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IDA's Top 25 Documentaries

By Tom White

Earlier this year, in commemoration of our 25th Anniversary, we appealed to our members to weigh in on at with their Top 25 documentaries of all time. Voters selected from a list of over 700 titles, and could add up to five write-ins. In this section-and on the consensus Top 25, representing a range of styles, sensibilities and eras. While any list is subject to discussion, debate and dispute, we offer these titles as a jumping off point, an opportunity to revisit, reassess and reclaim, and a means to remind you of why you're part of this community in the first place.

#1 Hoop Dreams (1994)
Director: Steve James
Producers: Peter Gilbert, Steve James, Frederick Marx
Executive Producers: Catherine Allan, Gordon Quinn
Cinematographer: Peter Gilbert
Writers: Steve James, Frederick Marx
Editors: William Haugse, Steve James, Frederick Marx
Composer: Ben Sidran
Kartemquin Films, KTCA-TV, Fine Line Features

#2 The Thin Blue Line (1988)
Director: Errol Morris
Producer: Mark Lipson
Executive Producer: Lindsay Law
Cinematographers: Robert Chappell, Stefan Czapsky
Writer: Errol Morris
Editor: Paul Barnes
Composer: Philip Glass
Third Floor Productions, American Playhouse, Miramax Films, MGM

#3 Bowling for Columbine (2002)
Director/Producer: Michael Moore
Producers: Charles Bishop, Jim Czarnecki, Michael Donovan, Kathleen Glynn
Executive Producer: Wolfram Tichy
Writer: Michael Moore
Cinematographers: Brian Danitz, Michael McDonough, Ed Kukla
Editor: Kurt Engfehr
Composer: Jeff Gibbs
Dog Eat Dog Films, Alliance Atlantis, Salter Street Films, VIF 2, United Artists, MGM

#4 Spellbound (2002)
Director/Producer: Jeffrey Blitz
Producer: Sean Welch
Cinematographer: Jeffrey Blitz
Editor: Yana Gorskaya
Composer: Daniel Hulsizer
THINKFilm, HBO, Columbia TriStar Home Video

#5 Harlan County, U.S.A. (1976)
Director/Producer: Barbara Kopple
Cinematographer: Hart Perry
Editor: Nancy Baker
Composers: Hazel Dickens, Merle Travis
Cabin Creek Films, Cinema 5 Distributing, PBS, The Criterion Collection

#6 An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
Director/Executive Producer/Cinematographer: Davis Guggenheim
Producers: Laurie David, Lawrence Bender, Scott Z. Burns
Executive Producers: Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann, Ricky Strauss, Jeff Ivers
Cinematographer: Bob Richman
Editor: Jay Cassidy
Composer: Michael Brook
A Lawrence Bender/Laurie David Production, Paramount Classics, Participant Productions

#7 Crumb (1994)
Director/Producer: Terry Zwigoff
Producers: David Lynch, Lynn O'Donnell
Executive Producers: Albert Berger, Lianne Halfon, Lawrence Wilkinson
Cinematographer: Maryse Alberti
Editor: Victor Livingston
Composer: David Boeddinghaus
Superior Pictures, Sony Pictures Classics, Columbia TriStar

#8 Gimme Shelter (1970)
Directors: Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin
Cinematographers: Albert Maysles, David Maysles
Editors: Ellen Giffard, Robert Farren, Joanne Burke, Kent McKinney
Maysles Films, Cinema 5 Distributing, The Criterion Collection

#9 The Fog of War (2003)
Director/Producer: Errol Morris
Producers: Julie Ahlberg, Michael Williams
Executive Producers: Jon Kamen, Jack Lechner, Robert May, Frank Scherma, John Sloss
Cinematographers: Robert Chappell, Peter Donahue
Editors: Doug Abel, Chyld King, Karen Schmeer
Composer: Philip Glass
The Globe Department Store, Radical Media, SenArt Films, Sony Pictures Classics, Columbia TriStar Home Video

#10 Roger & Me (1989)
Director/Producer: Michael Moore
Cinematographers: Chris Beaver, John Prusak, Kevin Rafferty, Bruce Schermer
Writer: Michael Moore
Editors: Jennifer Berman, Wendey Stanzler
Dog Eat Dog Films, Warner Bros. Pictures

#11 Super Size Me (2004)
Director/Writer/Producer: Morgan Spurlock
Executive Producers: J.R. Morley, Heather Winters
Cinematographer: Scott Ambrozy
Editors: Stela Gueorguieva, Julie "Bob" Lombardi
Composers: Steve Horowitz, Michael Parrish, Doug Ray
Samuel Goldwyn Films, Roadside Attractions, Showtime Networks, Arts Alliance America

#12 Dont Look Back (1967)
Director: DA Pennebaker
Producers: John Court, Albert Grossman
Cinematographers: DA Pennebaker, Howard Alk
Writer/Editor: DA Pennebaker
Leacock-Pennebaker, Inc., Docurama

