Wednesday 19 December 2012

Top Ten Documentaries of 2012

People assume that most films are crafted in a filmmaker’s mind, taking a script, translating it to screen and entertaining audiences the world round in that order; however, the documentary provides an honest insight into a subject that has actually occurred in our world, not the world created by the filmmaker.
Searching for Sugar Man, which hits DVD and Blu-ray on 27 December, shows that documentaries can be just as mysterious as crime thrillers; re-counting the story of a 70s rock icon who has long-since faded into oblivion, the film is just one of a many documentaries this year that have dabbled with the element of mystery and played with the conventional formula - making 2012 a pioneering year for the documentary. Here is a list marking the best of the bunch.

Searching for Sugar Man
A mysterious, informative and riveting documentary about two South Africans who embark on a quest to discover the truth behind their one-time hero, Sixto Rodriguez. Whether a music lover or a documentary fan, Searching for Sugar Man works better if you don’t do a Google search beforehand. You will reap the rewards of this amazing documentary from Malik Bendjelloul.

The Imposter
Like many of this year’s documentaries, The Imposter is best seen not knowing too much about what you are viewing. A Texan boy is found in Spain three years after he went missing, but it soon becomes clear that is all not as straightforward - Bart Layton’s documentary spectacularly confounds all expectation when it is flipped on its head not even 15 minutes in. Your eyes won’t leave the screen for its 100-minute running time.

The Queen of Versailles
The Queen of Versailles has been touted the best doc of the year by many, pitting on-screen the livelihood of a billionaire couple who begin construction on a mansion inspired by a palace in the French region of Versailles. As they fall victim to the economic crisis in the following few years, it is mesmerizing to witness how these people deal with the fallout of their actions.

5 Broken Cameras
A Palestinian farmer provides resistance against the Israeli army in a handheld-footage documentary that has no tricks or gimmicks up its sleeve, but provides emotion in its unflinching manner. The village in which the farmer resides in provide a snapshot of areas in Israel that are resisting the violence and war that surrounds them.

Room 237
Rodney Ascher has had praise heaped upon his documentary which analyses theories of Stanley Kubrick’s classic The Shining – as formulated by five obsessives. With the film split down theory-by-theory, the film ranges from the zany to the zanier as you witness professionals spouting dialogue about Kubrick’s impossible framing and his involvement in faking the moon landing. If you’re a fan of the Stephen King adaptation, there is no doubt you will lap this cult up.

Central Park Five
In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers were convicted of raping a white woman in Central Park – only for a serial rapist confessing to the crime many years later. The film questions the American legal system in an astonishing way, tackling the subject of racial injustice; something that has pulled directors Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon into their own legal battle. Captivating.

The House I Live In
Eugene Jarecki, the brother of Capturing the Friedmans director Andrew, crafted this insightful critique of America’s trouble with drugs as he tracks the individuals working within the judicial system - and the ones behind bars who are dragged unwittingly into the war. Like a cousin of Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic, the documentary shows how this system could potentially worsen matters, with the fight to clamp down on drugs spiralling out of control with every new day.

This Is Not a Film
When Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi was placed under house arrest for allegedly conspiracising against national security, he took to filming the events he was subjected to using an iPhone and a digital camera; top marks for bravery. With these devices used in a completely non-gimmicky way, This Is Not a Film is an, erm, extraordinary film. Smuggled out of Iran (allegedly in a cake) and backed by top Hollywood directors, this is a must-see.

Chasing Ice
Critical-acclaim has been received for Chasing Ice - mainly due to the fact that it follows National Geographic photographer James Balog’s attempt to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers by deploying time cameras around the Arctic; deserves to be seen for this mean feat alone.

West of Memphis
Famously produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, director Amy Berg’s documentary about the ‘West Memphis Three’s’ wrongful conviction for killing three boys not only informs the audience of these events, but aims to go beyond the duty of filmmaking to secure their release. Brave filmmaking that proves even more gripping than you first think – this documentary will make you feel lots of emotions.

Searching For Sugar Man is on DVD and Blu-ray December 27, 2012.

No comments:

Post a Comment