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Documentary Spotlight

Oscars: Films About the Natural World Aim for Best Documentary Feature

The nature doc is a staple of nonfiction storytelling in film, and the genre has produced a number of Oscar-winning documentary features — as recently as 2021’s winner My Octopus Teacher. This year, three nature docs made it to the shortlist ahead of the Academy Award nominations announcement on Jan. 24, and all aim to make […]

David Bowie, Leonard Cohen Films Take Different Approaches to the Rock Doc

Among the 15 shortlisted titles eligible for an Oscar nomination for best documentary feature this year are two music-focused films that each highlight the career and legacy of internationally beloved performers. Sony Pictures Classics’ Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song offers a biography of the Canadian poet and songwriter, framed by what is arguably […]

‘The Janes’ Directors Tia Lessin and Emma Pildes on Abortion Collective Doc: “We Didn’t Make This to Be a Guidebook”

In the spring of 1972, seven members of the Jane Collective, an underground service in Chicago, were arrested for providing illegal abortions to women in need. The collective had been founded by Heather Booth in 1965, when a friend in need of the procedure was nearly suicidal. “Pregnant? Don’t want to be? Call Jane,” read […]

‘Fire of Love’ Captures a Love Triangle Like No Other

Maurice and Katia Krafft were not just two of the world’s most notable volcanologists — they were also two of the greatest filmmakers, who ventured into dangerous volcanic locations to capture images of some of the planet’s most beautiful and beguiling forms of nature. After their death during the June 3, 1991, eruption on Japan’s […]

Sports, Politics and Equality Among Top Subjects of Documentary Short Contenders

38 at the Garden (HBO) 38 at the Garden chronicles the meteoric rise of New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin during the 2012 basketball season of “Linsanity,” when he wowed audiences and teammates alike by scoring 38 points against the Los Angeles Lakers at Madison Square Garden. Anastasia (MTV Documentary Films) Russian activist Anastasia […]

How ‘Good Night Oppy’ Uses Ingenious VFX to Capture the Surface of Mars

The story of Opportunity, the Exploratory Rover that was sent to Mars in 2004 for a 90-day mission but ended up conducting work on the planet for 15 years, is told in an inspiring and emotional documentary that’s generating buzz this season. Amazon’s Good Night Oppy, directed by Ryan White and narrated by Angela Bassett, […]

Emmys: Celebrity Stories Dominate Documentary and Nonfiction Special Category

This year’s Emmy nominees for best documentary or nonfiction special include four examinations of celebrity in its various forms — from the tabloid target Britney Spears, the comic philosophies of George Carlin, the romantic and working partnership between Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz to the altruistic efforts of chef José Andrés. Rounding out the category […]

How HBO’s ‘100 Foot Wave’ Captured Big-Wave Surfing

Mike Prickett not only served as director of photography on 100 Foot Wave, but his own story is so uniquely intertwined with big-wave surfing that it is even depicted in episode five of the Emmy-nominated HBO documentary series. “In the world of cinematography in the ocean, Mike Prickett has been at the forefront,” says big-wave […]

Emmy Contenders Expose Corporations and Institutions

Multiple Emmy contenders this season are focused on the downfall of or investigations into large corporations and institutions: Hulu’s The Curse of Von Dutch: A Brand to Die For, Netflix’s White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch, Netflix’s Downfall: The Case Against Boeing and Amazon Prime Video’s LuLaRich. Here’s what The Hollywood […]

Comedy Docs Are Among Emmy Contenders This Season

Multiple documentary Emmy contenders this season turn their focus on the people who have made us laugh — and the complicated legacies of their place in comedy history. Four doc titles examine the careers and controversies of stand-ups George Carlin and Bill Cosby, Canadian sketch troupe the Kids in the Hall and I Love Lucy […]

How Netflix’s ‘Bad Vegan’ and ‘The Tinder Swindler’ Shed Important Light on Coercive Control

Two recent Netflix true-crime titles have explored a form of domestic abuse that many people don’t know about: coercive control, which, according to Laura Richards, a criminal behavioral analyst formerly of New Scotland Yard who also trained with the FBI and created and hosts the Crime Analyst and Real Crime Profile podcasts, means “a set […]

How ‘The Andy Warhol Diaries’ Depicts the Queer Side of the Pop Art Icon

In Netflix’s five-part docu-series The Andy Warhol Diaries, writer-director Andrew Rossi peels away the layers of the artist and pop culture icon who had an indelible influence on American culture during the 20th century and beyond. Turning to Warhol’s writings published in 1989 by his collaborator and friend Pat Hackett (to whom Warhol dictated his […]