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

The Great Museum

The Great Museum

in Austrian documentaries

The great museum mentioned in the title of this film is Vienna’s renowned Kunsthistorisches museum, which features several world-class masterpieces by Finish, German and international masters such as Johannes Vermeer, Pieter Bruegel (his Tower of Babel is seen prominently here and used as a metaphor for the complex museum) as well as gold artifacts, armors, musical instruments and more. Growing […]

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The Missing Picture

The Missing Picture

in Cambodian Documentaries

In this striking and haunting documentary, Cambodian director Rithy Panh uses clay figures and archival footage to recount his experience as a survivor of Pol Pot’s labor camp. Starting with happy images of family gatherings and busy city streets, the film quickly takes a darker turn as the Khmer Rouge takes control of the country, executing opponents, artists and sending […]

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Manakanama

Manakanama

in American Documentaries

If you consider watching Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez’s documentary Manakarama, you should be warned that this meditative, naturalistic piece is as minimalist as it can be:  The filmmakers just placed their camera in a cable car heading to the Manakamana temple in Nepal and observed silently the occupants whether they go up or down the hill. The film is, […]

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Casting By

Casting By

in American Documentaries

As its title suggests, this documentary by Tom Donahue pays tribute to casting directors, one of the most underrated professions in the movie industry. The film principally focuses on Marion Dougherty, a pioneer in that field. Starting her career in New York working for T.V. series, she then moved to Hollywood, changing forever the way movies were casted. She became […]

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The Woman and the Passenger

The Woman and the Passenger

in Chilean Documentaries

A documentary from Chile, The Woman and the Passenger gives us a candid look at sex and love through the eyes of a group of maids working in a Santiago sex hotel. Directed by two women, Valentina Mac-Pherson and Patricia Correa, this is a lighthearted, allegoric work that avoids being voyeuristic despite its somewhat provocative setting. After having themselves worked a […]

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La Camioneta

La Camioneta

in Mexican Documentaries

Mark Kendall’s La Camioneta: The Journey of One American School Bus shows the journey of a school bus, from being sold at an auction in Pennsylvania to enjoying its new colorful life as public transportation in rural Guatemala. What’s interesting here is that we get to follow the bus through each of the steps that will bring it closer to […]

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Vampira And Me

Vampira And Me

in American Documentaries

With her long figure, dark hair and black dress, Vampira is probably the original Goth icon, having established this trademark look years before Siouxsie Sioux emerged from the punk scene. The creator of a pioneering late-night Horror show, she is probably better known these days for her role in Ed Wood’s “masterwork”, Plan 9 From Outer Space. Originally discovered in […]

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Big Easy Express

Big Easy Express

in American Documentaries

The opening scene of this music documentary is surprisingly fluid and arresting: We follow a young woman as she walks joyful, almost dancing, through a train. As she inexorably advances through the wagons, she runs into a wide array of musicians before finally joining her own band mates. This girl is a member of the Los Angeles-based psychedelic group Edward […]

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Reportero

Reportero

in Mexican Documentaries

When watching documentaries, people tend to mostly assess the work based on the strength of the subject. They value the content more than the format and if a documentary delivers a powerful or emotional message, they will embrace it without paying much attention to the vehicle itself. Reportero is one of those films that definitely affect spectators. Using the story […]

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