Films / Programs

Documentary Films

Be they hard-hitting or lyrical, political or personal, timely or timeless, narrowly focused or wide-ranging, SDFF documentaries shed all kinds of light on the world’s wonders.

  • Marwencol


    USA , 2010 , 84 min. Plays Tuesday, April 23rd at 7pm as part of our Double Exposure film series With an introduction & post film discussion with Melinda Barlow, Ph. D (Associate Professor, University of Colorado, Boulder) Digital presentation - In 2000 five men beat Mark Hogancamp outside a bar so sev... more
  • The People vs. George Lucas

    The People vs. George Lucas

    USA , 2010 , 104 min. One Night Only! Monday, May the 4th at 7:15pm Director Alexandre Phillipe in-person! The passion the original Star Wars trilogy inspires in its fans is unparalleled; but when it comes to George Lucas himself—one of the most passionately debated filmmakers of all time—many have foun... more
  • American Coup

    American Coup

    USA , 2009 , 97 min. In this fascinating documentary, first-time helmer Joe Ayella traces the roots of US-Iranian tension to the little-known, CIA-engineered 1953 coup that deposed Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh and restored the Shah to power.... more
  • Amongst Brothers

    Amongst Brothers

    USA , 2010 , 27 min. Amongst Brothers follows Colorado cattleman Gary Magness on an adventure trip to Brazil—only to find himself a key player in the very survival of one of the oldest tribes in the Amazon Basin.... more
  • Armadillo


    Denmark , 2010 , 100 min. Armadillo is a gritty documentary that follows a platoon of Danish soldiers on a humanitarian mission to Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. The reality of war is vividly and shockingly captured as the young soldiers complete their six-month tour in Taliban territory.... more
  • Bag It

    Bag It

    USA , 2010 , 79 min. When we throw something “away,” where does it go? “Average guy” Jeb Berrier charismatically narrates this documentary by Suzan Beraza about the impact of plastic in our lives. Though it was marketed as a convenience, it’s become a pox on our environment and even our health.... more
  • Barbershop Punk

    Barbershop Punk

    USA , 2010 , 84 min. The future of information itself is at stake in ongoing arguments over the rights of corporations to control the World Wide Web. Once a singer in a barbershop quartet, Robb Topolski is the whistleblower whose confrontation with the FCC and Comcast is chronicled in this documentary.... more
  • Battle for the Boot

    Battle for the Boot

    USA , 2010 , 97 min. The offbeat lifestyle of the boozing rogues behind the Denver Kickball Coalition is chronicled in this documentary about the sports league, which grew out of hipster bars Sputnik and Hi-Dive to offer an alcohol-fueled, in-your-face, tongue-in-cheek athletic experience.... more
  • Big Shoes: Walking and Talking the Blues

    Big Shoes: Walking and Talking the Blues

    USA , 2010 , 90 min. Continuing a long career spent sharing the lives and songs of roots musicians in the South (both famous and obscure), documentary filmmaker Robert Mugge turns his lens on the Scissormen, a juke-joint blues duo embarking on a tour of the Midwest.... more
  • Blank City

    Blank City

    USA , 2010 , 94 min. Digital presentation - BLANK CITY tells the long-overdue tale of a disparate crew of renegade filmmakers who emerged from an economically bankrupt and dangerous moment in New York history. In the late 1970's and mid 80's, when the city was still a wasteland of cheap rent and cheap drugs, thes... more
  • Cinema Q: Making the Boys

    Cinema Q: Making the Boys

    USA , 2009 , 90 min. Digital presentation - A year before the politically charged landscape of the 1960s erupted with the Stonewall Riots, Mart Crowley’s groundbreaking play The Boys in the Band premiered off-Broadway. Heralded as the first instance of gay theater, it became a resounding overnight smash: f... more
  • Cinematherapy


