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.
Documentary202387 minsDirector: Ella Glendining
Highlighting the importance of being seen, Ella Glendining invites us on a personal journey as she sets out to find others with the same rare disability as herself.
Documentary202292 minsDirector: Alex Fry, Lisa Selby and 1 more
Artist Lisa Selby’s audacious and powerful documentary portrait of a life touched by addiction is a deeply personal odyssey through love, artistry and selfhood.
Documentary202075 minsDirector: Xavier Alford
An intimate, personal and surprisingly life-affirming story with a rare illness at its heart.
Documentary2022105 minsDirector: Jono McLeod
An astonishing and engrossing documentary about 90s Scottish school legend and imposter Brandon Lee, played by Alan Cumming.
Documentary201986 minsDirector: Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska
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.
Documentary2017101 minsDirector: Stephen Schible
A graceful, intimate study of the legendary Japanese musician, composer, actor, writer and activist.
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.
Documentary2017115 minsDirector: Sophie Fiennes
Grace Jones is laid bare in this intimate and electrifying insight into the fascinating world of a pop-cultural phenomenon.
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.
Documentary2018116 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.
Documentary202276 minsDirector: Lee Cooper
An intimate portrait of ageing and friendship, we follow David Raven as he dons the sequins and eyelashes to prepare for a special birthday performance as ‘Maisie Trollette’, Britain’s Oldest Performing Drag Artiste.
The Marvellous Mabel Normand: The Leading Lady of Film ComedyThe Marvellous Mabel Normand: The Leading Lady of Film Comedy
Comedy201878 minsDirector: Leo McCarey, Mabel Normand, Mack Sennett and Charles Chaplin
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.
Documentary201184 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.
Documentary201687 minsDirector: James Spinney and Peter Middleton
James Spinney and Peter Middleton's highly original documentary uses cinematic interpretations and textured sound design to express a ‘world beyond sight.’
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.
Documentary201698 minsDirector: Ross Adam and Rob Cannan
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.
Animation & Artists Moving Image2010101 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.
Documentary202182 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.
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.
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.
Documentary201395 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.
Drama201684 minsDirector: Mark Cousins
Neneh Cherry, director Mark Cousins and cinematographer Christopher Doyle's exquisite love song to the Swedish city.
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.
Documentary201994 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.
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 and Jerry Rothwell
Riveting account of the disastrous attempt by novice sailor Donald Crowhurst to compete in a round-the-world, solo yachting race.
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: Bill Jones, Ben Timlett and Kim Leggatt
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.
Documentary201994 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.
Documentary2019101 minsDirector: Tara Wood
There will always be blood, brilliance and controversy: the legendary story of Hollywood 's modern genius, Quentin Tarantino.
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.
Documentary201586 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.
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.
Documentary201991 minsDirector: Benjamin Berman
A fascinating documentary about the famed comic-magician John Edward Szeles as he makes a surprising comeback.
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.
Documentary201672 minsDirector: Usayd Younis and Cassie Quarless
This urgent, impassioned documentary follows a new generation of Black activists as they fight for social and political change in London and beyond.
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.
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.
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.
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.