Instructional and Documentary Films
Too Good to Miss: Notable Documentaries
Outstanding documentary films may be difficult to locate at the local video store, but the library has an impressive array of many award-winning DVDs available for check out. The subject matter encompasses the entire nonfiction collection, offering a diversity of viewpoints and a variety of thought-provoking situations. You can find them in the Nonfiction DVD area. Quotations in this list and some content are taken from the individual DVD’s inserts.
DVD 261.8357 FOR
For the Bible Tells Me So - 2008
This award-winning film explores how the Christian Right has used its interpretation of the Bible to persecute homosexuals.
DVD 305.23 UP
The Up Series - 2004
This set of ground-breaking films documents the lives of a diverse group of English youngsters who are interviewed every seven years, beginning in 1964. We watch the children grow, and learn how they and their attitudes have changed over the years. The series now also includes 49 Up, found at DVD 305.23 FOR.
DVD 305.26 HOM
Home for Life - 2008
Depicts the experiences of two elderly people during their first month at a home for the aged.
DVD 331.89 HAR
Harlan County, USA - 2006
This Academy Award winner documents a 13-month long coal miners’ strike in a small Kentucky town. The gritty coverage relates the ordeal of a community fighting for its life against a corporation dedicated only to the bottom line.
DVD 362.42 SOU
Sound and Fury - 2000
Ponder the dilemma of a family of deaf and hearing individuals who must decide if their deaf five-year-old should receive a cochlear implant. This decision will determine if the child grows up within the nurturing deaf community or as a part of the larger hearing population.
DVD 363.73874 INC
An Inconvenient Truth: A Global Warning - 2006
Al Gore’s documentary that confronts the viewer with the reality of global warming. This Academy Award winner is a call to arms.
DVD 379.26 CLA
A Class Divided - 2003
“In 1970 a teacher attempted an experiment in her classroom. To evaluate how racial stereotypes affect young children, she divided her class between those with blue eyes and those with brown and gave blue-eyed children preferential treatment.” We learn along with the class how insidious the spread of prejudice can be.
DVD 616.85882 AUT
Autism: The Musical - 2008
Follow a group of autistic children as they work together to produce a musical show.
DVD 647.95 SUP
Super Size Me - 2004
The filmmaker, who was researching obesity in America, decided to eat only at McDonald’s for a month to see if fast food is contributing to our overweight population. A humorous treatment that also manages to deliver the sobering message that we are “eating ourselves to death.”
DVD 781.642 SHU
Shut Up & Sing - 2006
The Dixie Chicks were vilified for speaking out against George Bush and the war in Iraq. This film covers the resulting controversy and its effect on the singing group.
DVD 261.83272 DEL
Deliver Us from Evil - 2007
This highly praised Academy Award nominee is the harrowing story of a priest whose history as a pedophile was known and protected by the Church for over 30 years. View an unsettling interview with Father O’Grady juxtaposed with testimony by those whom he abused.
DVD 333.79 ENR
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room - 2005
Examine the human side of the fall of a corporate giant, brought on by greed and disregard for the law by executives in the company.
DVD 362.1 SIC
Sicko - 2007
Michael Moore examines (and condemns) the health care system in America today, showing that providing health care has become a big business with profit motives guiding all services. He compares health care in the U.S. with that in other countries and finds the U.S. lacking in many areas. The library also holds the filmmaker’s other works of social criticism, Bowling for Columbine (DVD 363.33 BOW), Fahrenheit 9/11 (DVD 973.931 FAH), and Roger and Me (DVD 791.43 ROG).
DVD 364.373 CAP
Capturing the Friedmans - 2003
A father and son were arrested on multiple counts of child molestation. Did they do it? Here is the story of a family torn apart, the power of public opinion, and the questionable tactics of law enforcement.
DVD 704.083 MY
My Kid Could Paint That - 2008
Four-year-old Marla Olmstead has been creating abstract paintings that have gained recognition in the art world and earned large sums of money. Can a young child really paint like that or is her father “helping?”
