Belly of the Beast: The cruelty of forced sterilization in America

By Joanne Laurier, 13 November 2020

Belly of the Beast is a documentary on practices carried out at female penitentiaries in California.

Immigration Nation reveals the suffering of migrants at the hands of the US detention and deportation machine

By Fred Mazelis, 1 September 2020

The Trump administration tried to stop or delay the release of this important documentary.

Online documentary exposes the psychological torture of Julian Assange

By Oscar Grenfell, 15 July 2020

UN official Nils Melzer stated that Assange’s persecution was “about intimidating all other journalists and publishers and making sure that no-one does what he has done, because that’s what states are afraid of.”

The COVID-19 vaccine and the drive for profit

By Frank Gaglioti, 8 July 2020

As the pandemic rages across the planet, the struggle to develop a vaccine has become an urgent task. But the vaccines will be weaponized for geopolitical purposes, not to provide the treatments equitably on a global scale.

The Last Dance: Basketball star Michael Jordan and professional sports in the 1990s

By Omar Ali, 3 July 2020

The recently released documentary miniseries The Last Dance chronicles the championship season of the 1998 Chicago Bulls, with particular focus on the figure of superstar Michael Jordan.

“Lost our connection after the war”

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band—a documentary film

By James Brewer, 25 May 2020

Robbie Robertson: “The story of the Band is beautiful. It was so beautiful it went up in flames.”

Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of the Comfort Women Issue: Documentary about war crimes and historical revisionism in Japan

By Isabel Roy, 20 March 2020

Miki Dezaki interviews revisionists from far-right circles in Japan, politicians and historians who have studied “comfort women,” as well as activists working for the recognition of the victimised women.

A comment by writer and director Andrew Birkin on Speer Goes to Hollywood

13 March 2020

The WSWS has received a letter from writer and director Andrew Birkin in response to its review, posted on March 11, of Speer Goes to Hollywood .

John Pilger’s The Dirty War on the National Health Service screening on Australia’s SBS this Sunday

By our reporters, 15 February 2020

The WSWS urges all our readers to watch this powerful documentary on SBS television, at 8.30 p.m. Sunday night, February 16.

A comment on American Factory, the award-winning documentary

By Lily Zhao, 12 February 2020

The work won in the best documentary feature category at the Academy Awards on Sunday night. It was the first film produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground Productions.

Advocate (2019): “An angry, optimistic woman” in pursuit of justice for the Palestinians

By Jean Shaoul, 4 February 2020

Advocate exposes the bankruptcy of the pursuit of justice for the Palestinians through the Israeli courts.

“This ain’t a nice place to be: This ain’t Belmarsh, it’s Hellmarsh”

ITV documentary reveals conditions in prison holding WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange

By Paul Bond, 30 January 2020

Despite going unmentioned, Assange’s deteriorating health and the concerns of independent medical professionals about his effective solitary confinement in the health care unit hung silently over the programme.

Left-wing British film and television producer Tony Garnett dead at 83

By our reporter, 16 January 2020

Garnett’s career spanned 50 years, but he is identified above all with one of the most significant and creative periods in the history of television drama in the UK.

The Revolution and the Land: Peruvian documentary about agrarian reform in the 1960s and ’70s attracts great interest

By Armando Cruz and Cesar Uco, 23 December 2019

The documentary brings to life the centuries-long exploitation of the indigenous Peruvian peasantry, but fails to provide a coherent political analysis of the rise and fall of Gen. Velasco’s regime.

UK covered up war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq

By Jean Shaoul, 22 November 2019

The BBC’s “Panorama” cited evidence surrounding the killing by UK troops of innocent and unarmed civilians.

When They See Us: A powerful dramatization of the case of the Central Park Five

By Kate Randall, 1 July 2019

The Netflix series dramatizes the case of five black and Latino young men who were wrongfully convicted in the 1989 Central Park Jogger rape case.

Amazing Grace: A film about American singer Aretha Franklin’s most popular album

By Matthew Brennan, 3 June 2019

Amazing Grace, a concert film currently showing in select theaters around the US, captures the two-day recording of singer-pianist Aretha Franklin’s 1972 gospel concert album of the same title.

