28 Docs Later You’ll Be A Better Person, Just Watch

Julie Goldman
Actress, Comedian, Bro of Awesomeness, Co-star of “In Your Box Office”

The American Experience – The Mormons

This movie is important to watch as a pre-cursor to the Mormon Prop 8 doc if you really want your full lesbo zealotry to come out. Besides showing how purely American the Mormon religion is, it’s also a birds-eye view into religion in general and how they are ALL man-made.


A touching new way to tell a story that we’ve heard a million times. This one really gets down deep.

The Legend of Leigh Bowery

A dark, yet inspiring portrait of a gay icon who’s creativity and originality is unmatched before or since.

Any documentary that begins with
“The Jews and” or “Jesus and..”

The Jews and Jesus are an infinite well of learning and contradictions depending on which documentary you’re watching. But they are all very interesting. Especially when you have insomnia.

Sarah // Managing Editor:


I had the privilege of seeing Freeheld, along with all the other Oscar-nominated short documentaries of 2008, at the True/False Film Festival — basically the Sundance of documentaries — in Columbia, Missouri. About 3/4 of the docs I’ve seen are because of this fest, and I want to encourage everyone who cares about documentaries to go to this at least once. I’m serious, it’s the best weekend ever. </shameless plug>

Like I said, Freeheld is a short film, which is great because it’s so emotionally intense that I couldn’t have lasted much longer. You probably know the story: Detective Lieutenant Laurel Hester was a police officer in New Jersey for many years, and while dying of cancer, she had to fight with the local government to get her pension and benefits extended to her partner. The film follows the couple at home as well as into meetings with the Freeholders (like a city council) who were actively blocking her benefits. It’s truly heartbreaking. Also, this story is going to be made into a movie with Ellen Page. You should check out Freeheld before that hits theaters.

Hoop Dreams

This movie hits some of the major topics on my long list of “Things I Don’t Know Enough About”: classism, athletics, inner-city communities and the public school system, to name a few. I first saw this film in a sociology class, and I loved it because it showed me so many worlds I am not a part of. Hoop Dreams tells the story of young high-school basketball players whose talents get them scholarships at various colleges and universities. That part is great, even though it can cause rifts in families sometimes, but the really unfortunate part happens once the kids get to school. The academic counseling generally fails them miserably, and they’re left with almost nothing if they don’t make it to the NBA. The filmmakers take their time, sticking around to follow certain young men for years. The progression of their dreams is really the heart of the film, as you get to watch them go from blind hope to bitter realization.

+Get Hoop Dreams – Criterion Collection

The September Issue

The September Issue is a bit lighter fare: it’s about Anna Wintour and the September issue of Vogue. I’m a journalism major, so I’m fascinated by the world of publishing, especially where women are concerned. But you don’t have to know anything about magazines to get a kick out of this one. The film is beautifully shot, it’s full of interesting/powerful women, and it even has exclusive interviews with Wintour herself. It’s the real-life version of The Devil Wears Prada, and the real life version is much more fun. Also, I would be lying if I said I didn’t dream about Anna Wintour after I saw it.

Rachel // Senior Editor:

The Carter Documentary

Sarah asked me to write about a documentary that changed my life, and let me tell you something, I am such a different person after watching The Carter Documentary that they won’t let me into bars with the same ID anymore. Your life looks pretty different after finding out that a real human person can drink that much cough syrup in one day and not only survive, but sell like 80 million albums in one day. Virtually every aspect of my daily life has changed, for better or for worse, after watching this documentary. Every decision you make will now be made with the understanding that, instead of doing your laundry or playing mah jongg, you could have gotten the ESPN symbol tattooed on your forearm or written a rap about Robitussin and weed that would earn you enough money to purchase a small country in Eastern Europe. See, you’re feeling pretty different already, aren’t you? And you haven’t even seen the montage of Lil Wayne concerts with the lyrics to “Lollipop” scrolling across the screen in Lucida Handwriting! Are you ready for this shit? No you’re not, better have some syrup first.


