Great documentaries

by RushRhees | created - 29 Nov 2013 | updated - 29 Mar 2016 | Public

These are all documentaries that somehow have stayed in my mind over the years.

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1. Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus (2003)

82 min | Documentary

58 Metascore

Searching for The Wrong-Eyed Jesus is a captivating and compelling road trip through the creative spirit of the the Southern U.S. Director Andrew Douglas's film follows "Alt Country" singer... See full summary »

Director: Andrew Douglas | Stars: Harry Crews, Johnny Dowd, David Eugene Edwards, The Handsome Family

Votes: 1,052 | Gross: $0.08M

2. Själen är större än världen (1985)

105 min | Documentary

Captivating and emotional documentary that follows Swedish Discus champion Ricky Bruch as he prepares for the 1984 Olympics at age 38. The film highlights Bruch's obsessive behavior ... See full summary »

Director: Stefan Jarl | Stars: Ricky Bruch, Rolf Danneberg, Carl Fredrik Dymling, Bo Hansson

Votes: 121

4. When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006–2007)

TV-MA | 255 min | Documentary

An examination of the U.S. government's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Stars: Darleen Asevedo, Jay Asevedo, Shelton Shakespear Alexander, Lee Arnold

Votes: 3,953

5. Grey Gardens (1975)

PG | 95 min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama

An old mother and her middle-aged daughter, the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy, live their eccentric lives in a filthy, decaying mansion in East Hampton.

Directors: Ellen Hovde, Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Muffie Meyer | Stars: Edith Bouvier Beale, Edith 'Little Edie' Bouvier Beale, Brooks Hyers

Votes: 10,681 | Gross: $0.03M

6. 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: 8,390 | Gross: $0.03M

7. Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea (2004)

Not Rated | 74 min | Documentary

72 Metascore

Renowned cult film director John Waters narrates this quirky exploration of the Salton Sea, the massive Southern California lake that was created by accident a century ago, became a popular... See full summary »

Directors: Chris Metzler, Jeff Springer | Stars: Sonny Bono, John Waters, Norm Niver, Petre Melvin

Votes: 596 | Gross: $0.05M

8. Harlan County U.S.A. (1976)

PG | 103 min | Documentary

80 Metascore

A filmed account of a bitterly violent miner strike.

Director: Barbara Kopple | Stars: Norman Yarborough, Houston Elmore, Phil Sparks, John Corcoran

Votes: 4,253

9. Our Daily Bread (2005)

Not Rated | 92 min | Documentary

86 Metascore

OUR DAILY BREAD is a wide-screen tableau of a feast which isn't always easy to digest - and in which we all take part. A pure, meticulous and high-end film experience that enables the audience to form their own ideas.

Director: Nikolaus Geyrhalter | Stars: Claus Hansen Petz, Arkadiusz Rydellek, Barbara Hinz, Renata Wypchlo

Votes: 2,353

10. Into Great Silence (2005)

Not Rated | 169 min | Documentary

78 Metascore

An examination of life inside the Grande Chartreuse, the head monastery of the reclusive Carthusian Order in France.

Director: Philip Gröning

Votes: 2,076 | Gross: $0.79M

11. My Best Fiend (1999)

Not Rated | 95 min | Documentary, Biography

70 Metascore

In the 1950s, an adolescent Werner Herzog was transfixed by a film performance of the young Klaus Kinski. Years later, they would share an apartment where, in an unabated, forty-eight-hour ... See full summary »

Director: Werner Herzog | Stars: Werner Herzog, Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale, Justo González

Votes: 9,496 | Gross: $0.10M

12. Patti Smith: Dream of Life (2008)

Not Rated | 109 min | Documentary, Music

66 Metascore

An intimate portrait of poet, painter, musician and singer Patti Smith that mirrors the essence of the artist herself.

Director: Steven Sebring | Stars: Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye, Oliver Ray, Tony Shanahan

Votes: 897 | Gross: $0.03M

13. Finnish Blood Swedish Heart (2012)

90 min | Documentary, Drama, Music

A son and a father go on a road trip that turns into a musical journey into the emotional memory and the history of Finnish immigration in Sweden; of shame, guilt, crime, alcoholism, and family secrets.

Director: Mika Ronkainen | Stars: Hannu Kiviaho, Harri Manty, Markus Fagervall, Anna Järvinen

Votes: 287

14. Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)

PG | 81 min | Documentary

77 Metascore

A documentary on 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono, his renowned Tokyo restaurant, and his relationship with his son and eventual heir, Yoshikazu.

