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 treasures and tragedies.

  • American Teacher

    American Teacher

    USA , 2011 , 81 min. Coproduced by Dave Eggers and narrated by Matt Damon, American Teacher chronicles the lives of four teachers living and working in disparate communities today, detailing their proud accomplishments and frustrating sacrifices.... more
  • Andrew Bird: Fever Year

    Andrew Bird: Fever Year

    USA , 2011 , 80 min. In Milwaukee in 2009, documentary filmmaker Xan Aranda caught up with Chicago-based musical prodigy Andrew Bird to capture him onstage over the course of two nights. A classically trained violinist, Bird also sings, plays glockenspiel, and whistles operatically.... more
  • Arirang

    Arirang

    South Korea , 2011 , 100 min. In 2008, the once-prolific Korean director Kim Ki-duk watched as his leading actress suffered a near-fatal on-set injury. Traumatized, the devout Buddhist went into hiding and has not re-emerged—except in the form of this raw, corrosive, self-critical video diary.... more
  • The Bengali Detective

    The Bengali Detective

    United Kingdom , 2011 , 110 min. Rajesh is a private investigator in Kolkata who’s passionate about his family, his job—and fancy footwork. This one-of-a-kind documentary follows the chubby detective as he tries to crack murder, counterfeiting, and adultery cases as well as win a national TV dance contest.... more
  • Beyond Iconic

    Beyond Iconic

    USA , 2011 , 75 min. The works of late photographer Dennis Stock may be better known than he ever was, but in Hanna Sawka Hamaguchi’s documentary he holds forth with the same eloquence, clarity, and confidence that characterizes his images (including the iconic portrait of James Dean in Times Square).... more
  • A Bitter Taste of Freedom

    A Bitter Taste of Freedom

    Russia , 2011 , 86 min. Russian documentarian Marina Goldkovskaya pays homage to her old friend Anya Politkovskaya, the crusading Moscow journalist who told the truth about her country's dirty war in Chechnya—and paid the price for it in 2006, when she was shot to death at her apartment door.... more
  • Bob and the Monster

    Bob and the Monster

    USA , 2011 , 87 min. Documentarian Keirda Bahruth spent six years tracing the rise, fall, and near-miraculous return of Thelonious Monster frontman Bob Forrest—from arrogant young singer-songwriter poised for megastardom to heroin-addled wreck to compassionate addiction counselor.... more
  • Burma: A Human Tragedy

    Burma: A Human Tragedy

    USA , 2011 , 85 min. Ongoing yet largely ignored, the horrific genocide of ethnic minorities throughout Burma is brought under close and grisly scrutiny in this secretly filmed documentary, which also exposes the rulers who live in luxury as their people suffer.... more
  • Cinema Q presents: Chely Wright - Wish Me Away

    Cinema Q presents: Chely Wright - Wish Me Away

    USA , 2011 , 96 min. Must end Thursday, June 21st at the Denver FilmCenter/Colfax Digital presentation - Chely Wright: Wish Me Away is the story of Chely Wright, the first country music star to come out as gay. Over three years, the filmmakers were given extraordinary access to Chely's struggle and her un... more
  • Deaf Jam

    Deaf Jam

    USA , 2011 , 70 min. Deaf Jam speaks volumes, often without a sound. Judy Lieff’s uplifting documentary follows the evolution of American Sign Language (ASL) and one young deaf woman’s journey from childhood frustration with the hearing world to triumph as a signed-word artist in poetry slam competitions.... more
  • Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson

    Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson

    Canada , 2011 , 118 min. Paul Watson is on a mission to save the earth’s sea creatures from slaughter—one that pits him, undeterred, against entire nations. This unflinching documentary traces his passionate life’s work, from the founding of Greenpeace to violent confrontations with whaling fleets.... more
  • El Sicario, Room 164

    El Sicario, Room 164

    USA , 2010 , 80 min. In Gianfranco Rosi's chilling documentary, a nameless former Mexican hitman (or sicario) sits, black-hooded and cold-blooded, in a Juárez hotel room, describing his 20-year career as an executioner and torturer for notorious drug cartels—and revealing the vast corruption in Mexican politics... more
  • Flor de Muertos

    Flor de Muertos

    USA , 2010 , 86 min. Flor de Muertos examines the realities of living on two borders at once—one between life and death, the other between Tucson and Nogales. This unconventional documentary combines social commentary with a Day of the Dead concert film featuring the moody indie outfit Calexico.... more
  • Give Up Tomorrow

    Give Up Tomorrow

    USA , 2011 , 95 min. Seven years in the making, Give Up Tomorrow chronicles the nightmarishly bizarre case of a young man wrongfully convicted yet still serving time for rape and murder in the Philippines, exposing a major miscarriage of justice that resonates here and now.... more
  • The Green Wave

    The Green Wave

    Iran , 2011 , 80 min. MUST END Thursday, August 30th at the DenverFilmCenter/Colfax Digital presentation - Green is the color of hope. Green is the color of Islam. And green was the symbol of recognition among the supporters of presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who became the symbolic figure of t... more
  • Hell and Back Again

