Film has the power to inspire change or make an important message known, so let’s celebrate the best documentaries that do just that. Feel free to share your faves!
Fog of War
Famed documentarian Morris (‘Mr. Death,’ ‘The Thin Blue Line’) spent 20 hours interviewing McNamara, the secretary of defense during the Johnson and Kennedy administrations. Though McNamara is largely remembered as the prime architect of America’s military involvement in Vietnam, the film actually dissects much of McNamara’s adult life, not just the war years. -Moviefone
The documentary RELIGULOUS follows political humorist and author Bill Maher (“Real Time with Bill Maher,” “Politically Incorrect”) as he travels around the globe interviewing people about God and religion. Known for his astute analytical skills, irreverent wit, and commitment to never pulling a punch, Maher brings his characteristic honesty to an unusual spiritual journey. -Official site
Fox News Channel’s “Fair and Balanced” slogan infuriates critics who believe the channel skews rightward, but Greenwald’s much-ballyhooed documentary uses interviews with disgruntled staffers, leaked internal memos, and the channel’s own coverage to make the case that FNC doesn’t merely put a conservative spin on news but unduly favors President Bush and the Republican party. -Moviefone
From the award-winning filmmakers of The Devil Came on Horseback and The Trials of Darryl Hunt, Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern, comes THE END OF AMERICA, a stunning indictment of the sweeping policy changes enacted during the Bush Administration.
Made in collaboration with best-selling author Naomi Wolf (The Beauty Myth), the film makes a chilling case that American democracy is under grave threat. Investigating parallels between our current situation and the rise of dictators and fascism in other once-free societies, Wolf uncovers a number of deeply unsettling similarities — from the use of paramilitary groups and secret prisons to the targeted suspension of the rule of law. With this galvanizing call to arms based on her recent book, she urges regular citizens to take back our legacy of freedom and justice. -Official site
A McDonald’s lover subjects himself to a month of nothing but the restaurant’s food, eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A cavalcade of horrified doctors, nutritionists, and obesity experts weigh in on Spurlock’s experiment, the country’s eating habits, and resulting obesity epidemic. Winner of the Director’s Award for documentary at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. -Moviefone
With his characteristic humor and dogged commitment to uncovering the facts, Moore considers the presidency of George W. Bush and where it has led us. He looks at how – and why – Bush and his inner circle avoided pursuing the Saudi connection to 9/11, despite the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis and Saudi money had funded Al Qaeda. Fahrenheit 9/11 shows us a nation kept in constant fear by FBI alerts and lulled into accepting a piece of legislation, the USA Patriot Act, that infringes on basic civil rights. It is in this atmosphere of confusion, suspicion and dread that the Bush Administration makes its headlong rush towards war in Iraq and Fahrenheit 9/11 takes us inside that war to tell the stories we haven’t heard, illustrating the awful human cost to U.S. soldiers and their families. -michaelmoore.com
Based on the best-selling book of the same name by Fortune reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, [the film is] a multidimensional study of one of the biggest business scandals in American history. The chronicle takes a look at one of the greatest corporate disasters in history, in which top executives from the 7th largest company in this country walked away with over one billion dollars, leaving investors and employees with nothing. The film features insider accounts and rare corporate audio and video tapes that reveal colossal personal excesses of the Enron hierarchy and the utter moral vacuum that posed as corporate philosophy. The human drama that unfolds within Enron’s walls resembles a Greek tragedy and produces a domino effect that could shape the face of our economy and ethical code for years to come. -imdb
Filmed over the course of 23 years, THE BETRAYAL (NERAKHOON) is an astonishing tale of perseverance – one family’s struggle to survive their journey from war-torn Laos to the streets of New York. Eloquent yet devastating, renowned cinematographer Ellen Kuras’ directorial debut is a remarkable collaboration with co-director Thavisouk Phrasavath – a documentary that reveals the hidden, human face of war’s “collateral damage”. -Official site
“Standard Operating Procedure” provides an examination of the unintended consequences of the Iraqi war with a focus on events at Abu Ghraib prison which began to appear in global media in 2004. The prison quickly became notorious for the shocking photos of the abuse and torture of terror suspects by military men and women. Ultimately, it is the story of soldiers who believed they were defending democracy but found themselves plunged into an unimagined nightmare. -Fandango
This animated documentary begins one night at a bar, when an old friend tells director Ari about a recurring nightmare in which he is chased by 26 vicious dogs. Every night, the same number of beasts. The two men conclude that there’s a connection to their Israeli Army mission in the first Lebanon War of the early eighties. Ari is surprised that he can’t remember a thing anymore about that period of his life. Intrigued by this riddle, he decides to meet and interview old friends and comrades around the world. He needs to discover the truth about that time and about himself. As Ari delves deeper and deeper into the mystery, his memory begins to creep up in surreal images… -Moviefone
Meant as a companion documentary to the book of the same name, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ chronicles the career of former-Vice President Al Gore as he focuses on potentially one of the biggest issues facing future generations, global warming. Gore lays out the case for the causes of warming, and traces his concerns with this phenomenon, from his early days in politics through the aftermath of the 2000 Presidential election. -Moviefone
Relegated to the role of refugees in their own country the moment the levees broke, New Orleans residents Kimberly and Scott Roberts document their harrowing struggle against the forces of nature and the evils of man as they nobly attempt to rebuild their lives amidst one of the greatest natural disasters ever to befall the United States. Kimberly Rivers Roberts is a musician and filmmaker who was living in New Orleans with her husband, Scott, when the force of Hurricane Katrina transformed their once-happy hometown into a waterlogged wasteland. In the aftermath of the disaster, the nightly news was filled with images of looting and chaos. Now, as the masses finally receive the opportunity to witness events from an insider’s perspective, it quickly becomes apparent that the rampaging waters were only the beginning of the problem, and that the ineptitude of the government and the media in dealing with the disaster did nearly as much damage to New Orleans as the forces of Mother Nature. -All Movie Guide