108 documentaries, ratings out of 5, sorted by release date. 108 rated 2.5 and above.

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All This Mayhem (2014)

Director: Eddie Martin

IMDB: All This Mayhem is a searing account of what happens when raw talent and extreme personalities collide. In this unflinching, never-before-seen account of drugs and the dark side of professional skateboarding, brothers Tas and Ben Pappas' intense bond and charisma take them from the pinnacle of their sport into a spiraling world of self-destruction.

Released: 05 Jun 2014

IMDB: 7.9Rotten Tomates: 100%Amazon UK prime instant video

Coach Zoran and His African Tigers (2014)

BBC synopsis: Documentary which follows veteran Serbian coach Zoran Djordjevic as he seeks to forge South Sudan's first national football team, a fascinating portrait of the birth of a nation.

First broadcast: 27 Feb 2014

BBC programme page

Extreme Dog Styling (2013)

Channel 4: This documentary explores the extraordinary, obsessive world of extreme creative dog grooming, and meets the British dog trying to beat the American canines at their own game

Channel 4 programme page

How to Make Money Selling Drugs (2013)

Director: Matthew Cooke

IMDB: Ten easy steps show you how to make money from drugs, featuring a series of interviews with drug dealers, prison employees, and lobbyists arguing for tougher drug laws.

Released: 26 Dec 2013

IMDB: 7.8Rotten Tomates: 77%WikipediaNetflixAmazon UK prime instant video

Twenty Feet from Stardom (2013)

Director: Morgan Neville

IMDB: The backup singer exists in a strange place in the pop music world; they are always in the shadow of the feature artists even when they are in front of them in concert while they provide a vital foundation for the music. Through interviews with veterans and concert footage, the history of these predominately African-American singers is explored through the rock era. Furthermore, special focus is given to special stand outs who endeavored to make a living in the art burdened with a low profile and more personal career frustrations, especially those who faced the very different challenge of singing in the spotlight themselves.

Rotten Tomates: Rich, insightful, and occasionally heartbreaking, 20 Feet From Stardom is an energetic tribute to the passion, talent, and hard work of backup singers.

Released: 28 Nov 2013

IMDB: 7.5Rotten Tomates: 99%Wikipedia

The Summit (2013)

Director: Nick Ryan

IMDB: The story of the deadliest day on the world's most dangerous mountain, when 11 climbers mysteriously perished on K2.

BBC synopsis: Documentary looking at the deadliest day in mountaineering history, when 11 climbers were killed during a descent of K2, the world's second highest mountain, in August 2008.

Rotten Tomates: While it could use more clarity than director Nick Ryan brings to bear, the real-life story behind The Summit still makes for compelling viewing.

Released: 01 Nov 2013 First broadcast: 05 Feb 2014

IMDB: 6.4Rotten Tomates: 63%WikipediaNetflixBBC programme pageAmazon UK prime instant video

Muscle Shoals (2013)

Director: Greg 'Freddy' Camalier

IMDB: Located alongside the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals, Alabama is the unlikely breeding ground for some of America's most creative and defiant music. Under the spiritual influence of the 'Singing River' as Native Americans called it, the music of Muscle Shoals changed the world and sold millions upon millions of copies. At its heart is Rick Hall who founded FAME Studios. Overcoming crushing poverty and staggering tragedies, he brought black and white together in Alabama's cauldron of racial hostility to create music for the generations while giving birth to the 'Muscle Shoals Sound' and 'The Swampers'. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Percy Sledge, Gregg Allman, Clarence Carter, Etta James, Alicia Keys, Bono, and others bear witness to Muscle Shoals' magnetism, mystery, and why it remains influential today.

BBC synopsis: Documentary about Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the unlikely breeding ground for some of America's most creative and defiant music, with Bono, Clarence Carter, Mick Jagger and many more.

Rotten Tomates: Essential for soul fans and entertaining for novices, Muscle Shoals offers a compelling, warts-and-all glimpse at one of the most fascinating stories in modern American music.

Released: 25 Oct 2013 First broadcast: 07 Mar 2014

IMDB: 7.4Rotten Tomates: 96%WikipediaBBC programme page

Blackfish (2013)

Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite

IMDB: Notorious killer whale Tilikum is responsible for the deaths of three individuals, including a top killer whale trainer. Blackfish shows the sometimes devastating consequences of keeping such intelligent and sentient creatures in captivity.

BBC synopsis: Documentary which unravels the story of notorious performing whale Tilikum, who - unlike any orca in the wild - has taken the lives of several people while in captivity.

Rotten Tomates: Blackfish is an aggressive, impassioned documentary that will change the way you look at performance killer whales.

Released: 18 Oct 2013 First broadcast: 21 Nov 2013

IMDB: 8.1Rotten Tomates: 98%WikipediaNetflixBBC programme page

The Crash Reel (2013)

Director: Lucy Walker

IMDB: Fifteen years of verite footage show the epic rivalry between half-pipe legends Shaun White and Kevin Pearce, childhood friends who become number one and two in the world leading up to the Vancouver Winter Olympics, pushing one another to ever more dangerous tricks, until Kevin crashes on a Park City half-pipe, barely surviving. As Kevin recovers from his injury, Shaun wins Gold. Now all Kevin wants to do is get on his snowboard again, even though medics and family fear this could kill him. We also celebrate Sarah Burke who crashed in Park City and died January 19, 2012.

Rotten Tomates: Smart, compassionate, and moving, The Crash Reel uses the familiar sport-doc formula to subvert expectations and ask challenging questions about ambition and achievement.

Released: 04 Oct 2013

IMDB: 8.2Rotten Tomates: 96%WikipediaNetflixAmazon UK prime instant video

Folie à Deux: Madness Made of Two (2013)

Director: Kim Hopkins

IMDB: Folie à Deux- madness made of two is set in one of England's finest houses. The central character, Helen Heraty, is a tour de force - beautiful with typical English Rose looks (she was the face of LK Bennett in 2010) but no wallflower. Always ready for a fight, Helen is ambitious, strong, brave single mother with 7 children and a dream to turn one of Britain's most historical buildings into a 72-roomed boutique hotel. She lives her life with a conviction that borders on madness and when the financial crisis and family tragedy threatens to crush her dream it is her strength of character that will have you saluting her and wanting to share her extraordinary story with others.

BBC synopsis: Documentary about a family who decide to buy a historical mansion in York, an emotional rollercoaster of a journey which shows the human cost of the mortgage crisis.

Released: 04 Oct 2013 First broadcast: 11 Nov 2013

IMDB: 7.8Rotten Tomates: 80%BBC programme page

Tim's Vermeer (2013)

Director: Teller

IMDB: Inventor Tim Jenison seeks to understand the painting techniques used by Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer.

Rotten Tomates: Entertaining and profound in equal measure, Tim's Vermeer uses its seemingly esoteric subject to pose fascinating questions about art and obsession.

Released: 03 Oct 2013

IMDB: 7.9Rotten Tomates: 89%Wikipedia

Informant (2013)

Director: Jamie Meltzer

IMDB: A documentary on radical left-wing activist turned FBI informant, Brandon Darby.

Released: 13 Sep 2013

IMDB: 5.7Rotten Tomates: 89%Netflix

The Great Hip Hop Hoax (2013)

Director: Jeanie Finlay

IMDB: Californian hip-hop duo Silibil n' Brains were going to be massive. No one knew the pair were really Scottish, with fake American accents and made up identities. When their promising Scottish rap act was branded "the rapping Proclaimers" by scornful A&Rs, friends Billy and Gavin reinvented themselves as LA homeboys. The real deal. The lie was their golden ticket to a dream life. With confessions from the scammers, insight from the music execs they duped and doodle reconstructions, the film charts the roller coaster story of the highs of the scam and the lows of madness and the personal toll the deception took. A film about truth, lies and the legacy of faking everything in the desperate pursuit of fame.

BBC synopsis: Documentary telling the audacious tale of how two Dundee lads duped the record industry by pretending to be a Californian hip hop duo and nearly ended up destroying themselves.

Released: 06 Sep 2013 First broadcast: 11 Oct 2013

IMDB: 7.1Rotten Tomates: 86%WikipediaBBC programme pageAmazon UK prime instant video

Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic (2013)

Director: Marina Zenovich

BBC synopsis: Portrait of Richard Pryor which chronicles his life from his troubled youth to his meteoric rise as one of the most respected and controversial comedians of the 20th century.

Released: 31 Jul 2013 First broadcast: 25 Aug 2013

IMDB: 7.4Rotten Tomates: 60%WikipediaNetflixBBC programme page

Fire In The Night: Piper Alpha (2013)

Director: Anthony Wonke

BBC synopsis: Documentary chronicling the tragic events that occurred on board the Piper Alpha rig in July 1988, when 167 men were killed in the world's deadliest offshore oil disaster.