    Hell and Back Again

    USA , 2011 , 88 min. Embedded with the U.S. Marine Echo Company in Afghanistan, photojournalist Danfung Dennis takes us to hell and back with Sergeant Nathan Harris, who shuttles heroically between deployment and civilian life, struggling to bridge two worlds.... more
  • Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians

    Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians

    USA , 2011 , 93 min. Holy Rollers chronicles the ups and downs of Churchteam, a group of card-counting Christians trained to beat the casinos at blackjack. The obvious moral conflict becomes the focus of this amusingly revealing documentary.... more
  • kART Across America

    kART Across America

    USA , 2011 , 83 min. In 2008, two childhood friends from Colorado embarked on a 100-day, 6,000-mile journey around the United States to answer a single question: "What's your art?" And they did it all by golf cart. Going 30 miles per hour, Jeremy Make and Andy Raney explore what it means to be an artist... more
  • Klitschko

    Klitschko

    Germany , 2011 , 117 min. German director Sebastian Dehnhardt's lively documentary follows Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, who may be the most unlikely heavyweight champions in history—intelligent, big-boned brothers who play chess, read books, and acknowledge the blunt violence of the sport they love.... more
  • Low Definition Control—Malfunctions #0

    Low Definition Control—Malfunctions #0

    Austria , 2011 , 95 min. We are all potential criminals, according to the experts who analyze the modern surveillance state over the voyeuristic footage of random street activity that make up most of Michael Palm’s documentary. Low Definition Control forces us to consider the implications of relinquishing our privacy... more
  • More to Live For

    More to Live For

    USA , 2011 , 83 min. In More to Live For, Noah Hutton follows three cancer patients in a desperate search for the one bone-marrow donor that could save them. Connected in their fight for survival, they’re on a singular mission—to bring awareness about bone marrow donation.... more
  • The Movement: One Man Joins an Uprising

    The Movement: One Man Joins an Uprising

    USA , 2011 , 40 min. Rick Finkelstein was paralyzed in a ski accident on Aspen Mountain. With a severed spine and internal trauma, he wasn't expected to live. Six years, nine surgeries, and a seeming lifetime of rehab later, he returned to Aspen. This stunning documentary follows Finkelstein and other champions.... more
  • Never Make It Home

    Never Make It Home

    USA , 2011 , 76 min. Split Lip Rayfield toured the heartland for 10 years playing “acoustic, scorched-earth slamgrass.” Then passionate frontman Kirk Rundstrom was diagnosed with fatal esophageal cancer—but he knew exactly what to do.... more
  • One Night Stand

    One Night Stand

    USA , 2011 , 74 min. One Night Stand joyfully documents the anxiety, camaraderie, and artistry that unfold when Broadway’s best actors, writers, composers, and directors collaborate to create and perform four mini-musicals in 24 hours for an annual fundraiser in New York City.... more
  • Patriocracy

    Patriocracy

    USA , 2011 , 90 min. The latest documentary from Denver-based director-producer Brian Malone explores the Divided States of America. Although primarily devoted to unearthing the causes of the current political climate, Patriocracy is not bent on placing blame; its gripping message is a call to action.... more
  • A People Uncounted

    A People Uncounted

    Canada , 2011 , 99 min. Aaron Yeger’s heart-wrenching documentary chronicles the genocide of the Roma people, also known as Gypsies, during the Holocaust. Although an estimated 500,000 Roma perished, their story is rarely told; A People Uncounted aims to change all that by highlighting Roma music, art, and poetry... more
  • Play Like a Lion

    Play Like a Lion

    USA , 2011 , 72 min. “Emperor of Melody” Ali Akbar Khan brought Indian classical music to the United States in 1955; his son Alam has dedicated his life to keeping Khan’s legend alive. This documentary tribute explores their loving relationship and extraordinary musical influence.... more
  • The Presence of Joseph Chaikin

    The Presence of Joseph Chaikin

    USA , 2011 , 87 min. Troy Word's enlightening documentary examines the daring life of innovative Open Theater founder Chaikin, who was obsessed with mortality, God, and a few other Great Questions—not least because rheumatic heart disease threatened to take his life from the age of six onward.... more
  • The Price of Sex

    The Price of Sex

    USA , 2011 , 73 min. Emmy-nominated photojournalist Mimi Chakarova goes undercover to document the trafficking of Eastern European women after the fall of Communism. Poverty makes them targets; forced into prostitution, the women endure harrowing experiences in a network that reaches far beyond their squalid hometowns.... more
  • The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: An Urban History

    The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: An Urban History

    USA , 2010 , 83 min. Friday, Sept. 21 @ 4:30pm When it was built in the 1950s, the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis was a model example of affordable urban housing, providing an alternative to the slums and a home for low-income families in exodus from rural blight. But by 1972, the area had declined and... more
  • The Real American—Joe McCarthy

