Here are reviews of International documentaries from the US, Europe, South and Latin America focusing on cultural, social, political, film or music related subjects since 2012. For earlier documentary reviews, from 1998 to 2011, please visit our documentary archive.

Documentaries

Tempestad documentary poster

Tempestad

in Mexican Documentaries

As I was watching Tatania Huezo’s documentary Tempestad, a short sequence particularly stroked me, summarizing this film in just a few seconds: It’s raining and some policemen dressed in ponchos are checking cars. Their faces are hidden under their hoodies which make them look like ghostly – almost reaper-like – figures symbolizing death and fear which are commonly associated with […]

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The Modern Jungle movie poster

The Modern Jungle

in Mexican Documentaries

Quite a few ethnographic films have been emerging from Latin America these last few years, most of them introducing little-known cultures, languages and rituals to audiences around the world. While ethnographic works are by definition documentaries, it’s undoubtedly their fictionalized variations that have been getting the most attention – I’m more particularly referring to the recent Ixcanul, Embrace of the […]

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Gimme Danger movie poster

Gimme Danger

in American Documentaries

Knowing how cool his movie soundtracks are, it’s not really surprising to see Jim Jarmush (Dawn by Law, Broken Flowers) devoting a documentary to one of the most iconic rock bands, The Stooges (see pictures of Iggy and the Stooges here).  Intertwining archive footage with a long interview with singer Iggy Pop – who also starred in Mr. Jarmush’s  most […]

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Salero documentary poster

Salero

in Bolivian Documentaries

A vast, white salt flat that can be seen from space, Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni is one of the rare places that had been left untouched by modern civilization, until now. Through the portrait of one of the last saleros (salt gatherers), first time director Mike Plunkett documents the sudden, inexorable modernization of the area, capturing a world in transition. […]

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Daft Punk Unchained poster

Daft Punk Unchained

in French Documentaries

Back in 97, I remember being at the Borealis festival in Montpellier, France, and being blown away by two scruffy guys’ infectious set, some of the highlights including their noisy “Rollin’ and Sctachin’”, the muscular ”Da Funk” and their freshly baked hit “Around the World”.  Almost 20 years later the two young men have mutated into shiny robots, conquered the […]

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Electric Boogaloo

Electric Boogaloo

in American Documentaries

For those of us who grew up in the 80’s, Cannon Films were synonyms for an aging Charles Bronson blowing up dozens of punks in some desolated neighborhood or the almighty Chuck Norris shooting his way through the jungle. There is however much more to the – colorful – story of The Cannon Group, which is what this unofficial documentary […]

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Los Angeles Plays Itself

Los Angeles Plays Itself

in American Documentaries

Dating back to 2003, this somewhat confidential documentary had gained an almost cult status among Los Angeles cinephiles before finally getting a proper release on Blu-Ray, DVD and streaming. A labor of love written and directed by local film scholar Thom Andersen, Los Angeles Plays Itself documents LAs’ onscreen incarnations, from the early days to modern cinema. The film provides […]

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The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga review

The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga review

in American Documentaries

With The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga, filmmaker Jessica Oreck uses a folk tale to deliver a contemplative, philosophical work about nature and civilization. Intertwining animated sequences – the tale of two kids lost in the forest – and images of Eastern Europe, she underlines the close bound between man and nature in this part of the world, most […]

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Purgatorio

Purgatorio

in Mexican Documentaries

One thing you should know before watching Rodrigo Reyes’ documentary is that it isn’t an objective work. Rather this is a meditative piece designed to make us experience the filmmaker’s personal feelings about the Mexican border. Purgatorio follows the filmmaker as he ventures along the border, from Tijuana to Juarez, meeting various figures from both sides of the fence. While […]

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David Bowie Is

David Bowie Is

in British Documentaries

From the very beginning of this documentary, the curators of the Victoria and Albert Museum are telling us that there are not one but several answers to what David Bowie is, which the title of their exhibit about the thin white duke. Geoffrey Marsh, Victoria Broackes and their team seem to have put a lot of thoughts into creating this […]

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