Fire of Love (2022)
Katia and Maurice Krafft loved two things — each other and volcanoes. For two decades, the daring French volcanologists roamed the planet from volcano to volcano, chasing eruptions and documenting their discoveries in still photography and on 16mm film. Sadly, they lost their lives in a 1991 volcanic explosion, but their lives' work endures in a stunning film archive that is overwhelmingly beautiful, and thoroughly enriches our knowledge of the natural world.
Why you should see it: Wowing audiences when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, Sara Dosa's stunning documentary captures the Krafft's work across photography and cinematography, revealing the beautiful overlap that exists between science and art. The footage they captured is overwhelmingly beautiful to view on the big screen – don't miss out on this experience.
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Moonage Daydream (2022)
After carving out a career of lasting dynamic influence in documentary, Brett Morgen turns his lens to the ultimate music subject: David Bowie. Not a concert film, not a music video and, no, not a documentary, Moonage Daydream is a hyper-saturated, audio-visual experience of its own.
Why you should see it: Dynamic! Electric! And thoroughly Bowie. Working in cooperation with David Bowie's estate, and with unprecedented access to a treasure trove of unseen concert footage, audio recordings and films, Moonage Daydream is a masterfully edited kaleidoscopic collage, piecing together David Bowie's career in a chaotic (and impressively coherent) language of its own.
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Loving Highsmith (2022)
An intimate, revelatory documentary portrait of celebrated American author Patricia Highsmith, who was behind several novels which have been adapted for the screen. In its retelling of a life outwardly marked by the trappings of fame and success as a celebrated author, Eva Vitija’s intimate documentary strikes several disarmingly poignant notes. Narrated by Gwendoline Christie.
Why you should see it: Get a glimpse inside the mind of the author who provided the source material for several critically acclaimed films, including Plein Soleil (1960) and The Talented Mr Ripley (1999), The American Friend (1977), Strangers on a Train (1951) and Carol (2015).
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Andrea Arnold's debut as a documentarian offers an immersive look at the life of an English dairy cow named Luma, or 1129 if you go by her branding. Without explanation or narration, we're guided on the cinematic journey by a cow whose every sound carries weight and whose long-lashed eyes convey an incredible depth of emotion.
Why you should see it: Eye-opening and impossible to forget, Andrea Arnold's emotionally engaging and (ironically) humanistic documentary masterfully articulates the slavery of animals, oscillating between the harrowing and the banal. So compassionate is Cow that it's unclear whether Luma becomes more human during the film, or we become more bovine.
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The Witches of the Orient (2021)
For a spellbinding period from the late 1950s to the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, one volleyball team ruled the international competition with a record-breaking undefeated 258-game streak. Now in their 70s, the surviving members of the team, dubbed "The Witches of the Orient", reminisce on the punishing training drills and wild popularity they experienced, as the film deftly cuts between 16mm archival competition footage, present day interviews and striking scenes from the 1969–70 anime (Attack No.1!) that the ‘Witches’ inspired.
Why you should see it: Julien Faraut's ability to bridge the connection between sport, cinema and art has been lauded by critics and seen him credited as kickstarting a micro-genre of “the sports-documentary-that’s-not-really-about-sport”. Featuring an original score by American musician Jason Lytle (of indie rock group Grandaddy).
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Summer of Soul (or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (2021)
An electric documentary portrait of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival– that featured once-in-a-lifetime line-ups of Black performers – by Best Documentary Oscar winner and Roots co-founder and drummer, Questlove.
Why you should see it: The Festival was a landmark celebration of African American music and culture that promoted Black pride and unity. Mavis Staples, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and many megawatt others appear in a film that has garnered an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, a Grammy for Best Music Film and major awards at Sundance.