Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Favorite Documentaries of 2014

Rich Hill - Phenomenal stories of three young boys, growing up in poverty in a small town in Missouri. I had a stronger emotional response to this film than any other this year. It didn't get wide release but I saw it at IFFBoston and it's now streamable on Netflix.

The Overnighters - Because of fracking, North Dakota has jobs but not enough housing. A local Pastor opens his church to migrant workers to the dismay of his family, neighbors and congregation but it's the Christian thing to do to help these men. Layers keep unfolding in this story. Also streamable on Netflix.

Citizenfour - Tells the story of Edward Snowden releasing NSA secrets to reporters. You probably know some of this story already and might have an opinion, but it's fascinating to watch the process. Unlike much of the discussion I've heard since the event, the players involved knew the pros and cons of the leak and they discuss them clearly.

Jon Imber’s Left Hand - I saw this at IFFBoston and don't think it got even a limited release which is a shame. Imber was an accomplished painter and due to ALS lost the use of his dominant hand, the title refers to him learning to paint with his left hand. The first 15-20 minutes of this film show him attempting this and taught me more about art than anything has in the last 10 years. The rest taught me about life.

Supermensch; The Legend of Shep Gordon - Mike Myers directed this film about his friend Gordon, a Hollywood agent extraordinaire and a fascinating person. He managed Alice Cooper and Emeril Lagasse, and invented the Celebrity Chef. Gordon tells one amazing story after another. It's like being at a party with a guy you never get tired of listening to.

Finding Vivian Maier - Director John Maloof stumbled on a box of old photos and obsesses about tracking down the photographer, an aloof nanny who was a master street photographer.

The Starfish Throwers - Another IFFBoston doc, this tells story of three amazingly driven and generous individuals helping hungry and homeless people in their own way. The problem is huge but the enormous effect they have is uplifting.

Night Will Fall - I'm a sucker for lost Hitchcock footage

In Search of General Tso - In tracking down the origin of this ubiquitous americanized chinese dish we learn about changing food tastes in America and an immigration movement.

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