggenheim, the film eloquently addresses the entire issue of global warming. The Movie received a lot of positive feedback in general although there were a couple of critical remarks as well.