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Claude Lanzmann

Those Americans who are familiar with the name Claude Lanzmann most likely know him as the director of “Shoah,” his monumental 1985 documentary about the extermination of the European Jews in the Nazi gas chambers. As it turns out, though, the story of Lanzmann’s eventful life would have been well worth telling even if he had never come to direct “Shoah.” In addition to film director, Lanzmann’s roles have included those of journalist, editor, public intellectual, member of the French Resistance, long-term lover of Simone de Beauvoir and close friend of Jean-Paul Sartre, world traveler, political activist, ghostwriter for Jacques Cousteau — I could go on, but it’s a good deal more entertaining to hear Lanzmann himself go on, and thanks to the publication in English of his memoir, “The Patagonian Hare,” we now have the opportunity to do so. (previously)
posted by Trurl on Apr 16, 2012 - 6 comments

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

In 1984, The Voyage of the Mimi set sail on PBS, exploring the ocean off the coast of Massachusetts to study humpback whales. The educational series was made up of thirteen episodes intended to teach middle schoolers about science and math. The first fifteen minutes of each episode were a fictional adventure starring a young Ben Affleck. The second 15 minutes were an "expedition documentary" that would explore the scientific concepts behind the show's plot points. A sequel with the same format, The Second Voyage of the Mimi aired in 1988, and featured the crew of the Mimi exploring Mayan ruins in Mexico. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 9, 2012 - 36 comments

Four turns for a dollar. 500 turns for two dollars.

Filmmaker Nirvan Mullick (previously) makes the day of the nine-year-old proprietor of Caine's Arcade.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy on Apr 9, 2012 - 46 comments

Demoscene - The Art of the Algorithms

Wired called them, digital graffiti and John Carmack spoke of them at QuakeCon 2011 but they remain little known. A recently released full-length documentary (download) gives a portrait of the creative digital subculture from 80s to the present day. [more inside]
posted by Z303 on Apr 9, 2012 - 37 comments

Dirty Pictures

Dirty Pictures [1h30m] is a documentary (trailer [1m30s]) about Alexander Shulgin, his life, his family, the drugs he has developed, the people he has affected, the boundaries of experience he has explored, the effects he has had on society, and the understanding of the mind and the psychedelic experience which have resulted from his experiments and chemical creations.
posted by hippybear on Apr 4, 2012 - 23 comments

The News Corporation scandals

Murdoch's Scandal - Lowell Bergman (the journalist portrayed by Al Pacino in The Insider) has investigated News Corporation for PBS Frontline [transcript]. He depicts Rupert Murdoch's British operation as a criminal enterprise, routinely hacking the voicemail and computers of innocent people, and using bribery and coercion to infiltrate police and government over decades. Enemies are ruthlessly "monstered" by the tabloids. Bergman also spoke to NPR's Fresh Air [transcript]. But the hits keep coming: in recent days News Corp has been accused of hacking rival pay TV services and promoting pirated receiver cards in both the UK and Australia. With the looming possibility of prosecution under America's Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, how long will shareholders consider Rupert Murdoch irreplaceable? [Previous 1 2 3 4]
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Mar 28, 2012 - 58 comments

"The stories of these cases are very painful."

This is an animated documentary about Mohammad Mostafaei who is an Iranian lawyer in exile in Norway. Mostafaei specialized in advocating for defendants who faced the death penalty and the animation focuses on one of these cases, that of Behnoud Shojaee. The animation features Paul Bettany reading Mostafaei's words, is a part of Amnesty International's campaign against the death penalty.
posted by Kattullus on Mar 28, 2012 - 3 comments

On November 1, 2005, nine men ceased shaving

The Winter Of The Beard [1h47m] is a documentary which chronicles the lives of nine men across six months. Each was provided a video camera and weekly interview questions to document his own experience. The resulting 600 hours of intimate footage revealed a group of men traversing the same rite of passage from disparate vantage points. Throughout the process, the men told stories from their pasts, shared likes and dislikes, and confessed personal fears and aspirations. They laughed and cried, hid and came alive behind their beards. The tireless taping captured bad days and good ones, and it is in this framework that the individual stories stand out and the beards fade into the background. From a son dealing with his father's descent into Alzheimer's, to financial and marital struggles, to the birth of a child, THE WINTER OF THE BEARD [trailer, 2m58s] reveals the trials and tribulations of what it means to drastically alter one's appearance and otherwise go on living life. [more inside]
posted by hippybear on Mar 27, 2012 - 30 comments

“I wanted him to die.”

