Presented below are most of the films mentioned in the filmography of Making Documentary Films and Videos, along with some other titles of interest to
filmmakers. You can learn more about any of these films by clicking on the cover,
and if you wish, you can conveniently order any film from Amazon.com, usually at a
substantial discount from the cover price.
89 mm from Europe (1995) Written and directed by Marcel Lozinski, this
beautiful short film received a 1995 IDA Distinguished Documentary Achievement
Award.Distributed by Studio Filmowe
Kalejdoskop (Poland) and Direct Cinema Limited.
9/11 (2002) The definitive film of the World Trade Center
disaster by Jules and Gideon Naudet and James Hanlon.
Ages and Stages
(1950s) This series of films on behavior in early
childhood was produced and distributed by McGraw-Hill.It is responsible for perpetuating a libel
against two-year-olds, by titling the film on that age The Terrible Twos.An
example of visuals illustrating the sound track.
An American Family
(1973) Shot and directed by Susan and
Alan Raymond, this series for PBS was a landmark event in the evolution of
direct cinema.The Museum of Television
and Radio has some episodes.IMDb shows
a DVD release.
Directed by Ron Fricke.Pure
Baseball:A Film by Ken Burns (1994) Directed by Ken Burns, this is a very long,
very eclectic look at the game which used to be known as the national
Basic Training:The Making of a Warrior (1994) Produced by Kevin Stead and directed by Ari
Golan.Not in release.
The Battle of Midway
(1942) The most decisive sea battle of
World War II, filmed as it happened by John Ford.
Battleship Potemkin (1925)
Classic reenactment documentary directed by
Benjamin Franklin (2002)
Miniseries for PBS directed by Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer.
The Berkeley Rebels
(c. 1964)Directed by Arthur Barron,
this early-sixties documentary appeared on CBS.I have found no distributor.
Berlin, Symphony of a
Great City (1927)A classic silent
film, directed by Walter Ruttman, which has become a model for all city
Reuniting the Republic of Cyprus (2001) Directed by Peter Vogt and written
by Barry Hampe.May be available through
the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus.
The Birth of
Aphrodite (date unknown)I don’t
know where you’re likely to find this film.I got it out of the Philadelphia Public Library many years ago.
The Borinqueneers (c.
2006) Produced by Noemi Figueroa Soulet and Raquel Ortiz.The story of the 65th Infantry Regiment, the
only Hispanic-segregated unit in U.S. military history.El Pozo Productions.http://www.prsoldier.com.
Bowling for Columbine
(2002) A film by Michael Moore.[DVD]
The Bridge (1928)A beautifully realized, classic documentary
directed by Joris Ivens who gives a clinic on how to observe an object with a
camera.Available from the Museum of
Celsius 41.11: The
Temperature at Which the Brain. . .Begins to Die (2004)One of
three rebuttal films to Fahrenheit 9/11,[DVD]
directed by Kevin Knoblock.
Chronique d’un été
(Chronicle of a Summer) (1961)This is an early and exciting example of
cinéma vérité in France from Rouch and Morin.I saw the film in French with English subtitles. As of this writing I
have been unable to find a distributor.
The City (1939)Willard Van Dyke directed this classic
American city film, which follows the format established by Ruttman with Berlin.Look for it on VHS or at the Museum of Modern Art.
The Civil War (1990)The PBS series that made director Ken Burns a
The Cliburn: Playing
on the Edge (2001) Documentary follows the performers in the prestigious
piano competition.Produced and directed
by Peter Rosen.[DVD]
(1979) An incredible series of programs, starting in 1979, written and hosted
by James Burke and directed by Mick Jackson.[DVD]
Crumb (1995)Terry Zwigoff conceived and directed this
offbeat theatrical documentary about underground artist Robert Crumb and his
(2000)Marc Singer went underground to
document the lives of people living in the railway tunnels under New York City.
Defenders of Midway
(1994)Directed by Tim Bradley and
written by Barry Hampe, this hour documentary on the greatest naval battle in
American history was funded by the Department of Defense Legacy Resources
Management Program.It had its world
premier at the Arizona Memorial and then vanished into the bureaucratic mist.
(2002) Amish teenagers experience life outside the Amish community in a
documentary directed by Lucy Walker.[DVD]
Madwomen (1994)Director Allie
Light’s documentary of emotion is available through Women Make Movies, 225
Lafayette Street, #207, New York, NY 10012.
The Endless Summer
(1966)Bruce’s Brown’s classic film
about surfing, shows how to tell a story with good footage and no sync
Eyes on the Prize(1987)Award-winning PBS documentary about the civil rights movement, Henry
Hampton, executive producer.[DVD]
FDR(1995)This four-and-a-half-hour documentary, made for the PBS series American Experience was produced and
directed by David Grubin.[DVD]
Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
The film Michael Moore made to prevent the election of George Bush.Failed at that but made Moore a millionaire.[DVD]
(2004)One of three rebuttal films to Fahrenheit 9/11, directed by Alan
Falcons of Arabia
(1994)This is an interesting first
documentary, shot, directed, and edited by Andrew Edwards.No distribution.
Flock of Dodos: The
Evolution––Intelligent Design Circus (2006)Documentary at its best; a marvelous investigation of a controversial
issue, written and directed by Randy Olson.Prairie Starfish Productions, Los Angeles, http://www.flockofdodos.com. May be available on DVD by the time you read
Frank and Ollie
(1995)This theatrical documentary
directed by Theodore Thomas looks at the lives of two of Disney’s legendary
The French Revolution(2005)Directed by Doug Schultz. [DVD]
Harvest of Shame
(1960)An early award-winning television documentary
for CBS Reports from the team of Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly.[DVD]
(1968)A spontaneous cinema documentary
directed by Frederick Wiseman, filmed at Northeast High School in
Philadelphia.Wiseman’s films are
distributed by Zipporah Films, Cambridge, MA, http://www.zipporah.com.
Shakespeareans (2005)Praise for a
hero teacher, directed by Mel Stuart.See it. [DVD]
(1994)The most talked-about documentary
never to get an Academy Award nomination started out to be a TV half hour, and
became instead a longish theatrical documentary and PBS special.[DVD]
(1970)Fourth in a series of spontaneous
cinema documentaries about institutions directed by Frederick Wiseman, filmed
at Metropolitan Hospital in New York City.Wiseman’s films are distributed by Zipporah Films, Cambridge, MA, http://www.zipporah.com.
An Inconvenient Truth
(2006)Directed by Davis
Guggenheim.Al Gore’s environmental
message set to video.[DVD]
In the Street (1952)An early experiment in concealed photography,
by Helen Levitt, Janice Loeb, and James Agee.Available from the Museum of Modern Art.
Is Wal-Mart Good for
America?(2004) PBS’s Frontline takes on Wal-Mart and tries to
be fair about it.Directed by Rick
It Was a Wonderful
Life (1993)They were women with a
comfortable middle-class life.And then
they were homeless.Directed by Michèle
The Kidnapping of
Ingrid Betancourt (a.k.a. Missing
Peace)(2003)A first documentary by Victoria Bruce and
Karin Hayes, who triumphed over everything going wrong.Shown on Cinemax.
Lalee’s Kin: The
Legacy of Cotton (2001) A
behavioral documentary about a family living in poverty in the Mississippi
Delta.Directed by Deborah Dickson,
Susan Frömke, and the legendary Albert Maysles.This should eventually be on DVD.
Liberty! The American
miniseries directed by Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer.[DVD]
Light in Art (1988)
A documentary directed by Holly Richards and written by Barry Hampe.Not distributed.
Lonely Boy(1961)Wolf Koening at the National Film Board of Canada set the mold for films
about entertainers and musicians with this direct cinema study of Paul
Anka.Various distributors including the
Museum of Modern Art and the National Film Board of Canada.
Mad, Hot Ballroom (2005)A delightful film about kids in several New
York elementary schools learning ballroom dancing and taking part in a
city-wide competition.Directed by
March of the Penguins
(2005) A nature documentary directed by Luc Jacquet
under incredibly harsh conditions.If
you haven’t seen it, go get it.[DVD]
A Married Couple
(1969)An early direct cinema behavioral
documentary directed by Alan King.I
have found no distributor.
Michael Moore Hates
America(2004) One of three rebuttal
films to Fahrenheit 9/11, directed by
Michael Wilson. [DVD]
Mother Washing a Baby
(c. 1896)This short observation of
behavior was made at the Edison Studios at the turn of the century and can be
found in a compilation called Early
My Brother’s Keeper
(1992)A film by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
about the murder trial of Delbert Ward, one of four hermit brothers in rural
New York state.[DVD]
Nanook of the North
(1922)Robert Flaherty’s classic film is arguably
the first behavioral documentary.[DVD]
Natasha and the Wolf
(1995)A strange documentary for the PBS Frontline series by Kevin Sim and Olga
Budashevska, set in Russia and full of interviews with simultaneous
translation.Not in distribution at time
of publication; check PBS Video.
Night Mail (1936)John Grierson carried the show-and-tell
documentary about as far it could go with this classic film about a train.[DVD]
Nuit et Brouillard
(Night and Fog) (1955)Alain
Resnais’s documentary of the Auschwitz death camp.[DVD]
October:Ten Days that Shook the World (1927)Sergei Eisenstein’s re-creation of the
Murdoch’s War on Journalism(2004)
One of several attack documentaries directed by Robert Greenwald.[DVD]
The Plow That Broke
the Plains (1934)Pare Lorentz made
this film about the drought in the Great Plains and its causes at the height of
the great depression.[DVD]
Primary (1960)Robert Drew thought there had to be a better
way to document unique events than the standard show-and-tell documentary, and
this film was the visual evidence.[DVD].
