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Documentaries

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Ride of the Dead

Ride of the Dead

Mexico’s Oaxacan highlands play host to the Trans Sierra Norte, a grueling mountain bike race, which ends in Oaxaca City just in time for the Day of the Dead celebration. Red Bull’s exceptional short film invites us to experience both with a rider touched by death.

This Film Used to Be About Rum

This Film Used to Be About Rum

The always compelling documentarians at MEL Films visited Cuba to create a puff piece about the country’s rum production and its plans to repay an old international debt with booze. But things took a dark turn as they attempted to scratch beneath the surface of the story.

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Pinball Isn’t Random

Pinball Isn’t Random

They may have lost the war to video games, but we still love the tactile feel and gameplay of pinball machines. In this clip from Vox, a pinball expert gives us insight into some of the tricks of the trade that make it much more of a game of skill than you might think.

Making Mexican Glazed Pottery

Making Mexican Glazed Pottery

A look at how raw clay is pulled from the earth and transformed by hand into beautiful and intricate sculptures by artisans in Michoacan, Mexico. It’s a wonderful, all too brief look into artistic traditions from Mariano Rentería’s fantastic Mexican Handcraft Masters series.

Dave Grohl: Play

Dave Grohl: Play

(PG-13: Language) Dave Grohl may be a veteran at his craft, but he still recognizes that he can always improve. That’s what he celebrates in Play, which culminates – at 8:16 in the video – in a 23-minute performance in which he performs all of the instruments.

Zion (Trailer)

Zion (Trailer)

Zion Clark was born without legs. As a child, he was put up for adoption and bounced from foster home to foster home growing up. But he fell in love with wrestling and used that as his outlet. This documentary follows his story in high school. Premieres 8/10/18 on Netflix.

Cosmos: Possible Worlds (Trailer)

Cosmos: Possible Worlds (Trailer)

“Dreams are maps. Let the best ones point the way.” The amazing documentary series Cosmos is getting a new season. In Cosmos: Possible Worlds, host Neil deGrasse Tyson will take us to hopeful explorations of both inner and outer space. Premieres Spring 2019 on FOX.

Leatherman: Made of Mettle

Leatherman: Made of Mettle

“This idea would prove more complicated than I initially imagined.” This documentary about  founder Tim Leatherman looks at the inspiration behind the first Leatherman tool, Tim’s years of experimentation, failure, and rejection, and testimonials from satisfied Leatherman owners.

Dark Tourist (Trailer)

Dark Tourist (Trailer)

New Zealand filmmaker David Farrier explores the trend of people actually wanting to visit disturbing, dark, dangerous, infamous, and war-torn parts of the world in search of an adrenaline rush… or something. The first season hits Netflix on 7/20/2018.

Disney’s Worst Attraction

Disney’s Worst Attraction

If you’re fascinated by studying failure, then you need to subscribe to Defunctland, a channel dedicated to theme parks and attractions that didn’t work out. In this episode, they look at one of the many poorly-executed attractions which Disney born out of the 1980s and 1990s.

The Ethics of AI

The Ethics of AI

Artificial intelligence isn’t just powering robots, it’s already making decisions about our credit, work, insurance, safety, and other important aspects of our lives. Dress Code and HPE interviewed experts about some of the issues raised when algorithms wield such power.

Motorcycle Boy

Motorcycle Boy

(PG-13: Slight nudity) Filmmaker James F. Coton introduces us to three very different members of Japan’s underground motorcycle culture. The clip starts out as a documentary, but transforms into a music video for The Legendary Tigerman in its back half.

Anatomy of Goth

Anatomy of Goth

Filmmakers Jordan Hemingway and Alban Adam present an appropriately gritty look at some of the subcultures described as “goth.” The series of vignettes features interviews and imagery of individuals who live on the fringe of what might be considered “normal” in society.

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Rock Rubber 45s (Trailer)

Rock Rubber 45s (Trailer)

(PG-13: Language) Influential DJ, streetball legend and sneaker scholar Bobbito Garcia talks about his life and legacy in his upcoming documentary. Featuring interviews with Questlove, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and so many more. Support the production on Kickstarter.

Medieval Martha Stewart

Medieval Martha Stewart

“I have weapons everywhere, so my guests feel comfortable that they’re always armed.” Josh Brock has a very dark sense of humor and the aesthetic to go with. He’s spent decades outfitting his home with fierce weaponry, armor, and decor, much of which he made himself.

