An incredibly successful fusion of music, sound and voice, you can almost feel the rhythmic clatter of metal upon metal.
One of the earliest documentaries, Night Mail is still hugely significant. British filmmaker John Grierson’s behind-the-scenes account of the Postal Service up and down the country presented a portrait of working-life in the country that had never been seen. A huge commercial hit, it paved the way for a strain of realism in British filmmaking that continues to this day.Read more
Bright, Bad and British!(2015)
A collection of extraordinary footage from the BFI National Archive capturing the suffragette movement in the early 20th century.
The BFI’s unique archive has been mined to capture how suffragettes were represented on screen, from the 1890s until the partial granting of voting rights in 1918. Using a mixture of newsreel and comedy, this collection captures how film itself was used as a political tool, treading all over the stereotypes people have become accustomed to.Read more
Fires Were Started(1943)
Groundbreaking film about the day-to-day work of a group of firemen during the London Blitz of World War Two, with all parts played by real firemen.
During the Second World War, film was often used as a propaganda tool to showcase the heroism of ordinary people to the public. This is perhaps the most celebrated, a document of the working lives of a group of ordinary London fireman, justly celebrated for their heroic, unstinting bravery in the face of relentless bombing. An important, fascinating document of the time.Read more
A Hard Day's Night(1964)
Classic mockumentary chronicling the height of Beatlemania, showing how surprising and exciting pop music seemed to its fans in the 1960s.
When The Beatles burst onto the scene in the early 1960s the world had never seen a phenomenon like it. This playful mockumentary captures the height of Beatlemania, including life in their native Liverpool and scenes of what came to be known as Swinging London. Most of all though, it’s a great insight into the cheeky personalities underneath the mop tops.Read more
An Inconvenient Truth(2006)
Thought-provoking assessment on the causes and symptoms of climate change from former US presidential candidate Al Gore.
Documentaries are particularly suited to telling stories of climate change and environmental policy, shocking the audience with hard scientific facts about the impact of global warming and what should be done about it. One of the most impactful was An Inconvenient Truth, featuring former Vice President Al Gore which garnered worldwide attention and is about to receive a sequelRead more
Être et Avoir (To Be and to Have)(2002)
Heartwarming documentary looking at a small town school in France.
This French-language documentary focuses in on the start of the educational journey. The school in question comprises of just thirteen students, ranging from ages 4 to 12, and the film follows their schoolwork, homework and life outside the classroom. Inspirational teacher Georges Lopez is a clear role model and gets the youngsters excited about learning from a young age.Read more
Age groupAll ages
March of the Penguins(2005)
Documentary capturing the remarkable journey the Emperor penguins of the South Antarctic make every winter.
Celebrating nature’s triumph over the odds, this documentary charts the penguins’ struggle to raise the next generation in their beautiful but often brutal habitat. This film explores a threatened landscape and opens up discussions on animals and the habitats they rely on to survive.Read more
Oscar-nominated nature documentary that follows the paths of migrating birds from all over the globe.
This film follows the paths of migrating birds all over the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic and all points in between. Light aircraft and even hot air balloons were used to capture some of the aerial shots - the film that results revealing how hard life can be for the birds, with predators (both human and animal), bad weather and other perils to contend with.Read more
The Eagle Huntress(2016)
Inspiring documentary about a 13 year-old girl seeking to defy tradition and become an eagle hunter in her isolated Mongolian community.
This inspirational documentary is a perfect introduction to the genre for young audiences and demonstrates what non-fiction films can do best – make us interested in worlds and cultures we previously knew nothing about, teaching us empathy along the way. In this case, it’s the remarkable of young eagle huntress Aisholpan and her life in the mountains of Mongolia.Read more
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