A couple of years back, we highlighted a number of documentary filmmakers to follow on Twitter, but given that we are living in what seems to be the heyday of nonfiction filmmaking, we felt it was high time for an updated list. It’s an eclectic and impressive group responsible for some of our favorite documentaries, including “The Crash Reel,” “The Act of Killing” and the “Paradise Lost” series.
Note that this isn’t a comprehensive or ranked list, but that all of these filmmakers are active in documentary discussions on Twitter — and whether they’re promoting their own projects or debating the merits of various documentary techniques, these cinematic rabble-rousers are consistently informative, entertaining and engaging. Also note that when we say this is a list of filmmakers, we’re not just talking about directors. This list also includes producers and documentary funders.
If you’re looking for tips about which festivals are best for documentaries or a discussion about documentary practices and ethics, don’t just follow these folks, interact with them.
Below, in alphabetic order, we list their Twitter handles and some recent tweets. Feel free to add your favorite documentarians on Twitter in the comments below and we’ll continue to update this list.
Joe Berlinger: Joe Berlinger has been a leading and authoritative voice in the documentary film world for over two decades. Nominated for an Academy Award for “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory,” which he co-directed with the late Bruce Sinofsky, Berlinger has won the Peabody award and has been nominated for the Emmy Award seven times. Six of his films have had their world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, most recently, “Whitey: United States of America V. James J Bulger.” He’s a passionate filmmaker who is generous with his time.
A day off on a new project in Segovia Spain. Life is good. pic.twitter.com/R2cLspbQg6
— Joe Berlinger (@joeberlinger) August 28, 2015
Doug Block: In addition to being a documentary filmmaker who makes personal films such as “51 Birch Street,” “The Kids Grow Up” and “112 Weddings,” Block is also the founder of The D-Word, an online community for documentary filmmakers. He has also written about how to get your subjects to open up on camera.
— Doug Block (@DougBlock) September 9, 2015
Charlotte Cook: Since leaving Hot Docs, where she oversaw programming, Cook has recently teamed up with AJ Schnack and Laura Poitras to launch Field of Vision, a new documentary documentary platform from The Intercept, which has plans to commission 40-50 short-form documentaries a year. Follow her to learn more about Field of Vision.
— Charlotte Cook (@CharlotteCook) September 29, 2015
Billy Corben: After his feature documentary film debut “Raw Deal: A Question of Consent” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2001, Billy Corben went on to co-found the Miami-based studio, Rakontur, along with producing partner Alfred Spellman. Since then Billy Corben has created films such as “Cocaine Cowboys,” “Square Grouper: The Godfathers of Ganja” and “Dawg Fight.” Keep in mind that there will be numerous sports-related tweets in Corben’s feed.
Documentary filmmaking in 2 steps:
1. Find a good story.
2. Don’t f*ck it up.
— Billy Corben (@BillyCorben) October 3, 2015
Marshall Curry: Two-time Academy Award-nominated documentary director/producer/cinematographer/editor Marshall Curry was the creative force behind documentaries including “Street Fight,” “Racing Dreams” and most recently, “Point and Shoot.” He also writes about documentary ethics.
— Marshall Curry (@marshallcurry)
Heidi Ewing: Ewing is a director, producer and writer. Along with Rachel Grady, she founded Loki Films in 2001 and has collaborated on films including “The Boys of Baraka,” “Jesus Camp” and “Detropia.”
Join me and my compatriots today at 2pm at IFP to discuss the arty side of the social doc. Shall the two be friends? @ifpfilm
— Heidi Ewing (@HeidiLoki) September 22, 2015
Liz Garbus: A double Academy Award-nominated director and producer has a long line of credits, including “Love, Marilyn,” “Killing in the Name,” “Bobby Fischer Against the World” and most recently, “What Happened, Miss Simone?” Along with Rory Kennedy, Garbus is the co-founder of Moxie Firecracker Films, Inc., an independent documentary production company.
— Liz Garbus (@lizgarbus) September 25, 2015
Alex Gibney: The incredibly prolific Academy Award-winning director has been the creative force behind a whole slew of documentaries, including “Taxi to the Dark Side,” “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” and most recently, “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.” He’s a master in the field of nonfiction filmmaking.