Released: 21 Jun 2013 First broadcast: 09 Jul 2013

IMDB: 6.9Rotten Tomates: 100%WikipediaBBC programme pageAmazon UK prime instant video

The Route Masters: Running London's Roads (2013)

BBC synopsis: Following the Transport for London staff and police officers who keep London's road system from freezing up entirely under the immense pressure of millions of commuters.

First broadcast: 18 Jun 2013

IMDB: 8.3WikipediaBBC programme page

Mechanical Marvels: Clockwork Dreams (2013)

Director: Nic Stacey

BBC synopsis: Professor Simon Schaffer presents a documentary telling the story of automata, extraordinary clockwork machines designed hundreds of years ago to mimic and recreate life.

First broadcast: 03 Jun 2013

BBC programme page

Beware of Mr. Baker (2013)

Director: Jay Bulger

IMDB: Ginger Baker looks back on his musical career with Cream and Blind Faith; his introduction to Fela Kuti; his self-destructive patterns and losses of fortune; and his current life inside a fortified South African compound.

Rotten Tomates: Free of the hagiographic overtones that dog many documentary profiles, Beware of Mr. Baker presents a clear-eyed, thoroughly gripping look at one of rock's greatest -- and most personally problematic -- musicians.

Released: 17 May 2013

IMDB: 7.5Rotten Tomates: 98%WikipediaNetflix

Shooting Bigfoot (2013)

Director: Morgan Matthews

BBC synopsis: Documentary looking into into the obsessive, competitive and divided cult of Bigfoot hunting, as filmmaker Morgan Matthews accompanies three American Bigfoot search parties.

Released: 30 Apr 2013 First broadcast: 24 Mar 2014

IMDB: 6.9BBC programme page

Narco Cultura (2013)

Director: Shaul Schwarz

IMDB: To a growing number of Mexicans and Latinos in the Americas, narco traffickers have become iconic outlaws and the new models of fame and success. They represent a pathway out of the ghetto - a new form of the American Dream, fueled by the war on drugs. NARCO CULTURA looks at this explosive phenomenon from within; cycles of addiction to money, drugs and violence that are rapidly gaining strength on both sides of the US/Mexican border.

Rotten Tomates: Disturbing, thought-provoking, and timely, Narco Cultura sheds some crucial light on an important -- and underserved -- subject.

IMDB: 7.5Rotten Tomates: 88%WikipediaNetflix

Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey (2013)

Director: Ramona S. Diaz

IMDB: Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey follows the real life rock-n-roll fairy tale story of Filipino Arnel Pineda, who was plucked from You Tube to become the front man for iconic American rock band, Journey, thereby becoming the latest performer to go from the Internet to real life celebrity. Having already overcome a life full of painful obstacles and now saddled with the immense pressures of leading a world renowned band and replacing a legendary singer, the film follows Arnel on this personal journey.

Rotten Tomates: An energetic but thin portrait of the venerable rock band Journey, Don't Stop Believin' gets a boost from new singer Arnel Pineda's charming personality.

Released: 08 Mar 2013

IMDB: 6.9Rotten Tomates: 65%WikipediaNetflix

How to Get to Heaven with the Hutterites (2013)

Director: Lynn Alleway

BBC synopsis: An intimate insight into the world of the Hutterites, a Christian community who believe living communally and separate from what they call 'the world' is the route to heaven.

First broadcast: 07 Mar 2013

IMDB: 6.0BBC programme page

Wild Arabia (2013)

IMDB: British biologist and military veteran Steve Backshall visits the Arabian peninsula to film its surprisingly rich and varied wildlife. Contrary to its desert reputation, Arabia comprises various distinct regions, each with its own species.

BBC synopsis: Extraordinary wildlife, landscapes and people - Arabia is a land of magic and surprise.

First broadcast: 22 Feb 2013

IMDB: 8.4WikipediaBBC programme page

Duck Beach to Eternity (2013)

Director: Hadleigh Arnst, Stephen Frandsen

IMDB: DUCK BEACH - A documentary about the annual spring break gathering of over a thousand single Mormon's at Duck Beach North Carolina. Called the 'Mormon Jersey Shore' by the Daily Beast, the film follows four unique singles in their 20s and early 30s. Through them - the film explores many striking and distinctive aspects of Mormon single life: partying without alcohol, supposedly chaste late nights, Mormon style hookups, and the all consuming quest to find romance with other Mormons in order to fulfill their very purpose on earth. The film is an unprecedented look into a world most people only assume to know. Spending time with the four characters, their friends and families, we start to understand the complexities, contradictions, struggles and confusions that are a part of this compelling facet of American life - being a single person of faith in modern America.

BBC synopsis: Documentary which follows four single Mormons looking for their eternal partner at a weekend-long, non-stop but sex-and-alcohol-free party in Duck Beach, North Carolina.

First broadcast: 14 Jan 2013

IMDB: 7.9BBC programme page

Chasing Ice (2012)

Director: Jeff Orlowski

IMDB: 'National Geographic' photographer James Balog was once a skeptic about climate change. But through his Extreme Ice Survey, he discovers undeniable evidence of our changing planet. In 'Chasing Ice,' we follow Balog across the Arctic as he deploys revolutionary time-lapse cameras designed for one purpose: to capture a multi-year record of the world's changing glaciers. Balog's hauntingly beautiful videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate. Traveling with a young team of adventurers by helicopter, canoe and dog sled across three continents, Balog risks his career and his well-being in pursuit of the biggest story in human history. As the debate polarizes America and the intensity of natural disasters ramp up around the world, 'Chasing Ice' depicts a heroic photojournalist on a mission to gather evidence and deliver hope to our carbon-powered planet

Released: 14 Dec 2012

IMDB: 7.7Rotten Tomates: 96%WikipediaNetflix

Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope (2012)

Director: Morgan Spurlock

IMDB: A behind-the-scenes look at the fans who gather by the thousands each year in San Diego, California to attend Comic-Con, the world's largest comic book convention.

Released: 23 Nov 2012

IMDB: 7.1Rotten Tomates: 83%WikipediaNetflix

We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists (2012)

Director: Brian Knappenberger

IMDB: WE ARE LEGION: The Story of the Hacktivists, takes us inside the complex culture and history of Anonymous. The film explores early hacktivist groups like Cult of the Dead Cow and Electronic Disturbance Theater, and then moves to Anonymous' own raucous and unruly beginnings on the website 4Chan. Through interviews with current members - some recently returned from prison, others still awaiting trial - as well as writers, academics and major players in various "raids," WE ARE LEGION traces the collective's breathtaking evolution from merry pranksters to a full-blown, global movement, one armed with new weapons of civil disobedience for an online world.

BBC synopsis: Storyville: Documentary going inside the complex network and history of Anonymous, the radical online 'hacktivist' collective, using interviews with members, writers and academics.

Released: 30 Oct 2012 First broadcast: 20 Feb 2013

IMDB: 7.5Rotten Tomates: 71%WikipediaNetflixBBC programme page

The House I Live In (2012)

Director: Eugene Jarecki

IMDB: From the dealer to the narcotics officer, the inmate to the federal judge, a penetrating look inside America's criminal justice system, revealing the profound human rights implications of U.S. drug policy.

BBC synopsis: Storyville: Film looking at America's War on Drugs, painting a portrait of individuals at all levels, from dealer to grieving mother, narcotics officer to senator, inmate to judge.

Released: 05 Oct 2012 First broadcast: 14 Jan 2013

IMDB: 8.0Rotten Tomates: 94%WikipediaNetflixBBC programme page

Welcome to India (2012)

BBC synopsis: Documentary series which explores life in India.

First broadcast: 03 Oct 2012

IMDB: 7.5BBC programme page

Searching for Sugar Man (2012)

Director: Malik Bendjelloul

IMDB: In the early 1970s, Sixto Rodriguez was a Detroit folksinger who had a short-lived recording career with only two well received but non-selling albums. Unknown to Rodriguez, his musical story continued in South Africa where he became a pop music icon and inspiration for generations. Long rumored there to be dead by suicide, a few fans in the 1990s decided to seek out the truth of their hero's fate. What follows is a bizarrely heartening story in which they found far more in their quest than they ever hoped, while a Detroit construction laborer discovered that his lost artistic dreams came true after all.

Rotten Tomates: A fascinating portrait of a forgotten musical pioneer, Searching for Sugar Man is by turns informative and mysterious.

