Best Documentary Movies of 1970
An intimate look at the Woodstock Music & Art Festival held in Bethel, NY in 1969, from preparation through cleanup, with historic access to insiders, blistering concert footage, and portraits of the concertgoers; negative and positive aspects are shown, from drug use by performers to naked fans sliding in the mud, from the collapse of the fences by the unexpected hordes to the surreal arrival of National Guard helicopters with food and medical assistance for the impromptu city of 500,000.
A detailed chronicle of the famous 1969 tour of the United States by the British rock band The Rolling Stones, which culminated with the disastrous and tragic concert held on December 6 at the Altamont Speedway Free Festival, an event of historical significance, as it marked the end of an era: the generation of peace and love suddenly became the generation of disillusionment.
Let It Be
The filmed account of The Beatles' attempt to recapture their old group spirit by making a back to basics album, which instead drove them further apart.
Elvis: That's the Way It Is
On July 31, 1970, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Elvis Presley staged a triumphant return to the concert stage from which he had been absent for almost a decade. His series of concerts broke all box office records and completely reenergized the career of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
7 Plus Seven
After a 7 year wait, director Michael Apted revisits the same group of British-born children from Seven Up! The subjects are interviewed as to the changes that have occurred in their lives during the last seven years.
A Horse Called Nijinsky
Documentary, narrated by Orson Welles, about the legendary race horse Nijinsky, one of the greatest and most successful race horses in history and after his retirement from the racetrack in 1970 an important sire of thoroughbred horses.
The Eye of the Storm
The very first documentary about Jane Elliott's educational experiment about discrimination, which was originally produced for ABC News, in which she conducts an unforgettable lesson with her third-grade class in Riceville, Iowa.
Filmmaker Ralph Arlyck interviews his neighbor, Sean Farrell, a 4-year-old living on San Francisco's Haight Street in 1969. Sean gives his thoughts on life in his home, a hippie crash pad, and casually mentions that he smokes pot, which caused this short film to become a national sensation.
The Cross and the Switchblade
A film adaptation of a book written in 1963. It tells the true story of Wilkerson's first five years in New York City, where he ministered to disillusioned youth, encouraging them to turn away from the drugs and gang violence they were involved with.
Original Cast Album: Company
In 1970, right after the triumphant premiere of Stephen Sondheim’s groundbreaking concept musical Company, the renowned composer and lyricist, his director Harold Prince, the show’s stars, and a large pit orchestra all went into a Manhattan recording studio as part of a time-honored Broadway tradition: the making of the original cast album. What ensued was a marathon session in which, with the pressures of posterity and the coolly exacting Sondheim’s perfectionism hanging over them, all involved pushed themselves to the limit.
King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis
Constructed from a wealth of archival footage, the documentary follows Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from 1955 to 1968, in his rise from regional activist to world-renowned leader of the Civil Rights movement. Rare footage of King's speeches, protests, and arrests are interspersed with scenes of other high-profile supporters and opponents of the cause, punctuated by heartfelt testimonials by some of Hollywood's biggest stars.
Bukowski at Bellevue
In the spring of 1970 Charles Bukowski took his first plane trip for a poetry reading at Bellevue Community College in Washington state. That he was videotaped by two students apparently was later forgotten, but the tapes were recently rediscovered and have been released by Black Sparrow press. "Bukowski at Bellevue" gives us a fascinating glimpse of the man before he had to be concerned with how celebrity and financial security were affecting him. (It is said that this was only his fourth public reading.) This is Bukowski, then about 50, taken straight. No games, no irony, no self-consciousness--just an ordinary-looking guy, maybe hung over, sitting before a small group of students reading his work with gusto, humor and sensitivity. A man who clearly had lived the marginal life he wrote about with passion and at times a lyrical, even mystical beauty.
Black Roots is the fourth feature-length film produced and directed by American independent filmmaker Lionel Rogosin. The film gathers a number of African American folk and blues musicians in a room, where they share stories and songs about the black experience in America.
Sad Song of Yellow Skin
A film about the people of Saigon told through the experiences of three young American journalists who, in 1970, explored the consequences of war and of the American presence in Vietnam. It is not a film about the Vietnam War, but about the people who lived on the fringe of battle. The views of the city are arresting, but away from the shrines and the open-air markets lies another city, swollen with refugees and war orphans, where every inch of habitable space is coveted. (NFB)
The Doors: Feast of Friends
A cinematic look at The Doors on the road during their summer '68 tour. Concert performances are intercut with fly-on-the-wall footage of the group in their natural habitat.
Jack Johnson is a 1970 documentary film directed by Jim Jacobs about the boxer Jack Johnson.
a.k.a. Cassius Clay
The study of crazy brilliance and flamboyant sincerity. a.k.a. Cassius Clay presents a fascinating look at the incredible life and achievements of one of the most courageous, outspoken and charismatic figures of boxing: Muhammad Ali. Born Cassius Clay in 1942, Ali soon rose to become a renowned athlete, an articulate author and a compelling political; leader. Audacious, ambitious and totally fearless, Ali became a symbol of pride, a legend of hope and one of the most extraordinary cultural icons of the 20th century.
