The documentary is a film, short or long, shot filming reality without a pre-established script, without an intent to manipulate real facts. The director makes himself available to follow the flow of real life events, with the intention of bringing the events to the screen as they actually take place.
The documentary film therefore acquires a different value from fictional cinema: it is a document, a testimony of what was filmed, of a historical period, of a place, of people.
What Is The Documentary
In fictional cinema, reality is mediated by the imagination of the director and screenwriters. In fact, the characters and environments are manipulated and organized to be filmed with the camera in a certain way, to express the director’s inner world.
There are certain films that want to tell a story in the most likely way possible and where a pact is created with the viewer. Such as films inspired by a true story, or cinema truth. The spectator, even knowing that it is a staging with actors, suspends his judgment to immerse himself in the impression of reality. This implicit pact is at the basis of the enjoyment of the cinematographic show. If the film tries to create this impression of reality and fails, the viewer’s disinterest soon arrives.
On the other hand, there are films that explicitly tell a story through an unrealistic style, making clear the staging and the filmic construction of the fiction. In this case the director becomes a storyteller in the eyes of the viewer: what he tells could be true, or it could be a lie, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is how fascinating and engaging his story is.
The Director’s Vision in The Documentary
In reality, the difference between documentary cinema and fictional cinema is very complex and involves important philosophical and spiritual questions. Is it possible for a director to film an objective reality in a totally impartial way? Even if it is not the director who imposes a vision, as in the case of propaganda documentaries, it is always present and reality is always manipulated.
Even in the so-called observation documentaries, in which the author tries to disappear by looking for a totally realistic image, becoming a sort of supreme observer, the manipulation typical of cinema is also present there.
In fact, it is the director who chooses what to observe In which place from which angle of observation. The director who chooses what to highlight and what not to choose a close-up or a long shot. The film In practice, despite being a pure documentary, it does nothing but reflect the inner world and the personality of the director or creator.
Reality is organized and assembled according to its specific sensitivity and interests. The narrative is organized according to its worldview and its values. It is therefore not wrong to say that documentary cinema is also a cinema of artifices, a world built by those who create it. Absolute reality is not perceptible to the human being.
A Brief History of Documentary Cinema
The Birth Of The Documentary
Cinema was born with the documentary film, in the projections of the first films of the Lumiere brothers shot in France. Subsequently, the inventors of the cinema will send dozens of operators around the world to film distant countries: exotic places never seen by the less affluent that could now be known on the big screen. Documentary cinema has the ability to open wide windows of otherwise inaccessible worlds in our space and in our time.
The Travel Documentary
Cinema has always represented for the public the possibility of traveling to other worlds while sitting on an armchair. Even today, even if the world has changed radically and many distant places have become easily accessible, we watch documentaries to discover distant places and people. Worlds that we will probably never meet in real life. Or that maybe we will decide to reach right after seeing a documentary.
Some of the earliest short documentaries consisted of filmed landscapes that were shown at fairs. They were called Hale’s Tours, and they were projections of landscapes that spectators saw from the window of fake railway carriages, made between 1905 and 1912 by the American George C. Hale.
A wealthy Parisian banker, Kahn, promotedin the 1910s and 1920s Les archives de la planète, making a team of operators film various parts of the world destined for a utopian encyclopedic-geographical catalog. Another travel film director was the Italian Luca Comerio. His shots were used as archive material in the film From the Pole to the Equator, in 1986.
The Documentary In The 1920s
The documentary has the capacity to multiply knowledge and perception of reality in an incredible way. the exploration documentary could give viewers both the thrill of a dangerous adventure and the knowledge of distant worlds. The places that most attracted the filmmakers were certainly the ice of the poles.
The great white silence (1924) by Herbert G. Ponting, It was one of the first important exploration films. The signed materials were first used in lectures, then reassembled with a soundtrack in 1933, with the title 90 ° South.
South (1917) by Frank Hurley, is a documentary film dedicated to another expedition to the South Pole, that of E. Shackleton. The list of exploration films shot in Britain is long. Perhaps the most important is The epic of Everest Joel BL Noel’s(1924).
In the United States,are worth seeing Grass (1925) and Chang (1927, Elefante) by Ernest B. Schoedsack and Merian C. Cooper, the authors of the future King Kong,. They are films shot in Kurdistan, Turkestan and Northern Thailand.
Simba, the king of beasts (1928) by Martin and Osa Johnson, was shot in Africa; in France, La croisière noire (1926) by Léon Poirier and, in the sound era, La croisière jaune (1933) by André Sauvage, on the promotional expeditions of Citroën in Africa and Asia; Voyage au Congo (1927), in which Marc Allégret follows his uncle André Gide on his African journey, followed in 1952 by the biopic Avec André Gide.
