10 Best Documentary Filmmakers

Thursday, February 3 by Nicole Dales

Documentaries can be entertaining, enlightening, or educational, but watching a piece crafted by one of the 10 best documentary filmmakers and you are likely to find all three qualities.

  1. Michael Apted: He is best known for his “Up!” Series he produced for BBC. He selected fourteen children in Britain in 1964, all the age of seven. He has subsequently filmed what he can from each child over the past years.
  2. Ken Burns: He is known for making award winning documentaries using achieved footage. His films “The Civil War” and “Baseball” have collectively won seven Emmy Awards.
  3. Alex Gibne: He creates very politically inspired films. His 2005 film “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” was nominated for an Academy Award, and his 2007 film “Taxi to the Dark Side” won an Academy Award.
  4. Michael Moore: Moore has been making waves for years with his documentaries. Most notable was his 2002 documentary “Bowling for Columbine” and his 2007 documentary “Sicko”. “Bowling for Columbine” took the idea of the school shooting at Columbin High School and used it to catalyst a film about gun rights in America. “Sicko” looked into America’s health care system.
  5. Errol Morris: Morris began delivering documentaries that were unusual and unlike other films on the market in the late ’70s. Some of his notable films were “A Thin Blue Line” in 1988 which helped convicted murder Randall Dale Adams escape Texas’ death row and “Mr. Death, The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.” in 2000, which depicted a caffeine-addicted designer of execution equipment.
  6. Barbara Kopple: She is in the minority being a female documentary maker, but has delivered some substantial films herself. Take “Harlan County, USA” in 1976. She won an Academy Award for best documentary with her film about the Kentucky coal miners’ strike. Her 1990 “American Dream” was also about employees on strike, this time at a Hormel meat-packing plant in Austin, Minnesota.
  7. Stacy Peralta: He was a young filmmaker focusing on life in Southern California. His 2001 film “Dogtown and Z-boys” looked at the growth of skateboarding by documenting the life of Venice beach skateboarders and her 2004 “Riding Giants” looked at the surfing crowd.
  8. Su Friedrich: He likes to concentrate on adolescence and the experiences you go through in that time in your life.  “Sink or Swim” and “Hide and Seek” are his two most notable and must see movies.
  9. William Greaves: He has been dubbed the “Dean of African American Filmmakers”. He has produced many works, and won an Emmy Award for his film “Black Journal”.
  10. Luc Jacquet: He is a fairly new filmmaker on the scene. He produced the beloved and Oscar winning film “March of the Penguins”.
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