Daily activities of the Metropolitan Hospital in New York City, with emphasis on the emergency ward and outpatient clinics. The cases depicted illustrate how medical expertise, availability of resources, organizational considerations and the nature of communication among the staff and patients affect the delivery of health care.
I Am Somebody
Madeline Anderson’s documentary brings viewers to the front lines of the civil rights movement during the 1969 Charleston hospital workers’ strike, when 400 poorly paid Black women went on strike to demand union recognition and a wage increase, only to find themselves in confrontation with the National Guard and the state government. Anderson personally participated in the strike, along with such notable figures as Coretta Scott King, Ralph Abernathy and Andrew Young, all affiliated with Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Anderson’s film shows the courage and resiliency of the strikers and the support they received from the local black community. It is an essential filmed record of this important moment in the history of civil and women’s rights. The film is also notable as arguably the first televised documentary on civil rights directed by a woman of color, solidifying its place in American film history.
The Hart of London
"The Hart of London" is an endlessly layered tour de force. It explores life and death, the sense of place and personal displacement, and the intricate aesthetics of representation. It is a personal and spiritual film, marked inevitably by Chambers’s knowledge that he had leukemia. The late American avant-garde filmmaker Stan Brakhage said of Hart, "If I named the five greatest films [ever made], this has got to be one of them." Even this high praise falls short of hyperbole. The Hart of London is at the centre of Chambers’s extraordinary achievement.
One of Les Blank's industrial films, which follows a Holly Farms "broiler" chicken from factory incubation to the county fair barbecue pit. A hilarious, disturbing and surreal look at a large-scale chicken farm producing 156 million chickens a year! Film includes lots of chicken songs and music recorded live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina
The World at Their Feet
The 1970 finals saw the emergence of probably the greatest team the world has ever seen, in the all-conquering form of Brazil. Pelé was playing in his last finals and his touch, vision and goal prowess combined with Jairzinho's amazing feat of scoring in every round, propelled the Brazilians to an irresistible 4-1 final victory over an overwhelmed Italy.
A behind-the-scenes documentary about the filming of the Federico Fellini film, "Satyricon."
Railways for Ever!
A poet's eulogy to his beloved mode of transport.
Sport, Sport, Sport
A half-fiction half-documentary story about sport and it's importance in everyday life.
The Trip Back
Florence "Florrie" Fisher was a motivational speaker in the 1960s and 1970s who traveled to high schools in the United States, speaking about her past as a heroin addict and prostitute.
An unknown observer is seen traveling through a bleak corridor. At the end of the corridor they see a naked woman, whom they are unable to reach as their trip seems to become increasingly twisted and looped.
Zorns Lemma is a 1970 American structuralist film by Hollis Frampton. It is named after Zorn's lemma (also known as the Kuratowski–Zorn lemma), a proposition of set theory formulated by mathematician Max Zorn in 1935. Zorns Lemma is prefaced with a reading from an early grammar textbook. The remainder of the film, largely silent, shows the viewer an evolving 24-part "alphabet" (where i & j and u & v are interchanged) which is cycled through, replaced and expanded upon. The film's conclusion shows a man, woman and dog walking through snow as several voices read passages from On Light, or the Ingression of Forms by Robert Grosseteste.
Cleopatra situates itself in the same relationship to Hollywood as the Warhol/Morrisey films of the period. It corresponds to Joseph Mankiewicz's 1963 Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton which Auder's cast watched and used as the starting point for scene by scene improvisation Auder drew his cast from Warhol's ensemble – including not only Viva and Louis Waldon, but also Taylor Mead, Ondine, Andrea Feldman, Gerard Melanga and others.
Two women in a living room: smoking, playing cards, listening to the radio. As often in Dwoskin’s films, the use of masks, make-up and costumes allows the characters to playfully transform themselves. Shot in colour film, C-film exuberates swinging London energy. In the second part of the film, the women appear to be watching the rushes of the film on an editing table. ”We are making a movie” we hear them say. As Dwoskin points out, “C-film asks how much is acting acted”, an ongoing question in Dwoskin’s cinema. Produced by Alan Power, with Esther Anderson & Sally Geeson.
White Angel… Black Angel
Witness devilish rituals from around the globe. Satanism! Voodoo! Majicks Black and White! Shocking Truths, etc.!
This film, made by the artist, Robert Smithson, with the assistance of Virgina Dwan, Dwan Gallery & Douglas Christmas, Director, Ace Gallery, (the aforementioned Dwan & Christmas also assisted Smithson financially with the making of the Spiral Jetty), is a poetic and process minded film depicting a "portrait" of his renowned earth work -- The Spiral Jetty, as it juts into the shallows off the shore of Utah's Great Salt Lake. A voice-over by Smithson reveals the evolution of the Spiral Jetty.
