Best Documentary Movies of 1979
The Kids Are Alright
Through concert performances and interviews, this film offers us an "inside look" at this famous rock group, "The Who". It captures their zany craziness and outrageous antics from the initial formation of the group to its major hit "Who Are You", and features the last performance of drummer Keith Moon just prior to his death.
Kitty: Return to Auschwitz
Kitty, a Jewish survivor from the Holocaust, is taken back to Auschwitz, where she revives her imprisonment and life under the 3rd Reich
A bewitching, mysterious work of enveloping beauty, the film’s ominous title and a dedication to Anne Frank deeply inform our reading of its haunting subtext.
Documentary about Giger's work for the movie Alien (1979).
Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia
John Pilger vividly reveals the brutality and murderous political ambitions of the Pol Pot/Khmer Rouge totalitarian regime which bought genocide and despair to the people of Cambodia while neighboring countries, including Australia, shamefully ignored the immense human suffering and unspeakable crimes that bloodied this once beautiful country.
Fred Dibnah, Steeplejack
A documentary on the work of Fred Dibnah: scaling and demolishing old factory chimneys from the top, brick by brick, with little safety equipment.
Combining concert footage and interviews with the performers, Reggae Sunsplash takes an inside look at the biggest reggae music festival in the world.
UFOs: It Has Begun
A documentary exploring the existence of UFOs and extra-terrestrial beings. Hosted by the LEGENDARY Rod Serling. This was considered his "coming out the closet" in regards to his deep belief in UFOs just before his death from cancer.
Kate Bush: Live at the Hammersmith Odeon
A live performance from Kate Bush's critically and commercially successful The Tour of Life, recorded on May 13th, 1979.
The War at Home
Documentary film about the anti-war movement in the Madison, Wisconsin area during the time of the Vietnam War. It combines archival footage and interviews with participants that explore the events of the period on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus.
The Horror Show
A history of horror movies.
New York Portrait, Chapter I
Hutton's most impressive work ... the filmmaker's style takes on an assertive edge that marks his maturity. The landscape has a majesty that serves to reflect the meditative interiority of the artist independent of any human presence. ... New York is framed in the dark nights of a lonely winter. The pulse of street life finds no role in NEW YORK PORTRAIT; the dense metropolitan population and imposing urban locale disappear before Hutton's concern for the primal force of a universal presence. With an eye for the ordinary, Hutton can point his camera toward the clouds finding flocks of birds, or turn back to the simple objects around his apartment struggling to elicit a personal intuition from their presence. ... Hutton finds a harmonious, if at times melancholy, rapport with the natural elements that retain their grace in spite of the city's artificial environment. The city becomes a ghost town that the filmmaker transforms into a vehicle reflecting his personal mood.
Chick Strand's SOFT FICTION is a personal documentary that brilliantly portrays the survival power of female sensuality. It combines the documentary approach with a sensuous lyrical expressionism. Strand focuses her camera on people talking about their own experience, capturing subtle nuances in facial expressions and gestures that are rarely seen in cinema.
"Solidarity! All for One and One for All!" With that slogan, the Industrial Workers of the World, aka the Wobblies, took to organizing unskilled workers into one big union and changing the course of history. This award-winning film airs a provocative look at the forgotten American history of this most radical of unions, screening the unforgettable and still-fiery voices of Wobbly members--lumberjacks, migratory workers, and silk weavers--in their 70s, 80s, and 90s.
The Last Of The Blue Devils - The Kansas City Jazz Story
Documentary film detailing the history of Kansas City jazz.
The Patriot Game
The film's introduction covers Ireland's history from British colonization to the territory's division in 1922. THE PATRIOT GAME then details the events of the decade that began in 1968. Through powerful portraits of rebellion and eyewitness accounts of killings and such massacres as the infamous "Bloody Sunday," the film shows the IRA at work - much of it filmed clandestinely - as they argue their cause which, in this country and in most of the world, has gone unheard.
ABBA: In Concert
ABBA's 1979 tour of North America and Europe, with emphasis on performances at Wembley Arena, London.
80 Blocks from Tiffany's
This 1979 documentary depicts the daily life of gangs in the South Bronx. It deals primarily with two African American and Puerto Rican gangs known as the "Savage Skulls" and the "Savage Nomads".