HBO Documentary: Child of Rage: (1989) "Story of Beth, a six-year-old child who had faced the loss of a mother, physical abuse, and sexual abuse all before the age of 19 months. Both Beth and her younger brother Jonathan were put up for adoption. They were adopted by a minister and his wife. This unsuspecting couple quickly learned that something was extremely wrong with Beth. This terrifying and disturbing documentary traces Beth as she goes through therapy in Colorado. The video explains that Beth suffers from Reactive Attachment Disorder. [Via]."
posted by Fizz on Mar 25, 2012 - 44 comments

Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride

Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride is a 75 minute film documenting Hunter S. Thompson's life and death, focussing mainly on his relationships with Hollywood celebrities and other public figures. In 8 parts: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
posted by hippybear on Mar 18, 2012 - 19 comments

Let's Get Lost - Chet Baker documentary

Let's Get Lost - Chet Baker documentary by Bruce Weber 120 min
There will never be another you A remembrance of Chet Baker by Bruce Weber
See also chetbakertribute.com [more inside]
posted by y2karl on Mar 11, 2012 - 20 comments

Sippin' History

Quest for the Perfect Bourbon: Voices of Buffalo Trace Distillery is a documentary from the Buffalo Trace Oral History Project, part of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Mar 2, 2012 - 37 comments

PBS Online Film Festival

Between February 27th and March 30th, PBS will be running the PBS Online Film Festival. The first four short films, in the Real Stories category, are now online. [more inside]
posted by fings on Feb 28, 2012 - 2 comments

"You know what I think?" she says. "That people's memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive."

In Search of Haruki Murakami, Japan’s Great Postmodernist Novelist, a 50 minute documentary exploring Murakami's Japan and culture. via.
posted by timshel on Feb 26, 2012 - 28 comments

Dermot O'Connor's "There's No Tomorrow"

"There's No Tomorrow" is a half-hour animated documentary that deals with resource depletion, energy, and growth. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Feb 22, 2012 - 14 comments

Not Your Typical Vietnam War Documentary

"First Kill is a war documentary that explores the dark side of man and the psychology of soldiers at war. Vietnam veterans are interviewed about their experiences and what war does to the human mind and soul." [1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8]
posted by gman on Feb 16, 2012 - 9 comments

Clawdius Caesar

City of the Wildcats 1 2:
A documentary about the urban kitties of Rome narrated by Sir David Attenborough.
posted by lemuring on Feb 16, 2012 - 20 comments

Staying out of the whole "good-and-bad-drama"

Tonight Frontline aired the documentary film "The Interrupters", the video is available on Frontline's website. On WTTW, Chicago's major PBS affiliate, a special "Chicago Tonight" followed the presentation. It featured a panel discussion with Violence Interrupters Ameena Matthews, Eddie Bocanegra, and Cobe Williams, an interview with the filmakers and an interview with former Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis and CeaseFire Director Tio Hardiman. [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on Feb 14, 2012 - 18 comments

"Pure Cinema"

Человек с киноаппаратом ("Man with a Movie Camera") is a classic experimental documentary film that was released in 1929. Directed by pioneer Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov, this classic, silent documentary film has no story and no actors, and is actually three documentaries in one. Ostensibly it documents 24 hours of life in a single city in the Soviet Union. But it is also a documentary of the filming of that documentary and a depiction of an audience watching that documentary and their responses. "We see the cameraman and the editing of the film, but what we don't see is any of the film itself." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 13, 2012 - 26 comments

