Best Documentary Movies of 1968
Featuring performances by popular artists of the 1960s, this concert film highlights the music of the 1967 California festival. Although not all musicians who performed at the Monterey Pop Festival are on film, some of the notable acts include the Mamas and the Papas, Simon & Garfunkel, Jefferson Airplane, the Who, Otis Redding, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Hendrix's post-performance antics -- lighting a guitar on fire, breaking it and tossing a part into the audience -- are captured.
Documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman takes us inside Northeast High School as a fly on the wall to observe the teachers and how they interact with the students.
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One
In Manhattan's Central Park, a film crew directed by William Greaves is shooting a screen test with various pairs of actors. It's a confrontation between a couple: he demands to know what's wrong, she challenges his sexual orientation. Cameras shoot the exchange, and another camera records Greaves and his crew. Sometimes we watch the crew discussing this scene, its language, and the process of making a movie. Is there such a thing as natural language? Are all things related to sex? The camera records distractions - a woman rides horseback past them; a garrulous homeless vet who sleeps in the park chats them up. What's the nature of making a movie?
In 1967, New York City is host to the Miss All-American Camp Beauty Pageant. This documentary takes a look behind the scenes, transporting the viewer into rehearsals and dressing rooms as the drag queen subculture prepares for this big national beauty contest. Jack/Sabrina is the mistress of ceremonies, and their protégé, Miss Harlow, is in the competition. But, as the pageant approaches, the glamorous contestants veer from camaraderie to tension.
One of the very few films made by Etienne O'Leary, all of which emerged from the French underground circa 1968 and can be very loosely designated 'diary films.' Like the contemporaneous films by O'Leary's more famous friend Pierre Clementi, they trippily document the drug-drenched hedonism of that era's dandies. O'Leary worked with an intoxicating style that foregrounded rapid and even subliminal cutting, dense layering of superimposed images and a spontaneous notebook type shooting style. Yet even if much of O'Leary's material was initially 'diaristic,' depicting the friends, lovers, and places that he encountered in his private life, the metamorphoses it underwent during editing transformed it into a series of ambiguously fictionalized, sometimes darkly sexual fantasias. - Experimental Film Club
The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes
A lesson in geography, which concludes that although the Great Lakes have had their ups and downs, nothing has been harder to take than what humans have done to them lately. In the film, a lone canoeist lives through the changes of geological history, through Ice Age and flood, only to find himself in the end trapped in a sea of scum.
Sympathy for the Devil
An exhilarating, provocative motion picture. The Rolling Stones rehearse their latest song, "Sympathy For the Devil," in a London studio. Beginning as a ballad, the track gradually acquires a pulsating groove, which gets Jagger into a rousing vocal display of soulful emotion that Godard captures on film.
The Blues Accordin' to Lightnin' Hopkins
Les Blank's portrait of the great Texas bluesman, 'Lightnin' Hopkins. The film includes interviews and a performance by Hopkins.
Rivers of Fire and Ice
A Wildlife Safari through Africa.
Mingus: Charlie Mingus 1968
A close-up of bass player and composer Charlie Mingus as he and his five-year-old daughter await eviction by the City of New York.
A static camera records, in one single continuous shot, a woman's face before, during and after orgasm. The act of looking and the limits of the film frame are highlighted in this intimate sexual episode with Tina Fraser. Artist Stephen Dwoskin presents a powerful, personal moment while maintaining a distance and resisting the viewer being subsumed into the action on screen.
Rocky Road to Dublin
Rocky Road to Dublin is a 1968 documentary film by Irish-born journalist Peter Lennon and French cinematographer Raoul Coutard, examining the contemporary state of the Republic of Ireland, posing the question, “what do you do with your revolution once you’ve got it?” It argues that Ireland was dominated by cultural isolationism, Gaelic and clerical traditionalism at the time of its making.
Oratorio for Prague
Filmmaker Jan Nemec and his crew risked their lives to create this historic documentary account of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. The award-winning work is the only filmed record of the invasion. Oratorio for Prague began as a study of the liberalization of Czechoslovakia and then continued when the Russian forces moved in. The gripping footage was broadcast by television, providing the first report of the event. In addition to the news footage, the film features never-before-viewed scenes taken prior to the invasion that crushed Prague's anti-Communist movement.
Documentary featuring James Baldwin and Dick Gregory, discussing the Civil Rights Movement in 1960s Great Britain.
Like It Is
This documentary on the "youth movement" of the late 1960s focuses on the hippie pot smoking/free love culture in the San Francisco Bay area.