Released: 26 Jul 2012

IMDB: 8.2Rotten Tomates: 96%WikipediaNetflixAmazon UK prime instant video

You've Been Trumped (2012)

Director: Anthony Baxter

IMDB: In this David and Goliath story for the 21st century, a group of proud Scottish homeowners take on celebrity tycoon Donald Trump as he buys up one of Scotland's last wilderness areas to build a golf resort.

BBC synopsis: Documentary following a conflict between a group of Scottish homeowners and Donald Trump as the jet-setting tycoon prepares to build a golf resort in Aberdeenshire.

Released: 06 Jul 2012 First broadcast: 21 Oct 2012

IMDB: 7.7Rotten Tomates: 83%WikipediaNetflixBBC programme page

Like Water: Anderson Silva (2012)

Director: Pablo Croce

IMDB: In the most brutal and often most misunderstood sport in the world, becoming a champion takes more than just blood, sweat, and tears. Like Water follows middleweight Ultimate Fighter Anderson Silva as he prepares to crown his four-year run as the unbeaten king of the sport with a record 12th straight win in the UFC. With intimate access to Silva and his intense training, the surprising and inspiring man behind one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time emerges.

Released: 01 Jun 2012

IMDB: 7.1

The Two-Thousand-Year-Old Computer (2012)

BBC synopsis: Documentary about the Antikythera Mechanism, a 2,000-year-old object now regarded as the world's oldest computer, found by divers excavating an ancient Roman shipwreck in 1901.

First broadcast: 10 May 2012

BBC programme page

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey (2012)

Director: Constance Marks

IMDB: The film traces Kevin Clash's rise from his modest beginnings in Baltimore to his current success as the man behind Elmo, one of the world's most recognizable and adored characters. Millions of children tune in daily to watch Elmo, yet when Kevin walks down the street he is not recognized. Pivotal to the film is the exploration of Jim Henson's meteoric rise, and Kevin's ultimate achievement of his goal to become part of the Henson family of puppeteers. In addition to puppeteering Elmo, Mr. Clash is arguably the creative force behind today's Sesame Street, producing, directing and traveling around the globe training other puppeteers. Includes interviews with Frank Oz, Rosie O'Donnell, Whoopi Goldberg, Carroll Spinney, Joan Ganz Cooney, Marty Robinson, Fran Brill, and Bill Barretta.

Released: 27 Apr 2012

IMDB: 7.8Rotten Tomates: 94%WikipediaNetflix

BURN: One Year on the Front Lines of the Battle to Save Detroit (2012)

Director: Tom Putnam, Brenna Sanchez

IMDB: The city of Detroit, Michigan has been in severe decline in recent decades. Among the resulting problems is the dramatic rise of fires in a decaying urbanscape of abandoned buildings that seems to have no future. This film profiles the lives and trials of the personnel of the Detroit Fire Department, who are on the front line of this taxing battle. Facing constant emergencies in the face of shrinking budgets, the firefighters of Detroit are to determined to protect the city as best they can, whatever the cost.

Released: 22 Apr 2012

IMDB: 7.4Rotten Tomates: 100%Netflix

Unraveled (2012)

Director: Marc H. Simon

IMDB: Just days before Bernard Madoff captured headlines as the largest ponzi schemer in U.S. history, Marc Dreier, a prominent Manhattan attorney, was arrested for orchestrating a massive fraud scheme that netted over 700 Million Dollars from hedge funds. Brazen forgeries and impersonations branded the white collar crime spree remarkable. "Unraveled" is set in the "purgatory" of house arrest, an upper East Side penthouse, where the Court has ordered Dreier confined until his sentencing day. The film weaves Dreier's struggle to prepare for the possibility of life imprisonment with first-person flashbacks, which reveal his audacious path of destruction. Destroyed by his own hubris, Dreier attempts to grasp his tragic unraveling. With unprecedented access, "Unraveled" exposes a mastermind of criminal deception.

BBC synopsis: Storyville: Documentary about Marc Dreier, a Manhattan attorney who was arrested for orchestrating a massive fraud that netted over $750 million in six years.

Released: 13 Apr 2012 First broadcast: 05 Sep 2012

IMDB: 5.9WikipediaNetflixBBC programme page

Into the Abyss (2012)

Director: Werner Herzog

IMDB: Conversations with death row inmate Michael Perry and those affected by his crime serve as an examination of why people - and the state - kill.

Rotten Tomates: Another probing, insightful look at an interesting subject, Werner Herzog explores the American prison system with passion and not politics.

Released: 30 Mar 2012

IMDB: 7.3Rotten Tomates: 91%WikipediaNetflix

Four Horsemen (2012)

Director: Ross Ashcroft

IMDB: The modern day Four Horsemen continue to ride roughshod over the people who can least afford it. Crises are converging when governments, religion and mainstream economists have stalled. 23 international thinkers come together and break their silence about how the world really works and why there is still hope in re-establishing a moral and just society. Four Horsemen is free from mainstream media propaganda, doesn't bash bankers, criticize politicians or get involved in conspiracy theories. The film ignites the debate about how we usher a new economic paradigm into the world which, globally, would dramatically improve the quality of life for billions.

Released: 14 Mar 2012

IMDB: 7.8Rotten Tomates: 67%Wikipedia

Brooklyn Castle (2012)

Director: Katie Dellamaggiore

IMDB: Brooklyn Castle is a documentary about I.S. 318 - an inner-city school where more than 65 percent of students are from homes with incomes below the federal poverty level - that also happens to have the best, most winning junior high school chess team in the country. (If Albert Einstein, who was rated 1800, were to join the team, he'd only rank fifth best). Chess has transformed the school from one cited in 2003 as a "school in need of improvement" to one of New York City's best. But a series of recession-driven pubic school budget cuts now threaten to undermine those hard-won successes.

Rotten Tomates: Brooklyn Castle is a warm, engaging, and even uplifting documentary about chess-playing whiz kids.

Released: 11 Mar 2012

IMDB: 7.3Rotten Tomates: 96%Wikipedia

On Death Row (2012)

IMDB: An inside look at a maximum security prison in Texas featuring interviews with death row inmates.

Channel 4: Documentary series that follows director Werner Herzog uncovering the stories of inmates in America as they await execution

Released: 09 Mar 2012

IMDB: 7.9WikipediaNetflixChannel 4 programme page

Empire (2012)

BBC synopsis: Jeremy Paxman travels the world, exploring many different aspects of the British Empire.

First broadcast: 27 Feb 2012

IMDB: 7.5WikipediaBBC programme page

Strictly Baby Disco (2012)

Channel 4: A look behind the scenes of the dazzling, ultra competitive world of kids' freestyle disco

Channel 4 programme page

The Tube (2012)

BBC synopsis: A look behind the scenes of the London underground as it undergoes the biggest overhaul in its history, focusing on key members of staff and some of the problems they face.

First broadcast: 20 Feb 2012

IMDB: 8.6WikipediaBBC programme page

Buck: The Real Horse Whisperer (2012)

Director: Cindy Meehl

IMDB: An examination of the life of acclaimed 'horse whisperer' Buck Brannaman, who recovered from years of child abuse to become a well-known expert in the interactions between horses and people.

BBC synopsis: Storyville: Documentary following legendary horse whisperer Buck Brannaman, who inspired a novel and Hollywood film, from a painful childhood to his inspiring work as a trainer.

Released: 16 Feb 2012 First broadcast: 03 Jun 2013

IMDB: 7.6Rotten Tomates: 89%WikipediaNetflixBBC programme page

The Queen of Versailles (2012)

Director: Lauren Greenfield

IMDB: In 2008, the Siegel family was top of the heap with the wealthy and politically influential David Siegel running the successful Westgate Resorts time-share business. To enjoy their good life, he and his engineer turned beauty queen trophy wife, Jackie, were building the largest single family private home in America. Suddenly, both the US economy and Westgate were rocked by the devastating sub-prime mortgage collapse. In the new economic reality with the business teetering on ruin, we follow the Siegels as they struggle to scale down their grotesquely ostentatious lifestyle. For this overprivileged family, accepting that situation proved a dispiriting struggle even as their unfinished dream home became a monument of their superficial values.

BBC synopsis: Storyville: Documentary telling the story of a couple whose plans of building a mansion are hit by the economic crisis, as the virtues and flaws of the American Dream are exposed.

Rotten Tomates: The Queen of Versailles is a timely, engaging, and richly drawn portrait of the American Dream improbably composed of equal parts compassion and schadenfreude.

Released: 19 Jan 2012 First broadcast: 28 Jan 2013

IMDB: 7.1Rotten Tomates: 95%WikipediaNetflixBBC programme page

Frozen Planet (2011)

IMDB: Focuses on life and the environment in both the Arctic and Antarctic.