In the Soviet Union,is produced Document on Shanghai by Jakov M. Blioch, Turksib (1929) by Viktor A. Turin, on the construction of the railway line between Turkestan and Siberia. Salt for Svanetia, 1930, by Georgian Mikhail K. Kalatozov. In Germany we find Arnold Fanck’s mountain films, who specialized in the genre, such as Der heilige Berg (1926) and The tragedy of Pizzo Palù, in 1929. Die letzten Segelschiffe (1926-1930) by Heinrich Hauser, on the latest sailing ships. The genre of exploration films had become so popular that someone decided to parody it, as in the short film, Crossing the Great Sagrada (1924) by the English director Adrian Brunel.
In the 1920s the documentary mixes with fiction thanks to the extraordinary films of Robert Flaherty: Nanook, The Last Eden and The Man of Aran. Flaherty invented poetic documentary cinema, a genre that artists such asconfronted themselves with Jean Epstein and Luchino Visconti.
In 1929 the director Dziga Vertov, convinced of the superiority of the documentary over fictional cinema, condenses his experience as a propaganda documentary maker, as an editing theorist and his cinematographic talent to shoot an avant-garde documentary that will mark the history of cinema: Man with a Movie Camera.
The Sound In The Documentary
In the thirties, with the arrival of sound, the production of documentaries and fiction films becomes much more expensive. The means of sound recording were very heavy and limited the possibilities of documentary makers to move easily on trips.
A very original use of sound to circumvent this production problem is Enthusiasm, also known as the Don Basin Symphony. Director Dziga Vertov, after the cine-eye, theorizes the radio-eye by putting the new instrument into practice with real enthusiasm.
He uses sound in synchrony and counterpoint in a game of voices, noises, music that compose, with a very complex and layered montage, at a time when the mixing of sounds was still impossible, the first great documentary symphony and abstractof cinema sound. The film remains an example with no successors.
Due to the technical difficulties few other directors try to use live sound in their documentary films. Some examples can be found in La croisière jaune, Campo de ‘Fiori, Housing problems (1935) by the English Edgar Anstey and Arthur Elton. Newsreels also use the dubbing method by recording sounds and narrating voice in the studio. Subsequently shooting. Only a few directors decide to record ambient noises and sounds on the real shooting location, and then insert it in post production.
Documentary And The Creative Use of Sound
Some directors choose a creative use of sound in their documentary films, confirming what Jean Luc Godard said years after: every great documentary film is a fiction film.
In Philips radio (1931) the director Ivens makes a rhythmic use of sound. While in North Sea Watt’s(1938) it is used as a tool for realistic identification. In some English films, sound is used as a literary and poetic tool: Coal face (1935) by Cavalcanti, Night mail (1936) by Watt and Basil Wright, Listen to Britain (1942) by Jennings. In Las Hurdes – Tierra sin pan (1932) by Luis Buñuel uses voice and music in an apparently conventional way, but in reality they conflict with the images of extreme poverty shown in the film.
The Fictional Documentary
In the Thirties, documentary cinema mixes with fiction He begins to use non-professional actors with the direction of directors. For example in Hunger in Waldenburg Phil Jutzi’s, Chang, L’or des mers, a Swiss propaganda documentary. Ein werktag Richard Schweizer’s(1931); the unfinished ¡Qué viva México! (1931-32) by Sergej M. Ejzenštejn, Redes (1935) by Strand and Fred Zinnemann, Man of Aran (1934) by Flaherty. The edge of the world (1937), shot by Michael Powell in the Shetland Islands, A handful of rice (1938), shot in Thailand by the Hungarian Paul Fejos and the Swede Gunnar Skoglund. Native land, Fires were started (1943) by Jennings, a documentary film about the firefighters during a German raid on London.
Documentary And Neorealism
Italian Neorealism owes a great deal to documentary cinema, from which it draws enormous inspiration. Men at the bottom (1941) and Alfa Tau! (1942) by Francesco De Robertis and La nave bianca (1941) by Roberto Rossellini are the first examples of neorealist documentaries. As Jean-Luc Godard said, “all great fictional films tend towards the documentary, just as all great documentaries tend towards fiction”.
Documentary And Television
After the arrival of television, it devoted itself to spreading the popular documentary, while the cinema continued to propose the documentary as arthouse films with high-level artistic, dramaturgical and aesthetic contents. In recent years, the documentary has been re-evaluated compared to fictional films. Documentary films have won the most prestigious awards at festivals around the world. The distinction between documentary and fictional film is now obsolete.
The Voice-Off In Documentaries
The first narrating voices in the 30’s and 40’s were often entrusted to a male voice. It was a very impersonal method that didn’t give the film any personality. It almost seemed that it was a single narrator that was the same for all documentaries, so much so that many dubbed it in an ironic way the voice of God.
