Best Documentary Movies of 1983

1.

Style Wars

4.2
8.2/10

Some call it tagging, some call it writing, still others call it bombing--it's all graffiti. Whether it's art or not is another matter, but it's undeniably illegal. Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant's historic PBS documentary Style Wars tracks the rise and fall of subway graffiti in New York in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Starring: Cap, Daze, Dondi, Kase 2, Eric Haze
Directed by: Tony Silver
Release date: 1983-01-01
2.

When the Mountains Tremble

3.8
8.0/10

A documentary on the war between the Guatemalan military and the Mayan population, with first hand accounts by Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu.

Starring: Rigoberta Menchu
Directed by: Pamela Yates, Newton Thomas Sigel
Release date: 1983-09-30
3.

Making Michael Jackson's Thriller

3.5
8.0/10
Making Michael Jackson's Thriller
Featuring interviews with director John Landis, make-up artist Rick Baker, and the King of Pop himself, Making Michael Jackson's Thriller takes you on a behind-the-scenes journey from pre-production to shooting on the ghoulish graveyard set of Michael Jackson's legendary music video and short film.
Starring: Michael Jackson, John Landis, Rick Baker, Ola Ray, Kelly Kimball
Directed by: Jerry Kramer
Release date: 1983-12-15
4.

The Planets

3.4
7.8/10
The Planets
Based on the famous Gustav Holst musical suite, this musical film takes watchers on a magnificent journey of the planets of the Solar System.
Directed by: Ken Russell
Release date: 1983-01-30
5.

The Store

2.9
7.3/10
The Store
THE STORE is a film about the main Neiman-Marcus store and corporate headquarters in Dallas. The sequences in the film include the selection, presentation, marketing, pricing, advertising and selling of a vast array of consumer products including designer clothes and furs, jewelry, perfumes, shoes, electronic products, sportswear, china and porcelain and many other goods. The internal management and organizational aspects of a large corporation are shown, i.e., sales meetings, development of marketing and advertising strategies, training, personnel practices and sales techniques.
Directed by: Frederick Wiseman
Release date: 1983-12-14
6.

Anarchism in America

2.9
7.3/10
Anarchism in America
A colorful and provocative survey of anarchism in America, the film attempts to dispel popular misconceptions and trace the historical development of the movement. The film explores the movement both as a native American philosophy stemming from 19th century American traditions of individualism, and as a foreign ideology brought to America by immigrants. The film features rare archival footage and interviews with significant personalities in anarchist history including Murray Boochkin and Karl Hess, and also live performance footage of the Dead Kennedys.
Starring: Jello Biafra, Paul Avrich, Murray Bookchin, Karl Hess
Directed by: Steven Fischler, Joel Sucher
Release date: 1983-01-01
7.

Anthem

2.8
5.8/10
Anthem
A series of shots depicting "America" are laid over a classic Gregorian Chant recreated through the distortion of a woman's screams.
Directed by: Bill Viola
Release date: 1983-01-01
8.

So Far from India

2.7
6.6/10
So Far from India
Via the New York Times: "...film examines the marriage of Ashok Sheth and his wife, Hansa. Ashok moved to New York only days after the wedding, to a woman he barely knew; the match was arranged in the traditional way. Now Ashok sells magazines in a subway station at 116th Street, lives in a cell- sized apartment and cherishes his new freedom. The film follows Ashok through such American activities as a visit to a store that sells running shoes. Then it follows him back to India, where Hansa waits with a baby he has never seen, and with a great many questions as to her future. "
Directed by: Mira Nair
Release date: 1983-09-12
9.

The Spectre of Marxism

2.7
7.5/10
The Spectre of Marxism
The impact of Marx on the 20th century has been all-pervasive and world-wide. This program looks at the man, at the roots of his philosophy, at the causes and explanations of his philosophical development, and at its most direct outcome: the failed Soviet Union.
Directed by: Alan Horrox
Release date: 1983-10-15
10.

