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My Ten Best Documentaries Of The Year (So Far)

Tuesday 29 July 2014, 15:22

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

We are half way through 2014 and there have been some amazing documentaries already - here is my top ten to date.

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    Comment number 1.

    I saw The Secret War followed by a Q&A session which made for a very depressing epilogue as it seems the situation isn't much better in the British armed forces and the MOD are doing everything they can NOT to deal with it.

    A while back i said on this blog that this was shaping up to be the decade of the documentary, so it's good to see Mark doing a best of the year list for documentaries. Mark and I obviously expect different things from a documentary because i've seen seven of the films on his list and for me the only outstanding documentary of the year wasn't even mentioned. Finding Vivian Maier is an intriguingly incomplete jig-saw puzzle about a woman who worked as a nanny for much of her life but when she died left thousands of rolls of undeveloped film containing the most extraordinary photos. The documentary pieces together parts of Vivian's life through the people who knew her and leaves the viewer with more questions than answers. Finding Vivian Maier is still playing in London and is available stream online and is one of the must-see films of the year.

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    Comment number 2.

    Excited about these two heading our way.."Whitey"or to have it's full complimentary title..Whitey:United States of America V James J.Bulger,as crime thrillers go there's been few that have bettered The Departed,but this forth coming documentary tells us the tale of Massachusetts evasive gangster and his relationship with the F.B.I. who were allegedly complicit with his methods,resulting in the ensuing court case and the F.B.I.'s reluctance to have evidence heard.
    My next one is "Virunga"i know a lot of publicity is surrounding the recent "Dawn of"but this documentary is the real deal,surrounding the plight of the mountain gorilla in the midst of civil war in the Congo.Having a soft spot for anything involving gorilla's,naturally this plays on my conscience more than any other species,think i still mourn King Kongs demise and it's remained with me ever since.
    Have huge admiration and respect for any documentary maker who's prepared to push the boundaries to capture the story,particularly when their personal welfare is at risk.I honour thee.

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    Comment number 3.

    This year has been great for documentaries. I have to say I was shocked (but not surprised) that the Oscar went to 20 feet rather than The Act of Killing and I do have a soft spot for Tim's Vermeer, not only because Tim Jenison is my boss, but also just for the sheer passion and determination he puts in. Another documentary I really liked was The Internet's Own Boy about Aaron Swartz. It is pretty one-sided because the film's makers could seemingly find no-one willing to comment, but that notwithstanding a powerfully touching documentary (and available to watch free on archive .org).

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    Comment number 4.

    I love documentaries and 'Finding Vivian Maier' is my favourite of the year so far and i'm surprised that it hasn't surfaced in your top 10 so far (are there reasons for this?).

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    Comment number 5.

    In a way it's a pity that this didn't take place slightly earlier or, at least, make mention of the Sheffield DocFest that has very recently taken place!


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