10/10: Robert Greene

Our first doc-centric list! Robert Greene, director of Sundance prize-winner Kate Plays Christine and the acclaimed Actress, lists his ten favorite documentaries from the last ten years.

1. The Act of Killing / The Look of Silence (Joshua Oppenheimer and collaborators, 2012/2014, USA/Indonesia)

Two sides of a coin, different in tone, style and extremity, yet inextricably connected, Joshua Oppenheimer and his collaborators’ diptych The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence is a pyscho-political, formally revolutionary double bill that reveals the unacknowledged scripts of impunity.

2. Ne Me Quitte Pas (Sabine Lubbe Bakker and Niels van Koeverden, 2013, The Netherlands)

Droll and deeply affecting, this portrait of two old drinking buddies in the Belgian countryside made me laugh, cry and exalt in the possibilities of directed nonfiction.

3. Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel, 2012, USA)

Direct cinema pushed past its limits to an almost post-human breaking point, this GoPro-shot immersion into the complex ecosystem of a monstrous shipping vessel off the coast of Maine is an experimental thrill ride unlike anything else.

4. Below Sea Level (Gianfranco Rosi, 2008, Italy)

By directing the first documentaries to win top prizes at both Venice and Berlin, Gianfranco Rosi has helped change the way nonfiction cinema is perceived, but his most exhilarating film may be this profoundly expressive portrait of a loosely connected group down-and-outers in Slab City, California.

5. Sleepless Nights (Eliane Raheb, 2012, Lebanon)

Eliane Raheb’s layered, complex and rigorously observed nonfiction intervention into two lives burnt down by and rebuilt in the image of the Lebanese Civil War is as inventive as The Act of Killing and even more subtly disturbing.

6. Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson, 2016, USA)

KJ’s masterful film is part autobiography, part travelogue, part show reel and part soulful deconstruction of the contorted complexity at the heart of nonfiction image-making.

7. Homeland: Iraq Year Zero (Abbas Fahdel, 2015, Iraq)

Monumental and overwhelmingly moving, Abbas Fahdel’s epic, many years in the making account of pre and post-invasion Iraq is equal parts historical corrective and haunting home movie.

8. Of Men and War (Laurent Becue-Renard, 2014, France)

Observational cinema as collaborative therapy, the camera as witness and confidant, the editing structure as bridge builder between the directly and indirectly traumatized; Laurent Becue-Renard’s masterpiece is stripped down, gripping and essential.

9. 45365 (Bill and Turner Ross, 2009, USA)

The Ross brothers’ first feature is an intimately rendered love letter to their hometown that was both a leap forward for American documentary and a throwback to the adventure cinema of filmmakers like Les Blank.

10. Disorder (Huang Weikai, 2009, China)

Culled from multiple sources and delivered in apocalyptic, noisy black and white, Disorder is a desperate, disgusting, mesmerizing vision of the end of the world in present tense.

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10/10 is an ongoing series in which we ask cinephiles to name their ten favorite films documentaries from the last ten years (currently, between 2006 and 2016).

 

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