Bad News Tour

1.9
8.3/10
Bad News Tour
A documentary crew films heavy metal band Bad News as they have trouble starting their van, pick up a schoolgirl groupie, and meet up with rock journalist Sally at a motorway service station where they argue about the cost of sausage and chips.
Starring: Adrian Edmondson, Rik Mayall, Nigel Planer, Peter Richardson, Jennifer Saunders
Directed by: Sandy Johnson
Release date: 1983-01-24
11.

Group Madness

1.8
8.1/10
Group Madness
A behind-the-scenes documentary of the making of 1983's Yellowbeard
Starring: Graham Chapman, Peter Boyle, David Bowie, Peter Bull, Tommy Chong
Directed by: Michael Mileham, Phillip Schuman
Release date: 1983-06-11
12.

Fall of the I-Hotel

1.8
8.1/10
Fall of the I-Hotel
The Fall of the I-Hotel brings to life the battle for housing in San Francisco. The brutal eviction of the International Hotel's tenants culminated a decade of spirited resistance to the razing of Manilatown. The Fall of the I-Hotel works on several levels. It not only documents the struggle to save the I-Hotel, but also gives an overview of Filipino American history.
Directed by: Curtis Choy
Release date: 1983-06-15
13.

The Lost Requiem

1.8
8.1/10
The Lost Requiem
THE LOST REQUIEM is a documentary film by Iranian filmmaker Khosrow Sinai about Polish refugees in Iran during the second world war.
Directed by: Khosrow Sinai
Release date: 1983-04-01
14.

David Macaulay: Castle

1.8
8.0/10
David Macaulay: Castle
The word itself conjures up mystery, romance, intrigue, and grandeur. What could be more perfect for an author/illustrator who has continually stripped away the mystique of architectural structures that have long fascinated modern man? With typical zest and wry sense of humor punctuating his drawings, David Macaulay traces the step-by-step planning and construction of both castle and town.
Starring: David Macaulay, Sarah Bullen, Ronald Baddiley, Brian Blessed, Ellis Jones
Directed by: Peter Newington
Release date: 1983-01-01
15.

The Skin Horse

1.8
7.7/10
The Skin Horse
A ground-breaking film about sex and disability that won Samson much acclaim. Though courting controversy with his subject matter, Samson was an extremely compassionate filmmaker who never sought to exploit his subjects. Instead he would immerse himself in their respective worlds, his keen eye teasing out motivations while never lacking a dry yet gentle good humour.
Starring: Nabil Shaban
Directed by: Nigel Evans, John Samson
Release date: 1983-01-01
16.

Return Engagement

1.7
7.8/10
Return Engagement
Return Engagement is a 1983 documentary film directed by Alan Rudolph about the tour debate between Timothy Leary and G. Gordon Liddy.
Starring: G. Gordon Liddy, Timothy Leary
Directed by: Alan Rudolph
Release date: 1983-07-09
17.

Aliens, Dragons, Monsters & Me

1.7
7.6/10
Aliens, Dragons, Monsters & Me
Documentary about the life and work of Ray Harryhausen.
Starring: Eric Boardman, Ray Bradbury, Ray Harryhausen, Kerwin Mathews, Gary Owens
Release date: 1983-01-01
18.

Electric Boogie

1.6
7.3/10
Short film on the dance phenomenon of "Electric Boogie", and about 4 boys, 2 black and 2 Puerto Rican, who dance it together in the streets of the South Bronx.
Starring: Eliester Caraballo, Ken Caraballo, Oliver Bush, K.K.
Directed by: Freke Vuijst
Release date: 1983-01-01
19.

The Laughing Star

1.6
6.8/10
The Laughing Star
One of the most caustic and personal essay films ever made, Werner Schroeter's account of the 1983 Manila Film Festival, presided over by Imelda Marcos, chronicles the legacy of American and Spanish imperialism as it presents a "kaleidoscope of a ravaged country."
Directed by: Werner Schroeter
Release date: 1983-10-27
20.

The Oshima Gang

1.6
6.7/10
Documentary about the making of Nagisa Oshima's 1983 film MERRY CHRISTMAS MR. LAWRENCE.
Starring: David Bowie, Nagisa ?shima, Jeremy Thomas, Tom Conti, Laurens Van der Post
Release date: 1983-12-31

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