Documentaries are a fascinating, controversial and revealing source of both information and entertainment. They are supposedly unbiased and objective and yet, as with every film, there is an editor and an angle. These movies can leave viewers shocked, horrified, educated or perhaps more confused than ever, but their most important job is to leave audiences questioning. To question is divine in the world of documentaries and most film makers urge their audiences to question everything from religion, government, society and law as much as humanly possible. When a documentary film maker sets out with their camera and their questions the results can be more mind blowing than any Hollywood feature. Today we honor those brave men and women for their fearless research, fiery determination and endless pursuit of the truth. Here are MoviefiedNYC’s Top 5 Documentaries:
1. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996)
In 1993, three teenagers better known as the ‘West Memphis Three’, were charged with killing three young boys. The million dollar question is whether they did it or if they were set up because they fit the bill. The audience becomes both detective and jury as they watch a seemingly solid case fall apart, stories unravel and new suspects come about. This is a documentary that does not merely observe but could potentially change the lives of three young men.
2. Hoop Dreams (1994)
Hoop Dreams tells the story of two inner-city boys from Chicago who try to realize their dreams of becoming professional basketball players. Unfortunately, the system is against them and the pressure is on from all angles. The documentary begins as the boys start high school and continues on for the following five years. It may focus on the boys basketball aspirations but overall it takes a look at the difficulties that so many young people face ranging from inner-city violence, parental drug abuse, poverty and the brutal nature of competitive sports.
3. The Celluloid Closet (1995)
If you were asked to list some of Hollywood’s most famous LGBT movies, what would you say? Some Like It Hot? Spartacus? Rope? Probably not, in fact you have probably never thought of any of those films as being about homosexuality. The Celluloid Closet looks back at some of Hollywood’s greatest classics and finds the LGBT easter eggs. Characters, lines, and moments that are filled with double entendres and secret innuendos are revealed before your very eyes. It’s a fascinating and touching watch.
4. Catfish (2010)
By now you have undoubtedly heard the term “catfish” thanks to the MTV show which was inspired by this tantalizing documentary. The definition is as follows: “The phenomenon of internet predators that fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships.” Now due to that explanation, along with the TV show, you probably know what the documentary is about but believe me it is worth the watch. If you still need convincing just watch the incredibly intriguing trailer below.
5. Gasland (2010)
This political documentary has a personal twist thanks to film maker Josh Fox who investigates the damage that fracking can cause from his own personal perspective. Fox tells the story with a lot of heart, a little banjo playing and far too much flammable water. Gasland inspects the horrors that natural gas drilling has inflicted on communities in the past and what it has planned for the future. An educational and shocking watch that calls on us all for action.
– Sinann Fetherston
Let us know what your favorite documentaries are by tweeting us @MoviefiedNYC #TT