    Czech Republic , 2010 , 108 min. Reworking the memes of reality TV, Czech director Ivan Vojnár embarked on a project with 11 participants who discussed their lives, dreams, and secrets before his camera. The resulting documentary reveals their startling process.... more
  • Cool It

    Cool It

    USA , 2010 , 84 min. Award-winning documentarian Ondi Timoner trains her camera on the contrarian Danish climate scientist Bjørn Lomborg, a Green Peace activist-turned-dissident who sees the conventional wisdom on global warming as inaccurate if not fraudulent.... more
  • Corner Store

    Corner Store

    USA , 2010 , 70 min. Yousef Elhaj works countless hours for 10 years at his neighborhood grocery in San Francisco, saving money to reunite with his family in Palestine. He must then decide their future: return to his fractured homeland or bring them here to start anew?... more
  • The Desert of Forbidden Art

    The Desert of Forbidden Art

    USA , 2010 , 80 min. This eye-opening documentary explores the efforts of a little-known Russian artist named Igor Savitsky to preserve tens of thousands of artworks banned during the Stalin era by defying the Soviet system and building a museum to house them in the desert of western Uzbekistan.... more
  • A Different Path

    A Different Path

    USA , 2010 , 93 min. Festival favorites Monteith McCollum and Ariana Gerstein (Milk in the Land: Ballad of an American Drink, SDFF30; Hybrid, SDFF24) are back with this artful documentary that spotlights activists who are decidedly unhappy about our car-centric culture.... more
  • Echotone


    USA , 2010 , 88 min. As construction projects loom and disgruntled residents call for noise ordinances, Austin’s musicians fear for the future of the city they hail as the live music capital of the world. This documentary pays pulsing tribute to the Texas capital’s long artistic legacy.... more
  • Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone

    Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone

    USA , 2010 , 103 min. Everyday Sunshine is the story of the Los Angeles–based all-black sextet Fishbone. Like the eclectic group itself—genre-breaking musicians’ musicians who mixed ska, funk, punk, hard rock and pop with an electric stage presence—this is not your everyday behind-the-music documentary.... more
  • For Once in My Life

    For Once in My Life

    USA , 2010 , 90 min. This inspiring documentary profiles the Spirit of Goodwill, a unique group of musicians—all facing a wide range of severe mental and physical disabilities, from autism and Down’s Syndrome to blindness—who have overcome immense challenges, found success and forged friendships.... more
  • Forgotten Transports to Belarus

    Forgotten Transports to Belarus

    Czech Republic , 2009 , 90 min. In To Belarus, old men describe the armed resistance they mounted in their long-vanished youth.... more
  • Forgotten Transports to Estonia

    Forgotten Transports to Estonia

    Czech Republic , 2009 , 90 min. In To Estonia, deported Czech women tell of the naive acts of sharing that saved them from the genocide occurring around them.... more
  • Forgotten Transports to Latvia

    Forgotten Transports to Latvia

    Czech Republic , 2009 , 90 min. To Latvia concentrates on the heroic efforts of Jews imprisoned in the Riga ghetto to preserve family life.... more
  • Forgotten Transports to Poland

    Forgotten Transports to Poland

    Czech Republic , 2009 , 90 min. The survivors in To Poland describe their lives on the run, a succession of disguised identities and reinvented selves.... more
  • A Good Day to Die

    A Good Day to Die

    USA , 2010 , 90 min. Documentarians Lynn Salt and David Mueller follow Objibwa activist Dennis Banks on a cross-country tour to key sites in the heyday of the American Indian Movement—including Wounded Knee, where AIM staged a historic 71-day occupation.... more
  • Grace Paley: Collected Shorts

    Grace Paley: Collected Shorts

    USA , 2010 , 75 min. The story of Grace Paley’s long and colorful life as a writer and political activist is chronicled in this seamlessly flowing documentary. Interviews with such esteemed authors as Philip Roth, Alice Walker and Allan Gurganus round out the intimate portrait of this poet.... more
  • The House of Suh

