Backed by BFI - Documentaries
Fresh perspectives on familiar themes give a new relevance, as proven by our choice of the best in modern documentaries.
Documentaries can be as lyrical, expressive and experimental as any work of fiction while presenting different ways of seeing. What unites these choices is the themes of place and identity, focusing on the British landscape, its coastline and cities. History also plays a role thanks the expert use of archive footage from Penny Woolcock and Julien Temple.
In this thought-provoking and playful documentary, ebullient director Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian (Disaster Playground) takes you on a journey to find the origins of knowledge.
Documentary2014108 minsDirector: Randall Wright
A portrait of the beloved British artist, drawing on his own home-movie footage and with revealing contributions from his friends and colleagues.
Documentary201986 minsDirector: Ljubomir Stefanov
When a nomadic family move in and break Honeyland’s basic rule, the last female wild beekeeper in Europe must save the bees and restore natural balance.
Documentary2019124 minsDirector: Asif Kapadia
The supreme football superstar is the latest subject for acclaimed filmmaker Asif Kapadia (Amy, Senna), as he deftly explores the complicated dynamic between Diego the man and Maradona the icon.
Documentary2019102 minsDirector: Richard Lowenstein
Capturing his rise to super-stardom and subsequent tragic fall, Mystify gives remarkable insight into INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence and a truth he took to the grave.
Documentary201993 minsDirector: Todd Douglas Miller
Astonishing documentary about the 1969 lunar mission, crafted from a newly discovered trove of spectacular, pristine 65mm footage.
Documentary201672 minsDirector: Usayd Younis
This urgent, impassioned documentary follows a new generation of Black activists as they fight for social and political change in London and beyond.
Documentary2017115 minsDirector: Sophie Fiennes
Grace Jones is laid bare in this intimate and electrifying insight into the fascinating world of a pop-cultural phenomenon.
Documentary201586 minsDirector: George Amponsah
The story of Mark Duggan, who was shot and killed in Tottenham in 2011, is brought to the screen in this humane, thought-provoking and topical documentary.
Documentary202175 minsDirector: Jennifer Peedom
A profound cinematic and musical reflection on how rivers have shaped both the planet’s elaborate landscapes and all human existence.
Documentary201698 minsDirector: Ross Adam
Discover one of cinema’s strangest stories: a film director and his star are kidnapped by Kim Jong-il to make movies in the world’s weirdest state.
Documentary201474 minsDirector: Kim Longinotto
A hundred years of love and courtship on the silver screen, with music created by celebrated Sheffield singer-songwriter-producer Richard Hawley.
Documentary2017116 minsDirector: Matthew Jones
The exhilarating, no holds-barred story of Mo'Wax records founder James Lavelle, one of the most enigmatic yet influential figures in British music culture.
The Marvellous Mabel Normand: The Leading Lady of Film ComedyThe Marvellous Mabel Normand: The Leading Lady of Film Comedy
Comedy201878 minsDirector: Mabel Normand
Discover early Hollywood's irrepressible comic pioneer, showcased in this delightful package of short films in which she appears alongside fellow greats Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle and Oliver Hardy.
Biopic2018111 minsDirector: Ian Bonhôte
In scintillating fashion, this compelling documentary explores the dark dreams that drove the brilliant, lamented designer, Alexander McQueen.
Documentary201587 minsDirector: James Spinney
James Spinney and Peter Middleton's highly original documentary uses cinematic interpretations and textured sound design to express a ‘world beyond sight.’
Documentary201084 minsDirector: Gillian Wearing
Artist Gillian Wearing’s ‘documentary’ observes seven people creating (fantasy?) identities in collaboration with a drama teacher. Raw and revealing.
Documentary201380 minsDirector: David Bond
Crowning himself as Marketing Director for Nature, a father aims to entice his kids away from TV, toys and technology.
Documentary201799 minsDirector: Talal Derki
Syrian-born filmmaker Talal Derki travels to his homeland where he gains the trust of a radical Islamist family, sharing their daily life for over two years. 2019 Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary Feature.
