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.

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Copa 71Copa 71

Documentary202390 minsDirector: Rachel Ramsay and James Erskine

Buried for 50 years, this is the untold story of the 1971 Women’s World Cup – a tremendous, televised rollercoaster ride and a historic moment in football.

Rent for £3.50

Kokomo CityKokomo City

Documentary202373 minsDirector: D. Smith

A bold first feature about Black trans sex workers that buzzes with passion, energy and intelligence.

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Blue Bag LifeBlue Bag Life

Documentary202292 minsDirector: Alex Fry, Lisa Selby and Rebecca Hirsch Lloyd-Evans

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.

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IWOW: I Walk on WaterIWOW: I Walk on Water

Documentary2020199 minsDirector: Khalik Allah

The monumental new diary film from New York-based director and photographer Khalik Allah.

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Is There Anybody Out There?Is There Anybody Out There?

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.

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My Old SchoolMy Old School

Documentary2022105 minsDirector: Jono McLeod

An astonishing and engrossing documentary about 90s Scottish school legend and imposter Brandon Lee, played by Alan Cumming.

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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.

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Ryuichi Sakamoto: CodaRyuichi Sakamoto: Coda

Documentary2017101 minsDirector: Stephen Schible

A graceful, intimate study of the legendary Japanese musician, composer, actor, writer and activist.

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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.

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Grace Jones: Bloodlight and BamiGrace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami

Documentary2017115 minsDirector: Sophie Fiennes

Grace Jones is laid bare in this intimate and electrifying insight into the fascinating world of a pop-cultural phenomenon.

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Love Is AllLove Is All

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.

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The Man from Mo'WaxThe Man from Mo'Wax

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.

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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.

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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.

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Biopic2018111 minsDirector: Ian Bonhôte

In scintillating fashion, this compelling documentary explores the dark dreams that drove the brilliant, lamented designer, Alexander McQueen.

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A Man's StoryA Man's Story

Documentary201298 minsDirector: Varon Bonicos

A documentary charting twelve years in the career of Savile Row tailor Ozwald Boateng.

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Self MadeSelf Made

Documentary201184 minsDirector: Gillian Wearing

Artist Gillian Wearing’s ‘documentary’ observes seven people creating (fantasy?) identities in collaboration with a drama teacher. Raw and revealing.

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Project Wild ThingProject Wild Thing

Documentary201380 minsDirector: David Bond

Crowning himself as Marketing Director for Nature, a father aims to entice his kids away from TV, toys and technology.

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Notes on BlindnessNotes on Blindness

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.’

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Biopic201899 minsDirector: Julie Cohen and Betsy West

Revelatory documentary on an unexpected hero - former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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I Am Not Your NegroI Am Not Your Negro

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.

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The Lovers & the DespotThe Lovers & the Despot

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.

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Robinson in RuinsRobinson in Ruins

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.

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The Reason I JumpThe Reason I Jump

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.

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Of Fathers and SonsOf Fathers and Sons

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.

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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.

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The Spirit of '45The Spirit of '45

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.

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Stockholm My LoveStockholm My Love

Drama201684 minsDirector: Mark Cousins

Neneh Cherry, director Mark Cousins and cinematographer Christopher Doyle's exquisite love song to the Swedish city.

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Coming OutComing Out

Documentary201864 minsDirector: Denis Parrot

A groundbreaking documentary about saying those few little words that have the power to change your life.

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The Confession: Living the War on TerrorThe Confession: Living the War on Terror

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.

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XY ChelseaXY Chelsea

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.

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Memory: The Origins of AlienMemory: The Origins of Alien

Documentary201993 minsDirector: Alexandre O. Philippe

The untold origin story behind Ridley Scott’s Alien, one of Hollywood’s most beloved and iconic shockers.

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The Big MeltThe Big Melt

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.

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Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic SoundMaking Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound

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.

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An Accidental StudioAn Accidental Studio

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.

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Jonathan Agassi Saved My LifeJonathan Agassi Saved My Life

Documentary2018106 minsDirector: Tomer Heymann

The private life of a renowned gay porn legend is laid bare in this intimate and insightful documentary.

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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.

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QT8: The First EightQT8: The First Eight

Documentary2019101 minsDirector: Tara Wood

There will always be blood, brilliance and controversy: the legendary story of Hollywood 's modern genius, Quentin Tarantino.

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The KingmakerThe Kingmaker

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.

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Dark HorseDark Horse

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.

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Fahrenheit 11/9Fahrenheit 11/9

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.

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The Amazing Johnathan DocumentaryThe Amazing Johnathan Documentary

Documentary201991 minsDirector: Benjamin Berman

A fascinating documentary about the famed comic-magician John Edward Szeles as he makes a surprising comeback.

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Sea SorrowSea Sorrow

Documentary201773 minsDirector: Vanessa Redgrave

Vanessa Redgrave makes her directorial debut with this impassioned documentary about the ongoing refugee crisis.

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What Is This Film Called Love?What Is This Film Called Love?

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.

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Generation RevolutionGeneration Revolution

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.

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Mystify: Michael HutchenceMystify: Michael Hutchence

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.

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I Am (Not) a MonsterI Am (Not) a Monster

Documentary201998 mins

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.

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Diego MaradonaDiego Maradona

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.

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