Lately, Gary and I have gotten back into the Netflix obsession and have been watching a lot of documentary films. All of them have been fascinating yet upsetting in their own ways. Here they are with descriptions pulled from Wikipedia:

Grizzly Man is a 2005 documentary film by German director Werner Herzog. It chronicles the life and death of environmentalist and bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell. The film consists of Treadwell’s own footage of his interactions with grizzly bears before he was killed, and of interviews with people who knew or were involved with Treadwell. The footage he shot was later found, and the final film was co-produced by Discovery Docs, the Discovery Channel’s theatrical documentary unit, and Lions Gate Films.
Timothy Treadwell spent thirteen summers in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Over time, he believed he was trusted by the bears, who would allow him to approach them, and sometimes even touch them. Treadwell was repeatedly warned by park officials that his interaction with the bears was unsafe to both him and to the bears. “At best he’s misguided,” Deb Liggett, superintendent at Katmai and Lake Clark national parks, told the Anchorage Daily News in 2001. “At worst, he’s dangerous. If Timothy models unsafe behavior, that ultimately puts bears and other visitors at risk.” Treadwell filmed his exploits, and used the films to raise public awareness of the problems faced by bears in North America. In 2003, at the end of his thirteenth visit, he and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard were attacked, killed and eaten by a bear.

Sir! No Sir! is a 2005 Displaced Films/BBC documentary film about the anti-war movement within the ranks of the United States Military during the Vietnam War. It is subtitled “the suppressed story of the GI movement to end the war in Vietnam.” It was completed in 2005 and won the audience award at the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Golden Starfish Award for best documentary in 2005.
The film tells the story of how, from the very start of the war, such as with the Green berets, there was resentment within the ranks over the difference between the conflict in Vietnam and (as Jane Fonda and others state in the film) the “good wars” that their fathers had fought. In the beginning some servicemen simply left the military as individuals; according to Pentagon figures, between 1966 and 1971 there were over 500,000 incidents of desertion in the U.S. military.[1] Over time, however, it became apparent that so many were opposed to the war that they could speak of a movement. Howard Levy noticed this when he stopped training soldiers and got a lot of support from fellow soldiers. Protest newspapers started to be printed. This resulted in a severe crackdown by the Army, sending people to prison for years. The organiser of one protest newspaper was sent to prison for ten years for the alleged possession of marijuana.
Another cause for discontent was that a large number of the soldiers sent to the front were black and at the time a black movement was rising. One notion was that blacks should only fight against black oppression and that was not going on in Vietnam, so blacks should not go there. This resulted in one revolt, at the Long Binh Jail in South Vietnam in August 1968, in which one white soldier was killed.[2]
The movement eventually made the U.S. Army almost unoperable. In response to this, U.S. president Richard Nixon decided to “Vietnamise” the war, leaving the ground fighting to South Vietnamese troops and limiting U.S. involvement to bombardments. As a result, the presence of U.S. soldiers at the border was denied, leaving these soldiers to fend for themselves. When six of these soldiers were ordered to go on what was effectively a suicide mission, they refused and instead decided to send a message to the home front. Nixon responded to this by pulling that company out, but then other companies started to stop fighting as well. Some officers were killed by their own men. Because this was often done with fragmentation bombs, it became known as fragging.
When, during one offensive, more bombs were dropped on Vietnam than were used during the whole of World War II (by both sides), the Navy also started to protest. A ballot was cast on the aircraft carrier Constellation, in which the crew decided not to go to Vietnam.

Giuliani Time is a muckraking documentary by Kevin Keating about Rudy Giuliani, former Mayor of New York City.
The Village Voice called this 2006 documentary “an incisive portrait of power seizure and class combat as it was performed, by the numbers, on the municipal level.” The film has several archival films, as well as several interviews with Village Voice writer and unauthorized Giuliani biographer, Wayne Barrett, and radio journalist Doug Henwood.[1]

Deliver Us from Evil (2006) is an Academy Award-nominated documentary film directed by Amy Berg which tells the true story of the pedophile Catholic priest Oliver O’Grady, who sexually abused potentially hundreds of children between the late 1970s and early 1990s. The film won the Best Documentary Award at the 2006 Los Angeles Film Festival. The title refers to a line in the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father.”
The film chronicles O’Grady’s years as a priest in Northern California, where he committed his crimes. After being convicted and serving seven years in prison, O’Grady was deported to Ireland, where Amy Berg interviewed him in 2005. O’Grady speaks candidly about his crimes. Additionally, the film presents trial documents, videotaped depositions, and interviews with activists, theologians, psychologists and lawyers which suggest that not only were Church officials aware of O’Grady’s crimes, they actively took steps to conceal them. [1] [2]
The Irish Independent criticized Amy Berg for filming children in Ireland without their knowledge.[3]
The film was very well received by critics, earning a rare 100% ‘fresh’ review from[4]. As of April 6, 2007, the film ranks 3rd on Rotten Tomatoes’ list of the best reviewed movies of all time [5].
On July 15, 2007, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay $660 million to settle sex-abuse claims.[6]

I recommend that you add these to your own Netflix queue right away and happy viewing. Or not-so-happy viewing since these are all sort of downers but good and definitely worth seeing.

2 Responses to “Documentaries”

  1. Katie Z says:

    Hey Justine- Just started reading your blog! :) I loved Grizzly Man! I am a huge documentary fanatic as well! Some of my favorites are…..Brothers Keeper (a very sad and touching tale about two old uneducated brothers in a rural town) Home Movie (following 5 different unusual homes and the people who live in them), and the Seven Up! series, where in the sixties a group of seven year olds were interviewed and then every seven years reinterviewed well into their adulthood and older years. Have you seen any of these? If not, add them to your queue!

  2. elizabeth says:

    Hey Justine,

    I was completely blown away by Deliver Us From Evil… I bawled my eyes out for a good 20 minutes at the end of the movie. I have been trying to get people to watch it for the past year, but hysterically crying is not a very good selling point for a film.

    Hope you’re well,

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