Truth Stranger Than Fiction

By

Since I was a kid, I’ve had a great fondness for documentary filmmaking. I think this love of mine must have been parented by an early draw to weekly natural documentaries like Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and Nova coupled to a fascination with behind-the-scenes and making-of vignettes (which were fairly hard to find in the pre-DVD era.)

Whatever the cause, I love a good documentary and it seems there are a lot of great ones around these days. But for a lot of folks, documentaries are way off the radar, and understandably so. They rarely get wide theatrical releases. They seldom benefit from a marketing campaign. And they are rarely aired on cable television. Basically, the only engine of market penetration that a documentary has is its word-of-mouth. So consider what follows as my attempt to pass along words from my mouth in hopes that they find their way to your ear and trigger whatever mechanism in your mind is necessary to effect the further life of these films.

These are films that document true stories. They are sometimes harrowing, sometimes hilarious, sometimes thought provoking, and sometimes enlightening. They are all worth a couple hours of your time and if you’ve got favorites that I haven’t mentioned, let’s hear about them. Spread the word. The documentary film is an artform that deserves its due.

(Note: Most of these are available via Netflix Instant-View for those of you who have Tivo, an Xbox, or a PS3.)

vernonVernon, FL: Old Man on Bench 1: “And he said…that day, he says, “That’d be the last thing I’d ever do is to shoot myself.”

Old Man on Bench 2: “…which it was.”

I hesitate to call this a ‘great’ documentary, but it does document some of the most hilarious and bizarre people you’ll ever meet. The story goes that the filmmaker (Errol Morris) learned Vernon, FL was the nation’s leader in ‘accidental’ amputees and there was suspicion that the townsfolk were lopping off their own arms and legs and living it up on the insurance money. Morris went to Florida to document that story but when he got there he found a town even stranger than he imagined. Due to alleged death threats, he abandoned his documenting of the amputees and let his camera roll on the townspeople merely being themselves. It’s strange, funny, and, if you grew up in rural Florida like me, disturbingly familiar. If you can find it, check it out.

deep_waterDeep Water: In the 1960’s Britain put forth a challenge, promising wealth and fame to the first man to sail around the world alone and non-stop. Keep in mind that these are the days before satellite positioning and reliable global communication. The men that would attempt the feat would set out on their tiny sailing ships and spend nearly a year in total solitude in some of the world’s most treacherous oceans. One of those men was Donald Crowhurst, a family man on the verge of bankruptcy and a weekend sailor at best. In what he hoped would be a heroic journey to rescue himself and his family from poverty he answered the call.

What follows is a story so surreal in its developments and plot twists that had it been written in fiction, no one would believe it. It’s a tale that travels not only the deep seas of the world, but the troubled waters of the human mind. Donald Crowhurst’s is a haunting story that stayed with me for days if not weeks afterward. Unforgettable. (view trailer)

deliver_us_from_evil_dvd__large__Deliver Us From Evil: By now we’re all too familiar with stories of young girls and boys abused by Catholic priests but I suspect that few of us have heard the story from those who’ve experienced it firsthand. Deliver Us From Evil is a difficult movie to watch. It tells the story of a single priest in the San Francisco area who raped and molested boys and girls over a period of some twenty years, all with the knowledge of his superiors, including the man who is now the Pope. The testimonies of parents who welcomed him into their homes are heartbreaking, especially when some are led to renounce God in their grief. And equally horrifying are interviews with the priest himself who is almost smugly unrepentant and still lives as a free man in Ireland under the protection of the church.

This is a shocking documentary that manages to shine a relatively objective light onto the actions of individuals without taking the more easily travelled road of demonizing the church as a whole. Some of the best interviews are with Catholic priests who are fighting passionately within the church for justice. (view trailer)

american-movieAmerican Movie: Mark Borchardt loves making movies. Unfortunately, he’s in the wrong line of work. Mark’s one of the strangest guys you’ll ever meet. He lives in a small town in Wisconsin where he’s been making his own movies for his entire life. The film documents his efforts to shoot, edit, and release his latest ‘masterpiece’, a horror movie called Coven (inexplicably pronounced with a long ‘O’). I’ve watched this one a couple of times and laughed my butt off in amazement at just how out of touch with reality Mark and the rest of his cadre of filmmakers are. These people are so sad and strange and hopeless that if I didn’t see it on film, I wouldn’t believe it. (American Movie contains a lot of strong language.) (view trailer)

anvilAnvil: The Story of Anvil: Here’s one that’s almost too good to be true. In many ways it’s the musical partner to American Movie and can rightly be called a real-life This is Spinal Tap as well. In the early 80’s a band named Anvil burst onto the metal music scene and inspired the likes of Metallica, Megadeath, Anthrax and a slew of others. But while those bands went on to super-stardom, the Canadians, Anvil, fell off the map and never got their big break.

