Documentarists-TOP 100by quietgiant2 | created - 31 Dec 2010 | updated - 2 days ago | Public
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Director | Bowling for Columbine
Michael Francis Moore was born in Flint, Michigan on April 23, 1954, and was raised in its Davison suburb. He is the son of Helen Veronica (Wall), a secretary, and Francis Richard Moore, who worked on an auto assembly line. He has Irish, as well as English and Scottish, ancestry.
Moore studied ...
Director | Louisiana Story
Robert J. Flaherty was born on February 16, 1884 in Iron Mountain, Michigan, USA as Robert Joseph Flaherty. He was a director and writer, known for Louisiana Story (1948), Man of Aran (1934) and Elephant Boy (1937). He was married to Frances H. Flaherty. He died on July 23, 1951 in Brattleboro, ...
Actress | Das blaue Licht
Leni Riefenstahl's show-biz experience began with an experiment: she wanted to know what it felt like to dance on the stage. Success as a dancer gave way to film acting when she attracted the attention of film director Arnold Fanck, subsequently starring in some of his mountaineering pictures. With...
Director | Le ballon rouge
A former photographer, he turned to directing short subjects in the late 40s, soon acquiring an international reputation for the poetic quality of his short and medium-length films involving the fantasy world of children. Both his White Mane (1953) and The Red Balloon (1956) received a grand prize ...
5. Adam Curtis
Adam Curtis was born on May 26, 1955 in Dartford, Kent, England as Kevin Adam Curtis. He is a director and producer, known for The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear (2004), Pandora's Box (1992) and HyperNormalisation (2016).
6. Ken Burns
Producer | The Central Park Five
Celebrated American documentarian who gradually amassed a considerable reputation and a devoted audience with a series of reassuringly traditional meditations on Americana. Burns' works are treasure troves of archival materials; he skillfully utilizes period music and footage, photographs, ...
7. Joris Ivens
Director | La Seine a rencontré Paris
Joris Ivens was born on November 18, 1898 in Nijmegen, Gelderland, Netherlands as George Henri Anton Ivens. He was a director and writer, known for The Seine Meets Paris (1957), Pour le Mistral (1966) and A Tale of the Wind (1988). He was married to Marceline Loridan Ivens and Germaine Krull. He ...
9. Chris Marker
Writer | Twelve Monkeys
Chris Marker was born on July 29, 1921 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, France as Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve. He was a director and writer, known for Twelve Monkeys (1995), Sans Soleil (1983) and Third Side of the Coin (1960). He died on July 29, 2012 in Paris, France.
Producer | Le monde sans soleil
Jacques-Yves Cousteau was born on June 11, 1910, in Saint-André-de-Cubzac (Gironde) in France. He entered the naval academy in 1930, was graduated and became a gunnery officer. Then, while he was training to be a pilot, a serious car accident ended his aviation career. In order to rehabilitate his ...
12. Louis Lumière
Producer | La Mi-Carême, Char et batailles de confettis
Although no one will ever come up with a definitive answer as to who invented the cinema (probably because no one single person was responsible), Louis Lumière has one of the strongest claims to the title - for it was he (with his brother Auguste) who invented the cinematographe : a machine that ...
13. Alfred Machin
Director | Les héritiers de l'oncle James
Alfred Machin started his film work as camera man for Pathe at the beginning of 20 Century. During 1907 and 1909 he was in Africa, shooting documentary shorts. In 1910 he worked at the Pathe studio in Nizza, in 1911 he was one of the founding directors of the Pathe-filiale in Amsterdam, in 1913 he ...
14. Guy Debord
Guy Debord was born on December 28, 1931 in Paris, France as Guy-Ernest Debord. He was a writer and director, known for In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni (1978), Howlings in Favour of De Sade (1952) and Critique of Separation (1961). He was married to Alice Becker-Ho and Michele Bernstein. He ...
15. John Grierson
Producer | Child's Play
John Grierson was born on April 26, 1898 in Kilmadock, Stirlingshire, Scotland. He was a producer and writer, known for Child's Play (1954), Brandy for the Parson (1952) and Scotch on the Rocks (1953). He was married to Margaret Grierson. He died on February 19, 1972 in Bath, Somerset, England.
