ScreenAnarchy's Best of 2013 - Best Documentary

Asian Editor; Hong Kong, China (@Marshy00)
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The year that was 2013 has almost run its course, so the time has come for Team ScreenAnarchy to pool its ever-growing troupe of contributors from the four corners of the planet, gather its collective thoughts and pay special tribute to those films that have made a particularly strong impact over the past twelve months.

In recent years, documentary filmmaking has taken off in ways nobody could have foreseen. In large part because of technological advances in the making and delivery of the work, now pretty much anybody with a smartphone and a laptop is equipped to be a documentarian. Add to that an inquisitive mind, an intelligent perspective and an engaging subject, and the world becomes your oyster. Below is a selection of the year's most fascinating, entertaining and thoroughly disturbing non-fiction features that graced our screens in 2013.


Todd Brown, Peter Martin, Brian Clark, Joshua Chaplinsky, Dustin Chang, Pierce Conran, Jason Gorber, Kwenton Bellette, J Hurtado, Eric Ortiz Garcia, Jim Tudor, Christopher O'Keeffe, Patryk Czekaj, Kurt Halfyard, Jaime Grijalba Gomez, Patrick Holzapfel, Ryland Aldrich and Shelagh Rowan-Legg contributed to this story.

The Act Of Killing - directed by Joshua Oppenheimer

Todd Brown - Founder and Editor
A remarkable treatment of an incredibly difficult subject.

Peter Martin - Managing Editor
Bold and daring, not only in subject matter but also in filmmaking techniques, going beyond 'what' to 'why.'

James Marsh - Asian Editor
Simple words struggle to adequately explain this terrifying encounter with genuine human monsters, only to then indulge their fantasies in a purely cinematic way in the hopes of exploring something about how they operate and what compelled them to do what they did for so many years. There simply isn't another film in existence quite like The Act Of Killing, nor need there be, as Oppenheimer's unique masterpiece will linger inside your thoughts and dreams long after the credits roll.

Brian Clark - European Editor

Joshua Chaplinsky - Contributing writer
Its narrative may meander a bit, but no other documentary this year was as powerful as The Act of Killing. The bravery to take on such a topic, the fact that the death squad leaders WANTED to participate, the ending... man, if they don't get that ending, there is no movie. Chilling stuff. One of the most affecting films to come around in forever.

Dustin Chang - Contributing writer

Pierce Conran - Contributing writer
Oppenheimer's film is probably the best documentary I've seen in years. Horrific, terrific and surreal, it's a unique and surprising work like no other.
Jason Gorber - Featured Critic
Hard to pick between this and The Square, both meant so much to me. Both are extraordinary, both are moving and vital. The Act Of Killing may be the better film, The Square may be better journalism. They're both indicative of just how rich the world of documentary is these days.

Kwenton Bellette - Contributing writer

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More about ScreenAnarchy's Best of 2013

  • Ryan Bruce Levey

    Actually, the first big release for the Sensory Ethnography lab was Sweetgrass, followed by Foreign Parts and People's Park. Manakamana, would be the 5th release.

  • Kurt

    I looks like I have some DVD buying to do. I was aware that the SWEETGRASS director was one of the directors on LEVIATHAN, but I didn't know it was also funded/originated from the Harvard lab.

  • Ryan Bruce Levey

    They had another film called Yumen that is a 65 minute feature that was at VIFF 2013 also, plus some additional mid length work and shorts. In terms of the newest film, Yumen may qualify.

    http://sel.fas.harvard.edu/

  • Kurt

    Having gone to their official site, there is a treasure trove of stuff produced there. Dozens and Dozens, many greater than 60 minutes.

  • YES! Act of Killing it is!!!

  • Our review from back in 2012...

    http://twitchfilm.com/2012/09/...

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