I’ve found myself watching a lot of documentaries lately so as a result I thought I’d post a top ten ‘ Documentaries I Would Recommend’ list. In this fast paced society I think they can give us a glimpse of life for other people or even help us to challenge perceptions of our own lives. A well put together documentary will always mean more to me than a film because the stories will carry on after the cameras are packed away & the media moves on to another hot topic. The recorded images can still help shine light on issue’s that unless you live in the same region, you probably wouldn’t have heard about. Now the top ten is in no particular order so I’ve posted a poll bellow this update for any would be participants a chance to vote. Most of the links I’ve posed on here are for the full movies so you can watch them all & post your onions comment’s etc. I would also like to hear back from anyone who has some of their own favourite docs to share.
1. Made In Jamaica (2006)
I first watched ‘Made in Jamaica’ back in 2009 & when it first started I wasn’t sure what it was. I look like a ‘behind the music video’ featurette. Complete with flashing lights and scantily clad women dancing about you may start to wonder if this is a documentary at all, but within 5 minutes this ‘music video’ takes a dark turn. I suddenly cuts to a news reader reporting the shooting of Gerald ‘Bogle’ Levy an iconic Jamaican dancer, who we’d just seen moments before on the screen performing. Its shown the fragility of the Dancehall lifestyle with a simple cut. It then begins to uncover the roots of Dancehall, reggae & Jamaica it’s self with a real care & attention to detail. There are a host of famous Reggae & Dancehall artists here to tell their story, Bounty Killer, Capleton & the legendary Bunny Wailer to name but a few. The focus switches between the interviews & live music performance with such ease the by the end you could have watched another hour, without losing interest. This was also the picture that I found out about Joseph Current & footage from this production has been featured in my post about him earlier this month. It’s a must watch for any true music lovers.
Director: Jerome Laperrousaz
Running Time: 1 Hour 45 Mins
Release Date: 23rd of October 2009
2. The Last White Hope (2007)
I picked up this DVD randomly about 5 years back with a bunch of other films but i was glad I did. It poses some interesting questions around the motives for the ‘War on Drugs’ initiated by President Richard Nixon back in 1971. There are some crazy stories told in this film that will defiantly have you scratching your head. Like how is the CIA still in operation at all after the Scandal around Manuel Noriega? Surely the public in America would object to an organisation that is funded by the drug money they are supposed prevent being made in the first place?! Maybe not. Anyway that having been said there are a lot of other pressing issues raised in this picture that should have the USA citizens at large very concerned. A good brain tickler that connects some interesting dots together.
Director: Kevin Booth
Running Time: 2 Hours
3. The Future of Food (2004)
‘The Future of food’ an ominous title that only goes on to earn pompous name. It sheds light on the insane practices of patenting living things, plants, seeds & even animals. I watched this last week & it’s made such an impact I have a post planned on the ideas of universal patenting vs. monopoly law. The practices used in this film are unnerving to say the least. Essentially the companies pushing for universal patents on living resources would render us unable to grow anything that contains any element of a resource they had a patent on. For example if a plant on my land was found to contain an element of patented resource I would be subjected to legal proceedings, fines, lost or stock etc. This couldn’t and shouldn’t be possible in a free world so it makes for quite an uncomfortable watch even if it does end on a lighter note. A look at the future, questionable at the same time me must ask if the conglomerates vying for power have our well-being in mind at all; or are they more focused on the global monopoly of the food market with their genetically modified produce. It grabs you from the off & doesn’t let up, watch & share.
Director: Deborah Koons
Running Time: 1 Hour 28 mins
Released: 30th of May 2004
4. BBC – Human Planet Season 1 (2011)
This one is a series but there was no way I could leave it out. Human Planet is the most epic of the documentaries on this list, by a long way. The BBC has had a long-standing tradition of putting together world-class wildlife & nature films. Human planet doesn’t disappoint with any of its eight episodes, from the Ocean to Deserts & Jungles to arctic landscapes it showcases humans in all of our diverse habitats. I have to start with the cinematography, its sweeping camera shots slow-mo moment’s & very intimate close-ups of situation we would never normally see. The cultures are all unique & I’m so glad that people have documented at least some of the different people on this vast planet. I rarely happy about having paid my TV licence but this is one of the few occasions I was. There are plans for a season two already based around humans that have near supernatural abilities & although I’m sceptical whether it will be as good as the first I’m still looking forward to it. Watch all 8 episodes you will not be disappointed the link to episode one is bellow, enjoy.
Executive producer: Brian Leith & Dale Templar
Running Time: 8 Episodes – 1 Hour Per Episode
First Episode Aired: 13th January 2011
Released On DVD: 21st February 2011
5. Sicko (2007)
Michael Moore’s film Sicko paints a bleak picture of the health care system in America. From the beginning it shows stories of numerous US citizens who ironically have health insurance; they just get completely shafted by it. The most touching story for me was about a lady who’s year & a half old daughter was taken into hospital with a high fever & instead of being treated they hospital staff called the insurance company. They company Kaiser then advised they could only treat her at one of their hospitals. The woman child died in transit just as she reached the HMO’s hospital. This is just one of the many ridiculously inhuman stories you will hear & honestly it does make me happy to live in a country where this wouldn’t happen (yet); a Dr who has taken an oath to save live watching a baby die because an insurance company has told them too. I’m not a massive fan of Michael Moore’s documentaries however he does show a perspective this time that hard to refute as one of his normal ‘crusades’ as the media would say. It’s much more hard-hitting & I would recommend this to all. The first of twelve parts of the documentary is below.