The Political Arena
DVD 070.433 CON
Control Room - 2004
Satellite television has changed the way wars are perceived and reported. This award-winning film examines the view of the war in Iraq as reported by Al Jazeera, the Arab world’s most popular news outlet.
DVD 322.42 WEA
Weather Underground - 2004
Share an inside look at the political group of the 1970s that advocated acts of violence to protest the war in Vietnam. Archival footage and interviews with members bring to life a movement that helped define an era.
DVD 956.70443 MY
My Country My Country - 2007
This is an “extraordinarily intimate portrait of Iraqis living under U.S. occupation.”
DVD 364.66 HEI
Heir to an Execution: A Granddaughter’s Story - 2003
Fifty years after the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for treason, their grand-daughter relates the effect this had on their family. This story also documents the political milieu of a time when the “red scare” caused widespread hysteria and may have influenced the outcome of the trial.
DVD 373.767 LIT
Little Rock Central: 50 Years Later - 2007
Revisit the high school that figured prominently in the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
DVD 940.5317 CIT
Citizen Tanouye - 2008
Follow the three-day journey of eight ethnically diverse students as they search for
clues to uncover the lost story of a local World War II hero and Medal of Honor recipient. In the process they discover how the war affected their town and the way civil rights abuses of the era contributed to the story.
DVD 940.5318 PAP
Paper Clips - 2006
Struggling to comprehend the concept of six million Holocaust victims, the students at a Tennessee middle school attempt to collect six million paperclips to help them understand the enormity of this crime against humanity.
DVD 940.5428 RED
Red White Black & Blue - 2007
This film focuses on a little known aspect of WWII. On June 7, 1942, Japan invaded Alaska. Two elderly veterans who fought in this brutal nineteen-day battle visit the site 60 years later to relive the event.
DVD 973.92 FOG
The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara - 2004
In this story of American politics and military policies, we see the difficult lessons learned by former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara during the Vietnam War concerning the nature and conduct of a modern war.
Up Close and Personal: Historic Events
DVD 796.48 ONE
One Day in September - 2001
This is the chilling record of the massacre of Israeli athletes by a group of Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany. Featuring film coverage of the time, this documentary analyzes what went wrong in the negotiations and the mistakes that were made by law enforcement.
DVD 973.0496 FOU
4 Little Girls - 2000
Directed by Spike Lee, this memorable film covers the 1963 bombing at a Birmingham Baptist church that killed four little girls during the civil rights movement. The library also holds the director’s investigative film When the Levees Broke a Requiem in Four Acts (DVD 976.335 WHE) which explores the tragedy of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and exposes the multitude of mistakes that were made by federal and local officials.
DVD 977.311 CHI
Angels Too Soon the 1958 Fire at Our Lady of the Angels School - 2003
This is the Emmy-winning story of the 1958 fire at a Chicago parochial school that killed 92 children and three nuns.
The Realities of War
Africa and the Middle East
DVD 355.0092 AME
America at a Crossroads. Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience - 2007
Letters home from soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq offer a unique view of armed combat.
DVD 355.3432 GIT
Gitmo - 2007
A probing documentary of interrogation practices at Guantánamo Bay where prisoners of the “war on terror” are detained.
DVD 956.70443 ALI
Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq - 2007
Offers a look at the physical and emotional cost of war through soldiers’ memories of their “alive day,” the day they narrowly escaped death in Iraq.
DVD 956.70443 IRA
Iraq in Fragments - 2007
This documentary in three parts offers portraits of the lives of three citizens living in cur-rent day Iraq, revealing a society pulled in different directions by religion and ethnicities.
DVD 956.70443 NO
No End in Sight - 2007
A look at the decisions that led to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and the handling of the occupation.
DVD 956.70443 WAR
The War Tapes - 2007
Called up to serve in Iraq, soldiers from the National Guard are given cameras to record their experiences. This is a compilation of the footage they shot.
