Documenting my favorite documentaries


Netflix has made it easy for me to discover and watch some lesser-known documentaries – so while I love the popular “Spellbound” and “Young At Heart” (seriously – see them both! Your heart will sing!), I’ve unearthed some other gems that you should know about.

American Teen
A film crew descends on a high school in small town Warsaw, IN, and follows 5 teens through their entire senior year.  With disarming candidness, these 17-18 year olds draw you into their worlds; in a mere hour and 35 minutes, I honestly became emotionally invested in these kids.  When it was over, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to wallow and cry, remembering my own awkward high school experiences, or go out and hug every teenager I saw, in an effort to say, “It’s totally going to get better.  There is so much more to life.  Hang in there.”

How’s Your News?
Five mentally and physically challenged adults are taken on a rare adventure – an RV trip across the country with stops in major cities where they act as field reporters.  Get ready to fall in love with these people, and to sing along with the theme song (that they wrote!).

Born Into Brothels
We all know what happens in the Red Light district.  But what about the children who call it home?  Two filmmakers enter into the lives of the children of prostitutes in Calcutta, India, and build relationships with them, using photography lessons as a way to connect.  The horrific living conditions of the children juxtaposed with their sweet spirits and eye for poignant, incredible photography create a sense of urgency – is there a chance for a better life?

Standing in the Shadows of Motown
I watched this at the recommendation of Juliette.  And it is fantastic.

Shut Up and Sing
Remember when Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks made that controversial statement about the President of the United States?  This is what happened after.  And it’s amazing.  And inspiring.  And makes me want to stand up for what I believe is right.  Regardless of what you thought of “the incident,” as they call it, this is worth watching.  I will always love the Dixie Chicks.

Unknown White Male
How terrifying would it be to wake up on a New York subway with no clue as to who you were – except a phone number in your pocket and a British accent?  The mysterious amnesia of Doug Bruce – a young, good-looking, seemingly healthy man – made me think deeply about identity.  What is innate?  What is learned?  And if I woke up tomorrow with absolutely no idea who I was, would I still be me?

Go feed your mind.



  1. Mary on April 16, 2009 at 9:28 AM

    Born into Brothels was one of my favorite films of last year. so poignant. Another must see, Annie, is The Business of Being Born. It delves into the business of hospital maternity wards in the US, and it truly is a money-making business. The movie is astounding and eye opening.


  2. rachel rianne on April 16, 2009 at 9:32 AM

    you forgot man on wire!

  3. Sarah on April 16, 2009 at 10:25 AM

    Oh Annie, I loooovveeee documentaries. You should watch
    1. Grey Gardens, classic crazy heartbreaking ladies
    2. Gates of Heaven, pet cemeteries!
    3. Little Dieter Needs to Fly, about this amazing guy who’s plane crashes in the forest during the Vietnam War
    4. Fistful of Quarters, seriously, so awesome
    Hope you’re doing well!

  4. Sarah Kate on April 16, 2009 at 12:22 PM

    I LOVED “Born into Brothels.” One of my favorites that made my heart break and swell at the same time.
    You should also look into “The Eyes of Tammye Faye” for a good laugh, I mean, good look into what really happened in the Bakker family.

  5. Deborah Barnett on April 16, 2009 at 2:13 PM

    okay – my Netflix Queue is full again – thanks!

    More documentaries and/or indie films I’ve discovered thanks to Netflix:

    Children of Heaven (perfect for your up coming race – lots of running!)

    Beyond Belief – Post 911, these women are amazing.

    The Girl in the Cafe – NOT what I expected but so amazing!

    And I’m waiting for Faith Like Potatoes which I hear if incredible.

    Thanks for the tips! I love little known films & docs…

  6. Deborah Barnett on April 16, 2009 at 2:15 PM

    by the way, Sarah… I looked up Fistful of Quarters and only found A Fistful of Dollars… same movie?

  7. Isaiah Kallman on April 16, 2009 at 2:24 PM

    It’s possible that I get a little weepy every time I watch “Standing in the Shadows of Motown”. It makes me believe that Fame is never, ever fair.

  8. dn on April 16, 2009 at 6:04 PM

    I caught “The Rape of Europa” on PBS a few months back. It’s a captivating look at the Nazi’s effort to steal all of the continent’s great works of art. Did you know they evacuated the whole Louvre? That the Mona Lisa was chillin in this house in southern France until the Germans were defeated? Just one of the many things you’ll learn. You can watch it instantly at Netflix.

  9. rachel on April 16, 2009 at 8:19 PM

    My queue is going to swell! Yay :-)

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