Films Programs

True Stories

Over the course of the last decade and a half, nonfiction films have reemerged as a major force in cinema, with provocative subject matter and innovative stylistic flourishes that have captured the imagination of wide audiences. Our True Stories section highlights some of today's most compelling documentaries from filmmakers around the world.


Addicted to Plastic! The Rise and Demise of a Modern Miracle   

Addicted to Plastic! The Rise and Demise of a Modern Miracle
Canada, 2008, 85 min.
A global journey to investigate what we really know about plastic — the material of a thousand uses — and why there's so darn much of it. On the way we discover a toxic legacy, and the men and women dedicated to cleaning it up.... more



As Slow as Possible   

As Slow as Possible
Canada, 2008, 61 min.
At the age of 18, Ryan Knighton was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa and informed that he would slowly go blind. Fifteen years later, with only one percent of his vision remaining, Ryan travels to Germany in search of the John Cage organ — an instrument designed to play for 639 years.... more



At the Edge of the World   

At the Edge of the World
USA, 2008, 92 min.
An exhilarating portrait of a group of environmentalists, led by controversial activist Paul Watson, who sail the Antarctic Ocean under the Jolly Roger and do actual battle with Japanese whaling vessels. This ethically provocative documentary examines going outside the law to stop a greater crime.... more



Be Like Others   

Be Like Others
Canada, 2008, 74 min.
Be Like Others is a fascinating look at gender reassignment in a country where homosexuality is punishable by death. Unable to be open about their love, many gay individuals in fundamentalist Iran choose to undergo the painful surgery to be part of a socially sanctioned couple.... more



Bedford: The Town They Left Behind   

Bedford: The Town They Left Behind
USA, 2009, 75 min.
During WWII, Bedford, Virginia was a town of a few thousand residents, 19 of whom lost their lives in the D-Day invasion — a higher proportion than any other place in the US. This film examines the lives of those who died and those who survived, as well as Bedford's role in current conflicts.... more



Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh   

Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh
USA, 2008, 86 min.
Joan Allen narrates this powerful film about the remarkable life of Hannah Senesh — a 23-year-old Hungarian writer living in Palestine in 1944, who volunteered for a doomed mission to try to rescue Jews in Budapest. Revelatory archival footage and moving interviews combine to great effect.... more



Blue Gold: World Water Wars   

Blue Gold: World Water Wars
USA, 2008, 89 min.
Wars of the future will be fought over water, not oil, as this liquid source of all life enters the global marketplace and political arena. Past civilizations have collapsed from poor water management. Can the human race survive? Environmental Audience Award, Vancouver Film Festival.... more



Creative Nature   

Creative Nature
USA, 2008, 83 min.
William Morris' fantastical glass creations have secured him a reputation in the field second only to his mentor Dale Chihuly. This engaging portrait of the man and his work shows Morris' love of craftsmanship and history, and his extraordinary engagement with the natural world.... more



The English Surgeon   

The English Surgeon
United Kingdom, 2007, 93 min.
A life-affirming, unforgettable portrait of London brain surgeon Henry Marsh and his humanitarian work in the Ukraine, this extraordinary documentary delivers hugely emotive subject matter with nimble delicacy and steely reserve.... more



Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action   

Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action
Canada, 2008, 97 min.
In Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action, filmmaker Velcrow Ripper searches for deeper meaning in his life. He finds it in "fierce light," or desire for change driven by love and compassion. Featuring interviews with world spiritual leaders, this film will inspire viewers with hope.... more



for my wife...   

for my wife...
USA, 2008, 75 min.
David Rothmiller's unique documentary humanizes the struggle for full LGBT marriage equality through the story of Kate Fleming and Charlene Strong. After Kate's death, Charlene was instrumental in getting Washington state to pass equality legislation.... more



Forgotten Transports: To Estonia   

Forgotten Transports: To Estonia
Czech Republic, 2008, 85 min.
Bearing witness to some little-told stories of the Holocaust, this moving documentary offers an important contribution to WWII history as it traces the harrowing three-year odyssey of roughly 100 young Czech Jewish women after they arrived in Estonia on September 5, 1942.... more



The Forgotten Woman   

The Forgotten Woman
Canada, 2008, 90 min.
This extraordinary documentary, set in India, aims to understand the destitution and marginalization of many of the millions of widows in India today, who are forced by age-old traditions to live out their remaining years isolated from and shunned by the society at large.... more



The Garden   

The Garden
USA, 2008, 80 min.
This 14-acre community garden in South Central Los Angeles is the largest urban farm in the US. Rising out of the ashes of the devastating riots in '92, its creation was a testament to the resilience of the community. Then the city sold it to a developer. Best US Documentary, Silverdocs.... more



Giving It Up   

Giving It Up
USA, 2008, 84 min.
A feature length documentary shot from inside the belly of the beast (aka Hollywood) that gives a rare behind-the-scenes view of the most publicized and criticized group of working photographers in the world today -- the paparazzi.... more



The Green Dumpster Mystery   

The Green Dumpster Mystery
Israel, 2008, 50 min.
Like Daniel Mendelsohn's nonfiction bestseller The Lost, this tightly paced tour de force of detection vividly evokes the now-extinguished lives of an extended family seared by the Holocaust and modern Israeli tragedies.... more



Herb and Dorothy   

Herb and Dorothy
USA, 2008, 91 min.
Herb and Dorothy Vogel, he a postal clerk and she a librarian, through tenacity and a love for beauty, went on to collect more than 4,000 pieces of minimalist and conceptual art. Their stories make Megumi Sasaki's film endlessly fascinating.... more