Some directors tried to give their films a more original sound narrative, in some cases playing the role of the narrator themselves. For example in Nieuwe gronden, in The land (1942) by Flaherty, in The battle of San Pietro (1944) by John Huston.
In other films, a popular voice was employed, such as that of Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles in Spanish Earth. In The 400 million (1938), both by Ivens; in Native land (1942) by Leo Hurwitz and P. Strand, with the voice of black actor Paul Robeson. In the documentaries of the English Humphrey Jennings, London can take it (1940) with the voice of the American commentator Quentin Reynolds.
In Words for battle (1941) the voice of Laurence Olivier, The true story of Lili Marlene (1944), voice of Marius Goring, A diary for Timothy (1945) voice of Michael Redgrave. Let there be light (1946) by Huston, with the voice of his father Walter Huston, a documentary about soldiers suffering from psychotic disorders, censored until 1980.
Independent Cinema And Documentary
If there is a favorite genre from independent cinema and avant-gardeis certainly the documentary, because it allows, without the artifices of fictional cinema, to experiment with new languages and create important works without having large budgets. The difference between documentary and fictional cinema has no reason to exist because even the author of the documentary, if he films reality, filters it through his own vision of the world.
Nothing is as real as the subjective gaze of the beholder. The documentary maker also creates his film starting from his imagination, making choices of storytelling, framing, editing and sound. The documentary interprets and reinvents reality as fictional cinema, using “pieces” of real life.
Types of Documentary
The Fake Documentary
It’s all true and F for fake: with these two titles Orson Welles experiments with the fake documentary as a pioneer. The false documentary is a genre in which events are staged through the method of fiction, but are presented as evidence of real facts and actions. The director can use actors directing them as in a fiction film but making the audience believe that it is all true, recorded in direct contact with reality, without his intervention.
In reality, the fake documentary is a much older invention. Among the first films that we can mention is the masterpiece Haxan, by Benjamin Christiansen, a film that mixes horror, documentary and essay film. In this film we move with incredible ease from a rich fantasy staging, to sequences in which the narration is carried on as a (fake) scientific documentary.
The false documentary found, in the late nineties and early 2000s, a great application in Horror cinema. Many horror films, such as The Blair Witch Project, are shot in a realistic style, often with the camera used by hand, to create an impression of reality that makes the narrative scarier.
This is thetechnique found footage, where the discovery of a video constitutes the principle of narration. In some cases, such as Don’t Open That Door, the found footage makes up only a small part of the film, and is embedded within a general structure of fiction. In The Blair Witch Project, on the other hand, the pretext of found footage is the basis for the storytelling and style of the entire film, from start to finish.
Other directors like Woody Allen use the fake documentary by creating newsreels with a very realistic style, similar to propaganda newsreels. An example is Allen’s film Zelig, where the adventures of the main character are told through these fake journalistic inserts.
While the false documentary has a narrative intent and the tone with which the narrator tells the story is plausible, the mockumentary has an intent to manipulate reality with parody effects. In the mockumentary, the director can go into abstract territory, where he uses reality to make fun of reality. The mockumentary is therefore primarily a question of style.
The narrator uses the aesthetics of the documentary but the events are obviously unreal, grotesque, excessive. As for example in that strange cinematographic object that is Fellini: A Director’s Notebook by Federico Fellini: a masterpiece that takes the mockumentary genre to a level never yet experienced.
Docufiction should not be confused with fake documentary or mockumentary. These are generally films in which some events of the narrative are reconstructed with fiction, due to the impossibility of actually filming them. For example, documentaries where there is a need for period reconstructions with actors, documentaries in which a staging of the past, of the future is necessary. Or a present that cannot be filmed.
Cult Documentaries to Watch
The Man with a Movie Camera (1929)
After a few years spent making propaganda documentaries Dziga Vertov realizes his masterpiece, inspired by the theories on reality cinema and Kinoglaz. An experimental visual symphony with futurist roots. An ordinary day of a cinematographer wandering around the city with no apparent purpose in search of the life to be filmed.
Certain works of art such as The Man with a Movie Camera have an objective art quality. In subjective art, the artist does not consider who is looking at the work of art, he merely brings out his own inner world. The objective work of art, on the other hand, has an inherent quality that can be passed on for thousands of years. Masterpiece to be included among the documentaries to watch.
The House is Black (1962)
The house is black is a lyrical, transcendent film that places a gaze full of compassion and religiosity towards a suffering humanity. The only source of harmony is found outside the leper colony, in nature: suffering reigns inside.
Little known at the time of its release, La casa è nera became the benchmark of Iranian cinema in the following years. It can be considered the first film that gave birth to the Iranian New Wave movement. Forough Farrokhzad, a famous Iranian feminist poet with a controversial and modernist style, was one of the most important female voices in poetry and Iranian cinema. Unmissable.
