Best Documentary Movies of 2004
Michael Moore's view on how the Bush administration allegedly used the tragic events on 9/11 to push forward its agenda for unjust wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Super Size Me
Morgan Spurlock subjects himself to a diet based only on McDonald's fast food three times a day for thirty days without exercising to try to prove why so many Americans are fat or obese. He submits himself to a complete check-up by three doctors, comparing his weight along the way, resulting in a scary conclusion.
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
After bassist Jason Newsted quits the band in 2001, heavy metal superstars Metallica realize that they need an intervention. In this revealing documentary, filmmakers follow the three rock stars as they hire a group therapist and grapple with 20 years of repressed anger and aggression. Between searching for a replacement bass player, creating a new album and confronting their personal demons, the band learns to open up in ways they never thought possible.
Born Into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids
Documentary depicting the lives of child prostitutes in the red light district of Songachi, Calcutta. Director Zana Briski went to photograph the prostitutes when she met and became friends with their children. Briski began giving photography lessons to the children and became aware that their photography might be a way for them to lead better lives.
Dave Chappelle: For What It's Worth
Comedian Dave Chappelle does what he does best in this outrageous and hilarious standup performance, which allows him to push the envelope far beyond what he does on his TV show. Taped in San Francisco at the famed Fillmore, Chappelle lets loose on such topics as black celebrities, what it's like to have raunchy fans of his TV show approach him while he's trying to enjoy Disneyland with his kids, Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant... and crackheads, of course. It's comedy Chappelle-style and, for what it's worth, no one is safe from his barbs. But you already knew that!
Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy
From the earliest versions of the script to the blockbuster debuts, explore the creation of the Star Wars Trilogy.
The Power of Nightmares
A series of three documentaries about the use of fear for political gain.
Alone in the Wilderness
Dick Proenneke retired at age 50 in 1967 and decided to build his own cabin in the wilderness at the base of the Aleutian Peninsula, in what is now Lake Clark National Park. Using color footage he shot himself, Proenneke traces how he came to this remote area, selected a homestead site and built his log cabin completely by himself. The documentary covers his first year in-country, showing his day-to-day activities and the passing of the seasons as he sought to scratch out a living alone in the wilderness.
WWE: The Rise + Fall of ECW
The Rise + Fall of ECW is a 2004 direct-to-video documentary produced by World Wrestling Entertainment. It chronicles the history of Philadelphia-based professional wrestling promotion Extreme Championship Wrestling.
Riding Giants is story about big wave surfers who have become heroes and legends in their sport. Directed by the skateboard guru Stacy Peralta.
A chronicle which provides a rare window into the international perception of the Iraq War, courtesy of Al Jazeera, the Arab world's most popular news outlet. Roundly criticized by Cabinet members and Pentagon officials for reporting with a pro-Iraqi bias, and strongly condemned for frequently airing civilian causalities as well as footage of American POWs, the station has revealed (and continues to show the world) everything about the Iraq War that the Bush administration did not want it to see.
The Monday Night War - WWE Raw vs. WCW Nitro
Now it can be told. In 1995, two wrestling companies squared off on Monday night television to compete head to head in an unprecedented confrontation. On one side, Vince McMahon, the promoter who created WWE and made the industry what it is today. On the other, WCW, owned by media giant Ted Turner, and run by an ambitious man named Eric Bischoff. This is the whole story, by those who created it, lived it, and survived it.
A documentary on the once promising American rock bands The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols. The friendship between respective founders, Anton Newcombe and Courtney Taylor, escalated into bitter rivalry as the Dandy Warhols garnered major international success while the Brian Jonestown Massacre imploded in a haze of drugs.
The Future of Food
Before compiling your next grocery list, you might want to watch filmmaker Deborah Koons Garcia's eye-opening documentary, which sheds light on a shadowy relationship between agriculture, big business and government. By examining the effects of biotechnology on the nation's smallest farmers, the film reveals the unappetizing truth about genetically modified foods: You could unknowingly be serving them for dinner.
Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson
The story of Jack Johnson, the first African American Heavyweight boxing champion.
A State of Mind
Two young North Korean gymnasts prepare for an unprecedented competition in this documentary that offers a rare look into the communist society and the daily lives of North Korean families. For more than eight months, film crews follow 13-year-old Pak Hyon Sun and 11-year-old Kim Song Yun and their families as the girls train for the Mass Games, a spectacular nationalist celebration.
Be Here to Love Me
Chronicles the fascinating and often turbulent life of Townes Van Zandt.
In suburban Buenos Aires, thirty unemployed ceramics workers walk into their idle factory, roll out sleeping mats and refuse to leave. All they want is to re-start the silent machines. But this simple act - the take - has the power to turn the globalization debate on its head. Armed only with slingshots and an abiding faith in shop-floor democracy, the workers face off against the bosses, bankers and a whole system that sees their beloved factories as nothing more than scrap metal for sale.