The Last Survivors: A testament to the Holocaust

A documentary film by Arthur Cary, first shown on BBC Two

By Margot Miller, 15 February 2019

Cary has captured the testimony of some of the last generation who were children in the camps, most of whom saw the genocide of their parents, siblings, relatives and friends.

Who Will Write Our History: Emanuel Ringelblum and the Warsaw Ghetto archive on the screen

By Clara Weiss, 24 January 2019

Roberta Grossman’s film is an important contribution to a wider discussion about the significance of historical truth in the struggle against fascism.

School: BBC documentary reveals impact of education cuts

By Tom Pearce and Paul Mitchell, 21 January 2019

In the documentary, we witness the distress resulting from teacher shortages, large class sizes, dilapidated buildings and insufficient support for children with special needs, all in pursuit of “balancing the budget.”

“Well-paid journalists have become gormless cyphers of the propaganda of war”

John Pilger discusses his “The Power of the Documentary” film festival

By Richard Phillips, 3 December 2018

Veteran journalist and filmmaker John Pilger spoke with the WSWS last week about his film festival and the political issues confronting serious journalists today.

The Fires that Foretold Grenfell—Documentary reveals how UK governments ignored lessons of previous fire tragedies

By Margo Miller, 9 November 2018

The documentary shows that the Grenfell Tower fire was the outcome of decades of deregulation and the ignoring of recommendations on building regulations by Conservative and Labour governments.

Toronto International Film Festival 2018: Part 5

Errol Morris provides Steven Bannon a platform (American Dharma), Werner Herzog celebrates Mikhail Gorbachev (Meeting Gorbachev) and other appalling developments

By David Walsh, 12 October 2018

Certain works either conceal critical features of contemporary life, falsify or are overwhelmed by them.

Toronto International Film Festival 2018

Fahrenheit 11/9—Filmmaker Michael Moore clings to the Democratic Party

By David Walsh, 21 September 2018

Despite various criticisms of leading Democrats and the American liberal establishment as a whole, Moore urges his viewers to retain—or perhaps regain—confidence in the Democratic Party.

Hal: A documentary about American filmmaker Hal Ashby (The Last Detail, Shampoo, Coming Home)

By David Walsh, 18 September 2018

Hal Ashby (1929-88) was an American film director, generally underrated or unrecognized today, responsible for a number of valuable or, in some cases, provocative works in the 1970s.

Separated: Children at the Border highlights the horrific human costs of the bipartisan war on immigrants

By Meenakshi Jagadeesan, 3 August 2018

The latest PBS Frontline documentary shows the effect of family separations and traces the roots of Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy.

The Case of Sobchak: A film by, about and for the Russian oligarchy

By Clara Weiss, 6 July 2018

The documentary amounts to an appeal to the Kremlin, Washington and the liberal intelligentsia, to make peace and negotiate an orderly transition from the Putin presidency.

Nor Any Drop to Drink previewed to Flint audience

By James Brewer, 13 April 2018

Central Michigan University sociology professor Cedrick Taylor presented his new documentary at the University of Michigan in Flint.

American Socialist: The Life and Times of Eugene Victor Debs—A fatally flawed documentary

By Fred Mazelis, 5 March 2018

The movie, directed by Yale Strom, seeks to turn Debs’ revolutionary message into its opposite.

Bill Frisell: A Portrait—an intimate documentary about a unique guitarist

By Richard Phillips, 23 February 2018

Emma Franz’s film is a fascinating overview of Frisell’s creative work and his constant search for new musical challenges.

American Epic: A three-part documentary about early “roots music”

The Carter Family, Mississippi John Hurt, Lydia Mendoza, Joseph Kekuku and more …

By Matthew Brennan, 11 July 2017

All three episodes—The Big Bang, Blood and Soil and Out Of The Many The One—contain important recollections and at times powerful archival footage.

“All these people worked all night, every night, crazily, obsessively”

An Interview with Sara Fishko, director of The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith

By David Walsh, 27 June 2017

Sara Fishko is an executive producer and host at WNYC, a public radio station in New York. Her film sheds fascinating light on artistic life in the 1950s and 1960s.