Berlin, Symphony of A City (1927)
One of the most important avant-garde films of the city symphony genre, in the style of “The Man with a Movie Camera” by Dziga Vertov, inspired by the theories of Soviet editing. The film marks the passage of the artist Walter Ruttmann from abstract cinema to reality cinema. Pillar of documentary cinema, not to be missed.
About Nice (1930)
First documentary of the mythical Jean Vigo, shot in 1930. With an old used camera bought with the money loaned by his wife’s father, Jean Vigo shoots a documentary about Nice. The meeting with Boris Kaufman changes the French director’s initial project, which will be influenced by the operator of Dziga Vertov. The nature and tourist locations of Nice: casinos, carnivals, beaches, bars with tables in the sun. Upper bourgeois Nice is compared with poor neighborhoods.
Taris, or the Swimming
Documentary of Jean Vigo about the French swimmer Jean Taris, specialized in freestyle, swimming champion in France in 1929. Commissioned to Jean Vigo by the sports editorial team of a French news bulletin of Gaumont, the director uses commissioned work to experiment with innovative shooting techniques: very first plans with glances towards the camera, slow motion scenes, abrupt sound cuts between noises and silences, underwater shots.
Three Songs About Lenin (1934)
The most famous film while the director Dziga Vertov was alive, a great success of socialist documentary cinema. An experimental documentary celebrating Lenin with the use of sound and folk songs. The liberation of Muslim women in Uzbekistan, footage of her Lenin funeral, her public appearances and one of her speeches recorded live. Among the fundamental documentaries to watch, for those who love the genre.
The Endless Summer (1966)
“The Endless Summer” is a surf movie from 1966 directed by Bruce Brown. The film follows two surfers, Mike Hynson and Robert August, on a journey around the world to find the best surfing waves. Crossing Africa, Australia, Hawaii and other exotic places, surfers encounter new cultures and face exciting challenges on their surfboards. ‘The Endless Summer’ has been hailed as one of the most influential surf movies of all time and has helped spread surf culture globally.
“The Endless Summer” follows the story of two young surfers, Mike Hynson and Robert August, who decide to travel around the world in search of the best surfing waves. The film shows them as they traverse different parts of the world, encountering new cultures and challenges along the way. Throughout their journey, surfers meet people who share their passion for surfing and face challenges such as language and cultural barriers as well as harsh weather conditions. However, despite these obstacles, the two surfers continue to pursue their dream and enjoy the waves they ride.
The film was acclaimed for its spectacular visuals and soundtrack, as well as its message of adventure and freedom. “The Endless Summer” has also influenced many generations of surfers and helped spread surf culture globally.
New Arthouse Documentaries to Watch
The life and art of Gilberto Gil, musician and influential man in the most recent history of Brazil. From musician creator of the Tropicalism movement to first black man appointed Minister of Culture in Brazil. Gil was arrested in ’69 during a demonstration and sent into exile.
Gil and Veloso are not discouraged and take the revolutionary spirit of the Tropicalia musical movement around the world. Their music becomes popular worldwide. Music for Gil is a vehicle of emotions, ideas and life philosophies. Born to a mix of African, Amazonian and European ethnicities, Gil believes in a world where differences are a source of exchange and enrichment, rather than conflict. Documentary not to be missed.
Home is a 2009 French documentary by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. The film is almost completely composed of aerial shots of numerous places on Earth. It shows the variety of life in the world and also exactly how humanity is threatening the ecological balance of the earth.
The English version was read by Glenn Close. The Spanish version read by Salma Hayek. The Arabic version was read by Mahmood Said. The film had its world premiere at the Dawn Breakers International Film Festival in 2012. Prior to the premiere of the event, it was launched all at once on June 5, 2009, in cinemas around the world, on DVD, Blu-ray, TV, in 181 countries. The film was financed by the Kering group. The concept of the docudrama was influenced by the director’s book, Earth from Above.
Calabria, late 1980s and first half of the 1990s. Cracolice, a seaside village in the Tyrrhenian Sea, is sadly known in the news for an event that broke out in the early 90s, never denied or confirmed: following the landing of the famous “ships of poisons”, the young population suddenly stopped growing, creating of eternal adolescents.
Perhaps the fault of the landing of the famous ships? After initially becoming the protagonists on all the national TVs and newspapers due to the clamor of the event, no one was more worried about those young people by abandoning them to themselves.
Completed over a period of 5 years in 25 different countries around the world, it was filmed in 70mm in electronic format. The film premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival and had a limited release in August 2012.
The main website describes the film: “Expanding on the themes they covered in Baraka (1992) and Chronos (1985), Samsara discovers the wonders of our world from the mundane to the transcendent, considering the incomprehensible limits of the spirituality of humanity and also the human experience. a conventional documentary or a travelogue, Samsara feels more like a non-verbal guided meditation.