Filmed at the October 1968 meeting in Hawaii of several hundred police chiefs of the International Association of Chiefs of Police as they watch demonstrations of gruesome anti-riot weapons, sing patriotic songs, and defend their policies in front of the camera. Although filmed with the permission of the chiefs, the view is unsympathetic, sometimes funny, and more often frightening.
Why Man Creates
A 1968 animation/documentary that criticises the industrial system.
A Few Notes on Our Food Problem
Made for the United States Information Agency (USIA). Shot all over the globe.
The Ballad of Crowfoot
Released in 1968 and often referred to as Canada’s first music video, The Ballad of Crowfoot was directed by Willie Dunn, a Mi’kmaq/Scottish folk singer and activist who was part of the historic Indian Film Crew, the first all-Indigenous production unit at the NFB. The film is a powerful look at colonial betrayals, told through a striking montage of archival images and a ballad composed by Dunn himself about the legendary 19th-century Siksika (Blackfoot) chief who negotiated Treaty 7 on behalf of the Blackfoot Confederacy. The IFC’s inaugural release, Crowfoot was the first Indigenous-directed film to be made at the NFB.
No Vietnamese Ever Called Me Nigger
In defending his refusal to be conscripted into the Vietnam War, champion boxer Muhammed Ali defiantly declared: ‘No Vietcong ever called me a nigger, my enemies are white people, not the Vietcong.’ His rebuttal suggested the title of this documentary, which depicts an anti-Vietnam-War rally in New York in 1967.
Journey Into Self
Journey into Self is a 1968 documentary film introduced by Stanley Kramer, and produced and directed by Bill McGaw. The film portrays a 16-hour group-therapy session for eight well-adjusted people who had never met before. The session was led by psychologists Carl Rogers and Richard Farson. The participants included a cashier, a theology student, a teacher, a principal, a housewife, and three businessmen. It won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1968.
The Doors Are Open
Sex, death, reptiles, charisma and a unique variant of the electric blues gave the Doors an aura of profundity that has survived the band's demise. In September, 1968, The Doors gave a history making performance at The Roundhouse in London's Chalk Farm. They gave powerful renditions of their best songs. Part of the Pioneer Artist Concert Film Series.
“’Psych-Burn’ was what musicians call a ‘contract-breaker’. ABC had given us some coin to make a few short films for a TV Pilot. “Love-In Tonite” was to be a psychedelic rock variety show with live performances, skits, and whatnot to cash in on the emerging hippie demographic. Even pre-Disney, the network was riddled with a bunch of out-of-touch, pencil-pushing buffoons, so I quickly realized the show would be a disaster. Imagine if “Midnight Special” was produced by Aaron Spelling. Then cast Charles Nelson Reilly as emcee. That would have been a far more lively show than “Love-In Tonite”. So I decided to deliver the suits a farewell kick-in-the-butt called ‘Psych-Burn’. The best part was that they presented my film sight unseen at a board meeting about the new Fall Season. I heard some heads rolled over that one.” —JXW
An Indian Day
Director S. Sukhdev traveled the length of India to gather footage for his impressionistic portrait of the country in the year 1967. The film produces the same effect on the viewers as a month-long visit to India, a sense of having seen everything and a sense of having seen nothing, both at the same time.
A Space to Grow
A Space to Grow is a 1968 American short documentary film produced by Thomas P. Kelly Jr.. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. Upward Bound programs from Chicago are featured. Henry Fonda is the narrator.
The Golden Vision
The obsessive supporters of Everton FC forsake wives, families and God to follow their beloved team. Meanwhile, the club and its players try to live up to their expectations.
A behind-the-scenes documentary by George Lucas about 29-year-old Francis Ford Coppola and his crew creating the 1969 film "The Rain People."
This short animation transports us from the farthest conceivable point of the universe to the tiniest particle of existence, an atom of a living human cell. The art of animation and animation camera achieve this exhilarating journey with a freshness and clarity. Without words.
'Love's Presentation' may be a time capsule of a rising art-world star, but it also pokes fun at the perspective of a celebrity profile. In its opening sequence, an antsy-looking Hockney squirms as a narrator reads aloud critic Jasia Reichardt’s introduction to his star persona. Scott’s portrait of Hockney is more expansive, spurning the growing popular image of the artist in favor of following him at work; He’s described the film as a “how-to” documentary. Filmed in April '66 in Hockney’s ground-floor apartment and studio, Hockney himself improvised the narration while watching the film. We watch the artist carve delicate lines into the plates, submerge them in an acid bath outside his window, then wipe his hands on the window curtains... A rare, relaxed close-up on Hockney’s creative process.
Pat Neal Is Back
This short focuses on Patricia Neal's return to motion pictures three years after she suffered a near-fatal stroke. We see her and the cast and crew at work in New York City on the feature film The Subject Was Roses (1968).
