Best Documentary Movies of 1976
Number Our Days
Based on the book by anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff, this Academy Award-winning short documentary offers a tender portrait of a community of elderly yet resilient Jews living, loving, and at times struggling, in Venice, California. From everyday trials to traditional celebrations, this compassionate portrayal of Eastern European survivors cuts straight to the heart of every viewer and reminds us of the joys and realities of long life.
Humane recruitment film made for the prison services, following three new recruits on a tour of a facility.
Born for Hard Luck: Peg Leg Sam Jackson
A biographical documentary following the life of the legendary country blues musician "Peg Leg Sam" Jackson.
A collection of film clips profiling animal actors.
Take the 5:10 to Dreamland
Its slow somnambulic rhythm, its animalistic jungle sounds as well as the eerily mixed images create a dream mood that comes closest to my actual dreaming-feeling. The long black phases between the sequences are as important as the images themselves because they leave empty space where the "echo" of the last image can seep through without interfering with the following image. But our logical mind still somehow feels compelled to construe some kind of sense, parallel, or some erratic story out of it.
Underground is a 1976 documentary film about the Weathermen, founded as a militant faction of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), who fought to overthrow the U.S. government during the 1960s and 1970s. The film consists of interviews with members of the group after they went underground and footage of the anti-war and civil rights protests of the time. It was directed by Emile de Antonio, Haskell Wexler and Mary Lampson, later subpoenaed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in an attempt to confiscate the film footage in order to gain information that would help them arrest the Weathermen. (Wikipedia)
A Labor of Love
In 1975, Chicago filmmakers Flaxman and Goldman got carte blanche to film the shooting of a local film called THE LAST AFFAIR. Neither AFFAIR's director (who envisioned the film as "a combination of Fellini and Bergman") nor its cast (which included then-unknowns Betty Thomas and Ron Dean) had ever worked in the industry before. Made in the classic cinema-verité style of Drew and Leacock, A LABOR OF LOVE is a revealing and often hilarious exposé of the hidden side of adult film: onscreen partners despise each other offscreen, male performers can't "get wood," an actress has her period, Ivory Liquid is substituted for semen, and the director declares, "I really dislike every minute of this!" (Gene Siskel Film Center)
Sasquatch, the Legend of Bigfoot
Scientists mount an expedition to find a Bigfoot-type creature.
Signs of Vigorous Life: The New German Cinema
BBC documentary about the rise of the New German Cinema and several of its most important figures.
Altar of Fire
This film records a 12 day ritual performed by Mambudiri Brahmins in Kerala, southwest India, in April 1975. This event was possibly the last performance of the Agnicayana, a Vedic ritual of sacrifice dating back 3,000 years and probably the oldest surviving human ritual. Long considered extinct and never witnessed by outsiders, the ceremonies require the participation of seventeen priests, involve libations of Soma juice and oblations of other substances, all preceded by several months of preparation and rehearsals. They include the construction, from a thousand bricks, of a fire altar in the shape of a bird.