The staff at POV recently released their list of the greatest documentary films ever made. I may not be an industry insider with decades of experience creating “greatest ever” lists, but I can still complain about theirs. So here goes: “Are you crazy?! What about Living in Emergency and Street Fight? How could you ignore Unser Taglich Brot and Etre et Avoir? These didn’t even make your top 100! But Madonna’s PR film made it in? Snobs! Cultural sycophants! Aaaaiiigh!”
Actually, I’m not really that worked up. But since agreement gives no grist to the blogosphere, I’ve compiled my list of the five best documentary films that no one has made yet. Steve James, take note.
Anarchist Island: Self-described anarchists travel the world protest circuit to disrupt organized marches, vandalize property, injure innocent bystanders, and maim law enforcement—all in the name of demonstrating how the world doesn’t need government. Anarchist Island drops 300 of these freedom fighters onto an isolated Caribbean paradise and watches them live their dream.
Grade School Bus Stop: The drama, the tears, the shifting alliances, the forgotten homework, the overwhelming tension as a seven-year-old races for the bus because, if they miss it, there’s no one to drive them to school! Don’t forget the comedy implications of dress-like-a-nerd day! The confrontation when the bus driver rips into a speeding teen who ignored the flashing stop sign. This… is real life.
The Pattern Repeats: This thrilling look into the cut-throat, artistic world of fabric design reveals the shameless favoritism, the monopolistic industry influence of fabric store powerhouses, and the creative upstarts fighting for their piece of the world fabric pie. It also seeks to answer that age-old question, “How do they get those painted-flower patterns to interconnect so seamlessly?”
The Somber Ones: You always see them standing there—unmoving, unspeaking. They haunt political statements and PR announcements, sports coverage and court findings. They are the wall of people that provide the backdrop to TV news coverage of press conferences. Often they are law enforcement, sometimes in business suits, and occasionally they appear to have just wandered in from the street looking for a bathroom. Who are these silent observers? What is their agenda? Why don’t they ever blink? And what do they want from you?
Painted Ivory: A loving cinematic ode to the much-maligned, often-forgotten backbone of the rock-n-roll music industry: the heavy metal keyboardist. Whether providing symphonic fills to add meat to the music, or synthesizing guitar solos to cover for the overly stoned frontman, these unheralded professionals are often the best musicians on the stage. But without the prop of a guitar or mic stand, they struggle to overcome decades of rock stereotypes that make it difficult to make swishing your hair, leaping about angrily, and prancing in a sexualized manner look anything but silly.