THE BEST Documentaries

A Documentary on Documentaries

A Documentary on Documentaries

“I think of it as putting together a puzzle when you don’t have a picture of what it’s supposed to look like.” Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Morgan Neville talks about his world and his mindset, using the interview itself as an example.

Trash into Transformers

Trash into Transformers

Great Big Story introduces us to Yu Zhilin and his son Yu Lingyun, both of whom are skilled at metalwork. Along the way, they found they had an affinity for building giant Transformers out of scrap parts from old cars. More recently, they started building amazing original designs.

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A Continuous Shape

A Continuous Shape

“Once you start carving, there’s no hard and fast rules.” Eyes & Ears spent 3 weeks with stone carver Anna Rubincam as she worked on a new piece. Anna has that headstrong look in her eyes that those of us who have yet to find our paths find intimidating and envious.

Colorizing History

Colorizing History

Vintage photos can provide fascinating insights into our past. Vox explores how accurately applying color to these monochrome photos can bring people and places to life. The research and craftsmanship that goes into modifying these these images is striking.

Star Wars Nothing But Star Wars

Star Wars Nothing But Star Wars

To celebrate 40 years of Star Wars, Cinefamily TV created this epic video mixtape loaded with insane and obscure footage, from interviews, to parodies, to fan tributes, and much more. If you’re not prepared to spend 95 minutes right now, the trailer should convince you.

Live from the Larynx

Live from the Larynx

If you thought the expressions beatboxers make while producing sounds were weird, wait till you get a load of this. Tom Thum allowed a doctor to place an endoscopic camera with a view of his throat while he beatboxed. The video is equal parts fascinating and disgusting.

Paper Art by Peter Dahmen

Paper Art by Peter Dahmen

Filmmaker Christopher Helkey introduces us to artist Peter Dahmen, who creates complex and intricate pop-up structures from paper. We loved learning about how he got started, his build process, and watching the movement of each sculpture as it’s opened up.

Return to High Chaparral

Return to High Chaparral

About a year ago, MEL Films visited a Syrian refugee camp set up at a Wild West theme park in Sweden. While most documentarians would have left the story there, they decided to go back to see what happened in the wake of the changing political climate.

Reel Peeps: Josh Herman

Reel Peeps: Josh Herman

(PG-13: Language) We sat down with artist Josh Herman from Chicago’s Mayday Tattoo Co. to learn what makes him tick, from his fun, spontaneous approach to new school designs, to his sources of inspiration, and his philosophy on pursuing your creative dreams.

The Happy Film (Trailer)

The Happy Film (Trailer)

Stefan Sagmeister has made a huge name for himself in the design community, having done work for everyone from Jay-Z to the Rolling Stones. He recently set off on a journey of reinvention through a series of psychological experiments, but things didn’t quite go to plan.

How Soy Sauce Is Made

How Soy Sauce Is Made

National Geographic and filmmaker Mile Nagaoka introduce us to Yuasa Town, Wakayama, Japan – the first place make soy sauce, and continues to do so for 750+ years. The process, which involves fermentation of soybeans reminded us of how spirits are made.

Some Kind of Connection

Some Kind of Connection

“Time is the story and we are the characters.” The Royal Ocean Film of Society looks back at Michael Apted’s Up Series. Arguably the best reality show ever, its 48-year (and counting) span, grounded perspective and willing cast make for a fragmented mirror of our lives.

One Man’s Trash

One Man’s Trash

Construction worker Alcindo Soares lives in Cape Verde, Africa, and has always dreamed of becoming a pro athlete. He has no access to an indoor gym, so he decided to build one on the beach that everyone can use, using junk he’s found washing up on shore.

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Selah: Water from Stone

Selah: Water from Stone

Church’s Fried Chicken co-founder David Bamberger has been spending his capital and the past 41 years rehabilitating 5,500 acres of dry and overgrazed land in Texas. Selah Ranch is now filled with life, and offers tours and seminars for nature lovers of all ages.

Hollywood’s Greatest Trick

Hollywood’s Greatest Trick

A report on the plight of visual effects artists. While a single actor can get millions of dollars for a film, VFX studios compete with each other for fixed bid contracts that often end up being unprofitable because of additional expenses from costly revisions. More here.

The Moderators

The Moderators

(PG-13) “Be mentally prepared for your job.” Ciaran Cassidy and Adrian Chen’s eye-opening short follows the training of newly hired online moderators. Every day, they are expected to view and rate tens of thousands of pictures from social media, dating sites and more.

The Dream Factory

The Dream Factory

In 1987, with brand perception at an all-time low, Fender decided to open the Fender Custom Shop – a small unit devoted solely for made-to-order instruments. Fender recently honored the shop’s founding members by collaborating with them once more.

McLaren: the Movie (Trailer)

McLaren: the Movie (Trailer)

Director Roger Donaldson’s documentary tells the story of the late, great Bruce McLaren, the man who started from humble beginnings, and went on to found the incredible McLaren Motor Racing team, leaving behind a true motorsports legacy after his death at age 32.

Korea’s Hangover Soup

Korea’s Hangover Soup

Haejang-guk is a popular Korean soup. Its name literally means “soup to chase a hangover.” It’s made of vegetables, rice and meat in beef broth. Great Big Story spoke with the current owner of Cheong Jin Ok, the restaurant that supposedly came up with the soup.

Master of the Claw Machine

Master of the Claw Machine

Chen Zhitong has scored a victory for all of us arcade losers, winning an incredible 15,000 toys from claw machines – and that was just in 2016. To top off his everyman’s heroics, he’s donated a number of the toys to children in need.

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I Am Heath Ledger (Trailer)

I Am Heath Ledger (Trailer)

From filmmaker Derik Murray (I Am Chris Farley) comes a documentary about the late actor Heath Ledger. The film features interviews with the actors’ close friends and family as well as footage shot by Ledger himself. Premieres 5/17/17 on Spike. Also coming to Blu-ray.

Married to the Machine

Married to the Machine

Filmmaker Adrian Bonvento takes us into the pits, and inside the minds of the Stevenson Motorsports team, as they explain some of what makes a pro race team tick. A beautifully-shot short documentary filmed during the 2017 12 Hours of Sebring race.

Separating Recyclables

Separating Recyclables

A look inside Brooklyn, New York’s Sims Materials Recovery Facility, a high-tech recycling operation which uses automation to separate a wide variety of metal, glass, and plastic materials based on their weight, size, shape, and even molecular composition.

The Mars Generation (Trailer)

The Mars Generation (Trailer)

This Netflix documentary chronicles the experience of a batch of teenagers at the NASA Space Camp, juxtaposed with interviews with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Elon Musk and other experts regarding the current state of space travel. Premieres 5/5/17.

Barbecue (Trailer)

Barbecue (Trailer)

From the backyards of Central Texas to the deserts of Mongolia, you’ll find people gathering over a fire to cook and eat together. Matthew Saleh and Rose Tucker traveled to 12 different countries to revel in this universal and uniting tradition.

Pretending I’m a Superman (Trailer)

Pretending I’m a Superman (Trailer)

The Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series introduced skateboarding, its music and its lifestyle to a mainstream audience. Former THPS producer Ralph D’Amato is working on a documentary about the series’ origins, featuring interviews with Tony, Rodney Mullen and more.

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