First person

First Person was a TV series that ran during 2000 and 2001 featuring interviews conducted by documentary filmmaker Errol Morris using his (patent pending) Interrotron. Episodes included an exploration of the mind of an expert on cattle slaughter techniques, the story of a parrot who may have witnessed a murder, a professional high school student, a serial killer groupie, and other strange and eccentric people. (Previously: The smartest man in the world.)
posted by twoleftfeet on Feb 10, 2012 - 14 comments

Frank Zappa documentary

Frank Zappa documentary: Part One; Part Two; Part Three; Part Four; Part Five.
posted by twoleftfeet on Feb 3, 2012 - 21 comments

Khooni lakir tod do, aar paar jod do

Inshallah Kashmir: Living Terror is Oscar-nominated director Ashvin Kumar's brand new documentary, which is banned in India, that provides the perspectives of people that rarely receive positive mainstream media attention. [more inside]
posted by gman on Jan 26, 2012 - 5 comments

Elephant (innards) on parade.

Inside Nature's Giants is a ridiculously educational British science documentary series featuring dissections of very big animals, including a giant squid, a sperm whale, a giraffe, and many, many more. [more inside]
posted by sawdustbear on Jan 20, 2012 - 19 comments

David Wants To Fly

German filmmaker David Sieveking had just finished film school and was a huge fan of David Lynch. How could he pass up the opportunity to see Lynch when he came to speak about creativity and how to unlock it? How could he possibly fathom that the lecture would lead him on a five year voyage into the world of Transcendental Meditation, viewing the movement from within and without, with an accepting and then a critical eye, and ultimately would lead him on a journey to the source of the Ganges and yield a feature-length documentary, Sieveking's first movie? For a limited time, David Wants To Fly can be viewed at the Link TV website in its entirety. [~95min]
posted by hippybear on Jan 17, 2012 - 7 comments

experimental archeology / history at its best

Victorian Farm | Edwardian Farm -- 18 hours of BBC experimental archeology/historical documentaries, online. Archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn and historian Ruth Goodman spend two years living the life of rural country farmers.
posted by crunchland on Jan 15, 2012 - 33 comments

DEY TUK UR JORBS!

When Mitt Romney Came to Town (subtitle: The King of Bain) a 30 minute attack documentary whose "overriding sensibility is not Swift Boat — it's Frontline, replete with a calming voice of God narration and meticulous sourcing to SEC filings, court documents, and the Boston Globe" (Rolling Stone) provides an interesting moment in the future of political messaging and funding. [more inside]
posted by stratastar on Jan 12, 2012 - 195 comments

What is the light?

Here is a very good 8-part documentary about the making of The Flaming Lips' album The Soft Bulletin. Some time after their appearance on Beverly Hills: 90210, some time before releasing new music embedded in edible gummy material of various shapes (and flavors), the album was released to near-unanimous critical acclaim. The FLips, previously on MeFi.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas on Jan 11, 2012 - 20 comments

WALK

WALK .. is a trippy 1983 journey from one part of Minneapolis to another. It begins with a guy who can hardly move. He slowly gains stuttered motion and utters basic letter sounds, then begins a real and imaginary walk. His journey is from his view - floating. At the end of this walk, he meets a friend. Walk's film surface is hand worked and street noise is composed as music-concrete. 16mm B/W SLYT
posted by louche mustachio on Jan 7, 2012 - 13 comments

"The game I play is a very interesting one. It's imagination, in a tight straitjacket."

From 1981 - 1993, documentary producer Christopher Sykes created three films about Dr. Richard Feynman. All are now available in their entirety on YouTube: Richard Feynman: No Ordinary Genius, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out and Last Journey of a Genius (previously). [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jan 5, 2012 - 14 comments

Time keeps on slippin'

We've all seen variations on the personal time-lapse video -- a snapshot every day for six years, or a look at a young girl's first decade. But nobody's done it quite like Sam Klemke. For thirty-five years the itinerant freelance cartoonist has documented his life in short year-end reviews, a funny, weary, eccentric, and hopeful record dating all the way back to 1977. Recently optioned for documentary treatment by the government of Australia, you can skim Sam's opus in reverse in the striking video "35 Years Backwards Thru Time with Sam Klemke," an ever-evolving home movie montage that grows grainier and grainier as it tracks Sam "from a paunchy middle aged white bearded self deprecating schluby old fart, to a svelt, full haired, clean shaven, self-important but clueless 20 year old."
posted by Rhaomi on Dec 31, 2011 - 7 comments

Carts Of Darkness

Murray Siple, a snowboarder and extreme sport filmmaker, suffered a debilitating injury in an auto accident which ended his career. Or so he thought. Years later, he came across a group of homeless men in Vancouver, BC who combine their livelihood of collecting bottles for recycling with their love of speeding down hills on shopping carts. He made a film about them which avoids easy clichés and provides a portrait of humanity and thrill-seeking that is joyous and enlightening. Carts Of Darkness [59m24s] can be viewed in full (even in HD) at the National Film Board of Canada website.
posted by hippybear on Dec 31, 2011 - 15 comments

A Different Kind of Documentary

The James Dean Story Directed by Robert Altman, Starring James Dean two years after his death "by means of a new technique... dynamic exploration of the still photograph".
posted by oneswellfoop on Dec 30, 2011 - 9 comments

A radical, but not a revolutionary

Grierson believed strongly that the filmmaker had a social responsibility, and that film could help a society realize democratic ideals. His absolute faith in the value of capturing the drama of everyday life was to influence generations of filmmakers all over the world. In fact, he coined the term "documentary film." [more inside]
posted by infinite intimation on Dec 26, 2011 - 4 comments

Ballou

Viewable in its entirety at YouTube, Ballou is an engaging, inspiring, funny and entertaining documentary film about inner city Washington DC's Ballou High School band.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Dec 26, 2011 - 1 comment

The universe, Carl Sagan, a golden record, chance and love

Click the photo at the top of the linked page to view The Voyagers, a rumination on the universe, love, a golden record and two small space probes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Dec 26, 2011 - 4 comments

You shall Hear things, Wonderful to tell

A decade on, the Coen brothers' woefully underrated O Brother, Where Art Thou? [alt] is remembered for a lot of things: its sun-drenched, sepia-rich cinematography (a pioneer of digital color grading), its whimsical humor, fluid vernacular, and many subtle references to Homer's Odyssey. But one part of its legacy truly stands out: the music. Assembled by T-Bone Burnett, the soundtrack is a cornucopia of American folk music, exhibiting everything from cheery ballads and angelic hymns to wistful blues and chain-gang anthems. Woven into the plot of the film through radio and live performances, the songs lent the story a heartfelt, homespun feel that echoed its cultural heritage, a paean and uchronia of the Old South. Though the multiplatinum album was recently reissued, the movie's medley is best heard via famed documentarian D. A. Pennebaker's Down from the Mountain, an extraordinary yet intimate concert film focused on a night of live music by the soundtrack's stars (among them Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Chris Thomas King, bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley) and wryly hosted by John Hartford, an accomplished fiddler, riverboat captain, and raconteur whose struggle with terminal cancer made this his last major performance. The film is free in its entirety on Hulu and YouTube -- click inside for individual clips, song links, and breakdowns of the set list's fascinating history. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Dec 22, 2011 - 107 comments

Legend of the One Platform Master

Ulillillia (previously, and previously) is an Internet celebrity who's famous for his writing, videos on Youtube, personal website, and game design. The Platform Master is a documentary that was filmed earlier this year about his life, and is scheduled to be released this coming summer.
posted by codacorolla on Dec 22, 2011 - 25 comments

This is history

Raiding the Lost Ark: a filmumentary (pt.1, vimeo) [more inside]
posted by mediated self on Dec 15, 2011 - 17 comments

Hang in there till at least 00:48

Sloth Sanctuary is a documentary about a sloth orphanage in Costa Rica that will air on Animal Planet on December 18th. Trailer
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- on Dec 14, 2011 - 33 comments

The Autism Enigma

The Autism Enigma is a documentary that explores the potential link between gastrointestinal bacteria and the disorder. It is viewable online through CBC's The Nature of Things. [Full show on Vimeo, for those outside Canada.] [more inside]
posted by never used baby shoes on Dec 12, 2011 - 38 comments

BUY MORE STUFF. CONSUME. OBEY.

The Light Bulb Conspiracy is a documentary about disposable printers, light bulbs and everything else, investigating the implications of the business model and industrial design philosophy of Planned Obsolescence that drives and shapes our economy.
posted by loquacious on Dec 10, 2011 - 43 comments

Beyond Good and Evil

  • [A Descent Into the Heart of Darkness]
  • [A Descent Into the Heart of Darkness] Wrap-Up w/o Shane Smith
  • [more inside]
    posted by lemuring on Dec 7, 2011 - 11 comments

    Molly Crabapple's Week in Hell

    It was a simple and crazy idea: to celebrate her 28th birthday by renting a hotel room, cover it in paper and spend a week drawing on the paper. Welcome to Molly Crabapple's Week in Hell with photos of work in progress and panoramas of the completed room.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher on Dec 3, 2011 - 57 comments

    I make these things, and I put them out there

    Portrait of a Handmade Artisan: Korehira Watanabe The Sword Maker (one of a number of films by Etsy) [more inside]
    posted by Potomac Avenue on Nov 29, 2011 - 5 comments

    'Brinicle' ice finger of death

    "In winter, the air temperature above the sea ice can be below -20C, whereas the sea water is only about -1.9C. Heat flows from the warmer sea up to the very cold air, forming new ice from the bottom. The salt in this newly formed ice is concentrated and pushed into the brine channels. And because it is very cold and salty, it is denser than the water beneath. The result is the brine sinks in a descending plume. But as this extremely cold brine leaves the sea ice, it freezes the relatively fresh seawater it comes in contact with. This forms a fragile tube of ice around the descending plume, which grows into what has been called a brinicle." A BBC film crew has recorded one of these freezing life on the sea floor.
    posted by cosmac on Nov 23, 2011 - 47 comments

    When I'm dancing at a party I don't think about death

    El Acordéon del Diablo is a captivating documentary about Francisco "Pacho" Rada Batista, the great Colombian accordionist and singer-songwriter. In this film, Pacho Rada, in his nineties, tells stories and reflects on celebrity, copyright, tradition and the shortcomings of pop music. His stories include a shipwreck that left a boatload of accordions washed up on a Colombian beach and an accordion duel with the devil himself. In ten parts: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    posted by Jode on Nov 21, 2011 - 2 comments

    Love Your Garlic

    Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers (SLYT)
    posted by leigh1 on Nov 15, 2011 - 36 comments

    Ashta

    Gullah—the African-influenced dialect of Georgia’s Sea Islands—has undergone few changes since the first slave ships landed 300 years ago, and provides a clear window into the shaping of African-American English. This classic PBS program traces that story from the west coast of Africa through the American South, then to large northern cities in the 1920s. Studying the origins of West African pidgin English and creole speech—along with the tendency of 19th-century white Southerners to pick up speech habits from their black nursemaids—the program highlights the impact of WWI-era industrialization and the migration of jazz musicians to New York and Chicago.
    posted by cthuljew on Nov 15, 2011 - 12 comments

    Mayor of the Sunset Strip, Rodney Bingenheimer documentary

    In Southern California in the 1980s, KROQ had this weird un-DJ-like guy named (seriously) Rodney Bingenheimer, who came on late at night on Sundays and played punk records and new bands like Blondie, The Ramones, X, Joan Jett, Devo and Cheap Trick. Did this weirdo really have some influence? A 90-minute 2004 documentary now on YouTube, Mayor of the Sunset Strip (Part 1) tells his story, and it's weirder than you may have imagined. [more inside]
    posted by planetkyoto on Nov 14, 2011 - 24 comments

    Lydia Nibley's "Two Spirits"

    Fred Martinez was nádleehí, a male-bodied person with a feminine nature, a special gift according to his ancient Navajo culture. He was one of the youngest hate-crime victims in modern history when he was brutally murdered at 16. Two Spirits explores the life and death of this boy who was also a girl, and the essentially spiritual nature of gender. (previously)
    posted by Trurl on Nov 10, 2011 - 15 comments

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