To wrap up 2010’s curation of Hulu’s Documentaries page by indieWIRE, we took our cue from the end-of-year tradition of “best of” and “top ten” lists. While we can’t offer ten, we’ve selected six past favorites among Hulu’s library – you can’t go wrong revisiting these impressive films or watching them for the first time.
EDITOR’S NOTE: “indieWIRE @ Hulu Docs” is a regular column spotlighting the iW-curated selections on Hulu’s Documentaries page, a unique collaboration between the two sites. iW selections appear in the carousel at the top of the page and under “Featured Content” in the center. Be sure to check out the great non-fiction projects available to watch free of charge.
Ondi Timoner picked up the Sundance Documentary Grand Jury Prize in 2004 for “Dig!,” her years-in-the-making portrait of two bands, the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Dandy Warhols and the fascinating friendship and rivalry between their respective frontmen, Anton Newcombe and Courtney Taylor. Expertly transcending the typical limitations of many music-oriented documentaries, Timoner is able to captivate audiences whether or not they have heard of either band by focusing on the vulnerable and complex individuals involved.
The inspiration for the Academy Award-winning “Boys Don’t Cry,” Susan Muska & Greta Olafsdottir’s documentary, “The Brandon Teena Story,” picked up its share of accolades at Berlin and elsewhere. This compelling film tells the heartbreaking story of the brutal murder of Brandon, born biologically female but passing as a young man in a conservative Midwestern town.
Bill Guttentag & Dan Sturman’s “Nanking” was awarded with Sundance’s Documentary Film Editing prize in 2007. This powerful film tells the story of the rape of the Chinese city Nanking by the invading Japanese army in 1937-1938, as related by survivors and perpetrators alike, focusing on the efforts of Westerners to save more than 200,000 Chinese.
The comfort of those in wartime is at the center of Aron Gaudet’s “The Way We Get By,” which claimed a Special Jury Award at its debut at SXSW in 2009 (I was on the jury that recognized the film together with my iW colleague Anne Thompson). The film profiles three senior citizens who volunteer welcoming American troops returning from combat and seeing those heading into it. At the same time, this moving film wrestles with issues of aging, mortality, and purpose.
Also set against the backdrop of war (and a generation-defining sexual revolution), Kevin Rafferty’s “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29” revisits the infamous 1968 Ivy League football game. The film succeeds at engaging audiences who may not even be sports fans, presenting a gripping and entertaining look back at a pivotal game in an indelible era.
Shifting gears to bring this “best of” to a close, “RiP! A Remix Manifesto” by Brett Gaylor is a polemic examining copyright, music, and creativity in the age of the Internet. Looking at the ways copyright law has been rewritten over time, Gaylor provocatively argues against corporate ownership of ideas and against the subsequent stifling of creativity that results from an inability to fully engage with cultural products like music and art to transform them into something new.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Basil Tsiokos is a Programming Associate, Documentary Features for Sundance, consults with documentary filmmakers and festivals, and recently co-produced Cameron Yates’ feature documentary “The Canal Street Madam.” Follow him on Twitter (@1basil1 and @CanalStMadamDoc) and visit his blog (what (not) to doc).