Best Documentary Movies of 1972


Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii

8.6/10 IMDB

Stylish film of the British progressive rock band Pink Floyd in 1971 performing a concert with no audience, in the ancient Roman Amphitheatre in the ruins of Pompeii, Italy. There are two versions of the film: the concert only (60 minutes), and a longer version (85 minutes) featuring the concert interspersed with interviews and footage of Pink Floyd in the studio working on their next album, the legendary Dark Side of the Moon.

Starring: Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Richard Wright, Nick Mason ..
Directed by: Adrian Maben
Release date: 1972-08-31
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : The Concert for Bangladesh

The Concert for Bangladesh

8.2/10 IMDB

A film about the first benefit rock concert when major musicians performed to raise relief funds for the poor of Bangladesh. The Concert for Bangladesh was a pair of benefit concerts organised by former Beatles guitarist George Harrison and Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar. The shows were held at 2:30 and 8:00 pm on Sunday, 1 August 1971, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, to raise international awareness of, and fund relief for refugees from East Pakistan, following the Bangladesh Liberation War-related genocide.

Starring: George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Ravi Shankar, Bob Dylan, Billy Preston, Leon Russell, Klaus Voormann ..
Directed by: Saul Swimmer
Release date: 1972-03-23


7.5/10 IMDB

Part documentary, part expose, this film follows one-time child evangelist Marjoe Gortner on the "church tent" Revivalist circuit, commenting on the showmanship of Evangelism and "the religion business", prior to the start of "televangelism".

Starring: Marjoe Gortner, Sarah Kernochan ..
Directed by: Howard Smith, Sarah Kernochan
Release date: 1972-07-24

Elvis on Tour

7.4/10 IMDB

This documentary captures Elvis Presley on his 1972 American tour and includes rehearsals, interviews, archival television appearances and backstage moments. With Elvis at his most flamboyant, the film features well-known hits and cover songs showcasing his country, gospel and rhythm-and-blues influences.

Starring: Elvis Presley, James Burton, John Wilkinson, Jerry Scheff, Glen D. Hardin, Ronnie Tutt, J.D. Sumner, Kathy Westmoreland ..
Directed by: Pierre Adidge, Robert Abel
Release date: 1972-11-01

Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania

7.6/10 IMDB

A 1971–72 documentary film by Jonas Mekas. It revolves around Mekas' trip back to Semeniškiai, the village of his birth.

Starring: Pola Chapelle, Peter Kubelka, Adolfas Mekas, Jonas Mekas, Hollis Melton, Annette Michelson, Daniel Rogosin ..
Directed by: Jonas Mekas
Release date: 1972-08-02

The Magic of Walt Disney World

7.8/10 IMDB

A look at the many attractions, resort hotels, and other amusements at Walt Disney World in its first year of operation.

Starring: Steve Forrest ..
Directed by: tom leech
Release date: 1972-12-20
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : The Act of Seeing with One's Own Eyes

The Act of Seeing with One's Own Eyes

6.9/10 IMDB

At a morgue, forensic pathologists conduct autopsies of the corpses assigned.

Directed by: Stan Brakhage
Release date: 1972-02-19
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Winter Soldier

Winter Soldier

8.2/10 IMDB

For three days in 1971, former US soldiers who were in Vietnam testify in Detroit about their war experiences. Nearly 30 speak, describing atrocities personally committed or witnessed, telling of inaccurate body counts, and recounting the process of destroying a village.

Starring: Rusty Sachs, Kenneth Campbell, Joe Bangert, Scott Shimabukuro, Scott Camil, John Kerry, Steve Pitkin, Jonathan Birch, Charles Stevens, Fred Nienke ..
Directed by: Rusty Sachs, Michaël Weill
Release date: 1972-01-27
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Judy: Impressions of Garland

Judy: Impressions of Garland

8.2/10 IMDB

This BBC/MGM-TV co-produced documentary on the life and career of Judy Garland includes interviews with Liza Minnelli, Charles Walters and Mickey Rooney.

Release date: 1972-12-24
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace

Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace

7.6/10 IMDB

A shocking exposé of the deplorable conditions and abuses from the Willowbrook State School for children with intellectual disabilities.

