American Documentaries
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What is a Documentary Film?

Early documentary films used one single shot and they were called actuality films. Documentaries have changed dramatically. Documentaries have narration, that is not based on fiction. Documentaries stresses reality rather than drama based on fiction.
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Ken Burns: 'The Civil War'

Filmmaker Ken Burns released in 1990 his documentary series titled, The Civil War. His series was aired on PBS and Burns went through the history of the Civil War. From how the war started, the bloody battles, and the conclusion of the war. Interesting how Burns did a documentary on the first photographed war in American history. Burns has also done a documentary series about baseball and the influence the sport as had on American history. 

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Why We Fight Part 1 - "Prelude to War" (1942)

Prelude to War (1942) - This famous propaganda piece, used as a U.S. Army training film in WWII before theatrical release, asks 'why we fight.' 

Taking footage from all over the world of battles, civillians, and enemy troops in training, this documentary was shown to U.S. Army troops in training as a way to rally them for war. These documentaries created a sense of national pride and made people want to fight and do their part to help in the fight against the Nazis and Japanese. 

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Woodstock Three Days Of Peace And Music

In 1970, footage from the infamous Woodstock Music Festival was made into a documentary film. Considered to be the most influential music festival ever, this documentary shows all the performances from legendary artists such as The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, and The Grateful Dead. The film also includes interviews from bands and people who experienced this three day event and how it changed the world. This documentary is now available on BluRay DVD. 

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Darryl Hunt Trailer

This HBO produced documentary tells the story of Darryl Hunt, a man that spent nearly 20 years in prison after he was wrongfully convicted of rape and murder. Both a social justice story and a personally driven narrative, the film chronicles this capital case from 1984 through 2004. With exclusive footage from two decades, the film frames the judicial and emotional response to a chilling crime - and the implications that reverberate from Hunt's conviction - against a backdrop of class and racial bias in the South and in the American criminal justice system.

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The War Room (1993)

The War Room (1993) | American Documentaries | Scoop.it

 The War Room (1993) is an American documentary about Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign and the organization who helped run it. The documentary was criticly acclaimed and was nominated for an acadamy award for best documentary in 1994. 

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Earth (2007)

Earth (2007) | American Documentaries | Scoop.it

Earth(2007) is a film that documents the life of animals in their natural habitats. The film concintrated on animals such as the polar bear, the African bush elephant and the humpback whale. The British verstion was narrated by Patrick Stewart while the U.S version was narrated by James Earl Jones.

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Financial crisis

Anyone that is grown up knows that we are in a financial crisis right now and have been for years now. The documentary Inside Man directed by, Charles Ferguson tells a story that most did not know. The documentary uses statistics and facts, to persuade the audience that the banks and the government are corrupt.

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Michael Moore: Fahrenheit 9/11

Considered to be the most controversial documentary filmmaker, in 2004 Michael Moore released Fahrenheit 9/11. This film dives into the events that took place after the attacks on September 11. Moore questions President Busch’s decision on whether or not the United States should have entered Iraq. This documentary was considered to be extremely controversial yet still won many awards including the Cannes Film Festival’s highest honor. 

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Comparing two experimental documentaries

Comparing two experimental documentaries | American Documentaries | Scoop.it
Comparing two very unusual new documentaries --...

 

"Room 237" and "Leviathan" both 2 very different films, but they are both major shifts in documnetary style. Both are very unusual in the way they present the ideas and use non-narrative structure. "Room 237" is a documnetary about Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" In one of the interviews rambles ight into the next, with no clear connection between the two of them. 

 

"Leviathan" is a different kind of experimental documentary, one of the strangest I have ever seen. I don’t know if there has ever been a feature film quite like it, and that is probably why it has been getting so much critical acclaim. I can’t say that I enjoyed this film about the North Atlantic fishing industry, but it represents something new and different from a purely technical standpoint, which makes it worth talking about.

 

 


Via siobhan-o-flynn
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Early Edison Films

The earliest examples of documentaries were made by Edison in his Black Maria studio. Known as actualities these films showed short clips of everyday life showing anything from professional athletes showing off their skills to an elderly couple kissing. 