Infinite Space: The Architecture of John Lautner   

Infinite Space: The Architecture of John Lautner
USA, 2009, 90 min.
"The purpose of architecture is to create timeless, free, joyous spaces for all activities in life." That was visionary genius John Lautner's credo, and the guiding principle of this stunning tribute. After breaking with his mentor Frank Lloyd Wright, Lautner went on to build an amazing legacy.... more



Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders   

Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders
USA, 2008, 93 min.
Trailing two new recruits and two veteran aid workers at field hospitals in Liberia and the Congo, this candid and often shocking documentary gets inside the minds of the volunteers of Doctors Without Borders — people who push their own limits to make a difference.... more



Maynard Dixon: Art and Spirit   

Maynard Dixon: Art and Spirit
USA, 2008, 67 min.
Narrated by Diane Keaton (a collector of Maynard Dixon's paintings), this painstakingly researched documentary provides a rare insight into of one of the West's most influential artists. Illustrated with more than 400 works, and featuring fascinating interviews with family and friends.... more



No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos   

No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos
USA, 2008, 97 min.
No Subtitles Necessary traces the lives and careers of legendary cinematographers Laszlo Kovaks and Vilmos Zsigmond using archival footage and interviews with a mix of iconic "New Hollywood" and contemporary movie figures including Peter Fonda, Sharon Stone, John Voight, Barbara Streisand, Pe... more



Pray the Devil Back to Hell   

Pray the Devil Back to Hell
USA, 2008, 86 min.
Pray the Devil Back to Hell is the moving account of the women of Liberia who, after decades of watching their families slaughtered by bloodthirsty warlords, banded together for peace. Gini Reticker's stunning film serves as a testament to humanity's best in the face of humanity's worst.... more



Prodigal Sons   

Prodigal Sons
USA, 2008, 86 min.
Kimberly Reed returns home to a small town in Montana for her high school reunion, hoping for reconciliation with her long-estranged adopted brother. But along the way Prodigal Sons uncovers stunning revelations.... more



ShowGirls, Provincetown, MA   

ShowGirls, Provincetown, MA
USA, 2009, 72 min.
This giddily entertaining overview of Provincetown's annual stage review scales the heights and plumbs the depths of that bucolic seaside town's legendary Monday night show, which takes place under the auspices of drag guru Ryan Landry, along with a number of his perennial drag cohorts.... more



Suddenly, Last Winter   

Suddenly, Last Winter
Italy, 2008, 79 min.
Gustav and Luca have been in a stable, open relationship for eight years. Their private life is suddenly turned upside down when the new Italian center-left government plans to institute civil unions — including same-sex partnerships — unleashing a widespread backlash.... more



Tales from the Script   

Tales from the Script
USA, 2009, 116 min.
So you wanna write movies? Dozens of America's top screenwriters share their war stories about being the low person on the Hollywood totem pole in this insightful documentary, fueled by the wry wit and self-deprecating humor of its subjects.... more



This Dust of Words   

This Dust of Words
USA, 2008, 60 min.
A prodigiously creative intellectual with a 200 IQ, Elizabeth Wiltsee was a voracious reader, a voluminous writer and a standout student at Stanford University. Decades later, she was homeless, her beautiful mind ravaged by mental illness.... more



Trip to Asia: The Quest for Harmony   

Trip to Asia: The Quest for Harmony
Germany, 2008, 108 min.
A must for any classical music fan, this gripping documentary features the world famous Berlin Philharmonic and its charismatic conductor Sir Simon Rattle. Shot during a tour to Beijing, Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei and Tokyo, it offers intimate access to the private world of the 126 skilled musicians.... more



An Unlikely Weapon   

An Unlikely Weapon
USA, 2008, 85 min.
Driven by perfectionism and a fiercely independent spirit, photojournalist Eddie Adams worked in both celebrity photography and war photography, shooting 13 wars, six presidents, and 50 years of movie stars. But his most famous photograph haunted his conscience until the day he died.... more



Valentino: The Last Emperor   

Valentino: The Last Emperor
USA, 2008, 96 min.
Valentino has built his career making women look beautiful while forging a global brand out of the refined art of haute couture. This cheeky and affectionate documentary also charts the mutual dependency and tensions in Valentino's 45-year association with Giancarlo Giammetti.... more



Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman   

Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman
USA, 2008, 84 min.
IIn his eight-decade career, California-based Julius Shulman became the world's preeminent architecture photographer and the man who defined the way we view modernism. This visually inventive documentary revisits some of the landmark houses.... more



Walt & El Grupo   

Walt & El Grupo
USA, 2008, 106 min.
In 1941, the US government sent Walt Disney and his creative team to South America on a goodwill tour that culminated in Latin American-themed Disney films. Using archival footage and personal testimony, the film reveals a legendary artist at an extraordinary time.... more



Who Does She Think She Is?   

Who Does She Think She Is?
USA, 2008, 84 min.
Who Does She Think She Is?, a riveting documentary by Academy Award-winning producer Pamela Tanner Boll (Born into Brothels), features five bold women who navigate some of the most problematic intersections of our time.... more



The Young Romantic: A Portrait of Yundi Li   

The Young Romantic: A Portrait of Yundi Li
Canada, 2008, 88 min.
At age 25, classical piano virtuoso Yundi Li has already accomplished what most musicians can only dream of. Sweete's poetic documentary trails the intense, charismatic artist as he prepares for a monumental concert with the Berlin Philharmonic.... more





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