The Pythons: Somewhere in Tunisia, Circa A.D. 1979
Ten years ago exactly, more or less, give or take a day or two, six young men sat down, or maybe stood, or perhaps some of them just lounged, and wrote the first episode of a new series called Owl Stretching Time. They were called Graham Chapman , John Cleese, Terry Gilliam , Eric Idle,Terry Jones and Michael Palin and later both they and the series became known as Monty Python 's Flying Circus . Today they are the best known British comedy group in the world, famous from Cathay to Kathmandu, from Sydney to Sidcup (except in Japan where the programme is called The Gay Boys' Dragon Show ... say no more). To commemorate their tenth anniversary a BBC team tracked them down in the deserts of Tunisia where they were filming their Life of Brian and almost persuaded them to examine the genesis, the genius and the gender of Monty Python.
In this documentary, the director follows the day-to-day activities of his retarded, middle-aged cousin Philly, over a three-year period.
Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist
This Academy Award-winning documentary short Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist, narrated by Sidney Poitier, traces the career of Paul Robeson through his activism and his socially charged performances of his signature song, “Ol’ Man River.”
Encounter with Disaster
Among the devastating events depicted are the crash of the Hindenburg, earthquakes in Alaska (1964) and Long Beach, California (1933), the 1955 auto racing crash at LeMans in which 82 people were killed, Hurrican Camille (1964), the eruption of the Mt. Etna volcano (1971), a 1974 tornado, the collapse of Idaho's Teton Dam in 1976, the sinking of the Andrea Doria (1956), and the 1947 Texas City explosion which devastated Galveston.
The Buggles: Video Killed the Radio Star
A music video from The Buggles from their hit single "Video Killed the Radio Star".
This Oscar-nominated documentary short tracks the shift in the relationship of an individual to his work between the 19th century and today. Focusing on how nails are made, we first see a blacksmith laboring at his forge, shaping nails from single strands of steel rods. The scene then shifts from this peaceful setting to the roar of a 20th century nail mill, where banks of machines draw, cut, and pound the steel rods faster than the eye can follow.
BOSTON FIRE finds grandeur in smoke rising eloquently from a city blaze. Billowing puffs of darkness blend with fountains of water streaming in from offscreen to orchestrate a play of primal elements. The beautiful texture of the smoke coupled with the isolation from the source of the fire erases the destructive impact of the event. The camera, lost in the immense dark clouds, produces images for meditation removed from the causes or consequences of the scene. The tiny firemen, seen as distant silhouettes, gaze in awe, helpless before nature’s power.
John T. Davis’ first in a trilogy of films (including Protex Hurrah (1980) and Self-Conscious Over You (1981)) exploring the Belfast filmmaker’s local subculture and American cultural influence. It provides a look at the burgeoning punk scene in Northern Ireland, featuring early footage of bands such as Stiff Little Fingers, The Undertones, Protex, The Outcasts, and Rhesus Negative, among others. (from: http://artistsspace.org/programs/shellshock-rock/)
MANOEUVRE follows a U.S. infantry tank company through NATO’s annual fall manoeuvres in Western Europe. One purpose of these war games is to test how quickly and effectively U.S. reinforcements can come to the aid of NATO forces stationed in Europe. The various stages of the training exercise, including defensive and offensive tactics, and hypothetical wins and losses are seen from the point of view of a company fighting a simulated, conventional, non-nuclear ground and air war.
No Maps on My Taps
The remarkable spirit of tap dancers and their history provides a joyous backdrop for intimate portraits of hoofers Sandman Sims, Chuck Green, and Bunny Briggs.
The Secret Life of Plants
The story is a documentary of research that shows fairly conclusively that plants are actually aware of what goes on around them, even miles away. It is somewhat humorous in the methods it uses to prove the secret life of plants, but thought-provoking in the conclusions it arrives at. The most wonderful thing about the film is the soundtrack. This is original music composed by Stevie Wonder. There is even a scene in the film of Stevie singing one of his songs in a boat on a river. This scene is very moving, as Stevie is blind and yet able to know where he is going. The scene is the climax to the movie, and metaphoric as to what has been presented about plants, that although they don't seem to have senses as human beings and animals do, they are quite well aware of what is going on around them and where they fit into this in the evolutionary process.
Chott el-Djerid (A Portrait in Light and Heat)
A documentary short in Chott el-Djerid.