Helvetica is exactly what it purports itself to be: it is 80 minutes of in-depth discussion about a sans-serif typeface that you may be familiar with if you use a Mac or have ever looked at an American Apparel ad. If you think that Helvetica is just a cute name, or that the film is an examination of some kind of important social phenomenon using Helvetica as a theme, you are wrong. But that doesn’t mean this isn’t awesome, because it is. At the end of this 80 minutes you will have more feelings about typefaces than you’ve ever had before in your life, and that’s coming from someone who already had a lot of feelings about typefaces. Bonus: a solid 90% of the people interviewed have distinctive Swedish, Dutch, or German accents. I know, right?

+Watch Helvetica now.

The Weather Underground

If you care about Lindsay Lohan so much that you read this website, you probably weren’t alive in the 1960s and maybe haven’t heard of the Weathermen.  They were important though, and you should watch this documentary about them. If you don’t know, the Weathermen were a group of domestic terrorists who protested the Vietnam War by bombing government buildings and public institutions, although they were notable in that they took care to make sure that only property and not people were harmed. Most of its members are still around, living relatively normal lives; Bill Ayers is probably its most famous veteran. The Weather Underground features these people, forty years later, looking back on what they did for that ten-year period living “underground” and reflecting on it. What they come up with is some pretty amazing stuff if you’re at all interested in violence as a political tool, or how strategies for radical social change work or don’t work, or what the revolution is going to look like. And really, if you’re not interested in any of those things, what the fuck is wrong with you. The whole documentary is available for free on Google Video, so make moves!

Paris is Burning

Unless you grew up in some kind of alternate universe where gay people were considered real actual human beings whose culture was deserving of recognition and celebration, you were probably not taught anything about the history of our community in any kind of structured way. So instead, we have to rely on documentaries like Paris is Burning, and since Paris is Burning is fucking amazing, I have a hard time getting too worked up about it. Paris is Burning focuses on the phenomenon of New York City drag balls in the mid-t0-late 1980s, which featured incredibly competitive and highly-structured drag competitions, around which entire communities and families formed.

It has legendary personalities that will haunt you long after the documentary is over, such as Willie Ninja, who was credited with bringing “voguing” to the mainstream and who later choreographed for Madonna. The filming itself is done in such a way that the ball participants’ voices are completely unhindered — we get to see these people as people, without the straight filmmaker’s point of view getting in the way and making it feel like an episode of Wild Kingdom. This is the first instance I can remember in my own life of seeing queer people taken seriously on their own terms, with the rules and realities of their world taken as fact.

They talk frankly about the violence and isolation they face, about being disowned by their families and having to find new ones. We watch unscripted scenes of people we’ve grown to care about interacting with homophobic straight people. Because race is a factor that’s often the huge “colorblind” elephant in the room when we talk about queer history, it’s fantastic that one of the most well-known documentaries on gay people features people of color. Racism is a huge factor in the hardships discussed here, and when we’re told that one of the interviewees, a trans woman of color, has been murdered at the end of the movie, it really drives home the way that race, gender identity and sexual orientation are all tied together for this moment in time.

Alex // Design Director:

Exit Through The Gift Shop

Exit Through the Gift Shop is Banksy‘s shot at a documentary, and it’s a total success obviously. Don’t know who Banksy is? You should because he’s only the most notorious (and brilliant) street artist ever but if you don’t it’s cool — this is still a great film that captures a piece of the underground street art movement, as well as the story of Thierry (pronounced “Terry”) Guetta, the documentary’s filmmaker.

Thierry is batshit crazy but also endearing. And the story that develops as he films all these street artists (and eventually his encounter with Banksy) becomes something unexpected — and I love a documentary that totally grows and becomes something it never intended to be. It really makes this a special gem of a film… and a super funny and entertaining one too.

Jess G // Music Writer:

The Last Waltz

If you watch one music documentary in your life, consider The Last Waltz. This film, shot and directed by Martin Scorcese, chronicles just one concert held on Thanksgiving Day in 1976 — the last ever from a Canadian-American band called… well, The Band. They were a group in their own right, with hit songs like “The Weight” and “Up On Cripple Creek,” but they were also one of the finest backing bands of their time, recording and touring with Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan.

If you don’t know or care about the nitty gritty facts of The Band, don’t worry. Skip the history lesson and this doc is all about the songs. Along with their own hits, they play the songs of notable guests — including Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Mavis Staples, and Dr. John — all of whom join them on stage. Everyone will come away with a favorite performance, but mine is “Helpless” with Neil Young. “Helpless” is an amazing song on its own, but with Joni Mitchell’s back-up vocals (she’s only even visible in silhouette performing off stage), I’m left with goosebumps.
Get The Last Waltz (Special Edition)
You might also like: Stones in Exile

March of the Penguins

Emily (via reply-all email): I’m sorry I can’t participate in this because I don’t think I’ve seen any documentaries ever! I know! Don’t fire me! I mean I think I saw March of the Penguins once or something.

