37 life-changing documentaries

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Long before Sean Penn won an Oscar for his role in Gus Van Sent’s drama Milk, director Rob Epstein received the same statuette in the Best Documentary category for his incredible biopic about Harvey Milk, who was the first openly gay man in the city. the San Francisco Supervisory Board and the first openly gay to become an elected official in California history. His political career was tragically cut short when he and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by their colleague, Supervisory Board member Dan White. However, Milk’s legacy has been more enduring than his tenure in the civil service: his courage and enthusiasm have inspired LGBT activists for forty years.

Harlan County, USA (1976)

Renowned documentary filmmaker Barbara Coppel won her first two Oscars for this incendiary film about the 1973 Brookside Strike by Eastover Coal miners in southeastern Kentucky. Harlan County captured both the problematic nature of the American mining industry as a whole (a very important topic in the current political climate) and the periodic violent clashes between rebellious miners (and their wives) with representatives of Eastover and the union, which killed at least one rebel. miner.


The Thin Blue Line (1998)

Errol Morris’s most famous film, by his own definition, is non-fiction rather than documentary. Randall Dale Adams, a 26-year-old protagonist, has been arrested, convicted and sentenced to death for killing a police officer in Dallas, Texas in 1976, a crime Adams did not commit. Morris’s picture, which restored the sequence of events leading up to the murder and included interviews with Adams and other participants in the trial, convinced viewers so much that a mistake had been made that a year after she left Adams, the charges were dropped.

Hoop Dreams (1994)

This Oscar-nominated film by Steve James covers the eight years of the lives of two Chicago boys, William Gates and Arthur Agee. Thanks to their athletic talents, teenagers attend St. Joseph’s Suburban School in Westchester, Illinois, and participate in its famous basketball program. In the predominantly white school, which Gates and Aggie have to get to for an hour and a half every morning, the boys are in for a culture shock. This masterpiece of modern documentary caused a great controversy when the Film Academy did not nominate it for the award for best documentary, limiting itself to a nomination for best editing.

The Up Series (1964–2012)

In 1964, Michael Epted selected 14 children, representing a representative section of the socio-economic system of England, to shoot in his series of documentaries “7 years”. Every seven years, Epted interviewed children who agreed to take part in the survey to get an idea of ​​how their lives, dreams, fears and worldviews have changed. Currently, the series has eight films (the film “56 years” was released in 2012), and Epsted has expressed his intention to continue working on the project. His fascinating documentaries lead to conclusions both about the class nature of British society and that, contrary to individual characteristics, human experience is universal.

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