It is indeed the season for being thankful, being kind and most importantly having a lot of spare time, whether it be annual leave or uni holidays.
Here I have compiled a list of some of the best docos to get you through those lazy summer afternoons where it’s too hot or too dangerous to go outside (unless you want to drown, get knocked out by hail or struck by lightning).
Both of us here at CablaGoobla were blown away by this thrilling, high budget and deeply shocking documentary. The story follows a Frenchman who poses as a missing teenager from Texas, deceiving the boys family and police in what can only be described as the epitome of con artistery. This doco will have you gripped and shouting at the television from start to finish. It is and extremely well thought out, well shot and well funded film which seems to throw twist after twist in your direction as you are both intrigued and appalled at with the con artist star of the show. There are re-enactments but this isn’t anything you will see on tacky crime shows, they are realistic and beautifully put together. A must see for any documentary lover.
2. Marwencol (2010)
Mark Hogancamp was the victim of a brutal assault in his small American home town. He suffered brain damage and was left almost penniless as a result of this beating, but the way that Mark has chosen to spend his days since are truly touching. In his backyard Hogencamp built a 1/6th scale model of WWII town “Marwencol,” with figurines customised to represent his friends and family, buildings and even Nazi enemies of the town. The way Hogencamp has dedicated himself to this town is incredibly heart warming and hearing his own personal life stories as the film progresses led me to multiple bouts of tears. Not only is this film incredibly touching, the skill with which Hogencamp builds and photgraphs his town as well as the intricate narrative that fills it is incredible. He takes thousands of photos to tell the stories of Marwencol’s residents on film, at one point in the doco he describes how the white balance is broken on his camera, so he takes a roll of film, has it developed and only then can he see if he needs to reshoot the whole roll. This is a little slower than The Imposter and Blackfish but it is a documentary that left a definite mark on me.
3. Blackfish (2013)
This story follows the lives of Killer Whales that have been either captured for or raised in captivity in the United States, and how on numerous occassions they have turned against their trainers in brutal attacks. I must admit I found this film incredibly distressing, the manor in which the whales of Sea World are treated is equally as horrifying as the brutal attacks on keepers by whales. There is a lot of real footage of wounds (some fatal) to both whale and human in this film so it is not for the faint of heart but I think it is an extremely important documentary.
4. Taxi to the Dark Side (2007)
This ones a bit of an oldie but by god is it a goodie! Particularly in light of the CIA’s declassifying of documents today that prove the United States have used methods of brutal torture in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The story focuses on the torture, detainment and death of a taxi driver from Afghanistan at the hands of US forces. Be warned; this documentary contains distressing, graphic and horrifying film, photographs and first hand accounts. I had to watch this one over three seperate sittings because I found the material so hard to stomach, but again I think it is a very important film for people to see. Remember those photos from the 2000s that surfaced of US soldiers stripping and torturing prisoners? They were always blurred on the news reel but in this they do not shy away from the horror at all, which can be extremely upsetting and infuriating. If you want to know more specifically about the Iraq & Afganistan conflicts and particularly the events that took place in prisoners there I highly recommend this film. BUT if you are looking to learn a little bit on a relaxing Sunday afternoon I vote you save this for another occasion.
This is just the first of many Documentary round ups so stay tuned to CablaGoobla for the next batch and please feel free to let us know what you thought of these films in the comments!