A psychedelic documentary of the body electric, with music by Pink Floyd. The film was directed and produced by Roy Battersby. The film's narrators, Frank Finlay and Vanessa Redgrave, provide commentary that combines the knowledge of human biologists and anatomical experts. The film's soundtrack, Music from the Body, was composed by Ron Geesin and Roger Waters.
In the late spring of 1970, nationwide protests against the war in Vietnam focused in the Wall Street area of New York City and ultimately in a major anti-war demonstration in Washington, D.C.. A group of New York University film students documented the demonstrations as they happened in both cities. Later, in New York, the massive amount of black and white and color 16mm footage was edited into this important record of the day-by-day events. The extended final scene, shot by Edward Summer in a hotel room in Washington, D.C., is a spontaneous conversation among Martin Scorsese, Harvey Keitel, Jay Cocks and Verna Bloom who, along with a large group of NYU students, found themselves frustrated and perplexed by the events and hopeful that the protests would result in change.
A Newsreel documentary that accuses the DuPont Corporation of enforcing racism and martial law in Wilmington, Delaware in the late 1960s.
The Sensually Liberated Female
Documentary on female sexuality and the sexual habits of women. Among the subjects covered herein are fellatio, sunbathing, sodomy, bubble baths, belly dancing, masturbation, and various pelvic exercises a woman can do to increase sexual stimulation.
Documentary portrait of Henri Langlois, co-founder of the Cinémathèque Française.
Short film utilizing quick cuts and multiple angles of a one-man-band musical performance by Sid Lavarents (who served as both film-maker and musician). Added to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress for 2000.
Legend of the Witches
A visual exploration into the origins of witchcraft in the UK and in particular the demystification of symbolism still embedded today within many modern religious artefacts and rituals. X-rated upon its original release, this documentary looks in detail at previously hidden magic rites and rituals. Sharing the secrets of initiation into a coven, divination through animal sacrifice, ritual scrying, the casting of a 'death spell', and the chilling intimacy of a Black Mass.
Zapruder Film of Kennedy Assassination
The home movie footage shot by Abraham Zapruder that caught the assassination of the U.S. President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
The only film to capture the United States President John F. Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963.
Jean-Luc Godard brings his firebrand political cinema to the UK, exploring the revolutionary signals in late '60s British society. Constructed as a montage of various disconnected political acts (in line with Godard's then appropriation of Soviet director Dziga Vertov's agitprop techniques), it combines a diverse range of footage, from students discussing The Beatles to the production line at the MG factory in Oxfordshire, burnished with onscreen political sloganeering.
During and After Air Raid
The precautions to be taken during and after an air-raid by the people, are shown in this film.
He & She
Following the mad success of Man & Wife, the first American-made explicit feature film, Matt Cimber created this ambitious follow-up, focusing on the sex life of a hippie couple in the style of an educational documentary.
Sexual Freedom in Denmark
Starting as a documentary on the sexually liberated culture of late-Sixties Denmark, Sexual Freedom in Denmark winds up incorporating major elements of the marriage manual form and even manages to squeeze in a montage of beaver loops and erotic art. All narrated with earnest pronouncements concerning the social and psychological benefits of sexual liberation, the movie, is a kind of mondo film dotted with occasional glimpses of actual sex.
“A silent perusal of the Grand Canyon, morning to night, from a single, fixed camera position, by means of constant dissolves spaced a few seconds apart. Man — entirely absent — is no longer the center of the universe; the canyon exists outside of him. Despite the invisible photographer and his technologically-caused dissolves, this is a creditable approximation of the true foreign-ness of nature.” — Amos Vogel, Film as a Subversive Art (1974)
Satanis: The Devil's Mass
The film is a study of Anton Szandor LaVey, leader of a cult of devil worshipers in San Francisco. He and his Church of Satan are shown performing a black mass, in which a nude woman serves as an altar and a boa constrictor wraps itself around a naked witch. Newsreel footage is included in which LaVey's neighbors are interviewed about the lion which he kept in his house until complaints resulted in the animal's removal to a zoo. The ideology of the Church of Satan is discussed--guilt rejection, sexual freedom, and self-indulgence.
At least forty films have been made about the Living Theatre; it remained to the American underground filmmaker Sheldon Rochlin (previously responsible for the marvellous Vali) to make the 'definitive' film about one of the most famous of their works, Paradise Now, shot in Brussels and at the Berlin Sportpalast. Made on videotape, with expressionist colouring 'injected' by electronic means, this emerges as a hypnotic transmutation of a theatrical event into poetic cinema, capturing the ambiance and frenzy of the original. No documentary record could have done it justice.
This documentary on rock 'n' roll groupies, including the infamous Plaster Casters, features performances (musical) by such bands as Ten Years After, Terry Reid, Spooky Tooth, and Cat Mother.
Mondo Rocco is a collection of short films weaved together as it was seen in the Park Theater in Los Angeles in 1969/1970. Charming in their innocence, Rocco's films captured important moments in gay history and are an invaluable resource.