Underachievement (c. 1966)Dr. Ed Mason, a psychiatrist, made this
documentary record of an intake interview with a patient and her family.I have found no distributor.
documentary directed by Pare Lorentz, showing a flood on the Mississippi and
Roger & Me
(1989)Director Michael Moore uses his quest to bring
GM chairman Roger Smith to Flint, Michigan, as a metaphor to show hard times in
(1968)Albert and David Maysles filmed
this behavioral documentary about door-to-door Bible salesmen and shared the
directing credit with editor Charlotte Zwerin.[DVD]
San Pietro (1945)John Huston directed this classic documentary
about a single battle in the Italian campaign during World War II.IMDb shows it available on VHS.
Schools for Children
(1973)Second of two films on learning
in children, directed by Barry Hampe.Not in distribution.
Season for Learning
(1972)A documentary about a summer
educational program for children of migrant workers, directed by Barry
Hampe.Not in distribution.
Sex in a Cold Climate(1998)Documentary about Irish girls interred in various Magdalene asylums
and/or orphanages because of out-of-wedlock pregnancies, being sexually
assaulted, or just being "too pretty" (believe it or not).Directed by Steve Humphries.This documentary led to the feature film The Magdalene Sisters and is included on
the DVD for that film.[DVD]
(c. 1970)An observation on film of a
couple making love, made for a medical school in the early 1970s.No information on distribution.
Sinking City of
Venice (2002)An outstanding science
film in the NOVA series and a primer
on visual evidence, produced by Marco Visalberghi and Julia Cort.Available only on VHS at time of publication
from http://shop.wgbh.org/. Also check PBS
Six Days to Sunday
(1995) Documentary of a unique event with the outcome unknown as the Dallas
Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings prepare for Sunday’s game.NFL Films.
The Sorrow and the
Pity (1970)Marcel Ophuls directed this landmark
documentary that explored anti-Semitism in France during World War II.[DVD]
Unquestionably the film that should have won the 2003 Academy Award for
documentary.Directed by Jeffrey Blitz,
it follows eight youngsters headed for the 1999 National Spelling Bee.[DVD]
Staffers ’04(2004) This was a TV series following
staffers for Democratic presidential candidates.[DVD]
Stolen Honor(2004)Carleton Sherwood’s attack film aimed at John Kerry’s presidential
campaign.Vietnam War POWs blame Kerry
for their harsh treatment.On DVD from
(1976)A documentary about the
controversy over community care vs. institutionalization of mental patients,
directed by Barry Hampe for Horizon House, Philadelphia.Not in distribution.
(1967)The first and perhaps the best
known of Frederick Wiseman’s spontaneous cinema documentaries.Filmed inside the Massachusetts Correctional
Institution at Bridgewater, a prison hospital for the criminally insane.Wiseman’s films are distributed by Zipporah
Films, Cambridge, MA, http://www.zipporah.com.
A Touch of Greatness
(2005)The story of Albert Cullum, a
remarkable teacher in the 1960s and ‘70s.Directed by Leslie Sullivan, with archival footage by Robert Downey, Sr.
Triumph des Willens (Triumph
of the Will)(1935)Docuganda for the Third Reich, directed by
The Trouble with
Adults Is. . . (1968)A well-edited,
technically atrocious documentary about a group of students in the summer of
1968, directed by Barry Hampe for the United Church of Christ.Not in distribution.
Unzipped (1995)Douglas Keeve directed this theatrical
documentary about fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi.[DVD]
Victory at Sea (series)
(1952)The story of the U.S. Navy in
World War II, compiled from archival and combat footage.[DVD]
1990)One of a series of documentaries
about Kilauea volcano, produced by Artemis & Mick Kalber, Tropical Visions
Wal-Mart: The High
Cost of Low Price(2005) Robert
Greenwald attacks Wal-Mart.[DVD]
The War Game
(1966)Peter Watkins directed this speculative
documentary about the effects of a future nuclear war.[DVD]
The War Room (1993)A film by Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker
that follows the Clinton campaign from the New Hampshire primary to the
Watermarks (2004)Yaron Zilberman’s loving portrait of the
Hakoah Vienna Jewish women’s swim team of the 1930s.[DVD]
What the #$*! Do We
(K)now!? (2004)New Age speculation
on the nature of everything. [DVD]
Winged Migration(2001)Where do the birds go?This
beautiful film shot over three years follows migratory patterns of birds.Proof that you don’t need interviews to tell
a story.Directed by Jacques Perrin with
co-directors Jacques Cluzaud and Michel Debats.[DVD]
Woodstock (1970)The first of the great concert films, directed
by Michael Wadleigh.[DVD]
A Young Child Is. . .
(1973) A behavioral documentary about early learning in young children, the
first of two films on learning in children directed by Barry Hampe.Not in distribution.