Starring: Geraldo Rivera ..
Directed by: Geraldo Rivera
Release date: 1972-02-02
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : The Waterfowl People

The Waterfowl People

7.9/10 IMDB

A documentary about the histoy and linguistic ties of the Finno-Ugric, and Samoyedic peoples. Speakers of the Kamassian, Nenets, Khanty, Komi, Mari, and Karelian languages were filmed in their everyday settings in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The footage was shot in Altai Krai, the Nenets Okrug, Khantia-Mansia, Uzbekistan, the Komi Republic, Mari el, Karelia, and Estonia. The first documentary in Lennart Meri's "Encyclopaedia Cinematographica Gentium Fenno - Ugricarum (1970 - 1997)" series.

Directed by: Lennart Meri
Release date: 1972-02-04

Our Latin Thing (Nuestra Cosa)

7.7/10 IMDB

Leon Gast's musical documentary reveals New York City's Latin culture and features live performances of salsa greats The Fania All Stars and The Spanish Speaking People of New York. A document of urban American Hispanic culture, Gast's film captures the rhythms of New York's Spanish Harlem, from illegal cockfights and Santeria rituals to the rooftops and backstreets of El Barrio and the legendary musicians performing at the Cheetah club.

Starring: Héctor Lavoe, Willie Colón, Ray Barretto, Bobby Cruz, Cheo Feliciano, Richie Ray, Bobby Valentín, Ismael Miranda, Roberto Roena ..
Directed by: Leon Gast
Release date: 1972-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Betty Tells Her Story

Betty Tells Her Story

7.6/10 IMDB

A woman tells the story of how she bought an expensive dress that she never got to wear, and then tells the story again focusing on her feelings about the events she described.

Starring: Betty ..
Directed by: Liane Brandon
Release date: 1972-10-13
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Chung Kuo: China

Chung Kuo: China

7.6/10 IMDB

A documentary on China, concentrating mainly on the faces of the people, filmed in the areas they were allowed to visit. The 220 minute version consists of three parts. The first part, taken around Beijing, includes a cotton factory, older sections of the city, and a clinic where a Cesarean operation is performed, using acupuncture. The middle part visits the Red Flag canal and a collective farm in Henan, as well as the old city of Suzhou. The final part shows the port and industries of Shanghai, and ends with a stage presentation by Chinese acrobats.

Starring: Giuseppe Rinaldi ..
Directed by: Michelangelo Antonioni
Release date: 1972-12-26
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Imagine


7.3/10 IMDB

A surreal, half-fiction, half real life footage of a day in the life of John lennon and Yoko Ono, composed to music from John's historic 'Imagine' album and Yoko's 'Fly'.

Starring: John Lennon, Y?ko Ono, Jack Palance, Fred Astaire, Dick Cavett, George Harrison, Jonas Mekas ..
Directed by: Steve Gebhardt, John Lennon, Y?ko Ono
Release date: 1972-12-23
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : The Ra Expeditions

The Ra Expeditions

7.4/10 IMDB

Ra [also known as The Ra Expeditions] is a 1972 documentary film directed by Lennart Ehrenborg and Thor Heyerdahl about the expeditions organised by Thor Heyerdahl in 1969 and 1970 in attempt to cross the Atlantic on papyrus boats. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Starring: Thor Heyerdahl, Norman Baker, Roscoe Lee Browne, Abdullah Dilbrine, Santiago Geneves, Carlo Mauri, Kei Ohara, Mandane Ait Ouhanni, Yuri Senkevich, Georges Sourial ..
Directed by: Lennart Ehrenborg
Release date: 1972-02-23
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Weed


6.3/10 IMDB

Documentary about marijuana use, culture and law enforcement by future porn superstar director Alex de Renzy.

Starring: John Ballestrasse, George Brokaw, Alex de Renzy, Vernon Hahn ..
Directed by: Alex de Renzy
Release date: 1972-04-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Glastonbury Fayre

Glastonbury Fayre

6.5/10 IMDB

In the Summer of 1971 the Glastonbury legend was born when the organisers decided to try and create a festival that would be a forerunner for an 'alternative and utopian society'. The festival encompassed Midsummer's Day, and in true medieval tradition, the area of Worthy Farm, Pilton was given over to music, dance, poetry, theatre, spontaneous entertainment and nudity.

Starring: Fairport Convention, Tonto's Expanding Head Band, Arthur Brown, Magic Michael, Linda Lewis, Terry Reid, Steve Winwood, Richard Thompson ..
Directed by: Nicolas Roeg, Peter Neal
Release date: 1972-05-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Malcolm X

Malcolm X

7.5/10 IMDB

James Earl Jones narrates this fascinating and moving documentary about the life of the assassinated black leader through various sources.