An experimental short film by John Whitney Sr. which combines animated shapes and colors; Computer graphics as dynamic, swirling art.
Two American Audiences: La Chinoise - A Film in the Making
Jean-Luc Godard visits the NYU in order to discuss his latest feature "La chinoise" with graduate students on filmmaking and politics.
Les enfants de Néant
Morbihan is one of the poorest regions in Brittany. Joseph, a 33-year-old farmer, can no longer live off the land. He is hired at the fancy new plant that has just opened where he enters a world of rote work. Fortunately he can go home to his farm every evening, far from the large urban centers where workers must usually live.
The San Francisco scene in 1967-68. Documentary about hippies shot during the height of the movement . Viewpoints from many kinds of people. Music by Steve Miller Band, Mother Earth, Quicksilver Messenger Service and others.
The House That Ananda Built
In India, a typical Oriya family of Nadpur Village in Mayurbhanj District go about their lives at their different vocations. The film follows Ananda, a successful businessman in Nagpur. It looks at his life, his children and his beliefs over a very long life from prior to independence until 20 years after. The House That Ananda Built is a 1968 Indian short documentary film directed by Fali Bilimoria. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
A Way Out of the Wilderness
A Way Out of the Wilderness is a 1968 American short documentary film produced by Dan E. Weisburd. It describes and illustrates steps being taken by the Plymouth State Home and Training School, Northville, Michigan, to bring mentally impaired children out of the wilderness into the mainstream of life. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Claw: A Fable
A poetic blend of documentary and experimental filmmaking, depicting the changes brought on by urban planning as seen in New York City and the large mechanical claw that demolishes the architecture seen in the film.
Orson Welles talks fantasy and magic in this short Vienna travelogue.
God Respects Us When We Work, But Loves Us When We Dance
Les Blank's poetic documentation of 1967's Los Angeles Easter Sunday Love-In.
Everybody's an Actor, Shakespeare Said
An east London youth drama group improvises scenes based upon their everyday life under the tutelage of Joan Littlewood.
On Location: Where Eagles Dare
A behind-the-scenes look at the difficulties of shooting a movie on location in the Austrian Alps.
The Great Stone Face
A documentary about the work of Buster Keaton.
Sonny Bono appears onscreen to tell kids that marijuana is a "bummer" that turns you into a "weedhead" and will make you "trip out" (the fact that, based upon his performance, Sonny appears to have ingested unknown substances before the cameras started rolling tends to limit the film's crediblity somewhat).
A Face of War
A Face of War is a 1968 documentary about the Vietnam War, by Eugene S. Jones. The New York Times called it "one of the great Vietnam documentaries." Roger Ebert called it a "heart-wrenching masterpiece".
The Pictures That Moved: Australian Cinema 1896-1920
Part 1 of the History of Australian Cinema series. Australian cinema from the very beginning, from the newsreels, ethnographic and actuality films, to the controversy of "The Story of the Kelly Gang" and the success of "The Sentimental Bloke".
A series of interviews with the leaders of the Paris riots of May and June, 1968.
You Are What You Eat
A montage of the weird, a freak-out film that appeared when the expression was in fashion and in flower, along with the flower people. The film was one of the first exponents of the mobile camera-rock track-optical effect school of filmmaking, and it is much a document as it is a documentary. A repellent and fascinating depiction of the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, along with Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco and the East Village in New York. Tiny Tim amounts to something resembling a recurring motif and narrator.
Monte Carlo: C'est La Rose
Monte Carlo: C'est La Rose is a 1968 American television special hosted by Princess Grace Kelly guiding the public through a tour of Monte Carlo. She encounters other celebrities such as Françoise Hardy, Terry-Thomas, Gilbert Bécaud, David Winters and his troupe the David Winters Dancers, who all perform musical numbers. We also meet her husband Rainier III, Prince of Monaco.
Time Out of Mind
Brazenly experimental, the film illuminates the debilitating effect of mental illness, imaginatively but discreetly conveying the message of its sponsor (Roche) while showing real insight and sensitivity towards its subjects. Its brutally graphic opening brings mental turmoil sharply into focus.
The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield
Jayne takes us on a review of her last world tour. She takes us through Rome, shares a fantasy about Roman athletes, and then is off to Cannes. She takes a trip to the nudist colony on the Isle of Levant, where she almost kind of joins in. Then it's off to Paris, where she gets a beauty treatment from Fernand Aubrey, and attends some racy dance revues. In New York and Los Angeles, she visits some topless clubs and listens to a topless all-girl pop band. The film wraps up with some posthumous footage of her family in mourning.