Best Documentary Movies of 1989
Roger & Me
A documentary about the closure of General Motors' plant at Flint, Michigan, which resulted in the loss of 30,000 jobs. Details the attempts of filmmaker Michael Moore to get an interview with GM CEO Roger Smith.
For All Mankind
A testament to NASA's Apollo program of the 1960s and '70s. Composed of actual NASA footage of the missions and astronaut interviews, the documentary offers the viewpoint of the individuals who braved the remarkable journey to the moon and back.
Depeche Mode: 101
A fascinating documentary focusing on backstage realities of art and business during the British synthesizer band's 1988 American tour.
The World at War: The Making of the Series
The making of 'The World At War'. Each film in the 26 episode series had to be an essay on an aspect of the war, because the length and separate aspects of the war was far too much to cover in detail. Jeremy Isaacs talks about the production process and the aims of the project. The intention of the crew that were involved with the various skills in making 'The World at War' had no desire to use film from British, German, French, Polish, Russian, Japanese, or the Americans because of their specific means of showing the winning side of a specific action. Rather, an effort was made to interview people who were not part of the establishment, but rather the common people or assistants and secretaries of historical persons. Film was researched for those films from cameras where there was no special subject, but those that would allow the viewer to make their own decisions about what they had just seen and heard.
Marlon Riggs, with assistance from other gay Black men, especially poet Essex Hemphill, celebrates Black men loving Black men as a revolutionary act. The film intercuts footage of Hemphill reciting his poetry, Riggs telling the story of his growing up, scenes of men in social intercourse and dance, and various comic riffs, including a visit to the "Institute of Snap!thology," where men take lessons in how to snap their fingers: the sling snap, the point snap, the diva snap.
Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt
On the eve of 1987's Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, surviving families and friends of people who have died of AIDS prepare panels to be added to a large-scale memorial quilt project. Drawing from the sea of names memorialized, director Robert Epstein focuses on the lives of six people. Alongside the intimate profiles offered, through news footage and interviews, Epstein puts the AIDS crisis in the larger context of social and government response to the disease.
The special is hosted by Tony Danza and Annie Potts celebrating 50 years of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera's partnership in animation. This is the first animated project to be broadcast in Dolby Surround sound system.
Thomas Hart Benton
Thomas Hart Benton's paintings were energetic and uncompromising. Today his works are in museums, but Benton hung them in saloons for ordinary people to appreciate.
Bugs and Daffy: The Wartime Cartoons
Leonard Maltin introduces us to and takes us back to a theatre showing Wartime cartoon shorts and explains how Bugs and Daffy and the gang, through a collection/sampling of 11 cartoon shorts which served the war effort.
The Heat Is On: The Making of Miss Saigon
A behind-the-scenes look at the putting on of the successful West End stage musical, including footage of the cast rehearsing and the triumphant first night.