WikiLeaks’ lawyers sharply criticize Laura Poitras’ documentary Risk

By David Walsh, 19 May 2017

Poitras’ film about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, the four lawyers contend, undermines the credibility of the organization at a critical moment and exposes the documentary’s subjects “to considerable legal jeopardy.”

The Coming War on China: A pacifist appeal

By Richard Phillips, 14 April 2017

Pilger’s documentary exposes something of Washington’s escalating war plans against China but suggests that protests can prevent a nuclear conflagration.

Revolution: New Art for a New World—A careless, unserious treatment of Russian Revolutionary art

By Joanne Laurier and David Walsh, 17 March 2017

British filmmaker Margy Kinmonth is out of her depth in her documentary about Russian avant-garde art.

The Look of Silence: Important documentary on the aftermath of the 1965 Indonesia massacres

By Clara Weiss, 6 March 2017

In a profoundly moving, intimate and disturbing way, Joshua Oppenheimer’s film deals with the long-lasting and devastating impact of the mass murder of up to one million Communists and suspected Communists.

National Bird: “I don’t know how many people I’ve killed,” says US drone pilot

By Joanne Laurier, 9 November 2016

Sonia Kennebeck’s film, whose title suggests that drones should now be considered the US national emblem, is a documentary that brings to the screen the story of three whistleblowers.

Werner Herzog’s Lo and Behold: Reveries of The Connected World

Exploring the origins and impact of the Internet

By Kevin Reed, 8 October 2016

The movie examines the origins and implications of the Internet and related technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things and space travel.

Miss Sharon Jones! Barbara Kopple’s documentary

By Kevin Martinez, 12 September 2016

Veteran documentarian Barbara Kopple has returned with a lively and inspiring film about soul singer Sharon Jones and her battle with pancreatic cancer.

The Score of War: A haunting documentary film on Ukraine

By Bernd Reinhardt, 17 August 2016

In April of last year, the Ukrainian violinist and composer Mark Chaet, accompanied by a small film crew, travelled from Berlin to his home in Eastern Ukraine.

Hillsborough: A powerful and moving account of Britain’s worst sporting disaster

By Robert Stevens, 14 May 2016

The documentary reconstructs key events and includes harrowing footage of the crush and its aftermath, as well as interviews with family members, survivors and police officers on duty.

Of Men and War: Among the countless victims of American imperialist violence

By Joanne Laurier, 8 April 2016

The damage of post-traumatic stress disorder inflicted by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on US soldiers is addressed in this immersive documentary by French filmmaker Laurent Bécue-Renard.

In Jackson Heights: Documentarian Frederick Wiseman on life in a New York City neighborhood

By Mark Witkowski and Fred Mazelis, 29 December 2015

If nothing else, Wiseman’s new documentary is a reminder of the fact that, even in this wealthiest city in the world, the working class makes up the vast majority of the population.

The Wrecking Crew: The “secret star-making machine” of 1960s pop music

By Joanne Laurier, 14 November 2015

Denny Tedesco’s lively documentary is a heartfelt tribute to a group of studio musicians in Los Angeles, nicknamed the Wrecking Crew, who were behind some of the biggest hits of the 1960s.

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution: No lessons learned

By Clare Hurley and Fred Mazelis, 9 October 2015

Riveting video footage along with complacent commentary adds up to a misleading account.

PBS documentary Putin’s Way: Half-truths and lies in the service of US warmongering against Russia

By Andrea Peters, 9 September 2015

The half-truths, omissions and hypocritical expressions of moral indignation that characterize this supposed exposé of Putin are intended to make the case for regime-change in Russia.

What Happened, Miss Simone?: The life of African-American singer, pianist and civil rights activist Nina Simone

By Helen Hayes and Fred Mazelis, 22 July 2015

Simone did not so much move between different genres—jazz, gospel, blues and folk—as combine them into her own unique and powerful style.

“Frontline” broadcast documents CIA torture program

By Eric London, 21 May 2015

The PBS series’ May 19 episode is a chilling account of the CIA’s torture of hundreds of detainees during the Bush administration.