The Eyes of the Earth (2020)
The biodiversity crisis is one of the most serious problems on the planet. To stop the processes of extinction of the species, urgent diagnoses are needed. One such endangered species is the Moorish tortoise in Morocco. A documentary to watch to which you can definitely dedicate an evening.
In the Footsteps of Buddha (2014)
In the footsteps of Buddha is a journey through India that retraces the same path that Buddha he did to get to enlightenment. Siddhartha Guatama lived 2500 years ago in an ancient land called Maghada, known today as Bihar, the poorest state in India. He was born in Lumbini (now Nepal) in a noble family. At the age of twenty-nine he gave up all wealth and, like a homeless wanderer, set out in search of the nature of our existence. To seek the truth.
Talking With Buddha (2012)
What is Buddhism Tibetan? This film is a journey through Tibetan Buddhist monasteries to meet some of the great lamas of Buddhism, against the backdrop of the Himalayan mountains and the rhythmic chanting of prayers. A documentary to improve mental health and find lasting happiness. Buddhism is an inner science for the development of mind aware and can be used to transform negative energy into positive.
The Yoga Gurus (2009)
In this documentary by Jon Braeley, American director, we meet the spirituality of some of the yoga masters in most enlightenedthe world and you will get answers to important questions about higher consciousness. Shot in India between the Northern Himalayas and Mysore, you will get to know the best yoga teachers from both the East and the West.
I Am is a 2010 American documentary created, directed and also narrated by Tom Shadyac. The film raises the concern: “What’s wrong with the world, and what can we do about it?”, And uncovers Shadyac’s individual journey after a bicycle accident in 2007 that led him to the answers “the nature of ‘humanity’, ‘the world’s ever-increasing dependence on materialism’, as well as ‘human bonds’. Shot with a group of 4, the film stands in stark contrast to the director’s most prominent comic works, such as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Liar Liar and even Bruce Almighty, all of whom worked alongside Canadian comedian Jim Carrey.
Tuning In (2009)
Tuning is a practice that refers to the moments when a person, normally in a trance state, establishes a psychic bond with a spiritual being. The channeler is then able to act as a dimensional intermediary in bringing various other humans to touch the entity, along with analyzing the entity’s messages.
For the first time ever, six of the most famous American channelers are featured in the same film to get the right understanding of the sensation, along with the information obtained. The entities that come through each with a strong and distinctive character were interviewed in detail by the director and the result is exceptional: through space and time we discover that the entities speak as one, conveying a clear and broad message of empowerment for humanity.
The Zen Mind (2007)
The Zen Mind is a fascinating travel documentary through the Japan to explore Zen in its natural habitat. A travelogue to explore the practice of modern Zen. We will take you from the hustle and bustle of rush hour Tokyo to the peaceful mountains of Kyoto. From the Zen centers hidden among the city’s skyscrapers to the zendo in a remote monastery.
The Last Resort (2014)
When Andrew Miners first arrived in the Indonesian island village of Babitim, he was struck by two things: the tropical paradise that surrounded it and the corpses of mutilated sharks scattered across the beach. Andrew decided to build an eco-diving resort on the island, which is surrounded by one of the richest and most bio-diverse ecosystems in the world.
Vegetable Skin (2018)
An exciting documentary to watch on the mysterious relationship between art and nature. The peasant artist Bruno Petretto has created Molineddu, the place where he lives and which for years has hosted visual artists from all over Sardinia, in annual events, which often leave their works exposed to the nature of the park and the transformation it generates.
Awake: The Life of Yogananda (2014)
Awake: The Life of Yogananda is an unconventional biography of the Hindu Swami who brought yoga and meditation to the West in the 1920s. By personalizing his pursuit of enlightenment and sharing his struggles along the path, Yogananda made the ancient Vedic teachings accessible to a modern audience, attracting many followers and inspiring millions of yoga practitioners today.
Shot over 3 years with the participation of 30 nations around the world, the documentary takes a look at the world of yoga, ancient and modern, Eastern and Western, and also checks why millions of people today have transformed their interest in the inner world, limiting the mundane world in search of self-realization.
Baraka is a documentary film without narration or commentary. Explore the motifs through a collection of natural events, life, human activities and phenomena filmed in 24 countries on 6 continents over a period of 14 months. The film takes its name from the Sufi idea of baraka, which indicates essence, blessing or breath.
