List Film

Reviews & features: Documentary

The Last Catch and Musicwood among the highlights of the UK Green Film Festival 2014

10 Apr 2014

The nationwide-documentary fest focuses on socio-ecological issues around the world

The UK Green Film Festival, celebrating the best environmental filmmaking from around the globe, is set to take place across 14 UK cities from Sun 1–Sun 8 Jun 2014. The festival, which is a champion of independent documentary filmmaking with an…

A Story of Children and Film

4 Apr 20143 stars

Mark Cousins’ film essay/poem is an impassioned look at childhood in cinema

A fervent supporter of world cinema, Mark Cousins’ new documentary provides some examples of the way childhood has been captured by filmmakers around the globe in the hundred years since cinema’s birth. Focusing on filmmakers from Francois Truffaut to…

Martin Scorsese, Jarvis Cocker, Julien Temple and Jeremy Deller among highlights of inaugural Art Screen doc fest

19 Mar 2014

The new film festival will take place in Glasgow in April 2014

Jarvis Cocker, Julien Temple and Jeremy Deller will be among the live guests at Art Screen, a new Glasgow-based documentary film festival set to take place in April 2014. Martin Scorsese's name is also being hailed as a highlight of the programme…

The Punk Singer

19 Mar 20144 stars

Inspiring look at the Bikini Kill riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna

Whatever happened to Kathleen Hanna? That's the basic thrust of Sini Anderson's accomplished debut feature-length documentary chronicling the life of the explosively inspiring former singer with punk rock bands Bikini Kill and Le Tigre and leader of the…

The Unknown Known

13 Mar 20142 stars

Errol Morriss' examination of Donald Rumsfeld lacks nuance and depth

The veteran documentarian Errol Morris here turns his penetrating gaze upon Donald Rumsfeld, Defence Secretary under Gerald Ford and George W Bush. Comparisons are inevitable with Morris’ 2003 Oscar-winner The Fog of War, for which he interviewed…

20 Feet from Stardom

13 Mar 20144 stars

A soul-stirring celebration of backing vocalists from director Morgan Neville

Lapped up by festival audiences worldwide and winner of the Best Documentary award at the 2014 Oscars, Morgan Neville’s soul-stirring celebration of backing vocalists is a bona fide crowd-pleaser with substance to match. Neville captures the…

Video Nasties: Draconian Days

5 Mar 20144 stars

Jake West censorship doc highlights horror's frontline position in our battle for personal freedoms

The second part of director Jake West's history of film censorship in the UK looks at the furore surrounding the issue of 'Video Nasties', resulting in the establishment of the Video Recording Act in 1984. The government stamped down on the lack of…

Mistaken for Strangers

3 Mar 20144 stars

Documentary about US indie group The National filmed by sibling Tom Berninger

A film about making a film, about a band making it as a band, and about brothers getting along as brothers – Mistakenfor Strangers may be one of the smartest, funniest, most heart-warming rockdocs ever made. Being a fan of The National isn't a…

As The Palaces Burn

27 Feb 20144 stars

Fascinating documentary about Lamb of God singer Randy Blythe's trial for manslaughter

Lamb of God are a seriously heavy rock band from Richmond, Virginia, who alongside Machine Head, Trivium and Shadows Fall helped revive the sound of thrash for a new generation of metal heads. They’ve sold a shit load of records; picked up multiple…

Julien Temple's Requiem for Detroit? serves both as a warning and inspiration

19 Feb 2014

As Temple examines the collapse of America's Motor City, should Glasgow and Edinburgh take note?

It's all too fitting that Julien Temple's Requiem for Detroit? is being screened at The Arches during the Glasgow Film Festival. Later on that same evening, a club night is hosted there by Pressure featuring Detroit techno legend Carl Craig, reflecting…

The Armstrong Lie

29 Jan 20143 stars

Alex Gibney finds an interesting resonance in the story of disgraced athlete Lance Armstrong

Alex Gibney delivers another smart and enthralling documentary with The Armstrong Lie, a look at cyclist Lance Armstrong and his spectacular fall from grace following confirmation, after many years of allegations, that he had been involved in…

Dark Days

21 Jan 20144 stars

Marc Singer's 2000 documentary on the subterranean homeless of New York remains warm and genuine

Marc Singer was a young Briton adrift in New York City when he discovered a community of people who had made their homes in disused underground tunnels, moved in with them to offer help, and then, with no filmmaking experience, begged and borrowed…


