It’s Doc Week here in Columbus, that bi-annual festival that caters to the documentary lover in us all. But what of those who don’t care for docs? They’re missing so much! Well, in the interest of sharing the doc love, we’ve put together a list of documentaries bound to entertain even those folks with zero interest in the genre.
5. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007)
Seth Gordon’s doc on old school video game competitions managed to be the best underdog sports comedy of the year. Wisely, the film doesn’t mock its subjects, which would have created a distance between the participants and the audience. The competition is so fierce and yet disarmingly funny. Full of geekdom, mystery, humanity and the quest to maintain one’s own legend, King of Kong is a miraculous little slice of competitive life.
4. Stories We Tell (2012)
Sarah Polley uses an absolutely fascinating and intensely personal investigation to make some universal points about how we frame our own stories when sharing them with others, whether it’s the way we recount a personal tale or the way a filmmaker manipulates the audience to create the desired tone. Her points are all the more powerful because she chooses to open up such a private story to make them.
3. Man On Wire (2008)
Philippe Petit tight rope walked from one World Trade Center to the other. It became known as the artistic crime of the century, and James Marsh’s Oscar-winning documentary offers endlessly fascinating tidbits about how he pulled it off. The doc is maddeningly suspenseful, and the sight of this exquisite, joyous lunacy literally attached to the site of such profound tragedy somehow makes it all that much more magical.
2. Murderball (2005)
It’s full contact wheelchair rugby for quadriplegics, and you would get your ass kicked. Murderball is a film that shows no mercy because mercy wouldn’t be accepted anyway, as it follows athletes vying for a spot in Paralympic Games. The competition is intense, the action breathtaking, the story sometimes wickedly funny, and the human experience of it all serves as the doc’s escalated heartbeat. Murderball may very well be the best sports documentary ever made.
1. The Imposter (2012)
Not the best doc on the list, but without question the one that will leave you astounded. A young French drifter claims to be the missing son of a grieving Texas family. Director Bart Layton keeps his film exactly one step ahead of you, and the twists are absolutely impossible to see coming. It’s a jaw dropping true crime story that will leave you amazed.