Director | O Canto do Mar
Born in Brazil in 1897, Alberto Cavalcanti began his film career in France in 1920, working as writer, art director and director. He directed the avant-garde documentary Nothing But Time (1926) ("Nothing but Time"), a portrait of the lives of Parisian workers in a single day. He moved to England in...
17. Albert Maysles
Cinematographer | Grey Gardens
Albert Maysles was born on November 26, 1926 in Dorchester, Boston, Massachusetts, USA as Albert Harry Maysles. He was a cinematographer and director, known for Grey Gardens (1975), Salesman (1969) and Gimme Shelter (1970). He was married to Gillian Walker. He died on March 5, 2015 in Manhattan, ...
Sink the Bismarck The Berlin Airlift Sugihara
Director | Letyat zhuravli
Mikhail Kalatozov was born on December 28, 1903 in Tiflis, Russian Empire as Mikhail Kalatozishvili. He was a director and cinematographer, known for The Cranes Are Flying (1957), True Friends (1954) and Zagovor obrechyonnykh (1950). He died on March 27, 1973 in Moscow, RSFSR, USSR.
21. Davis Guggenheim
Producer | Training Day
Davis Guggenheim was born on November 3, 1963 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA as Philip Davis Guggenheim. He is a producer and director, known for Training Day (2001), Waiting for 'Superman' (2010) and An Inconvenient Truth (2006). He has been married to Elisabeth Shue since 1994. They have three ...
22. Errol Morris
His documentaries helped spur a rebirth of non-fiction film in the 80s & garnered wide critical success. But until 2003's "The Fog of War," Morris was shunned by the Academy Awards.
Morris' first two films won much acclaim (Gates of Heaven (1978) and Vernon, Florida (1981)). In the second movie, ...
Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara
23. Peter Watkins
Director | The War Game
Peter Watkins began his career in advertising as an assistant producer and turned to amateur filmmaking in the late 1950s. In the mid-'60s he was commissioned by BBC-TV to make two feature-length docudramas incorporating a quasi-newsreel style and nonprofessional actors. The second of these, The ...
25. Ross McElwee
Director | Sherman's March
Ross McElwee was born on July 21, 1947 in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA as Ross Simonton McElwee III. He is a director and producer, known for Sherman's March (1985), Bright Leaves (2003) and Photographic Memory (2011). He has been married to Marilyn Levine since October 10, 1987. They have one ...
26. Joe Berlinger
Academy Award and seven-time Emmy nominated and Peabody and Emmy-winning filmmaker Joe Berlinger has been a leading voice in nonfiction film and television for two decades. Berlinger's films include the landmark documentaries BROTHER'S KEEPER, the PARADISE LOST Trilogy, which helped lead to the ...
Director | Virunga
Orlando von Einsiedel is the Oscar-winning director of short documentary, The White Helmets. His first feature documentary, the Bafta and Academy-Award nominated documentary, Virunga won over 50 international film awards including an Emmy, a Peabody, a Grierson and a duPont-Columbia Award for ...
29. Bert Haanstra
Director | Zoo
Bert Haanstra was born on May 31, 1916 in Holten, Overijssel, Netherlands as Albert Haanstra. He was a director and writer, known for Zoo (1961), Glas (1958) and Mirror of Holland (1950). He was married to Angenieta Barendiena Wijtmans. He died on October 23, 1997 in Hilversum, Noord-Holland, ...
30. D.A. Pennebaker
Director | Dont Look Back
D.A. Pennebaker was born on July 15, 1925 in Evanston, Illinois, USA as Donn Alan Pennebaker. He is a director and cinematographer, known for Bob Dylan: Dont Look Back (1967), The War Room (1993) and Unlocking the Cage (2016). He has been married to Chris Hegedus since April 3, 1982. They have two ...
31. Peter Davis
Producer | Hearts and Minds
Peter Davis was born on January 2, 1937 in Los Angeles, California. His parents were the screenwriters Frank Davis and Tess Slesinger (who was also a short story writer and novelist). Davis is a producer and director, known for Hearts and Minds (1974), The Selling of the Pentagon (1971) and "JACK" ...
Nelson Mandela: Prisoner to President The Seling of the Pentagon
32. Eugene Jarecki
Director | Why We Fight
Eugene Jarecki is an Emmy and Peabody award-winning director of dramatic and documentary subjects who has twice won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, first in 2005 for Why We Fight (2005) and again in 2012 for The House I Live In (2012)
A public intellectual on domestic and ...