Robin Williams: Come Inside… (Trailer)

Robin Williams: Come Inside… (Trailer)

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. If you lose that, you’re nothing.” HBO’s Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind is a documentary about the late comedian. It features interviews with Williams, his comedian friends, and his family.

Metallurgist

Metallurgist

“The safety rules at our work are written by our blood.” Gornovoy works in cast-iron smelting. Here’s what it’s like at his job. Director Evgenii Bakirov doesn’t teach us much about Gornovoy’s profession, but he does a great job of showing the danger involved in it.

The Lions of Chinatown

The Lions of Chinatown

Chinese lion dancing is a beautiful and vibrant artform that has gradually been fading from existence. In this wonderful documentary by Law Chen, we meet Sara Lai, a dancer who has trained to become the head of the lion in the traditionally male-dominated performance.

Ultra Man

Ultra Man

(PG-13: Language) Ultramarathon is one of the world’s most punishing sports. Ultramarathoner Robbie Britton – who moved to Chamonix, France from London for further training – shares what makes him tick in GoshDamn’s beautiful short film.

A Garbage Story

A Garbage Story

Part trash man, part historian, Nick DiMola has spent the last 30 years sifting through deceased people’s belongings. Through his labor of love he has collected a museum’s worth of old and rare items, to create an intriguing, ongoing tapestry of history.

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Commodity City

Commodity City

Jessica Kingdon’s award-winning short film gives us a glimpse at the lives of the vendors and shop owners at China’s Yiwu Market, the world’s largest wholesale consumer goods mall. The mall has five floors and is nearly 5 miles long.

Artist Depiction

Artist Depiction

Brett Ryan Bonowicz is making a three-part documentary series about the largely unknown artists who created concept art for NASA projects. Artist Depiction will feature interviews with the artists as well as high-resolution scans of their work.

One-Man Industrial Doom Metal Band

One-Man Industrial Doom Metal Band

Noisey introduces us to Tristan Shone, the musician behind Author & Punisher. His experience as a mechanical engineer led him to create unique tactile interfaces which he uses to create his distinctively analog industrial sound. There’s a great concert film here.

Three Identical Strangers (Trailer)

Three Identical Strangers (Trailer)

Bobby Shafran, Eddy Galland, and David Kellman are triplets who got separated at birth and accidentally met each other when they were teenagers. But this documentary doesn’t stop there and asks the hard questions: how and why?

Legend of Solorzano

Legend of Solorzano

We’ve spent some time on the treacherous trails of the Baja 1000, so we know how sketchy things can get. But we did it in a purpose-built Class 10 race car. But there are true madmen who do it in pre-1982 VW Beetles. Meet Eric Solorzano, aka “The King of Class 11.”

Nobody Dies in Longyearbyen

Nobody Dies in Longyearbyen

MEL Films traveled to the distant Arctic outpost of Longyearbyen, Norway, the Northernmost city on Earth. It’s known for its natural beauty, and also the notion the area’s thick permafrost layer holds organic matter that could come back to life after it thaws.

Andre The Giant (Trailer)

Andre The Giant (Trailer)

Another look at HBO’s upcoming documentary about the late, great André René Roussimoff, the charismatic gentle giant whose image is immediately conjured in our minds whenever we hear the saying “The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.”

Rams (Teaser)

Rams (Teaser)

“Only something that is well made can be beautiful.” Helvetica, Objectified and Urbanized filmmaker Gary Hustwit shares a sneak peek at his upcoming documentary about legendary industrial designer Dieter Rams. The film comes out in 2018.

Pōhaku

Pōhaku

Meet Oahu, Hawaii native Tom Pōhaku Stone, a man whose life led him to handcraft surfboards from native woods. Director Bradley Tangonan’s short documentary is beautifully shot, and tells a captivating story about holding onto our traditions.

Halycon Days

Halycon Days

Along with Don Bluth, game designer Rick Dyer created 1980s classics like Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace. He would later design a radical (and expensive) game system called “Halcyon.” Polygon explores the tale of the failed console that foretold today’s voice-based AI systems.

The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling

The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling

(PG-13: Language) Judd Apatow’s HBO doc features interviews with Shandling’s friends and family, as they delve into the psyche of the late comedian, his self-deprecating humor, and his drive to always top his last show. If you never watched The Larry Sanders Show, you must.

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