Starring: James Earl Jones, Ossie Davis, Mister Walsh, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Leon Ameer, Vida Blue, H. Rap Brown, John Ali, Stokely Carmichael ..
Directed by: Arnold Perl
Release date: 1972-05-24
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Inca Light

Inca Light

7.2/10 IMDB

An impressionistic film shot in Cuzco, Machu Picchu, and outlying villages of the Andean center of Peru's Inca Empire. Inca Light captures in a fast fluid motion impressions of life today that refer us to the past society that has also dwelled here.

Directed by: Robert Fulton
Release date: 1972-02-08

The Speed Merchants

8.9/10 IMDB

The Speed Merchants is the story of the 1972 manufacturer's Championship Series as told by drivers Mario Andretti (Ferrari 312P) and Vic Elford (Alfa Romeo T33TT/3). The film takes you behind the scenes at Daytona, Sebring, the Targa Florio, the Nurburgring, Le Mans and Watkins Glen, focusing on Mario and Vic, as well as Jacky Ickx, Helmut Marko, and Brian Redman. You visit with the drivers at their homes in France, Belgium, Austria and England where they relax with their families between races. Woven into the film is rare footage of both the Ferrari and Alfa Romeo factories where the cars are prepared before each race.

Starring: Mario Andretti, Vic Elford, Jacky Ickx ..
Directed by: Michael Keyser
Release date: 1972-01-01

Eat the Document

6.9/10 IMDB

Eat the Document is a documentary of Bob Dylan's 1966 tour of the United Kingdom with the Hawks. It was shot under Dylan's direction by D. A. Pennebaker, whose groundbreaking documentary Dont Look Back chronicled Dylan's 1965 British tour. The film was originally commissioned for the ABC television series Stage '66. Though shooting had completed for the film, Dylan's July 1966 motorcycle accident delayed the editing process. Once well enough to work again, Dylan edited the film himself. ABC rejected the film as incomprehensible for a mainstream audience.

Starring: Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Johnny Cash, Albert Grossman, Bob Neuwirth, Mickey Jones ..
Directed by: Bob Dylan
Release date: 1972-11-30
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Weekend of a Champion

Weekend of a Champion

7.3/10 IMDB

An entertaining vérité look at world champion driver Sir Jackie Stewart as Roman Polanski follows his attempt to win the Monaco Grand Prix in 1971.

Starring: Jackie Stewart, Helen Stewart, Roman Polanski, Graham Hill, Ringo Starr, Joan Collins ..
Directed by: Frank Simon, Roman Polanski
Release date: 1972-02-24

The Pirates of Buban

7.1/10 IMDB

By going to the Philippines, Imamura comes to meet people living in an extreme poverty. He discovers very quickly that some communities are under the control of cruel & armed pirates. Imamura will come to meet those men in order to understand their position.

Starring: Shôhei Imamura, K? Nishimura, Shoichi Ozawa, Shigeru Tsuyuguchi, Kazuo Kitamura, Tôru Emori, Masaomi Kondo, Takeshi Kat?, Torahiko Hamada, Akiji Kobayashi ..
Directed by: Shôhei Imamura
Release date: 1972-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : The Making of Silent Running

The Making of Silent Running

7.6/10 IMDB

An on-set documentary about the making of the classic science fiction film 'Silent Running'.

Starring: Scott Beach, Michael Gruskoff, Douglas Trumbull, Cheryl Sparks, Paul Kraus, Bruce Dern, Charles F. Wheeler, Marty Hornstein, Aaron Stell, Dick Dawson ..
Directed by: Charles L. Barbee
Release date: 1972-01-01

The Legend of Boggy Creek

5.1/10 IMDB

A documentary-style drama based on true accounts of the Fouke Monster in Arkansas, Boggy Creek focuses on the lives of back country people and their culture while chronicling sightings of the monster.

Starring: Vern Stierman, Chuck Pierce Jr., William Stumpp, Willie E. Smith, Lloyd Bowen, Jeff Crabtree, Glenn Carruth, Bunny Dees, John Wallis, Sarah Coble ..
Directed by: Charles B. Pierce
Release date: 1972-08-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Going Home

Going Home

8.1/10 IMDB

A home movie by Adolfas Mekas and wife Pola Chapelle on their travels to Lithuania and Europe. It was filmed concurrently with the more highly regarded “Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania” by Jonas Mekas, brother to Adolfas.

