Have Your Say: What's The Best Theatrically Released Documentary Ever?

Associate Editor, Features; Rotterdam, The Netherlands (@ardvark23)
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Have Your Say: What's The Best Theatrically Released Documentary Ever?
Theatrically released documentaries are a strange sub-class of film. Sometimes they can get away with not having a narrative or (other) technical merits, when the subject is interesting enough to just point a camera at. Sometimes, they take a mundane subject but manage to create a work of art through interpretation, juxtaposing, narration and editing. Documentaries are also often regarded as news rather than entertainment.

With that in mind, documentaries are not often what we have in mind when we think of blockbusting crowd-pleasers. Interestingly, these films do have the potential to become hugely popular at film festivals though. Looking through the audience favorites at the International Film Festival Rotterdam reveals that there are no less than three documentaries in the top 5: It Hurts So Much (rated 4.61 out of 5, reviewed here), When Paul Came Over the Sea (rated 4.57 out of 5, and the source of the screenshot above), and Bamseom Pirates Seoul Inferno (rated 4.54 out of 5, reviewed here). Impressive!

Which brings us to the question of the week: what is your favorite theatrically released documentary? Chime in, in the comments below, and HAVE YOUR SAY!

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Ard VijnFebruary 21, 2017 10:45 AM

I know people who thought A GOOD AMERICAN was the best film at last year's IFFR.

Mr Tough GuyFebruary 22, 2017 3:16 AM

TBH Ard I don't think the rating of documentaries during the IFFR is the best indication of how much a general audience likes it. Of course good documentaries will get high ratings, but because they attract a certain type of audience I think the rating in most cases is skewed a bit. Especially with cases like Het doet zo zeer, where the film maker brings all their friends and family for the premier screening ;P And I don't think anyone would go see Bamseon Pirates Seoul Inferno if they don't like that type of music. In most cases when I see documentaries it's about something I'm interested in anyway, so I tend to score it high.
Having said that I'm totally biased as a big X Japan fan, so I have to say WE ARE X was the best documentary I've recently seen in the cinema, of course the mini concert after the screening at the IDFA by the subject of the Film helped ;P

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Ard VijnFebruary 22, 2017 10:05 AM

Fair points.

ZetobeltFebruary 22, 2017 2:37 PM

Bowling for Columbine.

dustin changFebruary 22, 2017 3:37 PM

The Act of Killing