Morgan Spurlock’s says it best: “documentaries take us places we’ve never been and show us things we’ve never seen whether we are ready to see them or not. And, sometimes they can change the world because they are not just films, they are real.”
And so, he teamed up with Current TV in order to select the 50 Documentaries to see before you die, and we are getting ready to the finale of “50 Documentaries To See Before You Die” which will air on Tuesday, August 30 at 9PM ET on Current TV.
But, let´s review how we reached this point and which are the must see when talking about documentaries.
50 Documentaries to See Before You Die Rank – Part One #41 through #50
This documentary follows 8 teens and pre-teens as they work their way toward the finals of the Scripps Howard national spelling bee championship in Washington D.C. All work quite hard and practice daily, first having to win their regional championship before they can move on. Interviews include the parents and teachers who are working with them. The competitors not only work hard to get to the finals but face tremendous pressure as the original group of over 250 competitors is whittled down and the words they must spell get ever more difficult.
49. Madonna: Truth or Dare
From the rain of Japan, through threats of arrest for ‘public indecency’ in Canada, and a birthday tribute to her father in Detroit, this documentary follows Madonna on her 1990 ‘Blond Ambition’ concert tour. Filmed in black and white, with the concert pieces in glittering MTV color, it is an intimate look at the work of the music performer, from a prayer circle with the dancers before each performance to bed games with the dance troupe afterwards.
48. The Kid Stays in the Picture
This documentary captures the life story of legendary Hollywood producer and studio chief Robert Evans. The first actor to ever to run a film studio, Robert Evans’ film career started in 1956, poolside at the Beverly Hills Hotel. His good looks, charm and overwhelming confidence captured the eye of screen legend Norma Shearer, who offered him a film role. After a glamorous–but short-lived–career as a movie star, Evans tried out producing. At the age of 34, with no producing credits to his name, he landed a job as chief of production at Paramount Pictures. Evans ran the studio from 1966-1974. During his tenure, he was responsible for such revolutionary films as The Godfather, Rosemary’s Baby, Love Story, The Odd Couple, Harold and Maude and Chinatown. By the early ’80s, the Golden Boy of Hollywood was losing his luster. After a failed marriage to Ali MacGraw, a cocaine bust and rumored involvement with the Cotton Club murder
47. One Day in September
The 1972 Munich Olympics were interrupted by Palestinian terrorists taking Israeli athletes hostage. Besides footage taken at the time, we see interviews with the surviving terrorist, Jamal Al Gashey, and various officials detailing exactly how the police, lacking an anti-terrorist squad and turning down help from the Israelis, botched the operation.
46. Little Dieter Needs to Fly
In 1966, Dieter Dengler was shot down over Laos, captured, and, down to 85 pounds, escaped. Barefoot, surviving monsoons, leeches, and machete-wielding villagers, he was rescued. Now, near 60, living on Mt. Tamalpais, Dengler tells his story: a German lad surviving Allied bombings in World War II, postwar poverty, apprenticed to a smith, beaten regularly. At 18, he emigrates and peels potatoes in the U.S. Air Force. He leaves for California and college, then enlistment in the Navy to learn to fly. A quiet man of sorrows tells his story: war, capture, harrowing conditions, escape, and miraculous rescue. Where did he find the strength; how does he now live with his memories?
45. Decline of Western Civilization: The Metal Years
A documentary by Penelope Spheeris who uses the tagline: It’s more than music…it’s a way of life. Well, that´s Metal!
44. Burma VJ
Using smuggled footage, this documentary tells the story of the 2007 protests in Burma by thousands of monks.
43. When the Levees Broke
In August 2005, the American city of New Orleans was struck by the powerful Hurricane Katrina. Although the storm was damaging by itself, that was not the true disaster. That happened when the city’s flooding safeguards like levees failed and put most of the city, which is largely below sea level, underwater. This film covers that disastrous series of events that devastated the city and its people. Furthermore, the gross incompetence of the various governments and the powerful from the local to the federal level is examined to show how the poor and underprivileged of New Orleans were mistreated in this grand calamity and still ignored today.
In late 2007, filmmakers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost sensed a story unfolding as they began to film the life of Ariel’s brother, Nev. They had no idea that their project would lead to the most exhilarating and unsettling months of their lives. A reality thriller that is a shocking product of our times, Catfish is a riveting story of love, deception and grace within a labyrinth of online intrigue.
41. King of Kong
In the early 1980s, legendary Billy Mitchell set a Donkey Kong record that stood for almost 25 years. This documentary follows the assault on the record by Steve Wiebe, an earnest teacher from Washington who took up the game while unemployed. The top scores are monitored by a cadre of players and fans associated with Walter Day, an Iowan who runs Funspot, an annual tournament. Wiebe breaks Mitchell’s record in public at Funspot, and Mitchell promptly mails a controversial video tape of himself setting a new record. So Wiebe travels to Florida hoping Mitchell will face him for the 2007 Guinness World Records. Will the mind-game-playing Mitchell engage; who will end up holding the record?
What do you think about these documentaries to see before you die? You can comment, and / or follow me on Twitter for more of this list to come soon.