February 11, 2012

Docs To See Before You Die

Some time back, I was watching a series on Current TV hosted by famed documentarist Morgan Spurlock, entitled 50 Documentaries To See Before You Die.  Spurlock had some interesting choices in his list -- some I had already seen, some I hadn't.  Here is a small list of docs that I think you should see before you die, with links to trailers included when possible.

Last night, I watched one of the docs on Spurlock's list -- it was called Man on Wire, and it was about the endeavors of French tightrope artist Phillippe Petit to walk across the two towers of the World Trade Center in 1974, shortly after the towers were built.  The documentary itself, however, was actually made in 2008, with footage from the event as it happened, and interviews from Petit and his associates from the present day.  Petit's determination, ambition, and sheer nerve are admirable and inspiring.  At the same time, knowing the fate of those two towers gives the documentary a foreboding and bittersweet feeling ... as does the fact that so many of the relationships between the people that worked to make this feat possible broke down so horribly after the fact.  Still, it's a good doc, and highly recommended.

Another of my favorites is Reel Bad Arabs:  How Hollywood Vilifies A People. This is a doc that features Dr. Jack Shaheen, as a companion piece to his book of the same title, in which he discusses stereotypes of Arabs as they are depicted in film, and how they came to be formed.  To this end, he also discusses the link between pop culture and politics.  It provides quite a bit to think about.  I can't remember offhand if Spurlock included this in his list -- but it should've been.  ;-)

And another, which was also featured on Spurlock's list, is Paragraph 175. Featuring historian Klaus Müller, and narrations from Rupert Everett, this doc explores the gay/lesbian experience of the Holocaust -- which seems to me to have not been widely discussed.  Müller interviews several gay/lesbian survivors of the Holocaust throughout the film, and each one has a very fascinating story to tell.

Are there any docs that you think are important to see?  I'd like to know about them!

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