Thursday, April 28, 2016

Staff Picks: Documentary Films

As long as there are action movies, animated fantasies, comedies and wish fulfillment onscreen, audiences will also yearn for the truth—or something close to it. In arriving at Time Out New York's favorite documentaries (from all eras and countries), we bumped up against some thorny questions: What makes a documentary essential? Is it the political or social import? Its popularity? Can we allow for staged scenes? Or must we insist on pure vérité? How "real" is reality? 

Looking for a good movie? People spend a lot of time browsing the fiction DVD section at the library, and new fiction DVDs tend to be very popular. But there is also a burgeoning section of non-fiction DVDs, many telling a tale as fascinating as any fictional movie, that you might not think to check out! We've compiled a list of documentaries recommended by staff which you might enjoy. Do you have any documentary recommendations? Let us know in the comments!

The Arts

Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working With Time

Art and Craft

Louvre City

First Position

The Art of the Steal

The Rape of Europa


Burroughs: The Movie

Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present

Mad Hot Ballroom 

The Hobart Shakespeareans


Il Mio Viaggio in Italia

Simon Schama's Power of Art 

Bomb It 

History and Social Issues

The Look of Silence

The Hunting Ground

Dancing Boys of Afghanistan





Bill Cunningham New York

The September Issue


Revenge of the Mekons

The Decline of Western Civilization Collection

The Wrecking Crew!

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck


20 Feet from Stardom

Searching for Sugar Man

Touch the Sound: A Sound Journey with Evelyn Glennie

20,000 Days on Earth

The Punk Singer

Gypsy Caravan: When the Road Bends--

Soul Power

Wagner & Me

Pop Culture

Los Angeles Plays Itself

Terms and Conditions May Apply

Best of Enemies



The Qatsi Trilogy

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Public Speaking

Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman

I'll Have What Phil's Having 

Afghan Star

Examined Life



A Man Named Pearl

The Wolfpack

Finding Vivian Maier

Man on Wire


The Up Series

Stories We Tell

Cutie and the Boxer

Grey Gardens

Seymour: An Introduction

The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl 

Sing Your Song

Eames: The Architect and the Painter

Don't forget to check out our New Non-Fiction and Documentary DVD page regularly! If you'd like a more scholarly approach to non-fiction, try the Great Courses series by the Teaching Company.


Critics' 50 Greatest Documentaries of All Time [Sight & Sound/BFI]

Documentary Films [AMC Filmsite]

Why Documentary Films Are So Important [HuffPost]

Why Documentaries Matter [Reuters Institute]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love that the library has so many great, thought-provoking documentaries. I was able to cancel Amazon prime, Sundance Doc Club, AND Netflix, because the library has everything I could possibly want.