BBC synopsis: This landmark series brings to the screen the frozen wildernesses of the Arctic and Antarctic as you have never seen them before, and may never see them again...

Released: 18 Mar 2012 First broadcast: 26 Oct 2011

IMDB: 9.3WikipediaNetflixBBC programme pageAmazon UK prime instant video

Shock and Awe: The Story of Electricity (2011)

IMDB: Professor Jim Al-Khalili tells the electrifying story of our quest to master nature's most mysterious force: electricity...See full synopsis »

BBC synopsis: Professor Jim Al-Khalili tells the story of our quest to master the power of electricity.

First broadcast: 06 Oct 2011

IMDB: 7.6WikipediaBBC programme page

The Ambassador (2011)

Director: Mads Brügger

IMDB: Danish journalist Mads Brügger goes undercover as a Liberian Ambassador to embark on a dangerous yet hysterical journey to uncover the blood diamond trade in Africa.

Released: 05 Oct 2011

IMDB: 7.3Rotten Tomates: 76%Wikipedia

Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2011)

Director: Werner Herzog

IMDB: In 1994, a group of scientists discovered a cave in Southern France perfectly preserved for over 20,000 years and containing the earliest known human paintings. Knowing the cultural significance that the Chauvet Cave holds, the French government immediately cut-off all access to it, save a few archaeologists and paleontologists. But documentary filmmaker, Werner Herzog, has been given limited access, and now we get to go inside examining beautiful artwork created by our ancient ancestors around 32,000 years ago. He asks questions to various historians and scientists about what these humans would have been like and trying to build a bridge from the past to the present.

Rotten Tomates: Hauntingly filmed and brimming with Herzog's infectious enthusiasm, Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a fascinating triumph.

Released: 31 Aug 2011

IMDB: 7.4Rotten Tomates: 95%WikipediaNetflix

Project Nim (2011)

Director: James Marsh

IMDB: From the Oscar-winning team behind MAN ON WIRE comes the story of Nim, the chimpanzee who in the 1970s became the focus of a landmark experiment which aimed to show that an ape could learn to communicate with language if raised and nurtured like a human child. Following Nim's extraordinary journey through human society, and the enduring impact he makes on the people he meets along the way, the film is an unflinching and unsentimental biography of an animal we tried to make human. What we learn about his true nature - and indeed our own - is comic, revealing and profoundly unsettling.

BBC synopsis: Documentary about Nim Chimpsky, the chimpanzee who became the focus of a landmark experiment in the 1970s, which aimed to show that an ape could learn to communicate with language.

Rotten Tomates: Equal parts hilarious, poignant, and heartbreaking, Project Nim not only tells a compelling story masterfully, but also raises the flag on the darker side of human nature.

Released: 12 Aug 2011 First broadcast: 23 Mar 2013

IMDB: 7.4Rotten Tomates: 98%WikipediaNetflixBBC programme page

Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die (2011)

Director: Charlie Russell

IMDB: Terry Pratchett looks at the highly controversial issue of assisted suicide.

BBC synopsis: Documentary. Author Sir Terry Pratchett - an Alzheimer's sufferer - travels to the Dignitas Clinic in Switzerland and witnesses first-hand the procedures for assisted death.

First broadcast: 13 Jun 2011

IMDB: 8.0WikipediaBBC programme page

Senna (2011)

Director: Asif Kapadia

IMDB: The story of the monumental life and tragic death of legendary Brazilian motor-racing Champion, Ayrton Senna. Spanning the decade from his arrival in Formula One in the mid 80's, the film follows Senna's struggles both on track against his nemesis, French World Champion Alain Prost, and off it, against the politics which infest the sport. Sublime, spiritual yet, on occasion, ruthless - Senna conquers and transcends Formula One to become a global superstar. Privately, he is humble, almost shy, and fiercely patriotic, donating millions to his native Brasil and contemplating a life beyond motor-racing. Yet he is struck down in his prime on the blackest weekend in the history of the sport, watched live on television by 300 million people. Years on he is revered in Formula One as the greatest motor racing driver of all time - and in Brasil as a Saint.

Rotten Tomates: Even for filmgoers who aren't racing fans, Senna offers heart-pounding thrills -- and heartbreaking emotion.

Released: 25 May 2011

IMDB: 8.6Rotten Tomates: 92%WikipediaNetflixAmazon UK prime instant video

Crack House (2011)

Director: Anthony Wonke

IMDB: Summer 2005: federal agents and police record over a thousand hours of surveillance footage inside a crack house in Rockford Illinois. For six weeks the gang smoke weed, play with guns and sell crack and heroin, unaware that their every move is being filmed. The customers come and go with no clue that their secret lives would be exposed. This is an intimate portrait of the rise and fall of a crack house and of an American urban community brought down by drugs. Interviews with gang members, their families and cops reveal the inescapable tragedy - and occasional dark comedy - of a world that lies hidden within every modern city.

Channel 4: The true story of a gang of young drug dealers, told using surveillance footage to provide a fascinating insight into their lives, those of their customers, and the ATF operation to convict them

IMDB: 6.9Channel 4 programme page

American: The Bill Hicks Story (2011)

Director: Matt Harlock, Paul Thomas

IMDB: Photo-animated feature documentary, uniquely narrated by the 10 people who knew Bill best.

BBC synopsis: Animated documentary about the rollercoaster life of legendary comedian Bill Hicks, whose profound and hilarious observations on American life changed the face of modern comedy.

Rotten Tomates: A treasure trove of archival material and interviews, American: The Bill Hicks Story is an exuberant celebration about a unique, sorely missed voice in comedy.

Released: 08 Apr 2011 First broadcast: 27 Aug 2011

IMDB: 7.9Rotten Tomates: 82%WikipediaBBC programme page

Transcendent Man (2011)

Director: Robert Barry Ptolemy

IMDB: TRANSCENDENT MAN chronicles the life and ideas of Ray Kurzweil, an inventor and futurist that presents his bold vision of the Singularity, a point in the near future when technology will be changing so rapidly, that we will have to enhance ourselves with artificial intelligence to keep up. Ray predicts this will be the dawning of a new civilization in which we will no longer be dependent on our physical bodies, we will be trillions of times more intelligent and there will be no clear distinction between human and machine, real reality and virtual reality. Human aging and illness will be reversed; world hunger and poverty will be solved and we will ultimately cure death. Critics accuse Ray of being too optimistic and argue that the dangers of the Singularity far outweigh the benefits, pointing out the apocalyptic implications that once machines achieve consciousness, we may not be able to control them. Whether Rays controversial ideas incite excitement or fear, dogma or disbelief this ambitious documentary will forever change the way you look at life, death, and your own future.

Released: 01 Mar 2011

IMDB: 7.2WikipediaNetflix

Restrepo (2011)

Director: Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger

IMDB: Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington's year dug in with the Second Platoon in one of Afghanistan's most strategically crucial valleys reveals extraordinary insight into the surreal combination of back breaking labor, deadly firefights, and camaraderie as the soldiers painfully push back the Taliban.

Rotten Tomates: Forsaking narrative structure for pure visceral power, Restrepo plunges viewers into the experiences of soldiers on the front lines of the Afghan War.

Released: 18 Feb 2011

IMDB: 7.6Rotten Tomates: 96%WikipediaNetflix

Waste Land (2011)

Director: Lucy Walker, Karen Harley, João Jardim

IMDB: An uplifting feature documentary highlighting the transformative power of art and the beauty of the human spirit. Top-selling contemporary artist Vik Muniz takes us on an emotional journey ...

Rotten Tomates: Waste Land begins with an eco-friendly premise, but quickly transforms into an uplifting portrait of the power of art and the dignity of the human spirit.

Released: 21 Jan 2011

IMDB: 7.9Rotten Tomates: 100%WikipediaNetflixAmazon UK prime instant video

Pablo's Hippos (2011)

Director: Lawrence Elman, Antonio Von Hildebrand

IMDB: Pablo's Hippos recounts the absurd and paradoxical history of Colombia's thirty-year struggle with international drug trafficking, at once a farce and a tragedy, as seen through the eyes of the extravagant pet of the most powerful drug baron in history: a hippopotamus named Pablo.

BBC synopsis: Recounting the history of Colombia's struggle with drug trafficking as seen through the eyes of the pet of the most powerful drug baron in history - a hippopotamus named Pablo.

Released: 02 Apr 2011 First broadcast: 17 Jan 2011

IMDB: 7.3BBC programme page

Human Planet (2011)

IMDB: Like all life forms, humanity partially adapts to types of natural environment, yet also tends to change them. Each episode examines how life differs for men and nature in some type of environment, from Arctic to desert and jungle, from coasts to mountains.