The film is Ron Fricke ‘s sequel to Godfrey Reggio’s non-verbal documentary Koyaanisqatsi. Fricke was director of photography and collaborator of the Reggio film, and for Baraka he began by himself to refine and expand the photographic strategies used on Koyaanisqatsi. Shot in 70mm, it is made up of a mix of photographic styles consisting of slow motion and time-lapse. To achieve this, two shooting systems were used. A Todd-AO system was used to shoot traditional pricing, but to make the time-lapse series of the film Fricke built a special camera that integrated time-lapse digital photography with impeccably handled motion.
Memories, Traveling to Auschwitz (2015)
Documentary not to be missed by independent director Danilo Monte, is an intimate and powerful on the journey made by the director together with his brother in search of a memory. Roberto spent the last years of his life in prison, drugs, community and history books and dialogue in the family was often lacking. Danilo then, for his brother’s thirtieth birthday, decides to give him a train ride to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
My Name Is … I Ask The Moon
Documentary of the French experimental director Manuela Morgaine. They come from Afghanistan, Mali, Nigeria, Sudan, Chad. They fled a dictatorship, a war or something unimaginable for us. Over a four-month period, they learn French at Thot school, a French graduate school for refugees and asylum seekers.
Another must-see documentary by French filmmaker Manuela Morgaine. The serene and placid waters of the Seine and the tormented and deadly waters of the Mediterranean for migrants. The words of Erri De Luca’s poem “Mare Nostrum” accompany unedited found footage in the director’s experimental documentary.
The Dream of Homer (2018)
Documentary to watch by Emiliano Aiello, from 2018. What makes those who live without seeing dream? What kind of images and figures populate your imagination and dreams? The Dream of Homer is a dream documentary about the dreams of Rosa, Domenico, Gabriel, Daniela and Fabio: blind from birth, united by their condition and the habit of narrating their dreams to a tape recorder, an oral diary that each of them records every morning after getting out of bed.
Planetary asks us to rethink who we really are, to reconsider our relationship with ourselves, others and the world around us – to remember that. In a stunning visual exploration, the film weaves images of NASA’s Apollo missions with visions of the Milky Way, Buddhist monasteries in the Himalayas and the cacophonous sounds of downtown Tokyo and Manhattan, with intimate interviews from renowned experts including astronauts Ron Garan and Mae Jemison (the first African American woman in space), celebrated environmentalist Bill McKibben, National Book Award winner Barry Lopez, anthropologist Wade Davis, National Geographic explorer Elizabeth Lindsey, and the head of the Kagyu Tibetan Buddhist school, the 17th Karmapa. They shed new light on the ways our worldview is profoundly affecting life on our planet.
Kumatica is a documentary about when you start to think that there is a controlling elite, a hand behind the curtains leading the planet to destruction.
When you think the end is near, the apocalypse, the Armageddon, and when you think that as a species we are doomed, it’s not them, it’s you who caused this, and for a very good reason. Stop panicking about global tyranny and natural disaster and be careful, because the world is telling you something; tells you exactly what’s wrong with you and how to fix it.
Moving Sound (2018)
Interesting travel documentary of 2018, a must see for fans of the genre. Teacher and musician Ed Wade-Martins embarks on an England-sponsored bike ride in West African Mali. In addition to raising money for the Fresh Start Foundation, which supports orphans and other vulnerable children in The Gambia, it is on a mission to connect cultures with the universal language of music.
Hampi – Valley of the Kings (2012)
Documentary from 2012, shot in the small village of Hampi, a place that was once the capital of an empire that stretched across southern India. But with the ancient city fortifications in ruins, Hampi has few defenses against invading development forces. Over the past 15 years, tourism has grown by 75% and now threatens the lifestyle of the local community and the rich diversity of wildlife living nearby.
France, Almost a Self-Portrait (2017)
Experimental documentary about an avid cinephile, filmmaker, film essayist, teacher. Who is really Francesco Ballo? Maybe it’s all these things together, and more: an Inter fan, a wine expert, a careful jazzophile … A truly independent filmmaker out of any commercial logic, Francesco talks about himself in this documentary, guiding the viewer through his world, his life full of passions and his creativity.
Foudre 1 and 2 (2013)
Film in two parts: a legend – documentary in four seasons. Autumn follows a lightning hunter, associated with Baal, the Syrian god of lightning. Winter is committed to analyzing melancholy, the final stage of depression and the ways in which it can be overcome.
Stekenjokk And The Guardians of The Eggs (2010)
Documentary selected at the 43th Goteborg film festival, 7th Torino Underground Cinefest, Tromso Film Festival. Each year in June, police officer Mimmi and forest ranger Håkan patrol the windiest place in Sweden, the Stekenjokk Valley. Egg thieves ravage the area where rare bird eggs are laid during the breeding season. Thousands of eggs have been stolen over the years and sold to collectors threatening the extinction of several species, a crime that has now been uncovered.