Starring: Pola Chapelle, Adolfas Mekas, Jonas Mekas ..
Directed by: Adolfas Mekas, Pola Chappelle
Release date: 1972-10-04
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Essene


6.9/10 IMDB

Essene is about daily life in a Benedictine monastery and the resolution of conflict between personal needs and the institutional and organizational priorities of the community. In the Order, where the focus of life is the relationship of individual work and worship to the community as a whole, the brethren must cope with the same issues that arise in any community: rules, work, worship, values, love, and play.

Directed by: Frederick Wiseman
Release date: 1972-11-13
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Moonwalk One

Moonwalk One

7.2/10 IMDB

This documentary by Theo Kamecke from 1970 gives an indepth and profound look at the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. NASA footage is interspersed with reactions to the mission around the world as the film captures the intensity as well of the philosophical significance of the event. Won special award at Cannes. Written by Adam Bernstein .

Starring: Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Robert H. Goddard, Richard Nixon, Laurence Luckinbill ..
Directed by: Theo Kamecke
Release date: 1972-11-01


6.8/10 IMDB

A documentary crew lives with the schizophrenic residents of a group home based upon radical psychiatrist R. D. Laing's controversial approach to healing through compassion and freedom.

Starring: R.D. Laing ..
Directed by: Peter Robinson
Release date: 1972-09-06
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : I Am a Dancer

I Am a Dancer

6.8/10 IMDB

Documentary about the dancer Rudolf Nureyev.

Starring: Rudolf Nureyev, Carla Fracci, Lynn Seymour, Margot Fonteyn, Deanne Bergsma, Michael Somes, Glen Tetley, Bryan Forbes, Bryan Forbes ..
Directed by: Pierre Jourdan
Release date: 1972-06-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Threshold


6.2/10 IMDB

Le Grice no longer simply uses the printer as a reflexive mechanism, but utilises the possibilities of colour-shift and permutation of imagery as the film progresses from simplicity to complexity… With the film’s culmination in representational, photographic imagery, one would anticipate a culminating “richness” of image; yet the insistent evidence of splice bars and the loop and repetition of the short piece of found footage and the conflicting superimposition of filtered loops all reiterate the work which is necessary to decipher that cinematic image. - Deke Dusinberre

Directed by: Malcolm Le Grice
Release date: 1972-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Joyce at 34

Joyce at 34

7.1/10 IMDB

After giving birth, Joyce attempts to regain her position as a filmmaker while also caring for her new baby. The changes to both her and her husband’s professional lives are remarkable and frustrating. The new parents love the baby but must recognize the limitations she puts on their careers.

Starring: Joyce Chopra, Tom Cole ..
Directed by: Joyce Chopra, Claudia Weill
Release date: 1972-12-26
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : The Inner Eye

The Inner Eye

7.6/10 IMDB

At the age of 54, Binode Bihari Mukherjee, an accomplished painter, lost his sight following an unsuccessful cataract operation. He continued to create art despite his loss of sight. The documentary explores Binode Bihari’s inner eye that guides his fingers to create art.

Starring: Binode Bihari Mukherjee, Satyajit Ray ..
Directed by: Satyajit Ray
Release date: 1972-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : A Computer Animated Hand

A Computer Animated Hand

6.2/10 IMDB

Archive film showing possibly the first example of digital rendering, made by Pixar co-founders Ed Catmull and Fred Parke in 1972, was stumbled upon by the son of Robert B Ingebretsen, who also set up the world-famous U.S. studio. A six minute version shows additional CGI animation of an artificial heart valve, and human heads.

Directed by: Ed Catmull, Frederic Parke
Release date: 1972-12-31


7.2/10 IMDB

A documentary short by Peter Graham, produced and edited by Walerian Borowczyk.

Directed by: Peter Graham
Release date: 1972-01-01


6.9/10 IMDB

Eight years in the making, Boetticher’s portrait of his longtime friend, the famous bullfighter Carlos Arruza, was a labor of love that the renowned director of westerns (SEVEN MEN FROM NOW [1956], RIDE LONESOME [1959], COMANCHE STATION [1960]) pursued despite contending with illnesses, bankruptcy, jail time, and lucrative offers from Hollywood. The result is an astonishing work of poetry, immediacy, and violence that fearlessly wrestles with the filmmaker’s own ambivalence about the titular matador’s triumphs prior to his death by automobile accident at the age of 46.

Starring: Carlos Arruza, Anthony Quinn ..
Directed by: Budd Boetticher
Release date: 1972-08-23
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Home James

Home James

6.1/10 IMDB

Actor James Mason returns to his Huddersfield roots. Harking back to his childhood memories, he remarks how the town has changed and developed but the people have remained the same.