Director: David Gelb | Stars: Jiro Ono, Yoshikazu Ono, Masuhiro Yamamoto, Daisuke Nakazama

Votes: 30,731 | Gross: $2.55M

15. Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow (2010)

Not Rated | 105 min | Documentary

66 Metascore

The film bears witness to German artist Anselm Kiefer's alchemical creative processes and renders in film, as a cinematic journey, the personal universe he has built at his hill-studio ... See full summary »

Director: Sophie Fiennes | Stars: Anselm Kiefer, Klaus Dermutz, Bill Katz

Votes: 243 | Gross: $0.05M

16. Broke. (2009 TV Movie)

77 min | Documentary

Set in a pawnshop the documentary by award-winning filmmaker Rosie Dransfeld features the unlikely friendship between a cynic pawnbroker and a psychopath.

Director: Rosvita Dransfeld | Stars: Chris Hoard, David Woolfson

Votes: 26

17. 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: 4,993 | Gross: $0.15M

18. 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: 19,786

19. The Ister (2004)

Not Rated | 189 min | Documentary

75 Metascore

A 3000km journey up the Danube river to the heart of Europe.

Directors: David Barison, Daniel Ross | Stars: Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Jean-Luc Nancy, Bernard Stiegler, Hans-Jürgen Syberberg

Votes: 173

20. 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: 7,559 | Gross: $0.02M

21. Manufactured Landscapes (2006)

Unrated | 86 min | Documentary

79 Metascore

Photographer Edward Burtynsky travels the world observing changes in landscapes due to industrial work and manufacturing.

Director: Jennifer Baichwal | Star: Edward Burtynsky

Votes: 2,646 | Gross: $0.24M

22. Chronicle of a Summer (1961)

Not Rated | 85 min | Documentary

A documentary about the everyday lives of ordinary Parisians, done in the style of cinéma vérité.

Directors: Edgar Morin, Jean Rouch | Stars: Angelo, Nadine Ballot, Catherine, Céline

Votes: 2,155

23. El sastre (2007)

29 min | Documentary, Short

Add a Plot

Director: Óscar Pérez

Votes: 25

24. Waltz with Bashir (2008)

R | 90 min | Animation, Biography, Drama

91 Metascore

An Israeli film director interviews fellow veterans of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon to reconstruct his own memories of his term of service in that conflict.

Director: Ari Folman | Stars: Ari Folman, Ron Ben-Yishai, Ronny Dayag, Ori Sivan

Votes: 52,235 | Gross: $2.28M

25. Mr. Governor (2008)

87 min | Documentary

Add a Plot

Director: Måns Månsson | Star: Anders Björck

Votes: 147

26. The Story of the Weeping Camel (2003)

PG | 93 min | Documentary, Drama, Family

81 Metascore

When a Mongolian nomadic family's newest camel colt is rejected by its mother, a musician is needed for a ritual to change her mind.

Directors: Byambasuren Davaa, Luigi Falorni | Stars: Janchiv Ayurzana, Chimed Ohin, Amgaabazar Gonson, Zeveljamz Nyam

Votes: 5,782 | Gross: $1.74M

28. Night and Fog (1956)

Not Rated | 32 min | Documentary, Short, History

The history of Nazi Germany's death camps of the Final Solution and the hellish world of dehumanization and death contained inside.

Director: Alain Resnais | Stars: Michel Bouquet, Reinhard Heydrich, Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Hitler

Votes: 15,526

29. Railroad of Hope (2002)

56 min | Documentary

Add a Plot

Director: Ying Ning

Votes: 48

30. Homemade Hillbilly Jam (2005)

Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary

A musical romp through the Ozark Mountains with a handful of rascally modern-day hillbillies.

Director: Rick Minnich

Votes: 47

31. Vikarien (2006)

85 min | Documentary

A substitute teacher working in the suburbs of Stockholm finds himself increasingly disillusioned about his job. He calls his mentor, a 75-year-old veteran, who travels to Stockholm. ... See full summary »

Directors: Åsa Blanck, Johan Palmgren | Stars: Folke Silvén, Max Wejstorp

Votes: 131

32. Grizzly Man (2005)

R | 103 min | Documentary, Biography

87 Metascore

A devastating and heart-rending take on grizzly bear activists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard, who were killed in October of 2003 while living among grizzly bears in Alaska.

