3.0This is the golden age o documentaries.Inexpensive equipment, new methods o distribution, and a very eager audi-ence have all launched a renaissance in non-ction lm making and viewing.The very best o these non-ction lms are as entertaining as the best Hol-lywood blockbusters. Because they are true, their storylines seem resh withauthentic plot twists, real characters, and truth stranger than ction. Mosttrue lms are solidly inormative, and a ew are genuinely useul like a tool.The rise o documentaries and true cinema is elt not only in movie theaters,but on network TV and cable channels as well. Reality TV, non-ction stationslike the History Channel or Discovery, and BBC imports have increased thechoices in true lms tremendously. There’s no time to watch them all, andlittle guidance to what’s great.In this book I oer 200+ great true lms.I dene true lms as documentaries, educational lms, instructional how-to’s,and what the British call actuals – a non-ction visual account. These 200 arethe best non-ction lms I’ve ound or general interest. I’ve watched all theselms more than once. Sometimes thrice. I haven’t had TV or 20 years, so I’veconcentrated my viewing time on documentaries and true lms. I run a littlewebsite (www.truelms.com) where I solicit suggestions o great stu.What am I looking or in a great true lm?• It must be actual.• It must surprise me, but not preach to me.• I it introduces me to a world or subculture that I never thought aboutbeore, even better.• There’s a plot – a transormation rom beginning to the end.• It’s easily available.As dogged as I have been in tracking down great true lms, I have seen onlya raction o the more than 60,000 that have been made, and the thousandsnow being made each year. I you know o an amazing true lm that I’vemissed please recommend it to me:email@example.com.
Where to get the lms:
I recommend only those great and worthwhile titles that are availableon tape or DVD at consumer prices. I indicate whether a lm is rentablerom Netfix, and i it is purchasable rom Amazon. I neither o those op-tions is available, I will then list an alternative source.For too long true lms have been hard to nd, appearing only feetingly intheaters, or projected in school classrooms on expensive 6mm prints, orhidden on back shelves at video rental places. Now DVDs and websitesare rapidly increasing the availability o true lms; their prices continue todrop, and their distribution expands.However, many great true lms are still not easily seen. The Britishproduce antastic actuals that are shown a ew times on BBC and thenmothballed. A lot o older documentaries have still not been released onDVD or tape. Some o the greatest documentaries ever made are ownedby educational agencies that price them according to the old model o scarce lm prints. Since their customers were once only classrooms inschools and universities, these distributors set very steep ees – typically$300 to purchase a tape, and $00 merely to rent it. They have main-tained these prices or individuals, which is plainly ridiculous. I view thisas an ideal strategy to prevent as many people as possible rom seeinga lm. So ar, I am unable to recommend any o those good lms sincetheir ees, though lowered, are still not reasonable consumer prices. Andmuch o the BBC treasure trove is still not released, although more o itis seeping out online as electronic downloads. As they reach consumerlevels, to the point that anyone who wants to see it can pretty easily ordera copy, I’ll add the best o those to the True Films list.Happily, more and more recent documentaries are being released to a re-ceptive public at consumer prices. Even better, a growing number o ac-tuals are also carried by the emerging online DVD subscription services.Big companies like Blockbuster, WalMart, and Amazon UK oer sometrue lms among their wide selections o ctional lms. Some smallerplayers like GreenCine (www.greencine.com) oer interesting selectionso true lms that no one else may carry.The major player in the documentaries is nowNetfix(www.netfix.com).I am a huge an o Netfix’s lm subscription service. Their library o 55,000 lms (including nearly 6,000 true lms) is now my library. At anyone moment I have over 00 documentary titles I’d like to see stackedup in my Netfix queue waiting or me to return the last one I watched.