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Nanook of the North (1922)

Nanook of the North (1922) | American Documentaries | Scoop.it

Nanook in the north (1922) is an American silent documentary embraced romanticism and was directed by Robert J. Flaherty. And in 1989 this documentary was chosen as one of the first to be preserved by the National Film Registry 

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Memory Of The Camps

Memory Of The Camps | American Documentaries | Scoop.it
Many Americans did not know the horrific times of World war 2, but documentaries told the truth with a little propaganda. Many Americans had no idea what was going on over seas. Documentaries tells a true story based on fact that educates people. Alfred Hitchcock made a documentary about the nazi camps. Documentary filmmaker's had to use facts, but they had they had a message that they wanted to convey through the use of moving pictures.
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Le Retour (1946)

Le Retour (1946) | American Documentaries | Scoop.it

The documertary Le Retour (1946) was directed Henri Cartier-Bresson, and it showed live footage of the German concentration camps after they had been freed by the allies and it also showed the return to their homes. After the war the compilation style of documentary became the primary staple of the wartime film showings. This documentary was on of the most powerful documentarys ever.

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FULL VERSION: Ted Bundy, Interview by Dr. James Dobson in 1989 Before Execution

Many Americans knew the story of murderer and rapist Ted Bundy but few people knew anything about why he did the terrible things that he did. Dr. James Dobson was permitted an exclusive interview with Ted Bundy the day before his execution to ask the questions everyone wanted to know. This documentary provided people with the opportunity to see into the psyche of one of the most notroriuos criminals of the time.   

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The Times of Harvey Milk (1984)

San Francisco 1975, Harvey Milk became the first gay man to run for a political position. Milk was the driving force for gay rights in the 70s. In 1984, Rob Epstein won an Acadamey Award for his documentary about the rise of Harvey Milk and his impact for homosexual rights in the United States. 

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Super Size Me

Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock made his name when he released his documentary, Super Size Me, in 2004. His challenge: to eat only McDonalds for thirty days and if asked if he would like to super size his order he would have to accept. His experiment gave audiences around the world an interesting and disturbing look at the fast food industry and how the food these chains sell are extremely unhealthy. Because of his documentary, fast food chains no longer super size or biggie size orders. 

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Food, Inc

Food, Inc directed by Robert Kenner used a clever aproach to persuade the audience that the food we eat every day really isn't food. The food is genetically altered by chemicals. The documentary is told not by scary footage, but rather a viewpoint that pushes its message very politely. The documentary does not use radcalism, like the early documnetaries. Food, Inc diclosed many information about our American food system. The grocery stores Americans go to have around 47,000 items, of those items only a few companies actually produced the food items. 

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Chimpanzee (2012)

Chimpanzee (2012) | American Documentaries | Scoop.it

Chimpanzee (2012) in an American documentary about a young chimpanzee who is named Oscar who is alone in the African jungle but soon is found and taken in by another chimpanzee that raises Oscar like his own. The film was directed by Alastair Fotherill and Mark Linfield. The film was also narrated by Tim Allen

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Chloe Cudaback's curator insight, April 10, 2014 1:51 AM

I have actually used this movie, produced by Disney, as part of my research for my CE project. The story, in the way that the editors pieced it together may be a little fake, but nonetheless, there is some amazing footage of chimpanzees taking on tasks that, only 50 years ago, were thought to be exclusively human actions. 

The music is entertaining and I think is a must see for anyone who wants to learn to connect with the world around them, but may not have the attention for History or Discovery channel. In other words, this movie is a great eye opener for kids; a movie about a chimpanzee "kid" just like themselves. Great, valuable research tool

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2016: Obama's America (2012)

2016: Obama's America (2012) | American Documentaries | Scoop.it

The popularity of this movie proves that documentaries are not a dead genre reserved only for students in school rooms but instead is thriving and bringing the truth of topics to audiences in a nonfiction manner. This movie has thus far grossed over $33,000,000 and is in top five grossing documentaries ever. Though it earned less total than do most movie releases, this documentary certainly held its own against the entertainment films in theaters along with it proving the still prevelant genre of documentaries in our society.  

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