36. Emile de Antonio
Director | In the King of Prussia
The son of a wealthy physician, Emile de Antonio grew up in the tough coal-mining town of Scranton, Pennsylvania, and it made a deep impression on him. His sympathies were always with working-class people (although he was a Harvard graduate, he was at times a dock worker, a peddler, the captain of ...
37. Les Blank
Director | Burden of Dreams
Born in 1935 in Tampa, Florida, Les Blank attended Tulane University in New Orleans, where he received a B.A. in English literature and an M.F.A. in theatre. In 1967, after two years in the Ph.D. film program at the University of Southern California, and five years of freelancing in Los Angeles, he...
38. Richard Leacock
Director | Omnibus
Richard Leacock was born on July 18, 1921 in London, England. He was a director and cinematographer, known for Omnibus (1952), Canary Island Bananas (1935) and Louisiana Story (1948). He was married to Valérie Lalonde and Eleanor Burke. He died on March 23, 2011 in Paris, France.
40. Eduardo Coutinho
Director | Edifício Master
Eduardo Coutinho was born on May 11, 1933 in São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil as Eduardo de Oliveira Coutinho. He was a director and writer, known for Edifício Master (2002), The Mighty Spirit (1999) and Babilônia 2000 (1999). He was married to Maria das Dores de Oliveira. He died on ...
Jogo de Cena Edifício Master Cabra Marcado Para Morrer
Director | Titicut Follies
Born in 1930, Wiseman is a Cambridge, Massachusetts resident and member of the Massachusetts Bar Association who turned to filmmaking in 1967, after years as an instructor and/or researcher at Boston University, Brandeis University, and Harvard. In 1970 he founded Zipporah Films, Inc., which ...
Hans-Jürgen Syberberg was born on December 8, 1935 in Nossendorf, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. He is a director and producer, known for Ludwig - Requiem for a Virgin King (1972), Die Nacht (1985) and Hitler: A Film from Germany (1977).
Writer | Paisà
The master filmmaker Roberto Rossellini, as one of the creators of neo-realism, is one of the most influential directors of all time. His neo-realist films influenced France's nouvelle vague movement in the 1950s and '60s that changed the face of international cinema. He also influenced American ...
Writer | Blowup
Michelangelo Antonioni was born in 1912 into a middle-class family and grew up in bourgeois surroundings of the Italian province. In Bologna he studied economics and commerce while he painted and also wrote criticism for a local newspaper. In 1939 he went to Rome and worked for the journal "Cinema"...
45. Ken Russell
Director | The Devils
Ken Russell tried several professions before choosing to become a film director; he was a still photographer and a dancer and he even served in the Army, but film was his destiny. He began by making several short films which paved the way for his brilliant television films of the 1960s that are ...
46. Werner Herzog
Director | Fitzcarraldo
Director. Writer. Producer. Actor. Poet. He studied history, literature and theatre for some time, but didn't finish it and founded instead his own film production company in 1963. Later in his life, Herzog also staged several operas in Bayreuth, Germany, and at the Milan Scala in Italy. Herzog has...
47. Louis Malle
Director | Au revoir les enfants
Louis Malle, the descendant of a French nobleman who made a fortune in beet sugar during the Napoleonic Wars, created films that explored life and its meaning. Malle's family discouraged his early interest in film but, in 1950, allowed him to enter the Institute of Advanced Cinematographic Studies ...
48. Alain Resnais
Director | On connaît la chanson
Alain Resnais was born on June 3, 1922 in Vannes, Morbihan, France as Alain Pierre Marie Jean Georges Resnais. He was a director and editor, known for Same Old Song (1997), Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) and My American Uncle (1980). He was married to Sabine Azéma and Florence Malraux. He died on March...
49. Jean-Luc Godard
Director | Pierrot le fou
Jean-Luc Godard was born in Paris on December 3, 1930, the second of four children in a bourgeois Franco-Swiss family. His father was a doctor who owned a private clinic, and his mother came from a preeminent family of Swiss bankers. During World War II Godard became a naturalized citizen of ...
50. Agnès Varda
Director | Sans toit ni loi
Agnès Varda was born on May 30, 1928 in Brussels, Belgium as Arlette Varda. She was a director and writer, known for Vagabond (1985), Faces Places (2017) and Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962). She was married to Jacques Demy. She died on March 29, 2019 in Paris, France.