20 Jan 20143 stars

A fascinating and frustrating documentary examining the history of the teenager

Teenage sets itself an impossible task. Inspired by Jon Savage's hefty bestseller, Teenage: The Creation Of Youth 1875–1945, it attempts a sweeping, global overview of how the concept of the teenager came into existence. From the introduction of…

Kiss the Water

16 Jan 20142 stars

Eric Steel's documentary about fly-fisher Megan Boyd is a slight curiosity of a film

A passion project for producer Eric Steel, Kiss the Water opens with his voiceover explaining a personal interest in the film’s genesis. Having read the newspaper obituary of Scottish fishing legend Megan Boyd, Steel (a producer of Nora Ephron’s…

Movement One / Ponydance

18 Nov 20134 stars

A Dance:Film 2013 documentary double bill with contrasting atmospheric and humourous approaches

It’s hard to imagine two companies approaching contemporary dance in more contrasting ways than the subjects of this diverse double-bill. In Movement One, American choreographer Teddy Forance takes us to the dark side of the human psyche, fusing…

Interview: Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel, directors of Leviathan

18 Nov 2013

'We wanted the sound to be as immersive and intense, as acoustically untamed as the image'

These two anthropologists and filmmakers won the Michael Powell Award for their bold documentary Leviathan at this year’s Edinburgh Film Festival. Set on a trawler in the seas off the New England coast it’s a memorable immersion into the fishing…

All This Can Happen / I Play Dead

15 Nov 20134 stars

A Dance:Film 2013 double bill exploring the different ways movement can be incorporated into film

The debate on what constitutes dance, and who can do it, is a never-ending dialogue. So it comes as no surprise that dance on film poses the same questions – especially at a festival dedicated to both genres. Compared to the more obvious screenings…

Pandora’s Promise

15 Nov 20132 stars

Lecturing documentary from Robert Stone about nuclear power

If there is one thing which can be sure to universally attract grumbles from a room full of people, it’s the process of being lectured at. What’s even more bothersome is a lecture which propounds the notion that we are all misinformed creatures worthy…


12 Nov 20134 stars

Provocative documentary from John Pilger about the treatment of Australia's aboriginal people

There's much that's truly shocking in John Pilger's ironically-titled documentary about the plight of Australia's aboriginal or 'First People' population. There's the shamefully abusive treatment while in police custody of one young man that lead to him…


5 Nov 20135 stars

Remarkable, thought-provoking documentary filmed on fishing trawler off New England coast

Anthropologists Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel have created a remarkable cinematic experience in Leviathan, a documentary shot in one night on a fishing trawler off the New England coast.

¡Vivan Las Antipodas!

5 Nov 20133 stars

Heady cinematic documentary exploring four antipodal places on earth

Is beauty enough in a film? It’s a question often pondered by critics and after watching Russian documentarist Victor Kossakovsky’s latest, ¡Vivan las Antipodas!, it’s raised once again. Transitioning between four antipodal places on earth (sites…


1 Nov 20134 stars

Insightful documentary about the influential Hollywood screenwriter

If the term ‘maverick’ is an overused one when it comes to describing 1970s Hollywood veterans, it’s more than fitting for John Milius. Just his screenwriting credits alone are enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. An…

Muscle Shoals

22 Oct 20134 stars

A music doc about an Alabama town rich in musical history, from Aretha Franklin to Alicia Keys

Most music documentaries tend to focus on artists rather than environment, which is what makes Muscle Shoals an interesting prospect. You may not have heard of this small Alabama town that nestles on the banks of the Tennessee River, but the sounds it…

Profile: Lucy Walker - director of The Crash Reel

8 Oct 2013

Documentary looks at near-death of professional snowboarder Kevin Pearce

An Oxford graduate, Walker won a Fulbright Scholarship to study film at New York’s Tisch School of the Arts. She made her debut documentary feature in 2002 with Devil’s Playground, exploring the romantic experiences of Amish teenagers. She has since…

The Lebanese Rocket Society

8 Oct 20133 stars

A compelling story of middle-eastern space exploration slightly undermined by a scrappy structure

Fascinating questions about history and shared memory are asked in this personal and ultra-low-budget documentary from established Lebanese filmmakers Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige. It begins with a mystery: an image from the 60s of a space…