The Iceman and the Psychiatrist
For the third time, HBO cameras go inside Trenton State Maximum Security Prison--and inside the mind of one of the most prolific killers in U.S. history--in this gripping documentary. Mafia hit man Richard Kuklinski freely admits to killing more than 100 people, but in this special, he speaks with top psychiatrist Dr. Park Dietz in an effort to face the truth about his condition. Filled with more never-before-revealed confessions, it's the most chillingly candid Iceman special yet as it combines often-confrontational interview footage between Kuklinski and Dietz with photos, crime reenactments and home movies that add new layers to this evolving and fascinating story.
I Like Killing Flies
A documentary on the oddball Greenwich Village eatery, Shopsin's.
Johnny Cash: The Last Great American
This first major retrospective of Cash's life, times and music features contributions from his daughter Rosanne Cash and son John Carter Cash, his longtime manager Lou Robin and fellow musicians including Little Richard, Cowboy Jack Clement, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard and Elvis Costello.
The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing
Documentary about the art of film editing. Clips are shown from many groundbreaking films with innovative editing styles.
The Strokes headlined United Kingdom's Carling Weekend festivals in 2002, and their misadventures were largely chronicled by this short documentary 'In Transit', which was released to members of the now-defunct 'Alone, Together' fan club back in 2004.
The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream
Since World War II North Americans have invested much of their newfound wealth in suburbia. It has promised a sense of space, affordability, family life and upward mobility. As the population of suburban sprawl has exploded in the past 50 years Suburbia, and all it promises, has become the American Dream. But as we enter the 21st century, serious questions are beginning to emerge...
Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism
This film examines how media empires, led by Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, have been running a "race to the bottom" in television news, and provides an in-depth look at Fox News and the dangerous impact on society when a broad swath of media is controlled by one person. Media experts, including Jeff Cohen (FAIR) Bob McChesney (Free Press), Chellie Pingree (Common Cause), Jeff Chester (Center for Digital Democracy) and David Brock (Media Matters) provide context and guidance for the story of Fox News and its effect on society. This documentary also reveals the secrets of Former Fox news producers, reporters, bookers and writers who expose what it's like to work for Fox News. These former Fox employees talk about how they were forced to push a "right-wing" point of view or risk their jobs. Some have even chosen to remain anonymous in order to protect their current livelihoods. As one employee said "There's no sense of integrity as far as having a line that can't be crossed."
The White Diamond
This 2004 documentary by Werner Herzog diaries the struggle of a passionate English inventor to design and test a unique airship during its maiden flight above the jungle canopy.
Whitwell, TN is a small, rural community of less than two thousand people nestled in the mountains of Tennessee. Its citizens are almost exclusively white and Christian. In 1998, the children of Whitwell Middle School took on an inspiring project, launched out of their principal's desire to help her students open their eyes to diversity in the world and the horrors and enormity of the holocaust.
Bears: Spy in the Woods
Attenborough's team travels the globe for up-close looks at polar bears, grizzlies, pandas and other fascinating bear species.
Almost: Round Three
Almost: Round Three is a skateboarding video released on DVD in 2004 by Rodney Mullen's skateboard company Almost. It features the third part of the Rodney Mullen vs. Daewon Song series, the first two of which are included on this DVD as hidden extras. Round Three also features parts by Almost team skaters Chris Haslam, Cooper Wilt, Ryan Sheckler, William Patrick (played by Tyrone Olson and Chris Casey) and Greg Lutzka.
Fred Rogers: America's Favorite Neighbor
Writer, producer, puppeteer, songwriter--America's Favorite Neighbor takes a thorough look at the career of legendary children's television host Fred Rogers. Produced for Pittsburgh's WQED, this informative documentary tracks his rise as floor manager for various NBC programs, such as Your Hit Parade, to the major awards he received later in life, such as the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Along the way, he's seen launching public TV programs The Children's Corner, which featured a soon-to-be-famous puppet named King Friday, and Canada's MisteRogers. The latter, naturally, was followed by Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, which made its national debut in 1968, and would eventually became the longest running program in PBS history. Hosted by fellow Pennsylvania native Michael Keaton (Batman), who worked on his show in the early days, America's Favorite Neighbor is suitable for all ages, but is geared more towards adults, particularly parents and educators.
Elaine Stritch At Liberty
Judy at the Palace. Sinatra at Carnegie Hall. Streisand at the Garden. Stritch on Broadway. Legendary performances come along so rarely. Elaine Stritch At Liberty is an autobiographical one-woman show written by Elaine Stritch and John Lahr. The show consists of spoken monologues from Stritch following her life and career, interspersed with showtunes and pop standards which compliment her stories. Many of these songs had been originated by Stritch in major Broadway productions, such as "The Ladies Who Lunch" from Company and "Civilization" from Angel In The Wings. Her experiences and relationship with show business are focal points, but she also explores more intimate, personal themes like her alcoholism and romantic relationships.
The Nomi Song
Looks like an alien, sings like a diva - Klaus Nomi was one of the 1980s' most profoundly bizarre characters to emerge through rock music: a counter tenor who sang pop music like opera and brought opera to club audiences and made them like it. The Nomi Song is a film about fame, death, friendship, betrayal, opera, and the greatest New Wave rock star that never was!
