Five Favourite Documentaries

Senna (2010)

Entirely made from archive footage, Asif Kapadia’s documentary on the late Formula One driver Aryton Sennais a moving, engaging tribute. Its appeal, cemented through a truly dramatic narrative style, reaches far beyond fans of the sport: Senna is a film with universal appeal.

The Thin Blue Line (1988)

Errol Morris’ excellent documentary paved the way for the successful use of the reconstruction form. Morris’ film, depicting Randall Adams’ wrongful conviction and subsequent imprisonment for murder, prompted a successful review of Adams’ case, resulting in his release. An inspiring film.

King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007)

Taking place in the world of competitive arcade gaming, King of Kong was originally conceived as a documentary on the general world of this competitive pastime. After coming into contact with the record attempts of Steve Wiebe, the film rapidly emerged as a portrayal of the increasingly fraught rivalry between the aforementioned Wiebe and Billy Mitchell, whose record Wiebe threatens. Truly enthralling.

Grey Gardens (1975)

A wonderfully realised portrayal of a mother and daughter relationship, Grey Gardens depicts the two Edies as they continue their everyday lives.  The filmmakers in adopting a Cinéma vérité style reveals both Ediespersonal thoughts and feelings, allowing their personality to come through: Grey Gardens is a raw, mesmeric film.

Paris is Burning (1990)

Depicting the ‘ball’ culture of New York City, Jennie Livingstone’s film, filmed during the mid to late 1980s, is a wonderfully engaging, often deeply tragic depiction of the African-American, Latino, gay and transgender communities who participate in this culture. Livingstone’s film includes moments of great pathos, along with heartfelt reflections upon issues of gender, race and sexuality. A genuinely affecting film.


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