Remembering Al Maysles for “the radical acceptance of his subjects.” pic.twitter.com/hRgndEONdx
— Alex Gibney (@alexgibneyfilm) October 4, 2015
Robert Greene: The filmmaker and writer is best known for his innovative nonfiction work, including “Fake it So Real,” “Kati with an I” and “Actress.” Greene has produced and edited over a dozen award-winning documentaries, including Amanda Rose Wilder’s “Approaching the Elephant” and has edited films including Alex Ross Perry’s narrative feature “Listen Up Philip” and Douglas Tirol’s “Hey Bartender.” He has written frequently about film and currently serves in the position of “Filmmaker-in-Chief” at the new Murray Center for Documentary Journalism at the University of University of Missouri
— Robert Greene (@prewarcinema) October 5, 2015
Brent Huffman: Huffman is an award-winning director, producer and cinematographer of documentaries and television programs. His latest documentary “Saving Mes Aynak” was a hit at IDFA 2014 and Full Frame 2015. But more than just a documentary it’s also harnessing an activist campaign to save this ancient Buddhist site in Afghanistan.
— Brent E. Huffman (@Brent_Huffman) October 3, 2015
Gary Hustwit: Hustwit has produced and directed a number of documentaries with a special focus on design, architecture and typography including “Helvetica,” “Objectified” and “Urbanized.” On Twitter, he’s frequently sharing news about his own work as well as supporting the work of his documentary colleagues. He also posts about photography.
— Gary Hustwit (@gary_hustwit) October 4, 2015
Asif Kapadia: A British filmmaker of Indian descent, Kapadia has directed several award-winning films, including “The Sheep Thief,” “The Warrior,” “Senna” and most recently, “Amy,” which documents the life and tragic death of Amy Winehouse. The film, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, is the highest-grossing documentary of all time in the U.K. and one of the top grossing documentaries in the U.S. this year.
I would not be making films now without my free education: ‘students in UK graduate with an average of £44k of debt’ https://t.co/DYJm9FpBgM
— asifkapadia (@asifkapadia) October 3, 2015
Michael Moore: Michael Moore is more than just a documentary filmmaker. Since the incredible success of his directorial debut “Roger and Me,” Moore has become a professional political activist/rabble rouser. His provocative documentaries including “Bowling for Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 9/11.” His latest effort “Where to Invade Next” is sure to push more buttons. If you follow Moore, be prepared for political diatribes in addition to documentary news.
Candlelight vigils are OK in towns where these shootings happen. Everywhere else, we should surround the gun companies’ HQs & shut ’em down.
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) October 2, 2015
Brett Morgen: Dubbed the “mad scientist” of documentary film by the New York Times, Morgen has been directing, writing and producing documentary films for the past 15 years. “On the Ropes,” his thesis film from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, premiered at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival, where it received the Special Jury Award. Since then he’s directed “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” “Chicago 10,” “Crossfire Hurricane” and most recently, “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck.”
“Every generation needs a new revolution.”
— Brett Morgen (@brettmorgen) September 29, 2015
Stanley Nelson: Nelson, who learned his craft through an apprentice with documentary filmmaker William Greaves, is a director and producer of documentary films known for examining the history and experiences of African Americans, including “Freedom Summer,” “Freedom Riders” “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of a Revolution” and many more. He’s received fellowships from the American Film Institute, the New York Foundation for the Arts and Columbia University and he was the recipient of a 2002 MacArthur Fellows Program fellowship.
It was a great conversation and I hope to return! https://t.co/5wfpV7EVyH
— Stanley Nelson (@StanleyNelson1) September 28, 2015
Joshua Oppenheimer: With his gut-wrenching, one-two punch of “The Act of Killing” and “The Look of Silence,” which delve into the violent history of Indonesia and the death squads who massacred accused Communists, Oppenheimer has not only planted himself firmly on the documentary map, but he’s also caused political change. And in addition to earning an Oscar-nominated for “The Act of Killing,” Oppenheimer received a MacArthur “Genius” Award in 2014.