DVD 956.94 DEA
Death in Gaza - 2006
This Emmy award winner “portrays the horror of the Israeli conflict and the resulting death of its director, James Miller.”
DVD 959.704 BE
Be Good, Smile Pretty - 2003
Follow along on this journey to understand and cope with the loss shared by the estimated 20,000 American children whose fathers were killed in Vietnam.
DVD 959.7043 VIE
Vietnam’s Unseen War: Pictures from the Other Side - 2001
View the Vietnam War from a different perspective, as it was reported by North Vietnamese journalists.
World War II
DVD 940.53 PRI
Prisoners among Us Italian-American Identity & World War II - 2003
The story of the challenges and difficulties encountered by Italian immigrants to the U.S. during World War II, and their eventual successful assimilation into American culture.
DVD 940.5318 INT
Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport - 2000
Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, 10,000 Jewish children were sent to foster homes in Great Britain to escape Hitler’s grasp. This life-affirming story includes original film footage.
Other Places, Other Lives
DVD 294.3657 LIT
Little Shaolin Monks - 2006
This film offers a rare look inside the Shaolin Temple, where a group of young boys known as “Little Warrior Monks” is trained in the highest form of martial arts.
DVD 304.873 ROM
Romantico - 2007
“The story of Carmelo, car wash employee by day, mariachi musician by night, and his struggle to cope with his mother’s mortality, his daughters’ needs, and his own dreams.”
DVD 306.74 BOR
Born into Brothels - 2004
Filmmakers enlist the help of the children of prostitutes to photograph life in Calcutta’s brothels. In the process they develop relationships with the children and try to help them find a way out of the hopeless poverty into which they were born.
DVD 962.4 LOS
Lost Boys of Sudan - 2004
Follow the journey of two teenage Sudanese boys, orphaned in their war-torn country, who travel to America to find a safer life and learn to cope with the complexities of contemporary American society.
DVD 962.404 GOD
God Grew Tired of Us - 2007
The story of a group of young men condemned to death in their home country of Sudan, who become refugees seeking sanctuary in various camps in neighboring countries. Two eventually make their way to the United States, and the film examines their acculturation to a new way of life.
The Brave Among Us
DVD 362.732 ANG
Angels in the Dust - 2008
Called a story of hope and healing, this documentary “chronicles the life of Marion Cloete, who left a privileged life in Johannesburg to establish a sanctuary for South African children orphaned by the AIDS virus.”
DVD 362.87 BAL
Balseros - 2005
The title uses a slang term for Cuban rafters, those motivated individuals who brave the ocean’s dangers attempting to reach the freedom of American soil. This documentary follows the lives and fortunes of seven of these Cuban refugees, first through their fifteen-day voyage on homemade rafts and thereafter when they were picked up by the U.S. Coast Guard.
DVD 940.5318 BRO
Broken Silence - 2002
This series of five critically acclaimed films gives testament to the Holocaust by indivi-dual survivors from various countries. Created by Steven Spielberg and the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation.
DVD 973.931 NIN
9/11: Press for Truth - 2006
From the grieving thousands left behind on September 11, a small group of activist families emerged to demand answers. This is the story of how they took on the federal government and won.
DVD Biography WIESEL, E.
Elie Wiesel Goes Home - 2002
Nobel Peace Prize winner and the world’s foremost author on the Holocaust revisits the village of his birth as well as Auschwitz and Birkenau, the camps in which he was interned during World War II.
Captivating Personalities, Noteworthy Lives
DVD 362.4 EMM
Emmanuel’s Gift - 2006
Spend a year with a crusader in Ghana who intends to change social attitudes and treatment of the disabled. With only one leg, he bicycles across the country to bring attention to the social and political stigma experienced by the handicapped.
DVD 362.734 MY
My Flesh and Blood - 2004
The inspiring story of a single mother who adopted eleven special needs children to raise with her own family. Follow them through a tumultuous year of challenges and joys.
