Articles on Documentary

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The Lemmings cast. Left to right: Garry Goodrow, Peter Elbling, Chevy Chase, Chris Guest, John Belushi, Mary-Jennifer Mitchell, Alice Peyton. © National Lampoon

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon – review

Most of us are familiar with the National Lampoon films of the 70s and 80s. But this documentary offers insight into the magazine of the same name and the questionable dynamics of modern satire.
Archival photographs such as the above, from Gallipoli, are one resource documentary makers draw upon to communicate understandings of historical events. Australian War Memorial/Flickr

Who tells our stories? The first world war on the small screen

War history used to be brought to TV audiences by donnish lecturers but historical reconstructions now hold sway. Two recent docos about Gallipoli are hybrid examples of the form that help us better understand the past.
Red Army tells the story of the Russian hockey dynasty of the 1980s and early 1990s, focusing on the story of defenseman Slava Fetisov (pictured top right). Variety

Red Army portrayal of Soviet hockey misses mark

Gabe Polsky’s documentary Red Army opens with the film’s main subject – former NHL and Soviet hockey great Viacheslav (Slava) Fetisov – giving the finger to Polsky while checking his phone. At the film’s…
Peter Sarsgaard stars as the psychologist Stanley Milgram in the new film The Experimenter. BB Film Productions

Milgram was wrong: we don’t obey authority, but we do love drama

Why have the landmark psychology experiments of the post-war era proved so enduring? Designed as dramas about human behaviour, experimenters drew on theatrical techniques and tailored their results for…
Like its prequel The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary The Look of Silence holds a mirror to its subjects and viewers who are forced to face a horrifying truth. Lars Skree/Final Cut for Real

The Look of Silence and Indonesia’s dark mirror

With eyes fixed on his television screen, Adi Rukun, the main character followed by documentary maker Joshua Oppenheimer in his new film, The Look Of Silence, seems to face a mirror that resurrects a nightmarish…
The podcast Serial investigates the murder of 18-year-old American student Hae Min Lee 15 years ago. LukaTDB/Shutterstock

Serial: murder, mystery and the science of memory

Can you recall what you were doing last Wednesday between 2.15pm and 2.36pm? Where were you? What did you see? Who did you talk to? How well do you remember those 21 minutes? Now try to recall Wednesday…
Carolina Muñoz Marin, an amateur kickboxer from Costa Rica, is featured in “Meet the Mormons.” Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Why are we meeting the Mormons?

In October the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released its new documentary Meet the Mormons to wide theatrical distribution. The film depicts the lives of six individuals – two women and four…
How does a woman make art history, asks !Women Art Revolution, an American documentary that screened at the Melbourne Festival. Melbourne Festival

Just name three female artists: !Women Art Revolution on screen

The central premise of American director Lynn Hershman Leeson’s film !Women Art Revolution (2010), which screened at the Melbourne Festival over the weekend, is summarised near its conclusion: “When artists…
Jodorowsky saw Dune as a chance to bring 1970s avant-garde ideas to mainstream audiences. MIFF

Jodorowsky’s Dune: an acid trip without the acid at MIFF 2014

One of the big attractions at the Melbourne International Film Festival this year is Frank Pavich’s documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013). The film retells the story of cult Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s…
By telling the stories of Boni, Titi and Ho, Jalanan brings to the screen the hardships and precarious lives of marginalised people in one of the most economically promising Asian countries. Courtesy of Jalanan Movie Team

Jalanan: Busking and dreaming in the city

Daniel Ziv’s documentary feature Jalanan (Streetside), currently screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival, is a film that seeks to move its audience. Documentaries sometimes invite viewers…
Brave New Clan presents the “X-factor” us mob see among ourselves all the time to a wider audience. Foxtel 2014

Indigenous Australia is deadly – and Leah Purcell shows it

Urban skyline, as seen from inside a medium-density apartment block, opens Australian director Leah Purcell’s Who We Are: Brave New Clan (2014), which was broadcast on Foxtel’s Bio Channel last night…
Vidal sprinkled an almost limitless supply of bon-mots across our recent history. Antidote Films

Lest we forget: Gore Vidal and the United States of Amnesia

Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia – by the Australian film-maker Nicholas Wrathall – has been doing the rounds of festival circuits since its release last year, and is currently showing at special…
With Theroux, the audience becomes a participant rather than consumer of the story. BBC/Steve Schofield

What Louis Theroux can teach us about social research

Louis Theroux knows how to entertain; but the lessons he teaches us have much greater import. The British journalist and broadcaster is back on TV – at least in the UK, for now – with his new series LA…
Harder to make than Philomena. ©2012 Final cut for real APS, Piraya Film AS and Novaya Zemyla LTD

Documentary funding gap stalls great films like The Act of Killing

This may sound like a strange request, but if you go to see Joshua Oppenheimer’s brilliant, Bafta-winning and Oscar-nominated The Act of Killing, pay close attention to the opening credits. Before the…
Tonight ABC2 offers a glimpse into the lives of girls around the world, including Aziza from Afghanistan. ABC Publicity

I am a Girl: 21st-century lessons from 1970s feminism

Tonight ABC2 airs I am a Girl. Rebecca Barry’s documentary introduces us to six young women from around the world. They hail from Cambodia, Cameroon, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, the USA and Australia…
A Jewish victim at Klooga Death Camp. Jeremy Hicks

Unearthed Soviet Holocaust films remind us to be vigilant

A one-off programme on History’s H2 channel and Sky News has broadcast for the first time some film footage I discovered depicting the Holocaust. This may seem unremarkable: in the digital age, smartphones…

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