Jess R // Senior Editor:

My Kid Could Paint That

My Kid Could Paint That tells story of a 4-year-old painter (Marla Olmstead) whose abstract canvases sold for thousands of dollars after TV and newspaper reports turned her into an international celebrity. The doc raises compelling questions about artistic authenticity, the meaning of modern art, demands of the news media, the exploitation of children and the nature of faith itself. After a 60 Minutes special on the Olmstead family casts doubt on the true authorship of the paintings, the family is thrown into crisis.

This doc is unlike any other I’ve seen because it breaks down the 4th wall when the filmmaker turns the camera on himself and confides in the audience that he doesn’t know what to believe and that the nature of his film has changed. He suddenly feels that he needs video proof of Marla at work on a painting, from start to finish, in order to believe she is the creator of her canvases. Although it is a documentary, it almost feels more like a suspense mystery and is riveting to the very end.

Buy My Kid Could Paint That.

Dixie Chicks: Shut Up & Sing

Documentary filmmakers pray for something to happen to their subjects when the cameras are rolling, and these filmmakers struck gold when when Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines told a crowd on the opening night of the band’s first European tour that she was “ashamed” that President Bush was from Texas. The fallout was insane. In the firestorm that ensued – the widespread reporting of the unplanned, informal bit of stage banter – the Dixie Chicks found themselves virtually banned from country radio in the US and alienated from the group’s red-state core following. Disc jockeys collected their CDs from listeners and smashed them with a bulldozer. After catching Maines that fateful night in London, the cameras follow the band through the aftermath – the Diane Sawyer interview, the nude cover shoot for Entertainment Weekly, the verbal sparring with redneck singer Toby Keith – all the way to the writing and recording of the Dixie Chicks new album, featuring “Not Ready to Make Nice,” the revealing lead single detailing everything they’ve gone through. Even if you weren’t a Dixie Chicks fan before, watching Shut Up & Sing will likely turn you into one and make you worship Natalie Maines.
Get Dixie Chicks: Shut Up & Sing (Full Screen Edition)


Southern Comfort

Director Kate Davis heads down to rural Georgia to document the last few months of the life of Robert Eads, a transgender man diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Born and raised as female, Eads married and gave birth to two children before fully coming to terms with his gender identity and transitioning later in life. He allows the camera to witness his life, post-diagnosis, and the slow deterioration of his body as the cancer takes over. There are no surprises here: Robert is dying and will die by the end of the film. As if that is not entirely sad enough, we discover Robert was refused treatment by countless doctors out of conflict of interest, homophobia, transphobia or other factors related to his gender, which left the cancer untreated long enough to become terminal. Ultimately, though, the film is not about cancer or the tragedy of Robert’s situation. It ‘s a character study of this amazing backwoods self-proclaimed hillbilly who forms a new family of queer folk in a very hostile environment, where passing isn’t about identity as much as it is about safety. However cliché this may sound, the film is about life and living, about the moments we have with each other and how we choose to use them, and the extraordinary capacity that humans have to find, grow, and make love. Hint: It’s okay to cry. Watch this with some cute girl to cuddle you after it’s over.
Get Southern Comfort

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  1. Thank you for the list, it looks very delicious.

    That Helvetica one, I don’t know how I never heard of it before, but it looks like the closest thing to typeface porn I have ever seen.

    If people like Spellbound, try checking out Doubletime which is similar except about SKIPPING!

    Also, one of the best narratives in a doc I have ever seen is in A Boy’s Life which seems very straightforward at first but gets so more complex and fucked up as it goes on. It also contains one of the best lines I have ever heard in cinema:

    “I’m gonna get a job, get some teeth and BE somebody!”

  2. Oh also, do people like Nick Broomfield docs? I’ve only seen a few of his, but I quite liked Fetishes, though he’s famous for the Kurt and Courtney one.

    And Louis Theroux, I don’t know if his stuff is ever shown in the US, but he does lots of docs about America that get shown in the UK, specialising in things-that-give-the-rest-of-the-world-nightmares-about-America such as Westboro and crazy pro-gun people.

    I really love his style though, he’s very unassuming and anti-confrontational, and good at gaining people’s trust only to later tie them in knots with their own hypocrisy.

    • Yeah Louis Theroux has some great ones. His one on Westboro is called The most hated family in America and I found it very interesting. He gets to spend time with the family and you see them on a human level and ultimately realise how Fred Phelps family are all victims of him too.

      It’s available a few places online including youtube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOrz5k0jWdU

  3. i already loved Natalie Maines so much and then i saw ‘Shut Up and Sing’ and it was all over. FUTK!

    another great one for the nerds? WORDPLAY. it’s all about Will Shortz and crossword puzzles. Bill Clinton, Jon Stewart and the Indigo Girls are in it.

  4. get ready for precious nerdery- I run a documentary film discussion group for old people. Mostly I have learned that subtitles are evil- but even if you haven’t understood a word of a documentary, you can still comment on it.

    apply this to your life as necessary.

    Anything from the powerhouses of verite- DA Pennebaker, the Maysles, Leacock is worth seeking out. My favorite is Salesman because it’s the saddest fucking movie I’ve ever seen.

    There’s been a wonderful documentary renaissance recently- especially amongst lady filmmakers. “Order of Myths” by Margaret Brown, “12th and Delaware” (by the ladies who did Jesus Camp!) and “Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo” by Jessica Oreck are all five stars.

    LOVE this topic, autostraddle! thankssssss!

    • Wow. Yes. I won’t rest until I see that Lil Wayne documentary! Genius pick, Rachel. Julie and I plan on smoking very petite pot cigarettes while sipping on some purple cough syrup (mixed with sprite, of course) and making a night of it!

      ALSO- I wrote my picks in the dark, in the car, while on a road trip and forgot to mention two crucial docs that I LOVE-

      Cocaine Cowboys & The King of Kong

      • Oh man, Cocaine Cowboys was mind blowing. I had no idea that Miami was literally a war zone. Scarface just scratched the surface.

  5. I adore documentaries as well and I’ve seen most of these picks. Great choices. I particularly love “My Kid Could Paint That”. It’s a film about so many different things and the storytelling is ingenious.

    Off the top of my head, a few more of my favorites that were not mentioned: Crumb, Capturing the Friedmans, Trembling Before the Eyes of God, Jesus Camp, Titicut Follies, The Cruise, The Devil and Daniel Johnston, Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple.

    Also, it’s interesting there are no Errol Morris films on anyone’s list. And as a documentary enthusiast I’m ashamed to admit…I’ve only seen Fog of War and I wasn’t crazy about it.

    • YES. Also any documentary about high school (High School, Seventeen)
      I am a huge doc enthusiast and while I liked fast cheap and out of control, it really took me a while to get into it. I respect what errol morris is doing but new york abstains, courteously (from seeing any more of his films.)

      I can’t believe I forgot the devil and daniel johnston.
      Anyone else have a HUGE problem with Born Into Brothels?

  6. GOD documentaries are the absolute best. I have maybe 40 in my instant queue and just added 15 more…thanks Autostrad :)

  7. Another strange but powerful documentary along the same lines as Jesus Camp is Hell House. I watched it on youtube and it follows a church as they construct a hell house for Halloween that they hope will scare people about hell so much they will turn to Jesus.

    • My girlfriend and I just recently watched Hell House. Man, that was some weird, messed up shit. I mean, I experienced some of that bizarre religious dogma first hand – but nothing quite as extreme and over the top as that.

      • Yeah I find the more removed I get from that the more I’m like wow I used to find this normal. Like seriously Jesus Camp was basically my childhood but now I’m like WTF?!

  8. I love documentaries so much. I’ve recently just watched Shine a Light and No Direction Home and they were both so riveting and beautiful.. I cannot wait for Scorcese’s film about George Harrison.

    Another beautiful, heartbreaking and fantastic film is Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father. Y’all, that movie is so devastating. I think it was the only thing to make me cry more than Freeheld. So good. You should watch it if you haven’t.

    Oh and CNN just aired a short doc called Gary and Tony Have a Baby. And that one was really sweet and lovely.

    • Netflix keeps insisting that I watch Zachary, but I keep putting it off. Now I’ll definitely have to watch it. Thanks!

