Glenn here again. I don't leave quietly.
I know Nathaniel isn't quite as big of a documentary watcher as some others out there, so I thought I'd give the genre a bit of a spruik (apparently that's an Australian slang word so don't worry about not knowing what it means). I've made an effort this past year to see more documentaries - theatrically and otherwise - and while the number may only be hovering around the ten mark, considering I barely see more than four a year I think I have reason to be chuffed with myself.
It is, however, incredibly disappointing to realise that of the fifteen documentary titles shortlisted by the Academy only three have received a theatrical release here in Australia. How is it that even a Werner Herzog film - that'd be Encounters at the End of the World doesn't warrant a release? I can't imagine titles such as Trouble the Water, At the Death House Door (from the directors of Hoop Dreams - perhaps the greatest film of the 1990s? discuss) and I.O.U.S.A will ever screen down here. As a matter of fact, Spike Lee's sprawling 4hr+ documentary When the Levees Broke only just received it's first ever screening in Australia two weeks ago. I was privy to the special screening and it's baffling that it has never been shown on TV or released on DVD down here. What's up with that?
My favourite doco from 2008 was Yung Chang's hypnotizing and beautifully eerie Up the Yangtze. It's a shame the film has failed to be recognised in any way outside of one measly Indie Spirit nomination. After that stunning film we have James Marsh's ubiquitous Man on Wire, which is becoming the biggest award sweeper in history. Yes, even Helen Mirren lost one critics award. Mark Hartley's thrilling Not Quite Hollywood is a deliciously entertaining journey through Aussie genre films of the '70s and '80s with energy to spare. It receives an American theatrical release in the new year. Cult explorations in Beyond Our Ken and Celebrity: Dominick Dunne, about Vanity Fair crime writer Dunne, made for two more exemplary Australian docs. Lastly, I've got to shout out to Guy Maddin's bizarre and wonderful My Winnipeg. Whether you classify it as a documentary is entirely up to you though.
So tell me Film Experience readers, have you experienced any documentaries worth cheering? And let's try and convince Nathaniel to add them to his Netflix, okay?