Fast forward thirty years. The band members are in their 50’s, they’re construction workers and school lunchroom employees by day but they’re still hopeful that their time will come. As the tagline says, “At fourteen, they made a pact to rock together forever. And they meant it.”

The thing that makes this such a great movie is that, yes, the story of Anvil is ridiculous, but after watching them try and fail so many times and because of the passion and love that the players have for each other and their music, you can’t help but cheer for them by the end. I bought their new record as soon as the movie was over just because I felt like they’d earned my ten bucks, even if I never listen to it. (Strong Language) (view trailer)

food-incFood, Inc.: I’ve never been one to care what I eat or where it comes from. Organic? Who cares. (Yes, I know, Wendell Berry is frowning at me.)

But I’ve found myself rethinking a lot of things since watching Food, Inc. The film is about the way our food has been industrialized in the last hundred years and the unintended consequences we’ve brought upon ourselves. This film isn’t just about health, though, it’s also about government policies and trends that are downright scary. Since watching the film, I’m far more inclined to buy organic food, even when it’s more expensive, not so much because I think it’s healthier, but because I think it’s the moral thing to do…and because I want Wendell Berry to stop making faces at me. (view trailer)

who_the_bleep_is_jackson_pollockWho the #$&% is Jackson Pollock: This is a fascinating little documentary that contains the following quote: “Everybody knows fairytales begin with ‘Once Upon a Time’. Well this here’s a truck driver’s tale and it begins with ‘You ain’t gonna believe this s**t.'”

If that right there hasn’t convinced you to watch this movie, I don’t know what will. It’s about a cranky old lady truck driver who buys a painting at a thrift store for $5 and sets out to prove to the world that it’s an actual work by Jackson Pollock, and therefore worth upwards of $50 million. Evidence suggests she’s right but the snooty art community isn’t having any of it. Fireworks ensue. The result is an interesting and entertaining look at how we value art and judge its worth. (Despite the title and opening quote, that’s really about the only strong language in the film.)

stone_readerStone Reader: This film is a love letter to books. I have to say that in many ways it’s a flawed and amateurish film, but the idea of it and the story it tells is magical.

When the filmmaker, Mark Moskowitz, was a teenager he began reading a book called The Stones of Summer that was heralded by critics as one of the major works of his generation. As teenagers often do, he got sidetracked and didn’t finish reading it. But when he returned to it as an adult, he fell in love with the book and was astonished to find that the author had apparently fallen off of the face of the earth, never publishing another book.

The film is about Moskowitz’s quest to track down the author and find out what happened to him. Along the way we’re treated to a celebration of the novel as an artform and some interesting pontifications on other such “One and Done” author’s like Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird) and Joseph Heller (Catch 22). The film, though flawed, is a fascinating story and since watching it, I always look for one of those rare first editions of The Stones of Summer when I’m in a used book store. (view trailer)

king-of-kongKing of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters: I’ve saved my favorite for last. Do not be fooled by the geeky nature of the film’s subject. This movie is one of the real greats and I defy anyone to not enjoy it: Man, woman, or child.

Steve Wiebe is our hero, a nice family guy that one day decides he’s going to be the best Donkey Kong player on earth. But little does Steve suspect the vast evil that will attempt to prevent him. King of Kong is the tale of the rivalry between the lovable Steve Wiebe and he of the impeccable hair: Billy Mitchell.

Whether you want to or not, you will learn a fantastic amount of trivia surrounding 80’s style arcade games and the strange sub-culture that still exists around them. The real charm of the film, though, is in its characters. Billy Mitchell is perhaps one of the most memorable ‘bad guys’ to ever enter a story. No matter how despicable you think he is, he continually finds ways to sink lower, and he does it all with flawless hair. It’s pure genius.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to play some Donkey Kong, and you’ll never forget Steve and Billy. (view trailer)

The best (and sometimes worst) thing about all these films, is that they are true. These are things that really happened, to real people, with real emotions, struggles, and dreams. A good documentary, as the word suggests, is a record of life here on planet earth. For good or evil, this is who we are: a strange and restless bunch all tangled together with stories to tell.