German television documentary on the troika and Greece

By Christoph Dreier, 28 February 2015

While the film shows how the troika engineered a social catastrophe, it promotes the policies of Syriza and other bourgeois critics who support the EU austerity program.

Edith Wharton—The Sense of Harmony: A documentary about the American novelist

By Joanne Laurier, 12 December 2014

IndiePix Films has recently released a one-hour documentary about American novelist Edith Wharton (1862-1937), featuring fascinating, never-before-seen archival footage.

Still The Enemy Within: The 1984-85 British miners’ strike according to the pseudo-left

By Paul Mitchell, 15 November 2014

The central problem with the documentary is its promotion of the state capitalist Socialist Workers Party’s perspective, which lets the Labour Party and the unions entirely off the hook for the betrayal of the miners.

The Newburgh Sting: A case of entrapment

By Isaac Finn, 27 August 2014

The HBO documentary reveals how the FBI and mainstream media worked to get four impoverished men in New York state convicted of a “terrorist plot.”

Rich Hill: A story that “could be told in hundreds of towns”

By Joanne Laurier, 20 August 2014

The documentary, directed by cousins Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo, movingly chronicles the lives of three boys living in an impoverished, rural southwestern Missouri town.

San Francisco International Film Festival 2013—Part six

Two very different documentaries: Sofia’s Last Ambulance and Sing Me The Songs That Say I Love You—A Concert for Kate McGarrigle

By David Walsh, 4 June 2013

The recent San Francisco film festival screened a number of documentary films, including these two, contrasting works.

San Francisco International Film Festival 2013—Part one

The Kill Team: The murderous reality of the US war in Afghanistan

By Joanne Laurier, 16 May 2013

The 56th San Francisco International Film Festival recently concluded. The event this year screened 158 films from 51 countries, including 67 fiction features, 28 documentary features and 63 short films.

Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States

By Christine Schofelt, 11 April 2013

Untold History is a 10-part documentary series that premiered on Showtime in November 2012. Its stated aim is to shed light on little known or deliberately obscured aspects of American history.

Vadim: German documentary chronicles a family destroyed by immigration authorities

By Bernd Reinhardt, 24 January 2013

The tragic story of Vadim K. and his family documents the callous inhumanity of Germany’s immigration authorities and politicians and refugee law.

Dangerous Remedy: Bertram Wainer and the struggle for abortion rights

By Richard Phillips, 3 December 2012

New Australian telemovie falsely marketed as crime drama.

Detropia: A compassionate, confused study of a devastated city

By James Brewer, 11 October 2012

The deindustrialization and dismantling of Detroit is the subject of a new documentary.

The Queen of Versailles: American “royalty” seeks to build its own palace

By Fred Mazelis, 11 August 2012

A new documentary tells the tale of a Florida billionaire and lifts the lid on a portion of American social reality.

San Francisco International Film Festival 2012—Part 2

Crulic—The Path to Beyond from Romania: The tragic fate of a decent, humble human being

By Kevin Kearney, 19 May 2012

The second film by Romanian filmmaker Anca Damian, Crulic—The Path to Beyond, was another noteworthy documentary (or semi-documentary) featured at the 2012 San Francisco film festival.

An interview with Chad Freidrichs, director of The Pruitt-Igoe Myth

By Fred Mazelis, 17 February 2012

The director of The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, a documentary about public housing in the US, speaks to the WSWS.

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: A serious look at public housing and the fate of US cities

By Fred Mazelis, 1 February 2012

A new documentary film examines the history of a St. Louis housing project.

Images of a dictatorship: La Cantuta in the Jaws of the Devil

By Armando Cruz, 13 September 2011

Directed and written by Amanda Gonzales

Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams

By Philip Guelpa, 8 July 2011

This documentary affords viewers the ability to experience the interior of Chauvet Cave in southern France, which contains the oldest known cave art anywhere in the world.

100 years since the historic workplace tragedy in New York City

HBO’s Triangle: Remember the Fire

By Charles Bogle, 25 March 2011

The excellent production values of Triangle: Remember the Fire leave an indelible visual memory of one of the greatest tragedies in American workplace. Sadly, the documentary’s limited perspective dishonors the legacy of the tragedy.