Each Work of Confession
Interesting documentary of “pure” observation, worth seeing. A man has decided to buy a penthouse in a disputed area of the city. From the windows of this building you can see a huge disused area. It is an industrial complex with a glorious past, which is awaiting a complex redevelopment process. Meanwhile, a Roma family has been staying for some time in a camper, interacting with the spaces of these structures, while an elderly worker dreams of flying for the last time. They are sounds and gestures that bind the landscape to man and that represent a common dignity in dealing with the seasons that flow by in the meantime.
Ego Etiam Advenus
The documentary was born from the workshop activity proposed by the director and a researcher to a group of young people who arrived in Italy following the Civil War in Libya and were guests in a farmhouse in the Lecco countryside. Reweaving the thread of the workshop, the images and voices of the video intertwine to retrace the stages of a migratory path that is a path of life.
Merci de ma repondre (2016)
Italian documentary independent shot in 2016, to be included among the documentaries to watch. A small green balloon is let fly by a French boy. Dragged by the winds, it travels 1500 kilometers and lands on a balcony in Rovigo. Attached to it is a message from 12-year-old Rohnan with his address and a thank you for the reply. The directors leave for Quins, the French town where the balloon comes from, filming their journey. Doubts, reflections, people interviewed, experiences that become an extraordinary inner journey.
The Enemy (2016)
How stereotyped is, how alive is the word “partisan”? Massimo Zamboni, guitarist and co-founder of CSI, fifteen years after the dissolution of the historic Italian post-punk band would like to reunite the members around a new project on the partisan theme, sharing thoughts and songs. Not a “reunion”, perhaps a new beginning.
Sicily of Sand
Sicily of sand is a documentary by Massimiliano Perrotta, shot in 2015. It is a journey in the footsteps of Pier Paolo Pasolini, a portrait of Sicily today between myth and transformation. The film reveals Pasolini’s journey for the 1959 journalistic report “The long sand road”. Perrotta describes, through details and characters, how modernity has changed Sicily, and what has remained of tradition.
Video On Paper
Video on paper is an experimental documentary by Antonello Matarazzo, a journey through the imagination of Perino & Vele, in search of the creative motive for the production of the two artists from Campania. Three authors, two visions in comparison, that of a painter-director, Antonello Matarazzo, and that of Perino & Vele, in which the peculiarities of audiovisual technology and that of papier-mâché meet, collide and harmonize in an incessant dialogue from which infinite possibilities arise.
Documentary of Emiliano Dante, Habitat is the story of three former tent companions who remained in L’Aquila. After the earthquake Alessio first becomes a squatter, then a real estate agent; Paolo, who lived by renting his properties in the center, devotes himself body and soul to painting. Emiliano, who had already made a documentary in the tent city, analyzes the alienating reality of CASE projects from within, undergoing and facing their being “non-places”, that is, places without identity, as far from the urban fabric as from the historical and cultural one of the city.
Oleg And The Strange Arts (2016)
A documentary to watch, a touching and unconventional story: immersion in the creativity of the Russian composer Oleg Nikolaevich Karavaichuk, author of soundtracks for directors such as Sergej Paradžanov and Kira Murátova. Director Andrés Duque managed to film, shortly before his death, one of the most original figures on the Russian music scene, Oleg Nikolayevich Karavaichuk.
Documentary by Isabel Russinova on the history of the Romanes people through the images of a meager and gloomy reportage, which shows the living conditions of the people today: the hardships, the expectations, the dramas of discrimination and persecution. However, the personality and uniqueness of a free, colorful, happy, musical people prevails. Ballads, legends, nursery rhymes and poems handed down from voice to voice for hundreds of years.
Looking for David (2017)
Part mystery, part romance, and part social commentary. Ten years ago, actor/writer/musician/producer/director David Fetzer was found dead while visiting his family home in Salt Lake City for the Christmas holidays. Here is that story. Looking for David is the documentary chronicling the events leading up to that morning. The director of the film is Betsy L. Ross, his mother.
Sheep Hero (2019)
From the 50th Visions du Réel festival, Sheep Hero is a moving 81-minute documentary about a traditional shepherd forced to innovate in a neoliberal world in conflict with his idealistic ideas. Will his struggle pay off or will he be forced to follow the flock?
Franco Piavoli, author of the masterpiece The blue planet, produced by Silvano Agosti, returns to directing to immortalize the “evening of the day of celebration”, between Leopardi and Pascoli. A journey between the poetic and the anthropological. What is a “party”? What does it represent, from a symbolic and material point of view? What burdens, or what reliefs, does it bring to people’s minds? And what value does it take on when it becomes a collective act? Festa does not need any tinsel, and reaches right into the spectator’s heart without stratifications, without any deviation from the path, without any additions.