Profile photo of Pete Peterson

Pete Peterson is the author of the Revolutionary War adventure The Fiddler’s Gun and its sequel Fiddler’s Green. Among the many strange things he’s been in life are the following: U.S Marine air traffic controller, television editor, art teacher and boatwright at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, and progenitor of the mysterious Budge-Nuzzard. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jennifer, where he's the Executive Director of the Rabbit Room and Managing Editor of Rabbit Room Press.


26 Comments

  1. sid

    I like a good documentary too, and one of the benefits of being a Netflix subscriber, is there’s endless titles to choose from. Thanks for the recommendations, the only one in the bunch I’ve seen is Food, Inc, which changed my view on Food (along with Wendall Berry).

    A good documentary I rentcently saw was “The Grey Gardens”. After watching the HBO movie, I had to check out the documentary. It’s a sad tale of an aunt and cousin of Jackie O who fall on hard times, and live out the past in old, umkept manson in the Hamptons. For me, it was sad to watch because hoarding, co dependency is a mental illness.

  2. JJ

    Food Inc was fantastic. It didn’t make us change our diet but we have tried in small ways to buy more organic meats (grass fed beef for example). Whether it really matters or not who knows? The documentary makes it seem pretty cut and dry though. Of course we know that’s never the case. They’re always going to spin it a certain way, but it certainly was compelling. I have The King of Kong in my Netflix Instant Queue.

    The one I really want to see, which isn’t on your list, is The Town That Was. It’s about Centralia, PA, a small town that is nearly abandoned now after a fire started in an abandoned coal mine under the town decades ago and is still burning to this day. The town was bought by the government and all the buildings (save for a few) demolished. It has a popluation of 8 I think. The last hold outs. The town was the setting of my Nanowrimo novel last year, and long before that it inspired the town of Silent Hill in the video game series. It’s not on Netflix yet though.

  3. JacobT

    Don’t forget Man on a Wire, about Philipe Petit who walked across the Twin Towers in 1974. It’s amazing to see how they infiltrated both of those buildings secretly to do it. That was a different era.

  4. ClayofCO

    I’ve wanted someone to tell me I was OK for harboring a secret love of the documentary art form. Thank you for giving me permission to indulge my inner-docu-dude with your recommendations and reviews.

    I’ve never heard about a Documentary Channel on DirecTV, but when I Googled it, there it was! It’s based in Nashville, started by documentary filmmaker Tom Neff, and just got added to DirecTV two weeks ago. A full-blown documentary channel means I never have to flip to Al Gore’s Current TV again in search of bitesized docu-mints. That’s good news.

    Anyway, thanks for the post. You should start a documentary review blog.

  5. Bret Welstead

    Here are several we’ve watched over the past few years:

    What Would Jesus Buy? – This one addresses consumerism, especially around the Christmas season. The main character, “Rev. Billy,” is on a mission to warn people of the “Shopocalypse” with the help of his “Church of Stop Shopping” choir. It’s crazy, and funny, and it brought up some great discussion in my house.

    Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price – It’ll make you think about where those incredible deals come from, and how low prices still cost someone.

    Beyond the Gates of Splendor – You may have heard of a movie called End of the Spear about missionaries who are murdered by members of Waodoni tribe in Ecuador. The families of the missionaries continued their work, and eventually were accepted into the Waodoni society. This documentary on the same subject is pretty good, and the story is inspirational. If you opt to get End of the Spear, by the way, watch the extras. If I remember right, there’s a segment where a Waodoni tribesman visits a grocery store for the first time: it’ll make you smile.

    Born Into Brothels – If you haven’t seen this one, you need to. I think it’s been discussed here on the Rabbit Room. It’s about children who live in the red-light area of Calcutta. It wasn’t at all what I expected, and I really enjoyed it. Moving.

