I asked members of the Rochester Documentary Group to share the names of two documentaries they’d recommend to friends who were looking for documentaries to watch over the summer. Check out the great list below for top-rated, “best of the best” documentaries that they suggested, listed in descending order according to their ratings on IMDb.
- July ’64 (2006) – Directed by Carvin Eison, this doc explores the landscape and the events that happened, contributing to the riots that occurred on the streets of Rochester, NY in July of 1964. (Rated 8.4/10 on IMDb)
- Searching for Sugar Man (2012) – Directed by Malik Bendjelloul, this doc focuses on two fans from South Africa who set out to discover what happened to a mysterious ’70’s Rock n’ Roller named Rodriguez. (Rated 8.2/10 on IMDb)
- Monterey Pop (1968) – Directed by D.A. Pennebaker, this film takes us back to the greatest pre-Woodstock rock music fest. (Rated 8.1/10 on IMDB)
- Bowling for Columbine (2002) – Directed by Michael Moore, this doc explores possible explanations for the Columbine High School Massacre of 1999 and the culture around guns and violence. (Rated 8.0/10 on IMDb)
- 4 Little Girls (1997) – Directed by Spike Lee, this documentary chronicles the notorious racial terrorist bombing of an African American church during the Civil Rights Movement. (7.8/10 on IMDb)
- Nicky’s Family (2011) – Directed by Matej Minac, this documentary tells the story of Englishman Nicholas Winton who organized the rescue of 669 Czech and Slovak children just before the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia in World War II. (Rated 7.7/10 on IMDb)
- Waste Land (2010) – Directed by Lucy Walker, Karen Harley and João Jardim. In this film, we meet contemporary artist Vik Muniz who takes us from Jardim Gramacho, the world’s largest landfill on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, to the heights of international art stardom. (Rated 7.7/10 on IMDb)
- Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001) – Directed by Stacy Peralta, this is the story of the 1970’s Zephyr skate boarding team. (Rated 7.7/10 on IMDb)
- Grey Gardens (1975) – Directed by Ellen Hovde, Albert Maysles, David Maysles and Muffie Meyer. This flick chronicles the story of Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ eccentric aunt and cousin who live in a run-down, filthy mansion in East Hampton. (Rated 7.7/10).
- Maidentrip (2013) – Directed by Jillian Schlesinger, this documentary follows the adventures of 14-year old Laura Dekker who circumnavigates the globe solo in a sailing ship called “Guppy.” (Rated 7.6/10)
- Cutie and the Boxer (2013) – Directed by Zachary Heinzerling, this film tells the story of the quixotic 40-year marriage of boxing painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko who sheds her role as her husband’s assistant, to find her own identity. (7.2/10 on IMDb)
- The Queen of Versailles (2012) – Directed by Lauren Greenfield, this film follows the adventures of a wealthy couple who attempt to build their dream castle, based on the French palace at Versailles, but who run into turmoil as the real estate market collapses. (Rated 7.1/10 on IMDb)
- The Parking Lot Movie (2010) – Directed by Meghan Eckman, this is a film about a specific parking lot in Charlottesville, Virginia by following a select group of parking lot attendants and their strange rite of passage. (Rated 7.0/10 on IMDb)
- Live from New York (2015) – Directed by Bao Nguyen, this just-released documentary takes us on a behind-the-scenes look at the 40-year history of SNL. Note: This is the feature film for the One Take Series at the Little on Tuesday, July 14! (Rated 6.9/10 on IMDb, but recent release makes this rating inconclusive)
Thanks to everyone whose recommendations helped build this great “watch” list!