DVD 741.5092 LIN
The Line King: The Al Hirschfeld Story - 2004
His drawings of celebrities and other famous subjects are instantly recognizable and for many years were a regular feature in the New York Times. With a few lines the illustrator was able to capture the essence of a particular personality. This celebration of his life is enriched with extensive personal interviews.
DVD 781.66092 DYL
No Direction Home Bob Dylan - 2005
Filmmaker Martin Scorsese examines the life and work of a cultural icon. Period footage helps the viewer follow the musician’s career that included controversy as well as stunning success. Includes never-before-seen footage and a rare concert performance.
DVD 796.323 HEA
The Heart of the Game - 2007
Follow the fortunes of the Seattle high school Roughriders girls’ basketball team over a six-season period. It includes the drama of their eccentric, unorthodox coach and the story of one player who fights to play the game she loves.
DVD 796.357 BOT
Bottom of the Ninth - 2002
Chronicles a season with the Somerset, New Jersey, Patriots, a minor league baseball team. As they race for the championship they also follow their dream of reaching the major leagues.
DVD 796.357 CHA
Chasing October a Fan’s Crusade - 2007
The filmmaker of this documentary believes that he can, through sheer force of will, make the Chicago Cubs win the 2003 World Series. Suspend knowledge of the known and root for the home team.
DVD 796.357 THI
This Old Cub - 2004
A sure winner, this “acclaimed documentary is about former All Star third baseman, broadcaster and Chicago Cubs legend, Ron Santo, and his lifelong battle with diabetes.”
DVD 796.83 WHE
When We Were Kings - 1997
You have a ringside seat for the historic 1974 Championship boxing bout between George Foreman, the heavyweight champion of the world, and Muhammad Ali, the underdog.
Best of Nature
DVD 598.1568 WIN
Winged Migration - 2003
Visually breathtaking film footage collected over a three-year period follows a variety of migratory birds through the seasons of their lives. A bird’s-eye-view makes the viewer a part of each flock.
DVD 598.47 MAR
March of the Penguins - 2005
Follow the perils and adventures of a group of penguins as they make their yearly migration to a safe inland area of the Antarctic to find the perfect mate, incubate the resulting egg and start a family.
DVD 599.78 GRI
Grizzly Man - 2005
This mesmerizing account by Werner Herzog “explores the life and death of grizzly bear expert and wildlife preservationist, Timothy Treadwell, who lived unarmed among grizzlies for thirteen summers.”
DVD 629.13324 WHI
White Diamond - 2005
Acclaimed filmmaker Werner Herzog follows the enigmatic airship engineer, Dr. Graham Dorrington, as he embarks on a trip to the heart of Guyana to test his new helium-filled invention. Foremost in the mind of the explorer is an earlier attempt to conquer the rainforest canopy that ended tragically.
DVD 636.6865 WIL
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill - 2005
Follow the ups and downs of a flock of wild urban parrots in San Francisco. This captivating film combines a wildlife documentary, a science lesson, and a love story.
DVD 951.7 STO
Story of the Weeping Camel - 2005
This is the drama of a rare white camel born in the Gobi desert that is rejected by its mother. In order to save the newborn’s life, the nomads who own the herd send two boys to a distant village to find and bring back a musician “capable of performing a magical ceremony” that is their last hope.
For Your Enjoyment
DVD 372.632 SPE
Spellbound - 2002
Follow the lives of eight young Americans who share one goal, to win the 1999 National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. An enjoyable outing that also offers moments of suspense.
DVD 793.33 MAD
Mad Hot Ballroom - 2005
Follow a group of “New York City fourth and fifth graders as they journey into the world of competitive ballroom dance.”
DVD 793.732 WOR
Wordplay - 2006
“A journey into the world of Will Shortz, the crossword puzzle editor at the New York Times and a regular on National Public Radio.” This film examines the mystique of that challenging puzzle and the devoted following who tackle it each week.
Prepared by Marty Krause, December 2008