    Dear Zachary – I hesitate to recommend this one. It’s heartbreaking and shocking, and I was horrified that the events actually happened. It made my wife and I cry, and it made me angry. The plot is a little complicated, so here’s the description from Netflix: “Filmmaker Kurt Kuenne’s poignant tribute to his murdered childhood friend, Andrew Bagby, tells the story of a child custody battle between the baby’s grieving grandparents and Shirley Turner, Bagby’s pregnant ex-girlfriend and suspected killer. Initially, Kuenne made this documentary as a memorial for Andrew’s loved ones, but it morphs into an emotional legal odyssey when Turner goes free on bail and is allowed to raise her son.”

    I’ve also heard King Corn is really good.

  6. Profile photo of Pete Peterson

    Pete Peterson

    @pete

    Oh, man. Endurance is an amazing film. I should have included that one.

    I didn’t include Man on Wire because Curt did a great write up of it a while back. You can check it out here: http://www.rabbitroom.com/?p=1366

    I tried to watch Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price a couple of weeks ago and had to turn it off. I thought it was a very poorly made and badly edited film and even though I wanted to hear what it had to say, I couldn’t get past the amateur construction of it.

    It also threw all pretense of objectivity out the window right off the bat and quickly descended into pure propaganda. I don’t care to watch Michael Moore’s films for the same reason (or Al Gore’s).

  7. Profile photo of Curt McLey

    Curt McLey

    @curtmcley

    It was crazy fun reading your list, Pete. Thanks for taking the time to put it together. Over the last ten years, documentaries have become my second or third favorite genre. The good ones are like a good indie film in that the director seems to allow the story to tell itself, taking whatever twists and turns the stories naturally take. They seem to meander, making stops at the most bizarre and compelling carnival side shows.

    As an aside, for those that may have an interest in instant viewing with Netflix, one can also purchase the Roku Unit (if, like me, you are not a gamer), a little gadget that costs less than $100.00 and streams the wide range of Netflix instant viewing choices, including a broad selection of documentaries.

    I’ve seen half of those that you noted, Pete, and look forward to seeking out some of the others. I’ve read or heard about Anvil and your brother reminded me of it again over the weekend.

    A special word must be offered about Errol Morris, a master documentarian. He’s fine-tuned the documentary process to a literal art form, now with a good sized catalog of compelling, interesting documentaries. Like Vernon, Florida, which makes me laugh so hard in places that I literally have a hard time catching my next breath, the others offer fascinating looks at their characters. I have nearly made my way through his entire catalog, including these favorites:

    1. Mr. Death: Fred A. Leuchter Jr. (despite being about something very serious, made my son and I laugh as hard as we did when watching Vernon, FL).

    2. Gates of Heaven

    3. The Thin Blue Line

    I learned about Errol Morris and Vernon, Florida from Gaines at the Andrew Peterson Message Board, many moons ago. Gaines, if you are out there, thanks.

    Here’s some others that I particularly enjoyed:

    1. The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, the true story of a modern-day St. Francis of Assisi, a homeless San Francisco street musician by the name of Mark Bittner who adopts a flock of wild parrots as he searches for meaning in his life.

    2. Stranded – I’ve Come from a Plane that Crash Landed on the Mountains – The unbelievably compelling story of the Uruguayan rugby team that crashed in the Andes in 1972.

    3. Confessions of a Superhero – Errol Morrisesque – Wannabe movie stars dress up as superheroes and pose for photos with tourists. The story of the Superman character is particularly riveting.

    4. Born into Brothels – A Jeffrey Overstreet recommendation. It is so full of beauty in the midst of such ugliness, it will break your heart.

    5. The Story of the Weeping Camel – Beyond words. See it.

    6. Encounter at the End of the World – Directed by Werner Herzog

    7. Man on Wire

    The thing that turns me on most about documentaries is the passion of the characters and directors. I have a passion for learning. Once something captures my attention, I pursue it with abandon, like I’m on a treasure hunt.

    That’s how the best documentary filmmakers work. It’s how the subjects of documentaries communicate. On some level, they are nerds in that they pursue their topics/lives with abandon, to the nth degree, making few distinctions between relevant or irrelevant information. And by taking the path less traveled, one discovers treasure, beauty, laughs and snippets of life which are pure and and genuine.

    It’s the same reason I am a museum fanatic. Everything is interesting, if it has something to do with the object of their passion. I like that. I’m often like that, which is why I just spent thirty minutes on a Rabbit Room post, when practicality says I should be working.

    On an unrelated topic, I met a Rabbit Head this weekend at the AP/AO/EP show in Omaha. Becky, thanks for coming up to say hello. I hope I didn’t look too distracted. I had about three things going on at once when you came by. I wish I would have been more focused. It was nice to finally meet you.