51. Claude Lelouch
Director | Un homme et une femme
Claude Lelouch was born on October 30, 1937 in Paris, France. He is a writer and director, known for A Man and a Woman (1966), Itinéraire d'un enfant gâté (1988) and Hommes, femmes, mode d'emploi (1996). He is married to Valérie Perrin. He was previously married to Alessandra ...
52. Wim Wenders
Director | Der Himmel über Berlin
Wim Wenders is an Oscar-nominated German filmmaker who was born Ernst Wilhelm Wenders on August 14, 1945 in Düsseldorf, which then was located in the British Occupation Zone of what became the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany, known colloquially as West Germany until ...
Buena vista Social Club U2: The Best of 1990-2000 The Soul of a Man Pina The Salt of the Earth
53. Abbas Kiarostami
Director | Copie conforme
Abbas Kiarostami was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1940. He graduated from university with a degree in fine arts before starting work as a graphic designer. He then joined the Center for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, where he started a film section, and this started his career ...
54. Spike Jonze
Producer | Her
Spike Jonze made up one-third (along with Andy Jenkins and Mark Lewman) of the triumvirate of genius minds behind Dirt Magazine, the brother publication of the much lamented ground-breaking Sassy Magazine. These three uncommon characters were all editors for Grand Royal Magazine as well, under the ...
55. James Cameron
Writer | Avatar
James Francis Cameron was born on August 16, 1954 in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada. He moved to the United States in 1971. The son of an engineer, he majored in physics at California State University before switching to English, and eventually dropping out. He then drove a truck to support his ...
56. Shôhei Imamura
Director | Kuroi ame
Shohei Imamura's films dig beneath the surface of Japanese society to reveal a wellspring of sensual, often irrational, energy that lies beneath. Along with his colleagues Nagisa Ôshima and Masahiro Shinoda, Imamura began his serious directorial career as a member of the New Wave movement in Japan....
57. Néstor Almendros
Cinematographer | Days of Heaven
One of the highest appraised contemporary cinematographers. He was born in Spain but moved to Cuba by age 18 to join his exiled anti-Franco father. In Havana, he founded a cineclub and wrote film reviews. Then, he went on to study in Rome at the Centro Sperimentale. He directed six shorts in Cuba ...
60. Guy Davidi
Director | Five Broken Cameras
Guy Davidi, was born In Jaffa to a Jewish family. He grew up in Holon South of Tel Aviv, Israel. When he was 10 years old his father died and the family moved to Kfar-Saba, North of Tel Aviv. In his high school years he studied cinema course and started making short films. In the age of 19 he ...
see too Guy David
62. Rithy Panh
Director | L'image manquante
Rithy Panh was born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on the 18th april 1964. He is today one of the most acclaimed documentary filmmakers and the most famous Cambodian filmmaker worldwide. After 1975 his family died through the genocidal Khmer Rouge government (1975-1979) while he could escape in 1979 to ...
65. Sylvio Back
Director | Lost Zweig
Unmasking Brazilian myths.
66. Alex Gibney
Producer | Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
Alex Gibney was born on October 23, 1953 in New York City, New York, USA as Philip Alexander Gibney. He is a producer and director, known for Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005), Taxi to the Dark Side (2007) and Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief (2015). He has been married...
68. Michael Apted
Director | Rome
Michael Apted was born on February 10, 1941 in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England as Michael David Apted. He is a director and producer, known for Rome (2005), Enigma (2001) and The World Is Not Enough (1999). He has been married to Paige Simpson since January 8, 2014. He was previously married to ...
69. Mikhail Romm
Director | Chelovek No. 217
Mikhail Romm was born in 1901, into a Russian-Jewish family, in the Siberian city of Irkutsk, Russia. He served in the Red Army in 1918-21 as an Inspector of the Special Forces for Food Supplies. He was in charge of confiscations of bread and food from the wealthier farmers (kulaks) in Central ...
74. Pamela Yates
Pamela Yates (Director) was born and raised in the Appalachian coal-mining region of Pennsylvania but left at a young age to live New York City. She is a Guggenheim Fellow, the Director of the Sundance Award winning "When the Mountains Tremble", the Producer of the Emmy Award winning "Loss of ...
