The Documentary feature has evolved over the past 15 years, becoming more and more commercially viable. Thanks to people like Michael Moore (Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, Sicko) and companies such as National Geographic (March of the Penguins), documentary films have been embraced by the mainstream in the same vein as a big budget Hollywood feature. Here are a few documentarys from recent years that are very accessible and hugely enjoyable.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2009, Sacha Gervasi)
Still showing in cinemas, the story of Anvil is quite unfortunate yet it remains a very funny example of the power of positivity.
Anvil are a Metal rock band with dreams of stardom. The only problem being they have been playing for thirty years and are still a virtually unknown entity. The film follows the struggles of the two founding members (now in their 50’s) as they try to make a living while still pursuing their lifelong dream. Parallels to ‘This is Spinal Tap’ can’t be ignored and the film certainly also provides some laughs but also pulls some emotional punches also.
Also, Anvil have announced their first ever Irish gig in the Academy, Dublin in June! I’m there.
Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About his Father (2008, Kurt Kuenne)
A truly tragic and unbelievable story, Dear Zachary is one of the most powerful and heartbreaking films ever made.
From IMDB: Kurt Kuenne sets out to find all there is to know about his murdered friend Andrew Bagby after talking with friends who knew parts about Andrew’s life that he never told Kurt. Shortly after stating this endeavor it is revealed that the woman who killed Andrew is also pregnant with his son. Kurt then decides to make the film into a memorial to give to Andrew’s son, Zachary.
This synopsis only scrapes the surface of the twists and turns that occur in this film. Masterfully edited with a powerful ending, Dear Zachary is a film that will make you angry about the judicial system used in most countrys.
Deliver Us From Evil (2007, Amy Berg)
Nominated for best documentary feature at last years Academy Awards, Deliver us From Evil is an eye opening look at the years of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church – with damning testimony from taped interviews from several bishops. The film focuses in particular on an Irish priest who worked in California who is now free roaming the streets in Ireland. Credit to Amy Berg for making a documentary that is gripping without being anti-Catholic.
The Bridge (2006, Eric Steel)
Another eye-opening film that focuses on the number one suicide destination on Earth – The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. ‘The Bridge’ tells the story of the people who ended their lives seconds after leaving the famous landmark, including real footage of the unfortunate people ending their lives leaping off the bridge. (The crew set up cameras for a whole year at the bridge, apparently capturing dozens of deaths and preventing several others)
Man On Wire (2008, James Marsh)
The inspiring story of wire-walker Phillipe Petit as he plans an unbelievable spectacle – wire walking between the now fallen twin towers in New York City, circa 1974. Petit is a funny and very watchable character. Director James Marsh finds beauty in the most unexpected of places. Kudos to Michael Nyman for the awesome and very fitting score. Winner of the Best Documentary Feature at this years Academy Awards.