CATEGORIES Documentary, Independent, Sundance, Cannes, Cinematical Seven, Lists, Toronto International Film Festival, Cinematical Indie, Toronto Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Cinematical
Can't get enough of great docs? You may have missed these during their fest runs, but you can still catch them on DVD. Here are seven documentaries from the last couple years that are well worth seeing, if you haven't caught them yet ...
1) Deliver Us From Evil -- Amy Berg's wrenchingly painful documentary about Oliver O'Grady (pictured, above), a pedophile priest who was moved around from parish to parish to prey on unsuspecting families by his boss, Cardinal Roger Mahony , now Archbishop of Los Angeles (who just a couple days ago, announced a $660 million pre-trial settlement of sexual abuse cases involving other priests), in spite of Mahony's knowledge of O'Grady's penchant for raping children, is a must see, and frankly, I'm shocked that more people haven't seen this Oscar-nommed film. It was by far the most powerful film I saw at last year's Toronto International Film Festival last year. If you haven't seen this film, get it in your DVD rental queue post haste.
2) Jesus Camp -- Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing have kind of take the documentary world by storm the past couple of years, with two back-to-back years of being on the feature-length documentary Oscar short list (hey, it's only a matter of time before they win, trust me). In 2005 they made the excellent Boys of Baraka (also worth catching on DVD if you want to have yourself a Rachel-and-Heidi weekend), and then they hit the ball out of the park again with Jesus Camp, about which our own James Rocchi said, "The best horror film I've seen all year is a documentary."
3) Favela Rising -- Matt Mochary and Jeff Zimbalist's film about Anderson Sá, a former drug trafficker from the favelas (slums) of Rio de Janiero turned social activist, explores the roots of the Afro-reggae movement, which Sá helped found, and its crucial role in returning hope and empowerment to the poorest of the poor. Sá's personal story is fascinating and filled with drama and conflict, and the experiences the filmmakers had in getting the film made are truly harrowing. For more background on the film, you can read our interviews with Mochary and Zimbalist -- then get the film. You'll come away feeling inspired -- or at the very least feeling better about your own life.
4) Iraq in Fragments -- It swept the Sundance doc competition in 2006, then went on to be nominated for an Oscar; if you missed it at one of it's many fest screenings, you can still catch Iraq in Fragments on DVD. James Longley's film about Iraq took a different tack than many of the war films I've seen of late. Longley, filming in Iraq, explored the war from the perspectives of the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish segments of the Iraqi population. The result -- a compelling look at the differences that divide the country, and the ties that bind them together, is well worth watching for anyone seeking a better understanding of the complexities of the country we've been engaged with for over five years now in a war that seems it might well last indefinitely.
5) Fahrenheit 9/11 -- Speaking of Iraq, if you've never seen Moore's award-winning doc Fahrenheit 9/11, now's as good a time as any to pick it up on DVD and check it out. Pair this with a home viewing of Iraq in Fragments and a theatrical screening of No End in Sight, which comes out in limited release July 27, and you've got your Iraq War Trifecta.
6) An Inconvenient Truth -- Leonardo DiCaprio's film is due out soon, but in the meantime, get your temperature rising with a screening of Al Gore waxing eloquent about global warning in this Oscar-winning film. Whether or not you agree with what Gore's global warming experts have to say about whether the end of the world is nigh, you're bound to find that An Inconvenient Truth at least inspires you to think about -- and talk about -- the issues involved. Invite your favorite friends from both sides of the political aisle over for a screening party, then let the debating ensue!
7) Enron: Smartest Guys in the Room -- Alex Gibney is one smart guy -- at least as smart as the guys he focused his lens on for this brilliantly edited, cutting film about one of the biggest corporate scandals of the last decade. Packed with insider interviews, clever use of music, and, incredibly, even audio tapes of Enron employees joking about screwing people over, Enron gives a frightening look inside what happens to a company when the people who run it think they're better and more important than anyone else -- a cautionary tale, as it were -- but still entertaining to watch, nonetheless. And I guarantee you, once you've seen it you'll know more about the Enron scandal than you ever thought you wanted to.