#13 Salesman (1968)
Directors: Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin
Producers: Albert Maysles, David Maysles
Cinematographer: Albert Maysles
Editors: David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin
A Maysles Films Inc. Production, The Criterion Collection

#14 Koyaanisqatsi (1983)
Director /Producer/Writer: Godfrey Reggio
Executive Producer: Francis Ford Coppola
Cinematographer: Ron Fricke
Editors: Ron Fricke, Alton Walpole
Writers: Ron Fricke, Michael Hoenig, Godfrey Reggio, Alton Walpole
Composer: Philip Glass
An IRE Production; New Cinema, Island Alive, MGM

#15 Sherman's March (1986)
Director/Writer/Cinematographer/Editor: Ross McElwee
First Run Features

#16 Grey Gardens (1976)
Directors: Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Ellen Hovde, Muffie Meyer
Producers: Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Susan Froemke
Cinematographer: Albert Maysles
Editors: Susan Froemke, Ellen Hovde, Muffie Meyer
A Maysles Films Inc. Production, The Criterion Collection

#17 Capturing the Friedmans (2003)
Director: Andrew Jarecki
Producers: Andrew Jarecki, Marc Smerling
Cinematographer: Adolfo Doring
Editor: Richard Hankin
Composers: Bill Harrington, Andrea Morricone

Magnolia Pictures, HBO Documentary Films, HBO Video

#18 Born into Brothels (2004)
Directors/Producers/Cinematographers: Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman
Editors: Nancy Baker, Ross Kauffman
Writers: Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman
Composer: John McDowell
Executive Producer: Geralyn White Dreyfous
Co-Executive Producer: Pamela Boll

THINKFilm, HBO Cinemax Documentary Films, HBO Video

#19 Titicut Follies (1967)
Director/Producer: Frederick Wiseman
Cinematographer: John Marshall
Editors: Alyne Model, Frederick Wiseman
Zipporah Films, Inc.

#20 Buena Vista Social Club (1999)
Director: Wim Wenders
Producers: Ry Cooder, Jerry Boys, Ulrich Felsberg, Deepak Nayar
Executive Producers: Nick Gold, Ulrich Felsberg
Cinematographers: Jörg Widmer, Robby Müller, Lisa Rinzler
Editor: Brian Johnson
Road Movies Filmproduktion, Kintop Pictures, ARTE, ICAIC, Artisan Entertainment, Lionsgate

#21 Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
Director/Producer/Writer: Michael Moore
Producers: Kathleen Glynn, Jim Czarnecki
Cinematographer: Mike Desjarlais
Editors: Kurt Engfehr, Christopher Seward, T. Woody Richman
Composer: Jeff Gibbs
Dog Eat Dog Films, Lionsgate Films, IFC Films, The Fellowship Adventure Group, Sony/Columbia TriStar, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

#22 Winged Migration (2002)
Director/Producer/Writer: Jacques Perrin
Co-Directors: Jacques Cluzaud, Michel Debats
Writer: Stéphane Durand
Producer: Christophe Barratier
Executive Producer: Jean De Trégomain
Cinematographers: Michael Benjamin, Sylvie Carcedo-Dreujou, Laurent Charbonnier, Luc Drion, Laurent Fleutot, Philippe Garguil, Dominique Gentil, Bernard Lutic, Thierry Machado, Stéphane Martin, Fabrice Moindrot, Ernst Sasse, Michael Terrasse, Thierry Thomas
Composer: Bruno Coulais
Editor: Marie-Josèphe Yoyotte

Sony Pictures Classics

#23 Grizzly Man (2005)
Director: Werner Herzog
Producers: Erik Nelson
Executive Producers: Erik Nelson, Billy Campbell, Tom Ortenberg, Kevin Beggs, Phil Fairclough, Andrea Meditch
Cinematographers: Timothy Treadwell, Peter Zeilinger
Editor: Joe Bini
Composer: Richard Thompson
Lionsgate, Discovery Docs

#24 Night and Fog (1955)
Director: Alain Resnais
Producers: Anatole Dauman, Samy Halfon, Philippe Lifchitz
Writer: Jean Cayrol
Cinematographer: Ghislain Cloquet, Sacha Vierny
Editors: Jasmine Chasney, Henri Colpi
Composer: Hanns Eisler
The Criterion Collection

#25 Woodstock (1970)
Director: Michael Wadleigh
Producer: Bob Maurice
Cinematographers: Malcolm Hart, Don Lenzer, Michael Margetts, David Myers, Richard Pearce, Michael Wadleigh, Al Wertheimer
Editors: Michael Wadleigh, Martin Scorsese, Stan Warnow, Yeu-Bun Yee, Jere Huggins, Thelma Schoonmaker

Warner Bros., Warner Home Video