BBC synopsis: Human Planet, a cinematic experience, bringing you the most amazing human stories in the natural world today. Humans and wildlife surviving in the most extreme environments on Earth.

First broadcast: 13 Jan 2011

IMDB: 9.3WikipediaNetflixBBC programme pageAmazon UK prime instant video

The Secret Life of Bob Monkhouse (2011)

Director: Andy Humphries

IMDB: When Bob Monkhouse's widow died and his house was being prepared for market, the amazing extent of his private collection of video and audio recordings was realized. Among them were many treasures which had previously been believed to be lost to the nation. This films delves into just some of the highlights of that trove, and reveals the multi-layered man behind the glossy TV persona.

BBC synopsis: The extraordinary story of comedian Bob Monkhouse's life and career, told through the vast private archive of films, TV shows, letters and memorabilia that he left behind.

First broadcast: 03 Jan 2011

IMDB: 8.2BBC programme page

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (2011)

Director: Marshall Curry, Sam Cullman

IMDB: IF A TREE FALLS is a rare behind-the-curtain look at the Earth Liberation Front, the radical environmental group that the FBI calls America's 'number one domestic terrorist threat.' With unprecedented access and a nuanced point of view, the documentary tells the story of Daniel McGowan, an ELF member who faced life in prison for two multi-million dollar arsons against Oregon timber companies. The film employs McGowan's story to examine larger questions about environmentalism, activism, and terrorism.

BBC synopsis: Documentary telling the story of a young American environmentalist involved with the Earth Liberation Front, a group the FBI described as America's top domestic terrorism threat.

Released: 01 Jan 2011 First broadcast: 13 Feb 2012

IMDB: 7.2Rotten Tomates: 88%WikipediaNetflixBBC programme page

Eiger: Wall of Death (2010)

Director: Steve Robinson

BBC synopsis: A history of one of the world's most challenging mountains and its infamous north face. The film explores its character and its impact on those who climb it and live in its shadow.

First broadcast: 01 Sep 2010

BBC programme page

The Men Who Jump Off Buildings (2010)

Director: Alastair Cook, Robert Davis

IMDB: A beautifully shot, action-packed, documentary on Basejumping - the most dangerous of all adrenalin sports. What drives these people to throw themselves of buildings with only a few seconds to impact? "A mesmerizing and award-worthy documentary", The Sun. "A beautiful film", The Guardian.

Channel 4: What motivates base jumpers to leap from the top of famous landmarks and pull their parachutes just seconds from impact?

Released: 28 Jul 2010

IMDB: 6.6Channel 4 programme page

Men Who Swim (2010)

Director: Dylan Williams

IMDB: A humorous and poignant film about a group of middle-aged men who find unlikely success as members of Sweden's all-male synchronized swim team.

BBC synopsis: Documentary about a group of middle-aged men in Sweden engaged in the world of all-male synchronised swimming in a bid to escape the daily grind of work and responsibilities.

Released: 12 Nov 2010 First broadcast: 14 Jun 2010

IMDB: 7.3NetflixBBC programme page

Racing Dreams (2010)

Director: Marshall Curry

IMDB: A feature documentary following three young racers as they compete in the World Karting Association's National Pavement Series. Clocking speeds up to 70 mph, these kids chase the National Championship title and take one step closer toward their dream of someday racing in the big show... NASCAR.

BBC synopsis: Storyville: the coming-of-age story of three kids who dream of one day becoming professional race car drivers as they compete in the World Karting Association's national series.

Released: 21 May 2010 First broadcast: 13 Aug 2012

IMDB: 7.2Rotten Tomates: 100%WikipediaNetflixBBC programme page

Good Hair (2010)

Director: Jeff Stilson

IMDB: Chris Rock, a man with two daughters, asks about good hair, as defined by Black Americans, mostly Black women. He visits Bronner Brothers' annual hair convention in Atlanta. He tells us about sodium hydroxide, a toxin used to relax hair. He looks at weaves, and he travels to India where tonsure ceremonies produce much of the hair sold in America. A weave is expensive: he asks who makes the money. We visit salons and barbershops, central to the Black community. Rock asks men if they can touch their mates' hair - no, it's decoration. Various talking heads (many of them women with good hair) comment. It's about self image. Maya Angelou and Tracie Thoms provide perspective.

BBC synopsis: Comedian Chris Rock explores the world of African-American hair, visiting beauty salons and barbershops. He also discovers where the hair used in weaves and extensions comes from.

Rotten Tomates: Funny, informative, and occasionally sad, Good Hair is a provocative look at the complex relationship between African Americans and their hair.

Released: 15 Apr 2010 First broadcast: 31 Dec 2013

IMDB: 6.9Rotten Tomates: 94%WikipediaNetflixBBC programme page

Requiem for Detroit? (2010)

Director: Julien Temple

IMDB: A documentary about the decay and industrial collapse of America's fourth largest city.

BBC synopsis: Built by the car for the car, Detroit was the embodiment of the American dream. Now it leads the way again but in a very different direction.

First broadcast: 13 Mar 2010

IMDB: 7.6Rotten Tomates: 50%BBC programme page

Exit through the gift shop (2010)

Director: Banksy

IMDB: The story of how an eccentric French shop keeper and amateur film maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner. The film contains footage of Banksy, Shephard Fairey, Invader and many of the world's most infamous graffiti artists at work.

Rotten Tomates: An amusing, engrossing look at underground art, Exit Through the Gift Shop entertains as it deflates the myths and hype surrounding its subjects.

Released: 05 Mar 2010

IMDB: 8.1Rotten Tomates: 96%WikipediaNetflix

Inside Job (2010)

Director: Charles Ferguson

IMDB: 'Inside Job' provides a comprehensive analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, which at a cost over $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse. Through exhaustive research and extensive interviews with key financial insiders, politicians, journalists, and academics, the film traces the rise of a rogue industry which has corrupted politics, regulation, and academia. It was made on location in the United States, Iceland, England, France, Singapore, and China.

Rotten Tomates: Disheartening but essential viewing, Charles Ferguson's documentary explores the 2008 Global Financial Crisis with exemplary rigor.

Released: 02 Feb 2010

IMDB: 8.3Rotten Tomates: 98%WikipediaNetflixAmazon UK prime instant video

Cage Fighting Women (2010)

Director: Nick Holt

BBC synopsis: Documentary which analyses the motivations of two British female cage fighters, Rosi Sexton and Lisa Hugo, as they travel to America for the biggest bouts of their lives.

First broadcast: 14 Jan 2010

IMDB: 6.3BBC programme page

Collapse (2009)

Director: Chris Smith

IMDB: A documentary on Michael Ruppert, a police officer turned independent reporter who predicted the current financial crisis in his self-published newsletter, From the Wilderness.

Released: 06 Nov 2009

IMDB: 7.9Rotten Tomates: 82%WikipediaNetflix

The Cove (2009)

Director: Louie Psihoyos

IMDB: Richard O'Barry was the man who captured and trained the dolphins for the television show Flipper (1964). O'Barry's view of cetaceans in captivity changed from that experience when as the last straw he saw that one of the dolphins playing Flipper - her name being Kathy - basically committed suicide in his arms because of the stress of being in captivity. Since that time, he has become one of the leading advocates against cetaceans in captivity and for the preservation of cetaceans in the wild. O'Barry and filmmaker 'Louie Psihoyos (I)' go about trying to expose one of what they see as the most cruel acts against wild dolphins in the world in Taiji, Japan, where dolphins are routinely corralled, either to be sold alive to aquariums and marine parks, or slaughtered for meat. The primary secluded cove where this activity is taking place is heavily guarded. O'Barry and Psihoyos are well known as enemies by the authorities in Taiji, the authorities who will use whatever tactic to expel the two from Japan forever. O'Barry, Psihoyos and their team covertly try to film as a document of conclusive evidence this cruel behavior. They employ among others Hollywood cameramen and deep sea free divers. They also highlight what is considered the dangerous consumption of dolphin meat (due to its high concentration of mercury) which is often sold not as dolphin meat, and the Japanese government's methodical buying off of poorer third world nations for their support of Japan's whaling industry, that support most specifically at the International Whaling Commission.

Rotten Tomates: Though decidedly one-sided, The Cove is an impeccably crafted, suspenseful expose of the covert slaughter of dolphins in Japan.

Released: 20 Aug 2009

IMDB: 8.5Rotten Tomates: 94%WikipediaNetflixAmazon UK prime instant video

The September Issue (2009)

Director: R.J. Cutler

IMDB: The September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine weighed nearly five pounds, and was the single largest issue of a magazine ever published. With unprecedented access, this film tells the story of legendary Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour and her larger-than-life team of editors creating the issue and ruling the world of fashion.

Rotten Tomates: This doc about the making of Vogue's biggest issue and its frosty editor-in-chief is fascinating eye candy and light-on-its-feet fun.

Released: 20 Aug 2009

IMDB: 7.0Rotten Tomates: 83%WikipediaNetflix

The Man Who Would Be Polka King (2009)

Director: Joshua Brown, John Mikulak

Released: 05 Jun 2009

IMDB: 7.0Rotten Tomates: 73%Netflix

South Pacific (2009)

IMDB: A documentary series on life in and adapted to the conditions of the Southern part of the Pacific Ocean, a vast aquatic region with an unequaled number of islands. Both wildlife and human cultures developed in a unique variety, largely determined by such natural conditions as huge distances, sea depths, currents and winds.

BBC synopsis: Documentary series looking at the remote South Pacific islands

Released: 13 Jul 2009 First broadcast: 10 May 2009

IMDB: 9.0WikipediaBBC programme pageAmazon UK prime instant video

Yellowstone (2009)

IMDB: Filmed over the course of a year in Yellowstone, this documentary tracks the area's wildlife as they grapple with life and death within one of America's last remaining wilderness regions.

BBC synopsis: A natural history portrait of a year in Yellowstone, following the fortunes of America's wildlife icons as they face the challenges of one of the most extraordinary wildernesses on Earth.

First broadcast: 15 Mar 2009

IMDB: 8.7WikipediaNetflixBBC programme page

Anvil: The Story of Anvil (2009)

Director: Sacha Gervasi

IMDB: At 14, best friends Robb Reiner and Lips made a pact to rock together forever. Their band, Anvil, hailed as the "demi-gods of Canadian metal, " influenced a musical generation that includes Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax, despite never hitting the big time. Following a calamitous European tour, Lips and Robb, now in their fifties, set off to record their 13th album in one last attempt to fulfill their boyhood dreams.

BBC synopsis: Film which follows the fortunes of respected but obscure Canadian metal band Anvil as they record their thirteenth album and try to live out a childhood dream of rock superstardom.

Rotten Tomates: A touching, uplifting and inspirational rockumentary about an aging metal band, both hilarious and heart-warming in equal measure.

Released: 20 Feb 2009 First broadcast: 28 Jun 2010

IMDB: 8.0Rotten Tomates: 98%WikipediaNetflixBBC programme page

Which Way Home (2009)

Director: Rebecca Cammisa

IMDB: "Which Way Home" is a feature documentary film that follows unaccompanied child migrants, on their journey through Mexico, as they try to reach the United States. We follow children like Olga and Freddy, nine-year old Hondurans, who are desperately trying to reach their parents in the US.; children like Jose, a ten-year old El Salvadoran, who has been abandoned by smugglers and ends up alone in a Mexican detention center; and Kevin, a canny, streetwise fourteen-year old Honduran, whose mother hopes that he will reach the U.S. and send money back to her. These are stories of hope and courage, disappointment and sorrow. They are the children you never hear about; the invisible ones.

Released: 31 Jan 2009

IMDB: 7.5Rotten Tomates: 100%WikipediaNetflix

Solitary Endeavour on the Southern Ocean (2008)

Director: David Michôd, Jennifer Peedom

IMDB: On January 11, 2007, Andrew McAuley set out on his quest to become the first person to kayak from Australia to New Zealand across one of the wildest and loneliest stretches of ocean on Earth. On February 9, New Zealand maritime authorities received his distress call. Having survived a harrowing and torturous month at sea, conquering monstrous swells and terrifying storms, McAuley lost his life only a day from completing his journey. His body was never recovered, but the camera tapes from his kayak were and they form the basis of this moving and questioning portrait of a complex man, his family, his supporters and his attempt to conquer the ferocious Tasman Sea.

BBC synopsis: Documentary charting the attempt of Andrew McAuley to travel from Australia to New Zealand in a kayak, and examining the mystery surrounding the exact circumstances of his death.

Released: 08 Nov 2008 First broadcast: 22 Feb 2009

IMDB: 7.5WikipediaBBC programme page

Encounters at the End of the World (2008)

Director: Werner Herzog

IMDB: 'Werner Herzog' takes his camera to Antarctica where we meet the odd men and women who have dedicated their lives to furthering the cause of science in treacherous conditions. A scientist studies neutrinos, which are everywhere, yet elusive; he likens them to spirits. A researcher's nighttime performance art includes contorting her body into a luggage bag. A survival guide teaches his students to survive white-out conditions by wearing cartoon-face buckets over their heads. Animal researchers milk mother seals as part of their study. Volcanologists offer advice on what to do when a volcano erupts. A pipefitter shows us the anomaly in his hands that he says are a sign he descended from Atzec royalty. A former Colorado banker drives what he has christened Ivan the Terra Bus. An underwater diver shows his colleagues DVDs of apocalyptic sci-fi films like Them! (1954). And -- though Herzog declares he's not "making another film about penguins" -- we meet a penguin researcher who answers the filmmaker's questions about homosexuality and insanity in his subjects. We also meet an individualist penguin, who breaks away from the other birds to run toward the mountains, facing certain death.

Rotten Tomates: Encounters at the End of the World offers a poignant study of the human psyche amid haunting landscapes.

Released: 17 Oct 2008

IMDB: 7.8Rotten Tomates: 94%WikipediaNetflix

Amazon - Bruce Parry (2008)

IMDB: In his style as participating anthropological observer, fit and flexible British army-vet Bruce Parry travels along the vast Amazon, trough several South American states. He meets tribal ...

BBC synopsis: Bruce Parry embarks on an epic adventure in the Amazon following the river from source to sea

Released: 22 Sep 2008 First broadcast: 15 Sep 2008

IMDB: 8.1WikipediaBBC programme page

Man on Wire (2008)

Director: James Marsh

IMDB: On August 7, 1974, Philippe Petit, a French wire walker, juggler, and street performer days shy of his 25th birthday, spent 45 minutes walking, dancing, kneeling, and lying on a wire he and friends strung between the rooftops of the Twin Towers. Uses contemporary interviews, archival footage, and recreations to tell the story of his previous walks between towers of Notre Dame and of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, his passions and friendships, and the details of the night before the walk: getting cable into the towers, hiding from guards, and mounting the wire. It ends with observations of the profound changes the walk's success brought to Philippe and those closest to him.

BBC synopsis: Documentary telling how Frenchman Philippe Petit fulfilled his dream of walking on a wire strung between the rooftops of New York's Twin Towers in 1974.

Rotten Tomates: James Marsh's doc about artist Phililppe Petit's artful caper brings you every ounce of suspense that can be wrung from a man on a (suspended) wire.

Released: 01 Aug 2008 First broadcast: 02 Aug 2009

IMDB: 8.0Rotten Tomates: 100%WikipediaNetflixBBC programme page

Flipping Out (2008)

Director: Yoav Shamir

IMDB: Military service in Israel is compulsive for all able-bodied Jewish men and women. Once their years of service is up they are granted a bonus which many use to travel to India to wind down and recover from their experiences. About 90 per cent of them will use drugs during their travels and every year about two thousand of them will require professional help to recover from this drug use. The extreme psychotic break these people experience is commonly referred to as "flipping out".

BBC synopsis: Documentary looking at why so many young Israelis use their National Service discharge bonus to go backpacking in India, with a high proportion experimenting with drugs.

First broadcast: 15 May 2008

IMDB: 6.4Rotten Tomates: 4%WikipediaBBC programme page

Carrier (2008)

IMDB: CARRIER is a character-driven immersion in the high-stakes world of a nuclear aircraft carrier, shot on the USS Nimitz during a six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf. The program follows a core group of participants from the elite fighter pilots to the youngest sailors as they navigate challenges around their jobs, families, faith, patriotism and the war on terror.

Released: 27 Apr 2008

IMDB: 8.2Rotten Tomates: 95%WikipediaNetflix

Bigger, Stronger, Faster* (2008)

Director: Chris Bell

IMDB: In America, we define ourselves in the superlative: we are the biggest, strongest, fastest country in the world. Is it any wonder that so many of our heroes are on performance enhancing drugs? Director Christopher Bell explores America's win-at-all-cost culture by examining how his two brothers became members of the steroid-subculture in an effort to realize their American dream.

Rotten Tomates: Bigger, Stronger, Faster* is a fascinating, informative, entertaining and especially introspective account of the American 'enhancement' culture.

Released: 01 Apr 2008

IMDB: 7.7Rotten Tomates: 96%WikipediaNetflix

The King of Kong (2008)

Director: Seth Gordon

IMDB: In the early 1980s, legendary Billy Mitchell set a Donkey Kong record that stood for almost 25 years. This documentary follows the assault on the record by Steve Wiebe, an earnest teacher from Washington who took up the game while unemployed. The top scores are monitored by a cadre of players and fans associated with Walter Day, an Iowan who runs Funspot, an annual tournament. Wiebe breaks Mitchell's record in public at Funspot, and Mitchell promptly mails a controversial video tape of himself setting a new record. So Wiebe travels to Florida hoping Mitchell will face him for the 2007 Guinness World Records. Will the mind-game-playing Mitchell engage; who will end up holding the record?

Rotten Tomates: The King of Kong is funny and compelling with more than a few poignant insights into human behavior. Director Seth Gordon presents the dueling King Kong players in all their obsessive complexity and with perfectly al dente observations.

Released: 28 Feb 2008

IMDB: 8.2Rotten Tomates: 96%WikipediaNetflix

Confessions of a Superhero (2007)

Director: Matthew Ogens

IMDB: "Confessions of a Superhero" chronicles the lives of four mortal men and women who work as characters on the sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard. This feature length documentary explores the fascination, obsession, and allure of fame through the eyes of these very unique people struggling to make it in Tinseltown.

Released: 02 Nov 2007

IMDB: 7.2Rotten Tomates: 33%WikipediaNetflix

Air Guitar Nation (2007)

Director: Alexandra Lipsitz

IMDB: It's time to rock and roll - air guitar style. AIR GUITAR NATION is the feature documentary about the year that air guitar swept America - from New York to Los Angeles and then all the way to northern Finland. AIR GUITAR NATION chronicles the birth of the US Air Guitar Championships and the personal journeys of those talented contestants who are vying to become the first World Air Guitar Champion from the United States. Every August, the Air Guitar World Championships bring thousands of fans all the way to Oulu, Finland to see the world's best air guitarists battle it out for 60 seconds of mock stardom. For years, the USA was missing in action. Enter the first official US Air Guitar Championships. What starts as a friendly contest above a New York strip club becomes a battle of naked ambition played out on the national and, ultimately, the world stage. Full of triumph and disappointment, patriotic spirit and political tension - and of course invisible guitars - this tension filled competition quickly turns very real as the contest becomes even more fierce as the contestants work hard to win the title of World Air Guitar Champion. AIR GUITAR NATION captures the explosion of competitive air guitar through the eyes of former world champions, fans and media, and through the personal rivalries of those trying to attain the title of "The best Air Guitarist in the world."

Rotten Tomates: It's up for debate how serious or ironic its subjects are, but Air Guitar Nation is nonetheless a funny and exciting documentary with a killer soundtrack.

Released: 06 Oct 2007

IMDB: 7.2Rotten Tomates: 85%WikipediaNetflixAmazon UK prime instant video

Helvetica (2007)

Director: Gary Hustwit

IMDB: A documentary about typography, graphic design, and global visual culture.

BBC synopsis: The world's most popular typeface celebrates its 50th birthday this year. Millions of people see Helvetica every day - is this just globalisation or is it the ultimate typeface?

Released: 12 Sep 2007 First broadcast: 06 Nov 2007

IMDB: 7.2Rotten Tomates: 89%WikipediaNetflixBBC programme page

The Story of India (2007)

IMDB: Historian Michael Wood visits places and interviews experts all over India to cover the great chapters of the subcontinent's long and impressive history. These include the racial make-up and the role and origins of great religions, native like Hinduism and Buddhism as well as imported, notably Islam. As well as state-building and international relations, culminating in colonization and road back to unified (albeit in two states) independence.

BBC synopsis: Michael Wood journeys through the Indian subcontinent, tracing the incredible richness and diversity of its peoples, cultures and landscapes.

First broadcast: 24 Aug 2007

IMDB: 8.3WikipediaNetflixBBC programme page

Jesus Camp (2007)

Director: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady

IMDB: Jesus Camp follows several young children as they prepare to attend a summer camp where the kids will get their daily dose of evangelical Christianity. Becky Fischer works at the camp, which is named Kids on Fire. Through interviews with Fischer, the children, and others, Jesus Camp illustrates the unswerving belief of the faithful. A housewife and homeschooling mother tells her son that creationism has all the answers. Footage from inside the camp shows young children weeping and wailing as they promise to stop their sinning. Child after child is driven to tears. Juxtapose these scenes with clips from a more moderate Christian radio host (who is appalled by such tactics), and Jesus Camp seems to pose a clear question: are these children being brainwashed?

Rotten Tomates: Evangelical indoctrination is given an unflinching, even-handed look in this utterly worthwhile documentary.

Released: 18 Apr 2007

IMDB: 7.6Rotten Tomates: 87%WikipediaNetflix

The Bridge (2007)

Director: Eric Steel

IMDB: People suffer largely unnoticed while the rest of the world goes about its business. This is a documentary exploration of the mythic beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge, the most popular suicide destination in the world, and those drawn by its call. Steel and his crew filmed the bridge during daylight hours from two separate locations for all of 2004, recording most of the two dozen deaths in that year (and preventing several others). They also taped interviews with friends, families and witnesses, who recount in sorrowful detail stories of struggles with depression, substance abuse and mental illness. Raises questions about suicide, mental illness and civic responsibility as well as the filmmaker's relationship to his fraught and complicated material.

Rotten Tomates: Tactlessly morbid or remarkably sensitive? Deeply disturbing or viscerally fascinating? Critics are divided on Eric Steele's unique documentary on the Golden Gate Bridge, wonder of the modern world and notorious suicide destination.

Released: 16 Feb 2007

IMDB: 7.3Rotten Tomates: 66%WikipediaAmazon UK prime instant video

Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock? (2006)

Director: Harry Moses

IMDB: In this documentary, veteran filmmaker Harry Moses exposes the controversy in the world of high priced artwork. He paints a vivid picture of how art is bought and sold in America.

Released: 09 Nov 2006

IMDB: 7.1Rotten Tomates: 100%WikipediaNetflix

Wordplay (2006)

Director: Patrick Creadon

IMDB: A documentary that focuses on the world of crossword puzzles: those that construct them, those that love to solve them, those that compete in the annual Crossword competition in Stamford and also on Will Shortz, the editor of the New York Times crossword since the early 1990s. Shortz actually has a university degree in games and organized the first crossword championship in 1978. Some of the contributors to the Times puzzle explain how they go about building them while some aficionados, including former President Bill Clinton and comedian Jon Stewart talk about their love of solving them. The film also introduces several past champions and near champions competing in the 2006 tournament and it takes you from the preliminary rounds to the final where the top three contestants compete in front of a room full of admiring contestants.

Rotten Tomates: You see them hunched over with their brows furrowed, folded newspaper in hand as they attempt to complete the crossword puzzle. This may even describe you. This ingeniously edited documentary introduces viewers to some of the more dedicated fans of this solitary pastime, none more well-known the puzzle editor for the New York Times, Will Shortz. This underground world provides a surprising amount of crowd-pleasing entertainment and suspense, especially at the annual crossword tournament. Didn't know there was one, did you?

Released: 23 Jun 2006

IMDB: 7.4Rotten Tomates: 95%WikipediaNetflix

Grizzly Man (2005)

Director: Werner Herzog

IMDB: A docudrama that centers on amateur grizzly bear expert Timothy Treadwell. He periodically journeyed to Alaska to study and live with the bears. He was killed, along with his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard, by a rogue bear in October 2003. The films explores their compassionate lives as they found solace among these endangered animals.

Rotten Tomates: Whatever opinion you come to have of the obsessive Treadwell, Herzog has once again found a fascinating subject.

Released: 27 Oct 2005

IMDB: 7.8Rotten Tomates: 93%WikipediaNetflix

Mad Hot Ballroom (2005)

Director: Marilyn Agrelo

IMDB: Eleven-year-old New York City public school kids journey into the world of ballroom dancing and reveal pieces of themselves and their world along the way. Told from their candid, sometimes hilarious perspectives, these kids are transformed, from reluctant participants to determined competitors, from typical urban kids to "ladies and gentlemen," on their way to try to compete in the final citywide competition. Providing unique insight into the incredible cultural diversity that is New York City, this film profiles several kids from three schools (out of 60) at this dynamic age, when becoming that "cool" teenager vies for position with familiar innocence, while they learn the merengue, rumba, tango, the foxtrot and swing.

Rotten Tomates: This heartwarming documentary will win audiences over, as the sheer charm of precocious, enthusiastic children learning to dance resonates from the screen.