  9. YOU GUYS i forgot to say that the film Alma is AMAZING. here, i’ll transcribe the blurb from the back of ye olde disc container:

    “Alma Thorpe’s bizarre views on sexuality, motherhood and mail-order sweepstakes make her a living, breathing shrine to Southern Gothic. In this intimate and darkly humorous film, director Ruth Leitman follows Alma’s daughter Margie on her journey with a mentally ill mother and an abusive, alcoholic father.”

    it’s like Grey Gardens meets Intervention meets Bastard Out of Carolina. it’s nowhere near as good as Bastard Out of Carolina, but it’s SIMILAR.

  10. Nobody mentioned “Born Into Brothels” or the best documentary I’ve ever seen in my life… “The Farmer’s Wife”

    Loved The September Issue. Blown away by Grace. Interesting once you see where the real brilliance behind something lies.

    • I thought Born Into Brothels was hugely problematic in terms of its white savior complex.
      Sadly I’ve seen four or five other docs with the same problem recently…

      I totally agree with you, BFC, about how phenomenal Grace was in The September Issue.

  11. It may not necessarily be life changing BUT Sounds Like Teen Spirit is amazing, it’s about the Junior Eurovision Song Contest and it’s so funny and heart warming, it follows the stories of a few of the contestants and it’s just a really good watch. Think people that like Spellbound would enjoy it.

    Also second recommendations of Exit Through The Gift Shop, Anvil and My Kid Could Paint That. Great article :)

    • Oh oh oh, I really want to see Sounds Like Teen Spirit. I really wanted to see it when it came out but I could not find anyone else with sufficient Eurovision obsession to go and see it.

      Thanks for the reminder, my films-to-watch list grows ever longer…

  12. Thanks for the list, guys! I’m going to watch more than a few of these. I love a good documentary.

    Has anyone seen The Cove? It was pretty painful to watch, but it was a good documentary. I also recently watched Anvil, which I didn’t like quite as much as I thought I would. Some bits seemed a bit staged… I dunno.

  13. This is a very comprehensive list guys, and now I feel like I need to go watch a million documentaries.

    But I have to recommend one more: Darius Goes West!!
    It seriously is a life-changing doc. The guys who made it were all still in high school or college (except for one 25 year old they got to drive their RV) at the time, and they paid for it by pre-selling movie credits. It seriously gives you hope that the world can be better. And the director, Logan Smalley, is one of the best public speakers I’ve ever heard.


    • YES. One of my best friends was actually directly involved in Darius’s mission in Athens, GA. His touching story definitely made me reevaluate how much I take my daily life for granted. I highly recommend this one.

  14. Today you’re trying really hard to implode because of your own awesomeness.

    I already watched “Killing Us Softly”, I just couldn’t stop once I started and now I want to show it to everyone I know.

  15. Nice list, definitely found some titles I need to check out. Lake of Fire and Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator are some of my fave docs.

  16. Thank you so much for this article. I looove Docs I want to be a Documentary Filmmaker one dayyyyyy!

  17. hands on a hard body is one of the best movies i’ve ever seen. i didn’t know a filmmaker could make me care so much about a radio contest.

  18. This list is gonna keep me busy.

    I recommend The Times of Harvey Milk. It’s old but important. You can watch it on Hulu.

    And you can watch a lot of documentaries on Logo’s website, like:

    Southern Comfort(listed)
    Dangerous Living: Coming Out in the Developing World
    Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin
    Pick Up the Mic

  19. I only recently realised how much I LOVE docs, so perfect timing with this article!! Along with all the docs on this list, i’m especially looking forward to seeing Beautiful Losers, Helvetica and Killing us softly.

    I just watched ‘Art & Copy’, now I don’t think i’ll ever be able to watch a commercial or look at an ad in the same way…infact, it kinda made me want to drop my degree and take up advertising haha

  20. Documentaries usually manage to make me feel both extremely self-satisfied and profoundly inadequate at the same time. Since that is my preferred state of mind/comfort zone, I really like watching them, so I appreciate all of your recommendations very much. Consider your recommendations very much appreciated.

    Also, I didn’t know “The Carter Documentary” existed and now I need to watch it (even though I admit I’ll never be ready for that shit).