Ween: Live in Chicago
Ween bring their unique take on rock 'n' roll to Chicago's Vic Theater. This film documents two nights of their 2003 tour.
Death in Gaza
Death In Gaza is an Emmy-award winning 2004 documentary film about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, opening in the West Bank but then moving to Gaza and eventually settling in Rafah where the film spends most of its time. It concentrates on 3 children, Ahmed (age 12), Mohammed (age 12) and Najla (age 16).
Centring around Canadian animator Ryan Larkin. Who in later years lived on skid row in Montreal following a history of drug and alcohol abuse.
Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession
A documentary on the Z Channel, one of the first pay cable stations in the US, and its programming chief, Jerry Harvey. Debuting in 1974, the LA-based channel's eclectic slate of movies became a prime example of the untapped power of cable television.
In the Realms of the Unreal
In the Realms of the Unreal is a documentary about the reclusive Chicago-based artist Henry Darger. Henry Darger was so reclusive that when he died his neighbors were surprised to find a 15,145-page manuscript along with hundreds of paintings depicting The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glodeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Cased by the Child Slave Rebellion.
The Making of 'King Arthur'
Poet Simon Armitage traces the evolution of the Arthurian legend through the literature of the medieval age and reveals that King Arthur is not the great national hero he is usually considered to be. He's a fickle and transitory character who was appropriated by the Normans to justify their conquest, he was cuckolded when French writers began adapting the story and it took Thomas Malory's masterpiece of English literature, Le Mort d'Arthur, to restore dignity and reclaim him as the national hero we know today.
911 in Plane Site
The public was not given all of the facts surrounding the worst terrorist attack in the United States of America's history.
The Year of the Yao
The Year of the Yao is a documentary film telling the first year of basketball player Yao Ming in the United States.
The Matrix Recalibrated
The making of Matrix Revolutions, The (2003) is briefly touched on here in this documentary. Interviews with various cast and crew members inform us how they were affected by the deaths of Gloria Foster and Aaliyah, and also delve into the making of the visual effects that takes up a lot of screen time. Written by Rhyl Donnelly
Cameras in Middle-Earth
An inside look at the filming process of the 2003 film, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
With being thrown off buildings an occupational hazard, professional stuntwomen Jeannie Epper and Zoë Bell (the alter egos of Wonder Woman and Xena, respectively) would seem well-equipped for any challenges Hollywood might dish out. But finding roles -- and respect -- in a male-dominated field can prove more harrowing than dodging punches.
Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World
Narrator Cori Brackett had a strange cause-and-effect experience with the diet cokes she was drinking and quickly found herself disabled and diagnosed with MS. Slowly able to walk and speak again, she believes her illness is linked to aspartame. She is a co-owner of a video/film production company. After 7000 miles, and 25 hours of footage, "Sweet Misery" will reveal one of the most pervasive, insidious forms of corporate negligence since tobacco.
Boxers and Ballerinas
Shot in three countries over a two year period, Boxers and Ballerinas explores the US-Cuba conflict through the eyes of four youths--a boxer and a ballerina in Havana and Santiago de Cuba and a boxer and a ballerina exiled in Miami.
Pinochet and his three generals
In 1976-77, José Ma Berzosa contacted General Pinochet during a trip to Chilean Antarctica. On his return to Santiago, Pinochet agreed to be interviewed. In front of the camera, the General and three members of the junta speak about their memories and political thoughts, artistic tastes and their family lives. From the interviews, conducted in an apparently cordial atmosphere, emerges an ironic portrait without concessions of their taste for order, efficiency and a certain "ordinary fascism." By way of contrast, the families of victims and missing people endure a different reality
Faith Rewarded: The Historic Season of the 2004 Boston Red Sox
This is a recap of the 2004 Boston Red Sox season that finished with them breaking a winless drought of 86 years by coming back against the New York Yankees and later sweeping the world series.
Return to Colonial New England for a fresh look at the infamous events of Puritan Salem.
Nine Innings from Ground Zero
Short, well-made documentary showing how the NY Yankees vs. AZ Diamondbacks world series games, just a month after 9-11, provided welcome relief from the uncertainty New Yorkers, and the nation, felt about how to proceed with their lives. The Yankees, during the series, came to symbolize and re-strengthen everything that was, and is, New York... and America.
The Rise & Fall of Penn Station
In 1910, the Pennsylvania Railroad successfully accomplished the enormous engineering feat of building tunnels under New York City's Hudson and East Rivers, connecting the railroad to New York and New England, knitting together the entire eastern half of the United States. The tunnels terminated in what was one of the greatest architectural achievements of its time, Pennsylvania Station. Penn Station covered nearly eight acres, extended two city blocks, and housed one of the largest public spaces in the world. But just 53 years after the station’s opening, the monumental building that was supposed to last forever, to herald and represent the American Empire, was slated to be destroyed.