    The House of Suh

    USA , 2010 , 94 min. The 1993 murder of Catherine Suh’s boyfriend by her brother Andrew absorbed Chicago newshounds for more than two years. Probing rather than sensationalizing, this true-crime documentary features interviews with the bright young man, who is serving a 100-year prison sentence.... more
  • Keiko the Untold Story

    Keiko the Untold Story

    USA , 2010 , 74 min. Keiko, the orca who starred in Free Willy, escaped captivity with the help of a children’s campaign in the 1990s. This documentary tells the story of his rescue, rehabilitation and release into the open ocean around his native Iceland.... more
  • A Letter to Elia

    A Letter to Elia

    USA , 2010 , 60 min. Director Martin Scorsese takes an up-close and personal look at the life and work of Elia Kazan, the man he considers his mentor. Substantial clips from Kazan’s greatest triumphs, including On the Waterfront and alternate with footage from his early career.... more
  • My Life with Carlos

    My Life with Carlos

    Chile , 2010 , 83 min. When Carlos Berger Guralnik was murdered in 1973 by the Pinochet regime, he was survived by his one-year-old son, Germán Berger-Hertz. My Life with Carlos documents Germán’s search for the keys to his father’s identity and the circumstances surrounding his death.... more
  • My So-Called Enemy

    My So-Called Enemy

    USA , 2010 , 89 min. In 2002, six Jewish and Palestinian teenage girls flew to New Jersey to attend a peace camp. Removed from daily tensions at home, they faced their “enemies,” formed friendships and initiated the very sort of dialogue that this thoughtful documentary sets out to generate.... more
  • Mzungu (n.) White-Wanderer

    Mzungu (n.) White-Wanderer

    USA , 2010 , 80 min. Four young Colorado men travel to Uganda and Rwanda hoping to make a difference. They’re followed by filmmaker Shana Marie Gilbert, who documents their various projects while offering a glimpse of Africa’s teeming cities riddled with trash—juxtaposed with beautiful green countryside.... more
  • Niger '66: A Peace Corps Diary

    Niger '66: A Peace Corps Diary

    USA , 2010 , 75 min. Documentarian Judy Irola follows her fellow former Peace Corps volunteers as they return to Africa more than 40 years after serving in Niger to reconnect with the people they worked with, gauge the impact of their projects and reflect on how their experience overseas has shaped their own lives.... more
  • No Woman No Cry

    No Woman No Cry

    USA , 2010 , 60 min. Frightening birth complications inspired former supermodel Christy Turlington Burns to become an advocate for maternal health and reproductive rights; No Woman No Cry documents the health care concerns of mothers around the world, from Tanzania and Guatemala to Bangladesh and even the US.... more
  • Norman Mailer: The American

    Norman Mailer: The American

    USA , 2010 , 95 min. Novelist and journalist Norman Mailer was one of the most provocative figures in twentieth-century America. Documentarian Joe Mantegna paints a vivid portrait of this intense, sincere and reckless man who earned both public acclaim and censure—as well as the devotion of those who knew him best.... more
  • One Lucky Elephant

    One Lucky Elephant

    USA , 2010 , 82 min. The controversial issue of animal captivity becomes personal in this fascinating and poignant documentary about Flora, an elephant who was orphaned at two and trained for the circus by the man who would become her closest companion—and her reluctant liberator.... more
  • Pelada


    USA , 2009 , 92 min. Soccer, futbol or football: the name may change from place to place, but the love of the game is universal. Pelada takes us on a journey around the globe to show us that when it comes to attaining world peace—or at least a little cross-cultural understanding—all you need is a field.... more
  • Reconciliation: Mandela's Miracle

    Reconciliation: Mandela's Miracle

    USA , 2010 , 88 min. The end of apartheid in South Africa could have been the beginning of a catastrophic civil war. Only one man stood in the way: Nelson Mandela. The story of his nation-saving leadership unfolds in a moving documentary by Michael Henry Wilson (In Search of Kundun with Martin Scorcese, SDFF21).... more
  • Roll Out, Cowboy