Documentary201694 minsDirector: Raoul Peck
Raoul Peck’s penetrating and acclaimed documentary reconstructs an unfinished manuscript by James Baldwin, chronicler of America’s Civil Rights Movement.
Documentary201295 minsDirector: Ken Loach
Ken Loach's stirring polemical history explores the immense forces that built Britain's Welfare State from the rubble of the Second World War.
Documentary2010101 minsDirector: Patrick Keiller
The head of a research organisation arranges Robinson’s abandoned research on the English landscape to uncover the origins of capitalist catastrophe.
Documentary202082 minsDirector: Jerry Rothwell
Award-winning director Jerry Rothwell's compelling documentary is a rare cinematic and sensorial insight into the world of non-speaking autistic people.
Drama201684 minsDirector: Mark Cousins
Neneh Cherry, director Mark Cousins and cinematographer Christopher Doyle's exquisite love song to the Swedish city.
Documentary201281 minsDirector: Mark Cousins
Mark Cousins’ cine-essay, inspired by Sergei Eisenstein’s 1930s Mexican odyssey, is a poetic meditation on memory, landscape and walking.
Documentary201371 minsDirector: Martin Wallace
Jarvis Cocker and acclaimed director Martin Wallace's feature-length elegy to the men and women who toiled in Sheffield's steelworks is a hymn to Britain's proud industrial past.
Documentary201894 minsDirector: Tim Travers Hawkins
Telling the historic story of whistleblower Chelsea Manning; the journey of her fight for survival and dignity, and her transition from prisoner to a free woman.
Documentary201696 minsDirector: Ashish Ghadiali
A detailed, wide-ranging interview with Moazzam Begg, a British citizen formerly detained at Guantanamo Bay under suspicion of terrorism offenses.
Documentary201995 minsDirector: Midge Costin
Faders on stun: Hollywood sound editor Midge Costin’s immersive, educational and hugely enjoyable documentary exploring the power of sound in cinema.
Documentary201993 minsDirector: Alexandre O. Philippe
The untold origin story behind Ridley Scott’s Alien, one of Hollywood’s most beloved and iconic shockers.
Documentary200689 minsDirector: Louise Osmond
Riveting account of the disastrous attempt by novice sailor Donald Crowhurst to compete in a round-the-world, solo yachting race.
Documentary201894 minsDirector: Alex Holmes
The incredible, against-all-odds story of sailor Tracy Edwards, who skippered the first all-female international crew in the 1989 Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race.
Documentary201993 minsDirector: Bill Jones
Charting the rise of one of Britain's most distinctive film companies, HandMade Films, producer of classics such as Life of Brian, The Long Good Friday and Withnail and I.
Documentary2018106 minsDirector: Tomer Heymann
The private life of a renowned gay porn legend is laid bare in this intimate and insightful documentary.
Documentary201486 minsDirector: Louise Osmond
The inspirational, larger-than-life true story of how a group of friends in a poor mining village took on the elite 'sport of kings' and breed themselves a racehorse.
Documentary2019101 minsDirector: Tara Wood
There will always be blood, brilliance and controversy: the legendary story of Hollywood 's modern genius, Quentin Tarantino.
Non-Fiction192487 minsDirector: J.B.L. Noel
Premiere. A breathtaking and poignant account of the valiant 1924 British assault on the awe-inspiring peak, beautifully restored by the BFI.
Documentary2018128 minsDirector: Michael Moore
Michael Moore paints a fiery portrait of life in Trump’s America. Populist, provocative and piercingly captivating, this is Moore’s clarion call to action.
Documentary2019101 minsDirector: Lauren Greenfield
The matriarch of the Marcos dynasty hopes to see her maternal delusions validated and political power restored, while Philippine activists fight for transparency and democracy, in this captivating study by Lauren Greenfield.
Documentary2017101 minsDirector: Stephen Schible
A graceful, intimate study of the legendary Japanese musician, composer, actor, writer and activist.
Documentary201991 minsDirector: Benjamin Berman
A fascinating documentary about the famed comic-magician John Edward Szeles as he makes a surprising comeback.