  8. Profile photo of Stephen Lamb

    Stephen Lamb

    @stephen-lamb

    I still really need to see Man on Wire and King of Kong. And Jesus Camp is another one that I thought was good.

    Into Great Silence is my favorite documentary – I need to write a post about that one.

    Voices in Wartime is another one that I recommend frequently. (Disclaimer: my uncle produced it and I later produced a CD featuring poetry from the film with new underscore music.) Here’s the description:Voices in Wartime brings to life how poetry and war have been intertwined since the beginning of recorded history –from ancient Babylonia and the fields of troy–to the great conflicts of the 20th century and the current war in Iraq. The stirring words of poets of the past – Homer, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Walt Whitman AND Shoda Shinoe from Hiroshima are combined with more recent voices: a Vietnam vet, poets in war-torn Baghdad, a poet whose family experienced the devastating war in Biafra. The poetry moves us to the emotion of war explained to us by soldiers, journalists and a doctor who have experienced the effects of combat firsthand. The poetry illuminates the reality. And the documentary reality helps us to understand the poetry. Together they sear the experience, emotions and sacrifices of war into our hearts and minds.

    Voices in Wartime gives the gut-wrenching experience of war a fresh perspective. It steps away to look at all wars – not just the conflicts currently in the news. The terrible beauty of the poetry is our guide, distilling the grim realities and diverse emotions of war. History and literature have shown us that in times of war, poets can lead us to greater truths and that the power of poetry can help us understand the trauma, violence and death caused by armed conflict.

  9. Aaron Roughton

    We too have been moved by Food, Inc. And Pete, I share your motivation for change. I thought Supersize Me was stupid. I’ve had people hollering at me for years about the way Americans eat, but Food, Inc. finally presented me with a principle that I couldn’t ignore.

    Man on Wire was one that my wife and I enjoyed quite a bit, even on the small screen of our laptop. We watched it based upon Curt’s previously mentioned write-up and were not disappointed.

    I can’t wait to watch some of these others. There’s another called Hands on a Hardbody that was recommended to me that I’ve been meaning to see, but I haven’t tracked it down yet. Anyone seen it?

  10. Amy @ My Friend Amy

    Thanks for the recommendations! I so rarely have time to watch anything anymore, I have to admit I tend to lean towards fiction in my downtime. However, just now I was chatting with a friend about how passion communicates to me and always gets my interest, even in something I didn’t care about previously, and even though I can’t seem to find that single minded focus for myself. Curt’s comment directly after this conversation really resonated. Anyway, I’d like in theory to watch more documentaries.

    Re: Wal-mart if you have the time to read instead of watch, I recommend Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell as a good source of information on the history of discount culture and it’s current effect on the world economy.

  11. Profile photo of Andrew Peterson

    Andrew Peterson

    @andrew

    A great list, Pete.

    Bret, I thought Dear Zachary was an amazing film too, and agree that it’s one of the most unsettling stories I’ve ever heard. Unsettling and, ultimately, inspiring. The kindness of Zachary’s grandparents reminded me how important it is to love not just your children, but their friends well–not to mention your grandchildren. What amazing people. The impact those folks had on their boy’s friends was deep. And they’re still out there fighting for him. I cried when I watched it, too.

    (Good hanging out with you and your family this weekend!)

  12. Shawn

    I would recommend ‘Young at Heart’ about a group of very senior citizens who travel and perform modern rock hits. My initial expectations were far exceeded as you begin to get to know the dedication these people have as someone gives them a voice.

    I also have to include ‘Religulous’ by Bill Maher. Here’s the thing. My emotional connect ran the gamut from angry with the people he interviewed to the interviewer himself. Ultimately, he is picking on people who come from the standpoint of ‘I KNOW’ this is absolutely true beyond a doubt and you must too. What I understood is that he questions such blind religous devotion and faith in an institution. Is he wrong in a lot of ways and presuppositions, I believe so, yes. Does he offer some interesting questions and food for thought coming from an atheist or agnostic perspective? Again, I believe so, yes.

    Either way, as Christ followers we should be engaging and seeing what others view us as and understand why.

  13. Kacie

    God Grew Tired of Us! Great documentary about refugee Lost Boys from Sudan resettling in the US. It’s funny and sad at once.

