100 Documentary Films Review

Authors: Barry Keith Grant & Jim Hillier

Documentary films have come back into high fashion over the past decade – but this book looks to exemplify the fact that they have been here all along and they are of a high standard.

You can expect to see some of the more popular (award winning) examples here like Marhc of The Penguins, and some of the more popular names in the genre (Michael Moore, Nick Broomfield) appear in the book. But in the case of some of the bigger names it is surprising how restraint the book is in including a majority of their work – and often is the case that some of their best works are left out. Broomfield in particular has only one film selected; but it is also surprising to see Moore’s Fahrenheit 911 not get a slot as it was big for its time.

But kudos then to the editors for having space for other smaller films neglected over the years – and for going in depth enough to go back through the decades to include some highlights from previous years which should shed light a little on how some of the better documentaries from these eras came about.

The book also sneakily bends the rules by including the likes of This Is Spinal Tap which is pure fiction, but done documentary style. Whether you chose to accept that or not is arguable.

Like many of the BFI 100 series, this is a pocket guide to how best explore selective genres. This one is no exception.

Steven Hurst

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