Released: 13 May 2005

IMDB: 7.6Rotten Tomates: 84%WikipediaNetflix

The White Diamond (2005)

Director: Werner Herzog

IMDB: About the daring adventure of exploring rainforest canopy with a novel flying device-the Jungle Airship. Airship engineer Dr. Graham Dorrington embarks on a trip to the giant Kaieteur Falls in the heart of Guyana, hoping to fly his helium-filled invention above the tree-tops. But this logistic effort will not be without risk. Twelve years ago, a similar expedition into the unique habitat of the canopy ended in disaster when Dorrington's friend Dieter Plage fell to his death. With the expedition is Werner Herzog, setting out now with a new prototype of the airship into the Lost World of the pristine rain forest of this little explored area of the world, to record and tell this unique story.

Released: 10 Mar 2005

IMDB: 7.6Rotten Tomates: 94%WikipediaNetflix

Super Size Me (2004)

Director: Morgan Spurlock

IMDB: Several legal suits have been brought against McDonald's Restaurants that they are knowingly selling food that is unhealthy. Some of the court decisions have stated that the plaintiffs would have a claim if they could prove that eating the food every day for every meal is dangerous. As such, documentarian Morgan Spurlock conducts an unscientific experiment using himself as the guinea pig: eat only McDonald's for thirty days, three meals a day. If he is asked by the clerk if he would like the meal super sized, he has to say yes. And by the end of the thirty days, he will have had to have eaten every single menu item at least once. Before starting the experiment, he is tested by three doctors - a general practitioner, a cardiologist and a gastroenterologist - who pronounce his general health to be outstanding. They will also monitor him over the thirty days to ensure that he is not placing his health into irreparable damage. He also consults with a dietitian/nutritionist and an exercise physiologist, the latter who also deems him to be above average fitness. As it mimics the lifestyle of those who eat fast food, he will also do no exercise for the thirty days, limiting himself to under 5,000 steps per day (the approximate equivalent of 2½ miles). These health and medical experts have some predictions about his general health and wellness by the end of the experiment. His vegan chef girlfriend also has some predictions about how this experiment will affect his mood and therefore their relationship. As he goes through the experiment, he speaks to a number of people - many experts in their respective fields - on the pros and cons of the fast food lifestyle. Just over halfway through the experiment, it is evident that even the experts can be wrong, and not in a good way.

Released: 21 May 2004

IMDB: 7.4Rotten Tomates: None%WikipediaNetflixAmazon UK prime instant video

Tetris: From Russia with Love (2004)

Director: Magnus Temple

BBC synopsis: The story of how a simple computer game developed by a programmer at Moscow's Academy of Science prompted a global battle for financial rights with billions of dollars at stake.

Released: 09 Feb 2004 First broadcast: 01 Aug 2012

IMDB: 7.4BBC programme page

Word Wars (2004)

Director: Eric Chaikin, Julian Petrillo

IMDB: The classic board game, Scrabble, has been popular for decades. In addition, there are fanatics who devote heart and soul to this game to the expense of everything else. This film profiles a group of these enthusiasts as they converge for a Scrabble convention where the word game is almost a bloodsport.

Rotten Tomates: Fascinating look inside the world of competitive Scrabble.

Released: 01 Jan 2004

IMDB: 6.9Rotten Tomates: 89%WikipediaNetflix

Spellbound (2003)

Director: Jeffrey Blitz

IMDB: This documentary follows 8 teens and pre-teens as they work their way toward the finals of the Scripps Howard national spelling bee championship in Washington D.C. All work quite hard and practice daily, first having to win their regional championship before they can move on. Interviews include the parents and teachers who are working with them. The competitors not only work hard to get to the finals but face tremendous pressure as the original group of over 250 competitors is whittled down and the words they must spell get ever more difficult.

Rotten Tomates: A suspenseful, gripping documentary that features an engaging cross section of American children.

Released: 10 Oct 2003

IMDB: 7.7Rotten Tomates: 98%WikipediaNetflix

Murder on a Sunday Morning (2003)

Director: Jean-Xavier de Lestrade

IMDB: Oscar-winning documentary that documents a murder trial in which a 15-year-old African-American is wrongfully accused of a 2000 murder in Jacksonville, Florida.

BBC synopsis: Documentary following a black American teenager's trial for murder, and how his defence lawyer and his team discovered a slew of shocking and troubling elements about the case.

Released: 26 Feb 2003 First broadcast: 06 Nov 2011

IMDB: 8.1WikipediaNetflixBBC programme page

Small Town Ecstasy (2002)

Director: Jay Blumenfield

IMDB: 6.9

Dark Days (2001)

Director: Marc Singer

IMDB: Near Penn Station, next to the Amtrak tracks, squatters have been living for years. Marc Singer goes underground to live with them, and films this "family." A dozen or so men and one woman talk about their lives: horrors of childhood, jail time, losing children, being coke-heads. They scavenge, they've built themselves sturdy one-room shacks; they have pets, cook, chat, argue, give each other haircuts. A bucket is their toilet. Leaky overhead pipes are a source of water for showers. They live in virtual darkness. During the filming, Amtrak gives a 30-day eviction notice.

Released: 09 Mar 2001

IMDB: 7.8Rotten Tomates: 93%WikipediaNetflix

Beyond the mat (2000)

Director: Barry W. Blaustein

IMDB: This documentry focuses on the lives of professional wrestlers Terry Funk, Mick Foley (Mankind), Jake Roberts (Jake the Snake), and Darren Drozdov (Droz). As the film progresses the story of their lives unfolds, as well as we learn how the wrestling industry is not the plastic-weapons fake-slap sideshow that many have perceived it as. We are shown how moves, although not actually injuring anyone, are not fake, and extreme training is required to be able to perform the stunts without being harmed. We are also treated to interviews with the family of Mick Foley and what it is like for them to know their father literally puts his life on the line every week and how it feels to have other children call their father a "fake". Vince McMahon, owner of World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, also makes a few appearances, responding to criticism on various wrestling situations, including, once again, his real athletes very real orginization being called fake by sources such as USA Today and various news programs.

Rotten Tomates: Even if you aren't a fan, Beyond the Mat provides a riveting, perceptive look into the world of professional wrestling by taking a closer look at the people beneath the personas.

Released: 17 Mar 2000

IMDB: 7.6Rotten Tomates: 82%WikipediaNetflix

First Person (2000)

IMDB: Amazing series primarily using Errol Morris' invention the Interrotron for unusual people to tell their outré stories directly into the camera to the viewer. Almost every half-hour documentary episode focused on 1 person, especially scientists, criminals, cranks, plus everyday folks in strange circumstances. First season seen on Bravo, second on IFC. Having a roaming crew at the ready led Morris to start filming his Academy Award winning documentary on Robert McNamara, "The Fog of War." Some subjects came from Morris' back-file, others were newly uncovered. First season included the autistic woman scientist who designs humane slaughterhouses (Temple Grandin, "Stairway to Heaven"), the parrot whose testimony in a trial exonerated a man wrongly accused of murdering his owner, the ex-lobster fisherman devoted to being the first to see a live giant squid ("Eyeball to Eyeball"), and a serial killer groupie. Second season had some 2 parters such as a haunted passenger who landed a crashing jet liner, also the dot.com entrepreneur who believes first mate Gilligan is the new messiah ! Errol Morris hoped to continue "First Person," but funding was unavailable.

Released: 16 Feb 2000

IMDB: 8.2Wikipedia

Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1998)

Director: Werner Herzog

IMDB: In 1966, Dieter Dengler was shot down over Laos, captured, and, down to 85 pounds, escaped. Barefoot, surviving monsoons, leeches, and machete-wielding villagers, he was rescued. Now, near 60, living on Mt. Tamalpais, Dengler tells his story: a German lad surviving Allied bombings in World War II, postwar poverty, apprenticed to a smith, beaten regularly. At 18, he emigrates and peels potatoes in the U.S. Air Force. He leaves for California and college, then enlistment in the Navy to learn to fly. A quiet man of sorrows tells his story: war, capture, harrowing conditions, escape, and miraculous rescue. Where did he find the strength; how does he now live with his memories?

BBC synopsis: Documentaries from around the world. Werner Herzog's film recreates the torture ordeal and escape of fighter pilot Dieter Dengler, shot down in Laos.

Released: 02 Oct 1998 First broadcast: 14 Nov 2007

IMDB: 8.1Rotten Tomates: 93%WikipediaNetflixBBC programme page

Endeavour: Everest - By Canoe (1977)

Director: Leo Dickinson

BBC synopsis: Documentary about a 1976 British expedition team that made mountaineering history when they became the first kayakers to descend the Dudh Kosi river that runs off Mount Everest.

Released: 28 Dec 1977 First broadcast: 28 Dec 2013

BBC programme page