    Also II, if I stop visiting AS it probably just means I saw “Beautiful Losers” and thought it was baloney.

    • In the interest of preventing a potential misunderstanding, I just want to point out that I haven’t seen “Beautiful Losers” and I meant that last ‘Also’ as something that could eventually happen (but not really). More importantly, I meant it as an unfunny joke. So, if no one though it was at all funny, just keep in mind that that was exactly what I was going for.

      “Beautiful Losers” probably is baloney, though.

      [comfort zone: occupied]

  21. Aileen Wuornos: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer is good. Also, Capturing the Friedmans gave me bad dreams for about a week. Documentaries can take the whole concept of mindfuckery that little bit further than film, I think… Because, y’know, it’s real and there is an ACTUAL answer out there, somewhere, but chances are you’ll probably never see it.

    Zero Day was a good mockumentary, too. Just, uh, FYI and shit.

  22. One of my faves is Cinemania, a film about 5 obsessive movie-goers in New York. A mate of mine randomly picked it up at the video store and we were both blown away by it.

    Catch up on your queer history with
    Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt
    The Times of Harvey Milk
    Before Stonewall

    Kind of a new one – The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls is *really* well made, and is a portrait of two amazing women.

    • i loved cinemania. my favorite part is how they were super competitive with each other about who saw what movies, and they’d like look at each other in the theater and be like, “ugh of COURSE she’s here,” etc. also i liked how serious they were about their schedules.

      • Ugh I go to the movies with those people. I am terrified about my friends becoming those people- they’re pretty close already except that they’re younger and have slightly better personal hygene. I remember when Roberta (who has since passed away) belching loudly in the middle of a quiet contemplative scene in a Japanese movie. Talk about killing the mood.

        The best was when two olds got in a FISTFIGHT at an Anthony Mann western and actually rolled out into the aisle.

  23. Wow, I’ve only seen Helvetica (in class) and Fish out of Water (obvs) from this list. Several of these are on my ‘to see’ list but many of these I’ve never even heard of. One of my fav documentaries to watch is Mad Hot Ballroom because I am a sucker for kids being cute & artistic & doing things to help improve their situations/fulfill their dreams. I also got Pageant for my birthday but I haven’t watched it yet…

  24. LOVE Paris Is Burning. I watched it a few years ago in my visual culture class, and I remember these two bitchy girls behind me going on about how it was so totally gross, and that they couldn’t believe what they were seeing.

    I also really loved $ex $laves. I’m Ukrainian, and I was so thankful, after watching this, to have been born in North America. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6KUP9kFvUE&feature=related

  25. I don’t think I saw this in the comments, but the doc “Man on Wire” is AMAZING. It won the Oscar in 2008, I think, and it’s about Philip Petite, a French tightrope walker who walked between the WTC towers in the 1970s. Really really well done, and Philip Petite is the perfect interview subject — really expressive and dramatic and just awesome.


  26. I declared today Documentary Day and watched The Carter Documentary, Helvetica, The Weather Underground and Paris is Burning pretty much back to back. Now I’m watching Paper Clips. ONLY LIKE TWENTY MORE TO GO. Then I’ll be a better person right?

      • Damn straight.

        I just finished watching Anvil. I’m thinking Beautiful Losers will be next.

        The Weather Underground is my favorite so far. I didn’t know much about it either.

    • I just finished watching Freeheld and bawled like a baby through the entire thing.

      A week later: still working through the list. I have now seen…

      the carter documentary
      the weather underground
      paris is burning
      beautiful losers
      spellbound(which I realized I had watched before)

      clearly I have too much time on my hands.

  27. love docus. takes you on such an emotional ride.

    before i slept last nite helvetica, burning, and beautiful losers were loading unto my comp – when i woke up everythings gone. grrr

    anyhu, thanks for the great list, again

  28. Another documentry lover…thanks for the recomendations, there are a bunch I havn’t seen yet. (I’ve already watched a couple, since reading this article on fri…)

    I was super excited to see that I could watch Freeheld on logo.com…and it’s not even geo-blocked for us canadian/international folk

  29. Anything at all, even if you don’t like the subject matter, by Ken Burns. ‘Unforgivable Blackness’ especially.

    Recently watched ‘Training Rules’, that was really good. ‘The Aggressors’, amazing.