Director: Michael Moore
Running Time: 2 hours
Released: 26th of October 2007
6. Life & Debt (2001)
I only watched ‘Life & Debt’ last year even though it had been recommended to me a couple of times. It gives a tragic picture on the tropical island & instead of the idyllic image conjured by the word tropical we are shown a very dark side to this small islands heritage present and future. It shows how so-called civilized countries have had a strangle hold on Jamaica & also goes some way to explaining poverty in all ‘third world countries’; because although it is set in the west indies it just as easily could have been South America or Africa. Corruption is rife but sadly this is nothing new, the loans given out by the IMF to ‘poorer’ countries simply cripple any chance of economic recovery. This is a smaller scale version of the coming events in east Africa (if there not already in full flow now). The irony is the fact that people still go to the Caribbean to get away from their troubles, most oblivious of the amount of suffering going on hundreds of meters away from the tourist resorts. This is defiantly a watch & recommend kind of film the full movie is below.
Director: Stephnie Black
Running Time: 1 hour 20 mins
Released: 28th of February 2003
7. The Interrupters (2011)
Now before this list gets to depressing I needed to make sure that their were some documentaries on the list a bit more inspirational. The Interrupters is about a community project to help deter, stop as the group’s name would suggest interrupted violence. The team’s primarily built of ex criminals & former gang members which means that when they do speak to teens on the street they tend to listen. It would be easy to see the negatives in this picture but I can’t help but see the positive of it. It helps to promote a life changing charity that is doing its best to fight what most would say is a losing battle. The courage of the people in this film in a testament to the inherent good in mankind that people who have mostly lived a ‘bad’ live can utilise their experience & help the next generation to progress on a positive path. I’ve only managed to find the trailer so if anyone knows where the full film can be watched online please let me know.
Director: Steve James
Running Time: 2 hours 5 mins
Released: 22nd January 2011
8. Exit Through The Gift Shop (2010)
This is a unique picture for the simple fact that the director becomes the subject. Thierry Guetta a French oddball is a film lover & loves to document every moment of his life in film by carrying around a hand-held camera. Somewhere along the line he gets involved in street art and the underground culture of graffiti. He then made it his mission to travel America & some of Europe filming the artists of the local scene. Now debatably one of the biggest underground stars around ‘Banksy’ then crosses paths with our eccentric cameraman & the story goes from oddly interesting to almost surreal. I don’t want to spoil how it ends but it’s safe to say that a Hollywood script, writer would find it hard to create a more paradoxical tale. Any fans of street art or cinemas will enjoy this. Again I have only managed to find the trailer for this one, please post any links.
Running Time: 1 hour 27 mins
Released: 5th of March 2010
9. Zeitgeist – Moving Forward (2011)
This film defiantly plays more to my questioning side & as a documentary is does ask a lot from you. You need to give this film your full attention to not look at it sceptically. I typical take everything with a pinch of salt so I don’t totally buy into all of the ideas in this film, it does raise a number of striking questions. It attempts to deconstruct the massive problem of how our planet is run by the dominant world super powers & even goes as far as to offer a hypothetical alternative if we lived in the perfect world. It would be a bit of a farce if I hadn’t already asked myself these questions a million times; what would a perfect world be like? Now the fantasy world is by no means what I would call a perfect world but it is interesting to see what someone else has come up with. It touches on many other subjects but begins with psychology which again is full of interesting theories. I watched this film earlier this year with my partner & her parents; it defiantly started a couple of debates. Don’t expect the answers to life’s questions just because the narrator seems like a fountain of knowledge. It would be very easy for gullible viewer’s to change their whole world perspective after watching a film like this, so I think it benefits the open-minded most. It does plant the seed of curiosity which I think is much healthier then simply programing you. The full film is below please check it out & tell me what you think.
Director: Peter Joseph
Running Time: 2 hours 41 mins
Released: 15th of January 2011
10. Africa Unite (2008)
This has got to be one of my favourite on the list, I love reggae music & this is embodying the spirit of the art form sublimely. It follows the Marley family as they make their first journey to Ethiopia for Bob Marley’s 60th Birthday & to perform at the annual Africa Unite concert. In addition to their journey it takes a look at the various methods the African people are implementing to benefit their continents. This continent could feed themselves easily if farming took priority over ‘developing infrastructure’ as external countries would have them doing. This would then free them from having to import food from outside of nation that only seems hell bend on trying to conquer the natural resources. I would love to see this beautiful nation rise but they can only do it by freeing themselves form the yoke of oppression that’s being forced upon them. This is what this film is all about how to improve a place that could hold much of the world future in its hands. What would we do when the cradle of life is pillaged beyond repair? I enjoy the fact the Marley family can set a precedent for Jamaican by exploring their roots abroad and trying to do something to assist our ancestors by promoting unity with music. One of Bob Marley’s last public engagements was meant to be with African leaders to seal an agreement for African unity I feel this pay appropriate homage to his aims & I hope it is not too late to see this dream flourish. The trailer is below & then below that is a link to the full movie. Defiantly watch this one & let me know what you think.
Director: Stephnie Black
Running Time: 1 hour 28 mins
Africa Unite (2008)
So there you have it the ‘Top 10 Documentaries I Would Recommend’ I hope you’ve watch some if not all of these films now; you can vote bellow in the poll I’ve posted. Bless