20 People Who Make Great Documentaries

by spencergary9 | created - 03 Jun 2011 | updated - 03 Jun 2011 | Public

2. Douglas Blush

Independence Day

Doug Blush is an award-winning director, producer, editor, cinematographer and co-owner of Los Angeles-based MadPix Films. His credits include, as editor, the Oscar and ACE Eddie Award winning 20 Feet from Stardom (2013), as executive producer, the Oscar winning Period. End of Sentence. (2018) and,...

3. Errol Morris

Director | The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara

His documentaries helped spur a rebirth of non-fiction film in the 80s & garnered wide critical success. But until 2003's "The Fog of War," Morris was shunned by the Academy Awards.

Morris' first two films won much acclaim (Gates of Heaven (1978) and Vernon, Florida (1981)). In the second movie, ...

4. Steve James

Director | The Interrupters

Steve James was born in Hampton, Virginia, USA. He is a director and producer, known for The Interrupters (2011), Hoop Dreams (1994) and Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2016). He is married to Judy James.

5. Barbara Kopple

Director | American Dream

Barbara Kopple was born on July 30, 1946 in New York City, New York, USA. She is a director and producer, known for American Dream (1990), Harlan County U.S.A. (1976) and Shut Up & Sing (2006).

6. Patrick Creadon

Director | Hesburgh

Patrick Creadon was born on May 1, 1967. He is a cinematographer and director, known for Hesburgh (2018), Ocean Stories: Wyland (2016) and Wordplay (2006).

7. Ralph Steiner

Cinematographer | Cafe Universal

Ralph Steiner was born in 1899 in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. He was a cinematographer and director, known for Cafe Universal (1934), Panther Woman of the Needle Trades, or The Lovely Life of Little Lisa (1931) and Hands (1934). He died in 1986.

8. Les Blank

Director | Burden of Dreams

Born in 1935 in Tampa, Florida, Les Blank attended Tulane University in New Orleans, where he received a B.A. in English literature and an M.F.A. in theatre. In 1967, after two years in the Ph.D. film program at the University of Southern California, and five years of freelancing in Los Angeles, he...

9. Ross McElwee

Director | Sherman's March

Ross McElwee was born on July 21, 1947 in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA as Ross Simonton McElwee III. He is a director and producer, known for Sherman's March (1985), Bright Leaves (2003) and Photographic Memory (2011). He has been married to Marilyn Levine since October 10, 1987. They have one ...

10. Marcel Ophüls

Director | The Memory of Justice

Marcel Ophüls was born on November 1, 1927 in Frankfurt am Main, Hesse, Germany as Hans Marcel Oppenheimer. He is a director and writer, known for The Memory of Justice (1976), Veillées d'armes (1994) and Hôtel Terminus (1988).

11. Emile de Antonio

Director | In the King of Prussia

The son of a wealthy physician, Emile de Antonio grew up in the tough coal-mining town of Scranton, Pennsylvania, and it made a deep impression on him. His sympathies were always with working-class people (although he was a Harvard graduate, he was at times a dock worker, a peddler, the captain of ...

12. Frederick Wiseman

Director | Ex Libris: The New York Public Library

Born in 1930, Wiseman is a Cambridge, Massachusetts resident and member of the Massachusetts Bar Association who turned to filmmaking in 1967, after years as an instructor and/or researcher at Boston University, Brandeis University, and Harvard. In 1970 he founded Zipporah Films, Inc., which ...

13. Rob Epstein

Producer | The Celluloid Closet

Rob Epstein was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA as Robert P. Epstein. He is a producer and director, known for The Celluloid Closet (1995), Paragraph 175 (2000) and The Times of Harvey Milk (1984).

Rob has produced films that have screened worldwide, in cinemas, on television, home video and ...

14. Peter Davis

Producer | Hearts and Minds

Peter Davis was born on January 2, 1937 in Los Angeles, California. His parents were the screenwriters Frank Davis and Tess Slesinger (who was also a short story writer and novelist). Davis is a producer and director, known for Hearts and Minds (1974), The Selling of the Pentagon (1971) and "JACK" ...

15. Dziga Vertov

Director | Chelovek s kino-apparatom

Born in Bialystok, Poland, studied music and enrolled in St. Petersburg Neurological Institute in 1916. Worked on first Soviet newsreel, Kinonedelia (1918-1919), then on subsequent newsreel series (inc. Kinopravda, 1922-1925).

16. D.A. Pennebaker

Director | Dont Look Back

D.A. Pennebaker was born on July 15, 1925 in Evanston, Illinois, USA as Donn Alan Pennebaker. He was a director and cinematographer, known for Bob Dylan: Dont Look Back (1967), The War Room (1993) and Unlocking the Cage (2016). He was married to Chris Hegedus, Kate Taylor and Sylvia Bell. He died ...

17. Claude Lanzmann

Director | Shoah

Claude Lanzmann was born on November 27, 1925 in Bois-Colombes, Hauts-de-Seine, France. He was a director and writer, known for Shoah (1985), Shoah: Four Sisters (2018) and Sobibór, October 14, 1943, 4 p.m. (2001). He was married to Dominique Lanzmann-Petithory, Angelika Schrobsdorff and ...

18. Alain Resnais

Director | Hiroshima mon amour

Alain Resnais was born on June 3, 1922 in Vannes, Morbihan, France as Alain Pierre Marie Jean Georges Resnais. He was a director and editor, known for Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), Same Old Song (1997) and My American Uncle (1980). He was married to Sabine Azéma and Florence Malraux. He died on March...

19. Michael Moore

Director | Bowling for Columbine

Michael Francis Moore was born in Flint, Michigan on April 23, 1954, and was raised in its Davison suburb. He is the son of Helen Veronica (Wall), a secretary, and Francis Richard Moore, who worked on an auto assembly line. He has Irish, as well as English and Scottish, ancestry.

Moore studied ...

20. David Maysles

Director | Grey Gardens

David Maysles was born on January 10, 1931 in Brookline, Massachusetts, USA. He was a director and cinematographer, known for Grey Gardens (1975), Gimme Shelter (1970) and Salesman (1969). He died on January 3, 1987 in New York City, New York, USA.



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