Producer | To the Moon and Back
The award winning documentary film director and producer, Susan Morgan Cooper, grew up in a tiny village in Wales where her parents produced plays to raise money for charity. Shortly after arriving in America, she landed a small role in a Clint Eastwood film, but found film editing more fascinating...
78. Jennifer Arnold
Director | A Small Act
Jennifer Arnold is an Emmy-nominated and award-winning writer, director, and producer working in documentary and narrative formats. Her films tackle varied subjects, from non-monogamy, to poverty, to Glee fans, to sport in the Cold War and have premiered at prestigious festivals around the world, ...
79. Liz Garbus
Producer | The Farm: Angola, USA
The best docs producer is a Woman?
80. Connie Field
Producer | The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter
Academy Award nominated and Emmy winning director Connie Field is a pioneering social documentary filmmaker. Before getting involved in film she worked as an organizer in many social and human rights organizations where she established her commitment to progressive social change which she has ...
81. Erwin Wagenhofer
Director | We Feed the World
He stopped, suddenly
82. Hubert Sauper
Director | Darwin's Nightmare
He studied film directing in Vienna (Univ. of Performing Arts). In 1994 he emigrated to France and wrote a thesis about French movie director Ciryl Collard in Université Der Paris VIII and graduated B.A.(Mag. art). Actually Hubert teaches film classes in Europe and the United Stated while he ...
85. Godfrey Reggio
Director | Koyaanisqatsi
Godfrey Reggio is a pioneer of a film style that creates poetic images of extraordinary emotional impact for audiences worldwide. Reggio is prominent in the film world for his QATSI trilogy, essays of visual images and sound that chronicle the destructive impact of the modern world on the ...
87. Thierry Michel
Director | Mobutu, roi du Zaïre
Thierry Michel, the indefatigable globe trotter. Always anxious to find out about the wide world, the Belgian director has already explored, through documentary or fiction, Morocco and its people (Issue de secours 1987)), Brazilian favelas (Gosses de Rio (1990), the culture of Zaire (Zaïre, le...
Children of Chance
88. Richard Ladkani
Cinematographer | The Devil's Miner
Richard Ladkani is an award-winning Austrian director and cinematographer. He gained most of his early experience in NYC, where he worked and lived for more than six years before moving to Munich, Germany in 2002. His dual approach as director and cinematographer has given his films a special ...
89. John Pilger
Writer | The War You Don't See
see too Palestine Is Still the Issue (2003) The War on Democracy (2007)
90. Mat Hames
Director | When I Rise
Mat Hames is a director, writer and producer, known for his two Independent Lens documentaries What Was Ours (2017) and When I Rise (2010) and for his documentary series for Rooster Teeth, RTDocs. His films have screened at SXSW, HotDocs, IDFA, AFI, the Santa Barbara Film Festival, LA Shorts Fest, ...
92. Steven Okazaki
Steven Okazaki was born in 1952 in Venice, California, USA. He is a director and producer, known for White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (2007), Days of Waiting (1991) and Mifune: The Last Samurai (2015).
93. Kon Ichikawa
Director | Inugami-ke no ichizoku
Kon Ichikawa has been influenced by artists as diverse as Walt Disney and Jean Renoir, and his films cover a wide spectrum of moods, from the comic to the overwhelmingly ironic and even the perverse. Ichikawa began his career as a cartoonist, and this influence is apparent in his skillful use of ...
94. Claude Lanzmann
Director | Shoah
Claude Lanzmann was born on November 27, 1925 in Bois-Colombes, Hauts-de-Seine, France. He was a director and writer, known for Shoah (1985), Shoah: Four Sisters (2018) and Sobibór, October 14, 1943, 4 p.m. (2001). He was married to Dominique Lanzmann-Petithory, Angelika Schrobsdorff and ...
95. Rob Stewart
Director | Sharkwater
Rob Stewart is an award-winning biologist, photographer, conservationist and filmmaker. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Stewart began photographing underwater when he was 13. By the age of 18 he became a scuba instructor and then moved on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, ...
Sorrowful, premature death
96. Steven Cantor
Director | Dancer
Steven Cantor is best known as the director of such hit documentaries as Dancer (2017) Chasing Tyson (2015), loudQUIETloud: A Film About Pixies (2011) and What Remains (2007). He is also the producer of such films as STEP (2017), Devil's Playground (2002), Reporter (2011) and Unraveled (2012). He ...