    Roll Out, Cowboy

    75 min. Chris Sand—an endearingly offbeat but feckless musician from a dying farm town in North Dakota—embarks on a 2008 road tour performing as Sandman the Rapping Cowboy. First-time feature documentarian Elizabeth Lawrence traces his compelling journey—cringe-inducing, touching and groovy by turns.... more
  • Secrets of the Tribe

    Secrets of the Tribe

    United Kingdom , 2009 , 110 min. Secrets of the Tribe by Brazilian director José Padilha (Bus 174, DFF 2003), tells the shocking story of the Yanomami people and the anthropologists who studied them in the 1960s and 1970s. Through a series of interviews, it reveals the dark side of the field.... more
  • Strangers No More

    Strangers No More

    USA , 2010 , 40 min. In the heart of Tel Aviv, there is an exceptional school where children from 48 different countries and diverse backgrounds come together to learn. Many of the students arrive at Bialik-Rogozin in the wake of poverty, political adversity and even genocide. Here, no child is a stranger.... more
  • Surviving Hitler: A Love Story

    Surviving Hitler: A Love Story

    USA , 2010 , 66 min. This riveting feature documentary debut by John-Keith Wasson chronicles the romance that bloomed in Hitler’s Germany between a young Jewish woman and a Nazi soldier —who together became involved in the resistance and the plot to assassinate the dictator.... more
  • There Once Was an Island

    There Once Was an Island

    New Zealand , 2010 , 80 min. Climate change may soon wipe out the island of Takuu, home to 400 Polynesian aboriginals. As rising seas engulf this remote atoll in the South Pacific, the heartbreaking decision to leave home or face death must be made. This documentary captures the excruciating process.... more
  • Toto


    Austria , 2009 , 128 min. Austrian director Peter Schreiner’s poetic documentary follows middle-aged Antonio Cotroneo—Totó for short—from his home in Vienna to his Italian birthplace, Tropea, where he renews his connection to the sun-baked landscape while reflecting on his choices in life.... more
  • TRUST: Second Acts in Young Lives

    TRUST: Second Acts in Young Lives

    USA , 2010 , 78 min. In this hopeful documentary about the healing power of art, a young immigrant finds her voice at Chicago’s Albany Park Theater Project by working through emotional trauma as she relates her story of rape and abandonment to other teens who transform it into a play.... more
  • Twenty Days That Shook Tehran

    Twenty Days That Shook Tehran

    Iran , 2010 , 98 min. Documentarian Ali Razi offers a vivid look at the three weeks leading up to the tumultuous Iranian presidential election of June 12, 2009—whose outcome continues to be disputed by a nation that struggles with the very notion of democracy.... more
  • When I Rise

    When I Rise

    USA , 2010 , 75 min. One of the first African-American students at the University of Texas in the 1950s, Barbara Smith was expelled from the cast of an opera because she was black. She gracefully weathered the civil-rights storm that followed to become an internationally known mezzo-soprano.... more
  • When the Dragon Swallowed the Sun

    When the Dragon Swallowed the Sun

    USA , 2010 , 113 min. German documentarian Dirk Simon takes a close look at the complex—and controversial—issues surrounding the Tibetan freedom movement, examining the reasons for China’s continued occupation and evaluating whether Tibet’s current tactic of nonviolent resistance is effective.... more
  • William S. Burroughs: A Man Within

    William S. Burroughs: A Man Within

    USA , 2009 , 90 min. Digital presentation - Featuring never-before-seen archival footage of Burroughs, as well as exclusive interviews with colleagues and confidants including John Waters, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Gus Van Sant, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Sonic Youth, Laurie Anderson, Amiri Baraka, Jello Biafra, and... more
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