A rabble rousing expose of paid skeptics hired to argue against scientific consensus for political purposes. Bowed in Toronto to appreciative notices.
“Nas; Time Is Illmatic”
(One9, Tribeca Film)
An intimate study of rapper Nas’ genre-defining debut album, “Illmatic,” this docu from a first-time filmmaker opened the Tribeca Film Festival and has since sparked a nationwide tour of screenings and performances.
“The Salt of the Earth”
(Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, Wim Wenders, Sony Pictures Classics)
A master portrait of a master portraitist, Wim Wenders shared directing duties with Juan Ribeiro Salgado to explore the work of the latter’s father, Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado.
(Steve James, Magnolia/CNN Films)
A heartbreakingly upclose portrait of iconic film critic Roger Ebert and his wife, Chaz, as he struggles with terminal illness, the film garnered a clutch of thumbs-up from critics.
“Finding Vivian Maier”
(John Maloof, Charlie Siskel, Sundance Selects)
Tracing the life of the outsider NYC street photographer, this docu won prizes at the Palm Springs and Miami film festivals.
“Dancing in Jaffa”
(Hilla Medalia, Sundance Selects)
This doc traces the power of dance to bridge the Israeli-Palestinian divide, as dancer Pierre Dulaine takes his cross-cultural program to 10 children in the titular city.
“Plot for Peace”
(Carlos Aguilo, Mandy Jacobson, Indelible Media)
South African docu on diplomat Jean-Yves Ollivie — who served as a mediator for a number of important African peace negotiations in the 1980s — has won awards from the Hamptons, Palm Springs and Sao Paulo film festivals.
(Stephanie Soechtig, Radius-TWC)
Call-to-arms over the role of processed sugar in America’s diabetes and obesity crises has already touched a nerve among health-conscious filmgoers.
“Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me”
(Chiemi Karasawa, Sundance Selects)
The recently deceased grande dame of New York theater is the focus of this lively, insightful portrait.
“Tales of the Grim Sleeper”
(Nick Broomfield, HBO Documentary Films)
Broomfield’s investigation of a notorious serial killer who terrorized South Central L.A. for decades was an upsetting, and eye-opening, discovery at the Toronto Film Festival.
(Ryan McGarry, Long Shot Factory)
A microcosmic view of the grueling work done by emergency room doctors, this visceral film spotlights the shortcomings of the American medical system by eschewing bloodless politics for an often bloody first-hand account.
“Keep On Keepin’ On”
(Alan Hicks, Radius-TWC)
Inspiring documentary tracks the mentorship between 93-year-old jazz legend Clark Terry and 23-year-old blind piano prodigy Justin Kauflin. Won documentary awards at Tribecca, Seattle and Newport Beach film festivals.
(Orlando Von Einsiedel, Netflix)
Produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, this Netflix docu follows the fight to save Congo’s mountain gorillas. Winner of a plethora of festival prizes, including Hot Docs and Hamptons.
(Amir Bar-Lev, A&E Indie Films)
Retracing the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal that roiled the Penn State football program, this thorough docu won honors at the Sarasota Film Festival.
“Kids for Cash”
(Robert May, SenArt Films)
Disturbing expose of a Pennsylvania judge who sent thousands of juvenile offenders to privately owned detention facilities for sometimes ludicrously minor crimes.
“The Great Invisible”
(Margaret Brown, Participant Media)
Four years in the making, Margaret Brown’s wide-ranging record of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill focuses equally on the regulatory failures that made such a catastrophe possible, and on the Gulf Coast residents whose lives it has forever changed. Won the grand jury award at SXSW.
(Frank Pavich, Sony Pictures Classics)
Delightfully strange, this doc explores surrealist director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s failed attempts to adapt the famed sci-fi novel in the 1970s, highly recommended for fans of the filmmaker, or the Terry Gilliam docu “Lost in La Mancha.”
(Michael Rossato-Bennett, Projector Media)
Audience award winner for documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, “Alive Inside” is a humanistic crowdpleaser, focusing on Dan Cohen’s org Music and Memory, which uses music as therapy to fight memory loss in elderly populations.