The Making of Nosferatu
Werner Herzog discusses the making of 'Nosferatu' on set.
Punk Can Take It
Julien Temple's wartime documentary parody "Punk Can Take It" (1979) - a theatrically released promo for the UK Subs, complete with narration by BBC voice-over veteran John Snagge - paints a glorious picture of England in a punk rock "identity crisis". Punk morale was higher than ever before. Punks were fused together not by fear, but by a surging spirit of revenge, immortality, and the courage never to submit or yield. This proved that punk won't go away and that punks themselves are becoming younger and nastier everyday. They have no time for the precarious thrills of nostalgia nor for its trivial rules.
Town Bloody Hall
Norman Mailer and a panel of feminists — Jacqueline Ceballos, Germaine Greer, Jill Johnston, and Diana Trilling — debate the issue of Women's Liberation.
The Beaver Kid
A short documentary about the exploits of "Groovin' Gary", a performer that filmmaker Harris happened upon while filming for a Salt Lake City, Utah news station.
From motorcycles to Swamp buggies; from Pike Peak to Baja California - "Dirt" covers the motorsports world of off-road racing and competitions. There is humor, drama, and suspense in this light-hearted view of off-pavement competition
The Terror and the Time
Documentary about repressive violence in colonial Guyana.
Tally Brown, New York
Tally Brown, New York is a 1979 documentary film directed, written and produced by Rosa von Praunheim. The film is about the singing and acting career of Tally Brown, a classically trained opera and blues singer who was a star of underground films in New York City and a denizen of its underworld in the late 1960s. In this documentary, Praunheim relies on extensive interviews with Brown, as she recounts her collaboration with Andy Warhol, Taylor Mead and others, as well as her friendships with Holly Woodlawn, and Divine. Brown opens the film with a cover of David Bowie's "Heroes" and concludes with "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide." The film captures not only Tally Brown’s career but also a particular New York milieu in the 1970s. (Wikipedia)
Del mero corazón
A lyrical journey through the heart of Chicano culture as reflected in the love songs of the Tex-Mex Norteña music tradition. Shipped as a bonus film on the Chulas Fronteras video.
Canada Vignettes: Wop May
This short animated film is about Wop May, one of Canada's leading bush pilots in the 1920s.
An intimate, hands on encounter with a maximum security juvenile correctional facility in Chino California.
All Women Have Periods
The purpose of this film isn't entirely known but I suspect it's targeted at the parents with a mentally disabled child who want to educate her about menstruation. It shows what's likely a real family in which the youngest girl has down syndrome discussing periods and the older sister demonstrating the correct use of a pad.
Koryo Celadon remains one of the high points of world art. This Korean pottery style, which was at its peak in the 12th Century A.D., and called by the Chinese "one of the ten most wonderful things in the world," was a truly major achievement in the field of ceramics. Its most important element was its delicate green glaze, a secret formula now lost. As simple and elegant as Koryo Celadons appear, they were the result of intricate craftsmanship that often employed up to four inlays.
The Bermuda Triangle
Documentary on with strange goings-on in the 'devil's triangle'.
Elton John: To Russia... with Elton
Footage of a concert given in Moscow, Russia, by rock singer Elton John.
Heroes of Rock and Roll
Special featuring performances by some of the great names of the last 25 years of rock music, using newsreel, cinema film and trailers, video tape, and rare film of concerts, rehearsals and interviews of eighty-two of rock's stars.
A portrait of a wiry, engaging street hustler, Sal Carulli, whose cocky patter breaks down at the end of the film, when he visits his father’s grave.
The Hollywood Clowns
Glenn Ford narrates this hilarious look back at the greatest comedians in movie history.
Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang
Documentary about the atomic testing done in the desert of Nevada, the health risks it posed to closely involved military personnel, and the lack of transparency from US administrations about its effects on the public at large.
Drag racing documentary. See the stars of funny car racing with their crews and hang arounds. An absolute must see if you're into drag racing.
National Geographic: The Invisible World
Each moment, events take place that the human eye cannot perceive because these occurrences are too small, too large, too fast, too slow or beyond the spectrum of visible light. Witness some of the captivating sights that will forever alter your knowledge and perception of the world around us. This 1979 classic video shows us that 'hidden' world. Different sizes, different spectrums, and even different rates of speed can illuminate the underlying processes that are beyond the limits of our eyes.