Send out 2018 with Some Noteworthy Documentaries

December 22, 2018 | TRL ARTS

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This is not a best of list. This is also not a list of most borrowed or watched titles. This is not a comprehensive or thematic list. This is just a list of some documentaries I watched this past year and thought others might enjoy.  I watch a lot of documentaries.  Hopefully this list makes you want to watch at least one of them.

Won't You Be My Neighbor   (2018)
As one of America's most beloved children's show hosts, Mr. Rogers remains one of the most iconic television figures for families worldwide. This documentary takes a closer look at the person behind the show, persona and personality that helped define what it meant to be a good person and be a part of a healthy community.
Won't you be my neighbor

Half the Picture  (2018)
Women and men attend film schools in equal numbers, but women direct only four percent of top grossing feature films in the US. Why are women largely shut out of this prestigious, lucrative and culturally influential profession? High profile women directors including Ava DuVernay (A Wrinkle In Time), Lena Dunham (Girls), Jill Soloway (Transparent), offer candid, unfiltered and often humorous tales of their careers in Hollywood.
Half the picture

Three Identical Strangers   (2018)
The astonishing true story of three men who make the chance discovery, at the age of nineteen, that they are identical triplets, separated at birth and adopted to different parents. The trio's joyous reunion in 1980 catapults them to fame but it also sets in motion a chain of events that unearths an extraordinary and disturbing secret that goes far beyond their own lives, a secret that goes to the very heart of all human behavior.
Also available through Hoopla.
Three identical strangers

Jane (2017)
Looks back at Jane Goodall's career as a primatologist, animal rights advocate, and environmental activist. Comprised of present-day interview segments with Goodall and archival footage of her work studying chimpanzees at Tanzania's Gombe National Park shot by Hugo van Lawick in the 1960s for National Geographic.
Ex Libris: the New York Public Library   (2017)
Frederick Wiseman's film, Ex Libris- the New York Public Library, goes behind the scenes of one of the greatest knowledge institutions in the world and reveals it as a place of welcome, cultural exchange and learning. With 92 locations throughout Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, the library is committed to being a resource for all the inhabitants of this diverse and cosmopolitan city, and beyond. The New York Public Library exemplifies the deeply rooted American belief in the individual's right to know and the be informed. It is one of the most democratic institutions in America-everyone is welcome. The Library strives to inspire learning, advance knowledge and strengthen communities. Also available through Kanopy.
Ex libris

Dark Money  (2018)
It examines one of the greatest present threats to American democracy: the influence of untraceable corporate money on our elections and elected officials. The film takes viewers to Montana, a front line in the fight to preserve fair elections nationwide, to follow a local journalist working to expose the real-life impacts of the US Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.

Dark money

King in the Wilderness  (2018)
From award-winning director/producer Peter Kunhardt, King in the Wilderness follows Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the volatile last three years of his life, from the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to his assassination in April 1968. Drawing on revelatory stories from his inner circle of friends, the film provides a clear window into the civil rights leader's character, showing him to be a man with an unshakeable commitment to peaceful protest in the face of an increasingly unstable country.

King in the wilderness
Dogs of Democracy  (2018)
A documentary about the stray dogs of Athens and the people who take care of them. Filmmaker Mary Zournazi explores life on the streets through the eyes of the dogs and people's experience. Shot on location in Athens, the birthplace of democracy, the documentary is about how Greece has become the ₁stray dogs of Europe,₂ and how the dogs have become a symbol of hope for the people and for the anti-austerity movement.

Or you could watch Kedi, a documentary about the stray cats of Istanbul and the people that take care of them. Kedi is also available via Kanopy.

Dogs of democracy

Bugs  (2018)
With global food shortages on the horizon, forward-thinking chefs, environmentalists and food scientists are turning toward an unexpected source of protein: insects. Bugs provides a perfect entry point to insect cuisine. For three years, a cast of charming and brave food adventurers from the Nordic Food Lab traveled the world to learn what some of the two billion people who already eat insects had to say.

If you're into eating bugs you can also watch The Gateway Bug.


Cern  (2018)
Nikolaus Geyrhalter delivers stunning images from inside the immense Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest laboratory for particle physics, operated by world-renowned research organization CERN. Featuring interviews with the leading experts who operate this gigantic machine, the film provides fascinating insights into this complex experimental research institution.

If you enjoy this you may want to watch Particle Fever also available through Kanopy.


Ramen Heads  (2018)
The film follows Osamu Tomita, Japan's reigning king of ramen, as he reveals every single step of his obsessive approach to creating the perfect bowl of noodles. He is relentless in his search for the highest-quality ingredients, as are his competitors. The documentary also profiles five other notable ramen shops, each with its own philosophy and flavor, which exemplify different aspects of the ramen world. 

Can't get enough of cooking shows? Check out some of these.
Ramen heads

What Lies Upstream  (2018)
Investigating a massive chemical spill in West Virginia that left 300,000 people without drinking water for months, filmmaker Cullen Hoback uncovers government and corporate collusion with frightening nationwide public health implications.
What lies upstream

Cassette: a documentary mixtape   (2018)
Cassette inventor Lou Ottens digs through his past to figure out why the audiotape won't die. Rock veterans like Henry Rollins, Thurston Moore, and Ian MacKaye join a legion of young bands releasing music on tape to push Lou along on his journey to remember. Also available via Hoopla.
Last Men in Aleppo   (2018)
Syrian filmmaker Feras Fayyad's breathtaking work, a searing example of boots-on-the-ground reportage, follows the efforts of the internationally recognized White Helmets, an organization consisting of ordinary citizens who are the first to rush towards military strikes and attacks in the hope of saving lives.Last men in aleppo
To see the documentary list from 2017 visit here.

The library has tens of thousands of DVDs you can borrow. You can also stream and sometimes download from Hoopla  and Kanopy. To do this you will need an active library card.

Goodbye 2018 - its been a wild ride!