Sign our petition demanding that the US acknowledge its role in the 1965 Indonesian genocide. We only need 48… http://t.co/huVH2hvemE
— Joshua Oppenheimer (@JoshuaOppenheim) October 4, 2015
Dawn Porter: Porter is an award-winning filmmaker whose 2013 documentary “Gideon’s Army” won the Sundance Film Festival Editing Award and the Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Award. She also directed and produced “Spies of Mississippi” and recently completed “Rise: The Promise of My Brothers Keeper,” a documentary film chronicling President Obama’s program to help young men and boys of color succeed. She is currently working on “Trapped,” which explores the impact of laws regulating abortion clinics in the South. She often tweets on issues related to race relations, social activism and reproductive rights.
Dear PBS colonialism wasn’t entertaining the first time around – – not for us brown people @IndianSummer
— Dawn Porter (@dawnporterm) September 28, 2015
AJ Schnack: Schnack is an editor and director, known for “Kurt Cobain About a Son,” “We Always Lie to Strangers” and “Caucus.” In addition to serving as founder and co-chair of the Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking, Schnack recently teamed up with Charlotte Cook and Laura Poitras to launch Field of Vision, a new documentary documentary platform from The Intercept, which has plans to commission 40-50 short-form documentaries a year. As with Cook (above), you can follow Schnack to keep up on the latest from Field of Vision.
Movie making is hard and I don’t like being snarky but honestly I have no idea what super fans of The Walk are smoking.
— AJ Schnack (@ajschnack) September 30, 2015
Tiffany Shlain: Emmy-nominated filmmaker and Webby Awards Founder Tiffany Shlain has received over 70 awards and distinctions for her films and work. She has premiered four films at Sundance, including her acclaimed feature documentary “Connected: An Autoblogography about Love, Death & Technology.” Shlain created the AOL original series “The Future Starts Here” and frequently lectures about filmmaking and technology.
— Tiffany Shlain (@tiffanyshlain) October 1, 2015
Marc Silver: Silver works worldwide as a filmmaker, director of photography and social impact strategist. His first feature length film “Who is Dayani Cristal?” premiered at the Sundance Festival 2013. His second film “3½ Minutes, Ten Bullets” about the murder of Jordan Davis premiered at the Sundance Festival 2015, winning U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Social Impact. Silver is also Creative Director of The Filmmaker Fund.
— marc silver (@marcsilverMS) October 3, 2015
Morgan Spurlock: After his wildly successful first film, “Supersize Me,” the Academy Award-winning Spurlock has become a documentary brand, personality and political activist. He’s currently the host and producer of CNN’s “Morgan Spurlock Inside Man.” He’s not shy about sharing his opinion, which makes his Twitter feed quite lively.
— Morgan Spurlock (@MorganSpurlock) September 25, 2015
Ondi Timoner: As a documentary director, editor and producer, Timoner has built a reputation for herself in the documentary world, becoming the only two-time recipient of Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize for documentaries with “DIG!” and “We Live in Public.” Her most recent film, “Brand: A Second Coming,” sufficiently unnerved its subject, Russell Brand, that he canceled his trip to SXSW, where the film made its world premiere. She’s also an Indiewire Influencer.
— Ondi Timoner (@onditimoner) October 2, 2015
Lucy Walker: Academy Award-nominated Walker has directed five documentary features, including “Waste Land” and “The Crash Reel” in addition to two award-winning short films, “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom” and “The Lion’s Mouth Opens.” She’s recently signed on to direct a follow-up to “Buena Vista Social Club.” She tweets a lot about women in film.
— Lucy Walker (@lucywalkerfilm) October 2, 2015
Roger Ross Williams: The Academy Award-winning filmmaker won an Oscar for Best Documentary (Short Subject) for “Music by Prudence” and then went on to direct “God Loves Uganda,” which was shortlisted for a 2014 Academy Award and has won over a dozen awards.
— Roger Ross Williams (@RogerRossWill) October 4, 2015
Alex Winter: You might know Winter as Bill from “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” but in recent years, he’s become a dedicated documentary filmmaking taking on subjects such as Napster with “Downloaded” and cyber crime in “Deep Web: The Untold Story of Bitcoin and Silk Road.” His Twitter feed is consistently informative and thoughtful.
If only. The 405 would be wide open all day every day. https://t.co/Ao1thwYxPa
— Alex Winter (@alxwinter) October 5, 2015