Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the International Documentary Association (IDA) has announced a list of the 25 best documentaries, as selected by its membership (and presented by Netflix). The IDA's 3,000 members, including filmmakers, executives and educators, named Steve James, Peter Gilbert and Frederick Marx's "Hoop Dreams" as the best documentary, selecting the movie from a list of some 700 films. In the #2 spot is Errol Morris' "The Thin Blue Line." According to the IDA, its members ranked and submitted choices, with the option of also including write-in suggestions. The full list, included below, will be published in the Nov./Dec. issue of Documentary, the IDA magazine, which will be published next week and will include essays on the selected films.
"The selected documentaries span over 55 years and have both reflected and, arguably, influenced social history, exploring such areas as wars from WWII to Iraq, corporate downsizing and global warming," in the words of an IDA statement. "Inner-city basketball players, a reclusive mother and daughter, rediscovered Cuban musicians, grade-school spelling champions and a legendary underground artist are among the people whose intimate portraits have made it to the list."
"Hoop Dreams," nominated for an Oscar in 1994, is the acclaimed story of two high school students in Chicago striving to escape poverty by achieving acclaim as basketball players.
"People have always responded strongly to 'Hoop Dreams', maybe as it's such an American story, about a beloved indigenous sport and issues we have always grappled with in this country - race and class," said IDA executive director Sandra Ruch, in a statement for indieWIRE on Wednesday, "It brought us a real story of the indomitable human spirit, rather than the cliches of the 'Rocky''s and 'Chariots of Fire' of the era."
Selected for the #2 spot is "The Thin Blue Line," with director Errol Morris also represented in the #9 spot for "The Fog of War." Michael Moore, who has "Bowling for Columbine" at #3, has two other films in the Top 25, including "Roger & Me" at #10 and "Fahrenheit 9/11" at #21.
Online movie rental servive Netflix is on board as the presenting sponsor of the program, facilitating sceeners of the films for voters and also making them available to subscribers of their service. The company indicated that the majority of the 700 films on the original ballot are available on their service, with the exception of #19, Frederick Wiseman's "Titicut Follies," which has never been released commercially and is only available for educational purposes.
The complete list of IDA's "25 Best Documentaries" is included below:
1. "Hoop Dreams," directed by Steve James, Peter Gilbert and Frederick Marx
2. "The Thin Blue Line," directed by Errol Morris
3. "Bowling for Columbine," directed by Michael Moore
4. "Spellbound," directed by Jeffery Blitz
5. "Harlan County USA," directed by Barbara Kopple
6. "An Inconvenient Truth," directed by Davis Guggenheim
7. "Crumb," directed by Terry Zwigoff's Crumb
8. "Gimme Shelter," directed by Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin
9. "The Fog of War," directed by Errol Morris
10. "Roger and Me," directed by Michael Moore
11. "Super Size Me," directed by Morgan Spurlock
12. "Don't Look Back," directed by DA Pennebaker
13. "Salesman," directed by Albert and David Maysles
14. "Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance," directed by Godfrey Reggio
15. "Sherman's March," directed by Ross McElwee
16. "Grey Gardens," directed by Albert and David Maysles, Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer
17. "Capturing the Friedmans," directed by Andrew Jarecki
18. "Born into Brothels," directed by Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski
19. "Titticut Follies," directed by Frederick Wiseman
20. "Buena Vista Social Club," directed by Wim Wenders
21. "Fahrenheit 9/11," directed by Michael Moore
22. "Winged Migration," directed by Jacques Perrin
23. "Grizzly Man," directed by Werner Herzog
24. "Night and Fog," directed by Alain Resnais
25. "Woodstock," directed by Michael Wadleigh