  14. Jake Willems

    There is a wonderful documentary that came out about 4 years ago called “Word Play.” Has no one seen that before? It made me fall in love with crosswords and envy their construction and passion that is evident in the men and women who construct them. They inspired me to work on the Omaha World Herald puzzles everyday during my lunch break.

  15. Michael Foster

    Thanks for the great post, Pete. I can’t believe someone else in the world has seen Stone Reader! It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one who watches this stuff. I’ve seen everything on your list except for Vernon, Florida and Anvil – I actually thought it was a mocumentary. Now they’re both on my list.

    @Aaron Roughton: I can confirm that Hands on a Hard Body is worth a watch.

    The only documentaries that aren’t represented here that I would recommend are The Future of Food, Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts, and The Business of Being Born. Don’t watch that last one unless you’re okay with seeing some really crazy stuff… Also, The Pixar Story is excellent.

    Television may be out of bounds, but I really enjoyed Errol Morris’ short-lived tv show First Person (first season only) and all of This American Life (obviously).

    And who can forget Gary Hustwit? If you’re interested in design, you have to watch his films Helvetica (typography and graphic design) and Objectified (industrial design). Enjoy.

    Also, Spellbound, In the Shadow of the Moon, Who Killed the Electric Car…there are so many…

  16. Gaines

    Hooray for documentaries!

    The mentions of Errol Morris (hi Curt!) wouldn’t be complete without recommending The Fog of War, which won an Oscar. Although it is much more serious in tone than some of his other films, as it deals with Vietnam, it is extremely well-done and provocative.

    Another recent fave documentary is It Might Get Loud. The premise is simple: get Jimmy Page, the Edge, and Jack White together to talk about the electric guitar and, more importantly, to bring the rock. The film does a good job of interweaving their individual stories with the actually “summit” between them. It’s really well done, and would appeal to more than just the guitar playing crowd. I think anyone who enjoys music would dig it.

  17. Aaron Roughton

    Michael, thanks for the confirmation. I’ll try to find Hands on a Hardbody. And we also watched Future of Food. Some of the information was the same as Food Inc, but it had a few extra interesting bits. Then last night my wife turned on King Corn without my even mentioning the documentary mood I was in (that’s how I know we’re soulmates, in a Kip/LaFonda kind of way). I enjoyed that one also. As a native Floridiot, I can’t wait to watch Vernon, Florida.

  18. Profile photo of Pete Peterson

    Pete Peterson

    @pete

    Shawn,

    I also thought Religulous was really interesting. I was disappointed to see Maher take all the easy pot shots and come to some really simple conclusions but maybe I shouldn’t have expected much more than that. What I took away from it was that Maher is a man on a crusade to prove himself right at all costs instead of someone interested in finding the truth of matters or any deeper meanings. It was kind of sad, I thought, especially at the end when he pulls the ridiculous ‘religion causes war and suffering’ card. Come on, Bill, you’re smarter than that.

    The most telling scene is when a group of men pray for him very sincerely and Bill is clearly moved by the experience, then the camera cuts to him in the car insulting them.

  19. Mandy Q

    I can second the recommendation to see Hands on a Hardbody. Hilarious and touching. Not sure where you can find it though; it’s not on Netflix. It was shown at the Nashville Film Festival a few years ago. Sounds similar to Vernon, Florida….you often can’t make up characters as funny and fascinating as real people!

  20. Janelle

    Have seen several of these, will have to check out the others. Please, please, if you haven’t already, please see Project Grizzly. I never get tired of watching this documentary that follows a man in Alberta whose life goal is to design and build a grizzly-proof suit. Favorite scenes include him telling how he first met “the old man” and suit testing shots.

  21. Andy

    My wife and I live overseas and love documentaries as a great way to learn new things and to decompress. We strongly recommend China Blue, the story of a 16 year old Chinese factory worker that makes jeans for companies like Gap. We also loved Jesus: Save Us From Your Followers on why the gospel of love seems to be dividing America. We’ve pursued many that you all have posted at your recommendations and have already blitzed through Anvil and are slated to do Vernon, FL (about 75 miles from where I went to college) and American Movie this weekend.

  22. Pracades

    I have never been a “documentary nerd” but after reading your great recommendations I went straight to Netflix and added them all to my instant queue! Thanks everyone. The best stories are the ones you can’t make up!

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