Starring: James Mason ..
Directed by: Patrick Boyle
Release date: 1972-09-19
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Transformations


6.2/10 IMDB

A coven of witches gather in Vermont in a feminist collective’s transporting short that shakes off patriarchal scrutiny during the women’s ceremony, where they’re free to remake reality before our eyes. TRANSFORMATIONS creates an intoxicating alchemy from the witches’ interactions with nature: an attempt, as Hirschfeld remembers, to “use the act of filmmaking to heighten experience.”

Directed by: Barbara Hirschfeld
Release date: 1972-12-21

This Tiny World

7.3/10 IMDB

Oscar Winning documentary short about antique mechanical toys.

Directed by: Charles Huguenot van der Linden
Release date: 1972-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Journey Through the Past

Journey Through the Past

6.3/10 IMDB

Self-directed combination of concert footage from 1966 onward, backstage footage and art film-like sequences.

Starring: David Crosby, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, Neil Young ..
Directed by: Neil Young
Release date: 1972-11-07
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Islands of the West

Islands of the West

6.5/10 IMDB

A tour of the landscape and wildlife of the Western Isles in Scotland.

Starring: Duncan Carse ..
Directed by: Bill Forsyth
Release date: 1972-08-29

Bigfoot: Man or Beast?

7.4/10 IMDB

People go and search for the legendary Bigfoot creature.

Starring: Rene Dahinden, John Green, Richard Grover, Grover Krantz, Sam Melville, Roger Patterson ..
Directed by: Lawrence Crowley
Release date: 1972-03-15


6.2/10 IMDB

A documentary about a political troupe headed by actors Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland which traveled to towns near military bases in the US in the early 1970s. The group put on shows called "F.T.A.", which stood for "F**k the Army", and was aimed at convincing soldiers to voice their opposition to the Vietnam War, which was raging at the time. Various singers, actors and other entertainers performed antiwar songs and skits during the show.

Starring: Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Pamela Donegan, Len Chandler, Michael Alaimo, Holly Near, Paul Mooney, Rita Martinson, Peter Boyle, Steve Jaffe ..
Directed by: Francine Parker
Release date: 1972-07-21

Hollywood: The Dream Factory

6.7/10 IMDB

This documentary explores and celebrates Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio's glorious history. MGM's eventual decline led to the sale of its back lot and props.

Starring: Dick Cavett ..
Release date: 1972-01-10
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Cocksucker Blues

Cocksucker Blues

6.3/10 IMDB

This fly-on-the-wall documentary follows the Rolling Stones on their 1972 North American Tour, their first return to the States since the tragedy at Altamont.

Starring: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Mick Taylor, Truman Capote, Dick Cavett, Bianca Jagger, Lee Radziwill, Tina Turner ..
Directed by: Robert Frank
Release date: 1972-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Somebody Waiting

Somebody Waiting

7.1/10 IMDB

Somebody Waiting is a 1971 American short documentary film that examines hospitalized children with severe cerebral dysfunction who are among the most physically, emotionally and mentally handicapped in society and are totally dependent on hospital staff. It shows how these "hopeless cases" can be helped by environmental stimulation and therapeutic handling and how their response to improved care improves the morale of the staff so that all concerned benefit. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.

Starring: James Daly ..
Directed by: Hal Riney, Dick Snider
Release date: 1972-11-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Just Another Job

Just Another Job

6.6/10 IMDB

This short film takes you behind the scenes of the Quebec Nordiques. Coached by the legendary Maurice Richard, the team is playing its opening World Hockey Association game at the Quebec Coliseum. Experience the pre-game tension, the on-ice action and the dream-contract signing.

Directed by: Pierre Letarte
Release date: 1972-01-01
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : Running Shadow

Running Shadow

6.4/10 IMDB

Rapidly changing images of natural objects, scenery, animals, plants, and people flicker, flash, tumble, and cascade across the screen.

Starring: Robert Fulton ..
Directed by: Robert Fulton
Release date: 1972-02-03
Best Documentary Movies of 1972 : A Private Collection

A Private Collection

6.4/10 IMDB

A witty and eye-opening tour through Borowczyk's own collection of vintage erotica. Originally intended as part of his 'Contes immoraux', it was released first as a separate short, and is therefore marks the turning-point between Borowczyk's career as a highly-regarded animator and surrealist filmmaker, and his subsequent career in the sexploitation field.

Starring: André Pieyre de Mandiargues ..
Directed by: Walerian Borowczyk
Release date: 1972-12-31

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