    David Sutherland did two riveting documents, ‘The Farmer’s Wife’ and ‘Country Boys’. Both enthralling and I highly recommend them. If the Appalachian region interests you, (and you are interested in photography) then *definitely* check out ‘The True Meaning of Pictures’.

  30. Love documentaries. Just watched “The Devil’s Playground” about a group of Amish teenagers going through “Rumspringa” where they get to go crazy for a while before getting baptised into the Amish faith.

    One of my favourite docs is called “Être et avoir” (To be and to have), about a year in a tiny rural French primary (elementary?) school. It is adorable.

  31. ‘Paris is Burning’ is so great. I stumbled across it at the local Blockbusters (movie rental place – is it UK-specific?)
    Assume that someone working there is queer, cos there were a bunch of great gay films on the shelves.

    Annnnyway, great film. I’m going to order Helvetica RIGHTNOW for my gf who gets a little *too* excited by fonts.

  32. This website’s short documentaries are handsome.

    Also, I recently came across this not-at-all-short documentary (24 hours). Based exclusively on the two hours I’ve seen I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s wildly entertaining, but those hours (9PM* and 3AM) do contain several bits I found strangely compelling.

    Finally, I saw ‘Beautiful Losers’ and I thought it was lovely; it’s very interesting, and I actually had to pause it a couple of times because it was making me feel things: two thumbs up. To the commenter who “joked” about it being “baloney” (having not seen the film, mind you) I want to say: please stop commenting on nice posts when you’re gloomy/cranky and grow up already, idiocymonger.

    *All of you raging homophobes out here, be warned: a lesbian creature emerges for a couple of minutes during ‘9 PM’ and her deviancy is mildly, yet explicitly, discussed.

  33. American movie: the making of northwestern. Pretty much changed my life in terms of how I’m afraid my life might end up with the rest of my film/art/theatre friends. Even though I know my work is amazing and I’ll succeed with it no matter what, this could totally be what I become if somehow all of that fails. And it terrifies me. Watch it. It is so good and human and possible.

  34. I second that you should all come to the True/False Festival in Columbia, Mo. It’s at the beginning of March and is freaking fantastic! I volunteered last year and am volunteering again this year. People, Parties, and Amazing Documentaries. . . COME!

  35. love the list, and this is my first time commenting, but i can’t believe someone else hasn’t said this!

    gays who haven’t seen “paris is burning” should not kill themselves, and enron may be taking people’s money, but it’s not “raping them”

    using this kind of language is careless and unnecessary and completely not okay for a site as socially aware as my beloved autostraddle!

    • Anna, I was just about to say the same thing.
      I wish that everyone would remember that to some people, hearing either/both of those phrases is JUST as bad as the shit some of us get about being gay/queer/trans*/ourselves. Sadly, so many people don’t realize what can hurt unless they or someone they love are hurt by it.

      Love you, Autostraddle. Love you, writers. Just something to be aware of.

    • THIS. Thank you. I was going to say the same thing. Love you, Autostraddle, but neither of those was cool to say. Rape is no one’s metaphor.

  36. “If you’re gay and you haven’t seen this movie, you should kill yourself.”

    could you please take this out? Cause it’s not really funny. Maybe you could say “you should be ashamed” or something. kthx. I usually love y’all but I don’t really want to read stuff like that.

  37. I really don’t think the “you should kill yourself” line is appropriate. I’m actually appalled that you guys would write that.

  38. Yay docs yayyyyy. This list is marvelous and has a ton of my faves, now let us all head to Netflix Instant for documentary time.

    (But no Edie & Thea? says the tiniest voice)

  39. My Netflix queue is nearly 50% documentaries. Unfortunately a lot of these suggestions aren’t on Netflix ATM, but I’m bookmarking this thread!

    Some really great docs about natural resources and environmental problems: “Flow”, “Tapped”, “Blue Gold”, “Carbon Nation”, “GasLand”, and “No Impact Man.”
    “A Place at the Table” is about food insecurity in America.
    “Mutantes: Punk Porn Feminism” is as awesome as it sounds.
    “Happy” is about what makes people from around the world happy, and “Life in a Day” is made up of pieces of video shot by people all over the world on the same date, June 24, 2010. Both of those are good antidotes to the depressing stuff in some of the other docs I listed.
    There are more docs that I’ve watched and loved but don’t remember clearly enough to recommend them.

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