    The Real American—Joe McCarthy

    Germany , 2011 , 95 min. Combining archival footage, first-person accounts, and an original screenplay, this engrossing docudrama from first-time filmmaker Lutz Hachmeister depicts Joe McCarthy’s rise and fall from Wisconsin farm boy to shooting Senate star to disgraced Cold War witch hunter.... more
  • The Sacred Science

    The Sacred Science

    USA , 2011 , 77 min. Documentarians Nick Polizzi and Dan Bailey accompany eight people suffering from cancer, depression, diabetes, and other ailments to the Amazonian rain forest, where shamans employ centuries-old traditions of medicinal and spiritual healing—traditions under modernist siege—to help them get well.... more
  • Semper Fi: Always Faithful

    Semper Fi: Always Faithful

    USA , 2011 , 76 min. For 30 years, over a million soldiers lived at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune, unaware of their exposure to toxic water—or its role in their illnesses. This searing documentary chronicles one Marine’s fight for justice after losing his nine-year–old daughter to leukemia.... more
  • Sodankylä Forever: The Century of Cinema

    Sodankylä Forever: The Century of Cinema

    Finland , 2010 , 90 min. Peter von Bagh, the director of the 24-hour movie marathon that is Finland's Sodankylä Film Festival, has compiled a fascinating documentary from the annual panel discussions he hosts: here are Coppola, Forman, Scola, Fuller, and others on the effects of World War II and the Soviet era on world film... more
  • Solar Eclipse

    Solar Eclipse

    Czech Republic , 2011 , 81 min. Martin Maracek's documentary charts the absurdist collision of European goodwill and Third World improvisation as a pair of frustrated electricians from the Czech Republic try to repair the damage done by locals to a solar-panel system they’d installed a few years earlier in a remote village... more
  • Staging Hope: Acts of Peace in Northern Uganda

    Staging Hope: Acts of Peace in Northern Uganda

    USA , 2010 , 98 min. This documentary follows a group of American actors to war-torn northern Uganda, where they lead teenagers from an internal displacement camp in a drama workshop.... more
  • Still

    Still

    USA , 2011 , 60 min. Still tells the story of Clyfford Still’s remarkable life and indelible contribution to American art. Along with his contemporaries Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, Still was one of the leaders of the Abstract Expressionist movement—yet he deliberately turned his back on the art establishment... more
  • Tales of the Waria

    Tales of the Waria

    USA , 2010 , 56 min. Chinese-American documentarian Kathy Huang takes a fascinating look at Indonesia's waria—men living as women—that plays havoc with the usual Western notions of Muslim intolerance and gender identity. In the city of Makassar, at least, the waria are clearly accepted as equals... more
  • Undefeated

    Undefeated

    USA , 2011 , 113 min. The Manassas High School Tigers haven’t won a playoff game in more than a century; its teammates are just as likely to end up in jail as college. Part Hoop Dreams, part Friday Night Lights, this documentary is as ultimately hopeful as it is largely unsparing.... more
  • Unfinished Spaces

    Unfinished Spaces

    USA , 2011 , 86 min. Thursday, Sept. 13 @ 7pm Gary Petri, Principal at SLATERPAULL Architects, Inc. will conduct a discussion following the screening. Reception to follow at Limon Restaurant As the codirectors of Unfinished Spaces, Alysa Nahmia... more
  • Where Soldiers Come From

    Where Soldiers Come From

    USA , 2011 , 91 min. Documentarian Heather Courtney spent four years chronicling the fortunes of three young Army National Guardsmen from Michigan—and two of their worried families—as the bewildered boys move from high school to the terrors of combat in Afghanistan and back home again.... more
  • Wild Horses & Renegades

    Wild Horses & Renegades

    USA , 2011 , 80 min. In this provocative documentary, director James Anaquad Kleinert examines the corporate interests at stake in the regularly scheduled round-ups of supposedly protected wild horses that roam states like Colorado. The capture and subsequent destruction of these creatures could mean the end for an icon... more
  • William Kurelek's The Maze

    William Kurelek's The Maze

    USA , 2011 , 64 min. The half-hour documentary Robert M. Young made in 1970 about the famously disturbed Canadian painter William Kurelek has been expanded to full length—a fitting tribute to the tormented schizophrenic who claimed he saved himself by converting to Roman Catholicism.... more
  • The Wonderful Family of Divas

    The Wonderful Family of Divas

    USA , 2011 , 67 min. The Wonderful Family of Divas is a toe-tapping, finger-snapping look at one of America’s most musically influential families. Through one-on-one interviews and archival footage, festival regular Gary Keys introduces us to the fabulous Drinkard Singers.... more
  • You've Been Trumped

    You've Been Trumped

    United Kingdom , 2011 , 95 min. When business tycoon Donald Trump decides to build his next luxury golf resort on the environmentally pristine coast north of Aberdeen, Scotland, local residents rise up in protest. You’ve Been Trumped documents corporate America in all its greed and denial.... more
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