A must see documentary by Alessandro Negrini, shot in Ireland. Can the story of a river reveal the meaning of a life imprisoned by history? Despite the end of the conflict, there is still a city in Northern Ireland with two different names: Derry, for Catholics, Londonderry for Protestants. In the middle of the city, a river flows: The Foyle, which separating them physically, has become their physical boundary in spite of itself. Tides – a story of lost and found lives and dreams, has won 6 international awards. It is a poetic and dreamy autobiography of a river. A fascinating flow of dream images on the themes of border, time and dreams.
Rebel Surgeon (2016)
Extraordinary documentary that recounts the experience of the Swedish surgeon Erik Erichsen, after having served for thirty years in a hospital in his homeland, tired of the bureaucracy, he decided to move to a place where he can more easily do what he really loves: operating . In Ethiopia, where there are only three doctors for every 100,000 inhabitants, Dr. Erichsen and his wife Sennait work in a small field hospital in Aira.
Apennines, of Emiliano Dante, is a cinematographic diary that begins with the slow reconstruction of L’Aquila, the director’s city, and continues with the earthquakes in the central Apennines of 2016-17, up to the very long and exhausting asylum of the new earthquake victims in S. Benedetto del Tronto. An intimate and ironic, lyrical and geometric story, where the question of living in a seismic area becomes the tool to reflect on the very meaning of making cinema of reality. A flow of images, parallel stories, glimpses of reality, intersecting reflections: the director himself Emiliano Dante becomes the object and subject of the story.
The honeymoon is a film-diary that tells about material and interior places that are difficult to show: an Ayurvedic clinic, an ashram, headaches and the desire to have a child. The director Danilo together with his wife Laura, during an atypical honeymoon in India, try to face some important personal problems.
Vita nova is a film that tells the experience of assisted fertilization lived by Laura and Danilo, an artistic couple and in life, through invasive procedures, waiting times, anxieties, hopes, frustrations. At the dawn of this difficult test they decide to film themselves. An autobiographical film that tells of the aspiration to become parents, of the miracle of life as something to be conquered and of the couple’s journey in search of a child in today’s society.
Dialogue with Silvano
Portrait of the great Italian independent director Silvano Agosti on Francy Bonzi, Alda Merini and other great themes of human life: sensuality, love, creativity, spirituality.
Advice to God
A lonely man wanders in the evening on a beach full of garbage, intent on his hard work: to collect the remains of the shipwrecked immigrants on our coasts during desperate crossings trying to find a possibility for a better life. Docudrama sequences, meetings with the displaced people in the first reception centers, and then gradually inserted precisely in the Italian social context, produce a mosaic that tells, even in a grotesque way, a worrying emergency situation.
A raw, harsh and poetic film document, especially in the words of a cimiterian custodian who thinks he has actually “collected piece by piece” the remains of the illegal immigrants to bring them back to the coffins, while the son of a professor of psychiatry and political manager of Burkina Faso, deals with making the meaning of the travels of hope made by his compatriots recognize better: not only an impulse to survival but also a permanent yearning for freedom, the recovery of an identity.
A Song for Paradise
Among the streets of the historic center of Genoa, such as visions, all the greats of the songwriter reappear: Luigi Tenco, Bruno Lauzi, Umberto Bindi and Fabrizio De André. The 4 songwriters arrive here by sea directly through via del Campo, where the sea actually never existed. A scene made possible by the master of the special effects Sergio Boots.
A song for Francescantonio’s Paradise is a journey through time when Gino Paoli, survivor of the historical group of songwriters, and Don Gallo, the revolutionary priest, accompany us in the places that have seen living and proliferation the Genoese songwriters who have left An indelible sign in the history of Italian music.
Vanda Pagani – A small story
“Vanda Pagani – A small story” is a documentary document on a 97 -year -old woman who tells us about her experience as a “little partisan” at just 16 years old, in 1939. Small partisan is the definition with which she refused to approve any group or organization.
Vanda chose to make her choices on the basis of the individual ideas that she had actually matured in the fascist Milan of those years. The director uses the language of documentary and fiction together: Giulia, a young journalist leaves Rome to talk to Vanda, who lives in Civitanova Marche. The fictitious and real character meet in a story for images that explores memory and topicality.
Documentary by Jad Andari, Lebanon.The director returns to his homeland and reconnects with the heart of Bzebdine, a rural part of Mount Lebanon. The documentary is an up-close and intimate look at the lives of his friends and family who still live there. A fascinating documentary that explores the atmospheres, faces and dreams of the people of this small mountain community. The changing sunlight, the kids playing venturing into the night, the religious songs of the elderly, the work of the woodcutter, the pine cone pickers, the elderly woman who knows how to recognize the edible plants in the fields. We are near Franco Piavoli‘s cinema, but in a remote place in Lebanon, where the most dangerous jobs and memories of war days appear as normal situations, and the only choice is to entrust oneself to God’s will.