100 years since tragic blaze killed 146 garment workers

Triangle Fire on PBS’s “American Experience”: compelling documentary marred by liberal perspective

By Charles Bogle, 12 March 2011

Triangle Fire recreates one of the truly tragic workplace disasters in US history. Producer-director Jamila Wignot offers a compelling portrayal of the inhuman conditions that led to the fire and the loss of 146 lives.

John Pilger’s The War You Don’t See: An indictment of news reporting as state propaganda

By Paul Mitchell, 4 January 2011

John Pilger’s The War You Don’t See examines the media’s role in wartime and asks whether it has become part of the propaganda machine of the state.

An additional comment on Inside Job, the documentary about the financial meltdown

11 November 2010

Joanne Laurier of the WSWS recently commented on the documentary film, Inside Job. A WSWS supporter adds this comment.

Toronto International Film Festival 2010

ANPO: Art X War—Art and opposition in postwar Japan

By Lee Parsons, 14 October 2010

ANPO: Art X War, a remarkable documentary from first-time director Linda Hoaglund, deals with the mass opposition that erupted in Japan in 1960 to the continuation of the US military presence in that country.

Waiting for Superman

American liberalism spearheads the right-wing attack on public education

By Dan Conway, 7 October 2010

Students are protesting today against attacks on public education under conditions of mounting social distress for millions of young people.

Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould: A more intimate view

By Joanne Laurier, 10 September 2010

Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould by Canadian documentarians Michéle Hozer and Peter Raymont is a compilation of previously unseen footage of Gould, as well as hundreds of photographs and excerpts of private home and studio recordings.

Globalization and its human consequences: The Red Tail

By Joanne Laurier, 6 July 2010

The Red Tail, a documentary co-directed by Dawn Mikkelson and Melissa Koch, is a human drama that treats a question of immense importance: the consequences of a globally-integrated economy.

A conversation with Austin Chu, co-director of The Recess Ends

A film about the impact of the economic crisis in the US

By Marge Holland, 9 December 2009

Earlier this year Austin and Brian Chu traveled to every state in the US in an effort to capture the reality of the recession, which was being so under-reported by the American media. The WSWS spoke to Austin Chu recently in San Francisco.

An exposure of corruption: Afghanistan, on the Dollar Trail

By Mathew Benn, 31 October 2009

Afghanistan, on the Dollar Trail, written and directed by Paul Moreira and produced by Sue Spencer

“Obama’s War”: A glimpse of US debacle in Afghanistan

By Bill Van Auken, 15 October 2009

“Obama’s War,” the hour-long television documentary aired on “Frontline” Tuesday, provides a telling glimpse of the debacle facing the US intervention in Afghanistan, but no real explanation of why the war is being fought.

Sydney Film Festival 2009—Part 3: Some perceptive documentaries

By Richard Phillips and Ismet Redzovic, 13 July 2009

This is the third in a series of articles on the Sydney Film Festival held June 3-14.

Afghan Star: Eyes not opened wide enough

By Peter Kloze, 23 June 2009

Afghan Star, a documentary about Afghanistan’s version of American Idol, the television talent show, includes some interesting human material, but glosses over all the complex questions.

Billy the Kid: “Can you see inside me?”

By Joanne Laurier, 31 March 2009

Billy the Kid is an unusual independent film, about a teenager in a small town in Maine.

The Silence of the Quandts: The history of a wealthy German family

A documentary film by Eric Friedler and Barbara Siebert

By Emma Bode and Brigitte Fehlau, 29 November 2008

The award-winning The Silence of the Quandts deals with the unscrupulous rise of one of Germany’s richest and most influential families. The family, which owns 47 percent of auto manufacturer BMW, is implicated in the crimes of the Nazi regime.

Robert Hughes: A refreshingly frank comment on the art market

By Paul Bond, 14 October 2008

On September 16, even as Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch were collapsing, Damien Hirst was setting a new record for sales at auction by an individual artist. His private auction at Sotheby’s netted him $197.8 million.

New documentary on Pinochet’s dictatorship: Some wounds should not heal

By Debra Watson, 25 September 2008

The Judge and the General tells the story of recent efforts to bring to justice the perpetrators of horrific acts of political repression committed three decades ago under Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet.