Tuesday, September 9, 2014

8 Great Documentary Films That You May Not Know

"Is Everybody Happy?" directed by Tim Marklevitz
"Is Everybody Happy?" The documentary is from first time director, Tim Marklevitz. It is the heartbreaking true story of four friends, their band "Bless You Boys" and the thirteen day tour that changed their lives forever. This film takes a look at the less glamorous side to being an independent band on the road and highlights the difficulties that we all must endure as we try to turn our dreams into a reality.

"American Movie" directed by Chris Smith
In the town of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin man Mark Borchardt fights to achieve his lifelong dream to become a filmmaker. Despite the fact that he is unemployed, deeply in debt and a borderline alcoholic, he is extremely driven to complete the short film Coven in an attempt to raise money for his feature film Northwestern. After suffering numerous mishaps, mostly due to his poor planning skills and lack of crew - which is limited to his best friend Mike Schank - he begins production and convinces his uncle to help finance his film. Exciting and hilarious, this documentaries should not be missed.

"Man on Wire" directed by James Marsh
This British documentary crafts the feel of a high profile heist while retelling the story of Philippe Petit's high-wire walk between New York's Twin Towers during their construction in 1974. Daring and illegal, the near 45 minute high-wire walk was planned as though it was a high profile heist as well. An exciting story about a Frenchman in New York City, this film - without claiming to be so - is a touching tale of a well remembered and important event.

"Herb & Dorothy" directed by Megumi Sasaki
To call them art collectors would be an understatement. Herb and Dorothy Vogel lived a normal life together in a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. Working as a postal clerk and a librarian, they spent years building a world-class contemporary art collection of ore than 4,000 pieces valued at several millions dollars. The two are extremely modest and quite endearing as the speak about how their lives. This documentary is a truly interesting and exciting story of two amazing people, a simple life and an obvious love for art as well as each other.

"Darkon" directed by Luke Meyer and Andrew Neel
Most of you have probably seen the movie "Role Models" with Paul Rudd and Sean William Scott. If so, I'm sure you found the LARP (Live Action Role Play) scenes to be quite funny. Now imagine that...only real. Now you know what Darkon is about. This is a 'real-life game' that allows hundreds of adventure-seekers to escape their everyday lives and become warriors, knights and kings. Entertaining and interesting, these people do not allow their normal jobs to define them instead they allow their imaginations to take control as they escape reality and enter Darkon.

"Jesus Camp" directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady
Controversial and shocking, "Jesus Camp" follows several young children as they attend a Christian summer camp. More well known than some of the other documentaries on this list, "Jesus Camp" has received plenty of media attention due to the content and some of the extreme scenes where numerous children are weeping and promising to stop sinning. Different viewpoints obviously offer varying opinions. One very obvious question that has been asked time and time again, "Are they brainwashing these children?" There is no doubt that this documentary offer plenty of shock value and causes eyebrows to be raised. Watch it and let us know what you think.

"Dark Days" directed by Marc Singer
Director Marc Singer joins a group of squatters who have been living next to the Amrtrak tracks near Penn Station in New York in order to tell the story in this documentary. Living in near total darkness, they use leaky pipes to clean themselves, they cook, sleep and live their lives here as they have been doing for years. They are given a 30-day eviction notice by Amtrak during the filming of this poetic documentary. There were many struggles to complete this documentary as this first time filmmaker spent years in post production and insisted on maintaining creative control in order to protect the documentaries homeless subjects that he lived with for months. Having won several awards, this is a great documentary that should not be missed.

"Dogtown and Z-Boys" directed by Stacy Peralta
Another great documentary which was Directed by one of the original Z-Boys, Stacy Peralta, I actually found this film after watching the 2005 film "Lords of Dogtown". Focusing on a group of young surfer/skaters out of Southern California, "Dogtown and Z-Boys" tell the story of the Zephyr Surf Shop and the creation of the Zephyr Skate Team. A small group consisting of mostly rough necks living in the urban community of Venice, CA. This documentary was financed by Vans and tells an amazing story of a quick rise to fame, fortune and how quickly it can go away.