Director: Werner Herzog | Stars: Timothy Treadwell, Amie Huguenard, Werner Herzog, Carol Dexter

Votes: 48,249 | Gross: $3.17M

33. Armbryterskan från Ensamheten (2004)

78 min | Documentary

The tiny village in the far north of Sweden called Ensamheten (Solitude) has sixteen inhabitants. They all share an unusual passion - armwrestling. Among them is 22-year-old Heidi Andersson... See full summary »

Directors: Helen Ahlsson, Lisa Munthe | Stars: Heidi Andersson, Jeanette Andersson, Kent Andersson, Björn Ferry

Votes: 415

35. To Be and to Have (2002)

Not Rated | 104 min | Documentary, Family

87 Metascore

A documentary portrait of a one-room school in rural France, where the students (ranging in age from 4 to 11) are educated by a single dedicated teacher.

Director: Nicolas Philibert | Stars: Georges Lopez, Alizé, Axel Thouvenin, Guillaume

Votes: 7,223 | Gross: $0.78M

36. Piter (2004)

79 min | Documentary

Add a Plot

Director: Jessica Gorter

Votes: 19

37. Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul (2005)

90 min | Documentary, Music

73 Metascore

Award-winning director Fatih Akin takes us on a journey through Istanbul, the city that bridges Europe and Asia, and challenges familiar notions of east and west. He looks at the vibrant ... See full summary »

Director: Fatih Akin | Stars: Alexander Hacke, Ahmed Ulug, Cem Yegul, Mehmed Ulug

Votes: 5,713 | Gross: $0.07M

38. In This World (2002)

R | 88 min | Drama

75 Metascore

In February 2002 in the Shamshatoo Refugee Camp in the North West Frontier Province in Pakistan, there are 53,000 refugees living in sub-human conditions since 1979 with the Soviet Union ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Winterbottom | Stars: Jamal Udin Torabi, Enayatullah, Imran Paracha, Hiddayatullah

Votes: 3,936

39. Calais: The Last Border (2003 TV Movie)

59 min | Documentary

On the other side of the Channel Brits and non-EU refugees brush some wanting to get out, the others wanting to get in.

Director: Marc Isaacs

Votes: 25

41. The Punk Syndrome (2012)

Not Rated | 85 min | Documentary, Comedy, Drama

A Finnish punk-rock band formed by four mentally disabled guys.

Directors: Jukka Kärkkäinen, Jani-Petteri Passi | Stars: Pertti Kurikka, Kari Aalto, Sami Helle, Toni Välitalo

Votes: 1,415

42. Home Somewhere (2015)

77 min | Documentary, Drama

HOME. Somewhere. - is a poetic feature length documentary that asks the bold question: Will the human soul ever find a home? On the most remote islands of Finland we encounter men that ... See full summary »

Director: Lotta Petronella

43. Dark Days (2000)

Not Rated | 82 min | Documentary

75 Metascore

A cinematic portrait of the homeless population who live permanently in the underground tunnels of New York City.

Director: Marc Singer | Star: Marc Singer

Votes: 6,050 | Gross: $0.43M

44. Poster Girl (2010)

Not Rated | 38 min | Documentary, Short, Biography

Apple pie cheerleader turned tough-as-nails machine gunner in the Iraq War, Sgt. Robynn Murray comes home to face a new kind of battle she never anticipated.

Director: Sara Nesson

Votes: 298

45. The Dubai in Me (2010)

78 min | Documentary

Images of Dubai and of Second Life, in an attempt to glean some new intelligence.

Director: Christian Von Borries

Votes: 10

47. The Act of Killing (2012)

Not Rated | 117 min | Documentary, 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: 31,037 | Gross: $0.49M

48. Detained (2015)

99 min | Documentary

The true story of the people who are forced to leave Sweden after asking for sanctuary.

Directors: Shaon Chakraborty, Anna Persson | Stars: Agneta, Ajub, Bilal, Camilla

Votes: 52

49. The Story of the Weeping Camel (2003)

PG | 93 min | Documentary, Drama, Family

81 Metascore

When a Mongolian nomadic family's newest camel colt is rejected by its mother, a musician is needed for a ritual to change her mind.

Directors: Byambasuren Davaa, Luigi Falorni | Stars: Janchiv Ayurzana, Chimed Ohin, Amgaabazar Gonson, Zeveljamz Nyam

Votes: 5,782 | Gross: $1.74M

50. Bakhmaro heißt Paradies (2011 TV Movie)

59 min | Documentary

6.4