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Best cinematography in a documentary?


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#1 Maximilian Schmige

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Posted 18 November 2010 - 11:50 PM

Hi folks!

I was wondering if anyone knows of any documentaries with award winning cinematography? Looking for compelling documentaries that showcase extraordinary cinematography above and beyond the usual.
Has a cinematographer ever won the academy award with a documentary?

Looking forward to all the great responses!
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#2 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 19 November 2010 - 01:08 AM

Watch Grey Gardens.
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#3 Brian Rose

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 08:01 PM

"Crumb" by Zwigoff is beautifully shot and belies its extreme low budget origins. The new Criterion blu-ray is a must. Also, I'd mention Ken Burns. He does his own cinematography, but doesn't get a lot of credit since his films are seen as relying heavily on archival mediums. But he does utilize a fair bit of original material, mainly location footage and first person "talking head" interviews, and these scenes are stunning...his composition is almost Fordian in its precision, and his interviews are the most simple yet exquisite I've ever seen. And, he's one of the few non-fiction filmmakers who still utilizes 16mm for the footage he generates for a picture, so that's worth some bonus points.
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#4 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 08:19 PM

I've always loved the look of The Thin Blue Line.

From http://en.wikipedia....ne_(documentary)
Awards

The Thin Blue Line won Best Documentary honors from the New York Film Critics Circle, the Kansas City Film Critics Circle, the National Board of Review, and the National Society of Film Critics.[21] Morris himself won an International Documentary Association Award, an Edgar Award, and a MacArthur Fellowship Genius Grant (1989).[22][23] The film was marketed as "nonfiction" rather than as a documentary which disqualified it from being considered in that category for an Academy Award.[7]
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#5 Brian Rose

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 09:06 PM

Oh Brian, how could I forget Errol Morris! Yes his films too have some of the most stunning visuals...his films are enough to make you wonder what he would craft directing a fiction film, or working as a DP. Either way, I'm sure it'd be amazing.
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#6 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 09:32 PM

Hey Brian,

ken Burns has been working with Buddy for the last 20+ years or so. They both shoot.

I'd suggest watching "man on wire"...amazing.
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#7 Suki Ewers

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 10:58 PM

I thought this looked amazing: Kassim the Dream

Kassim was kidnapped and forced to be a child soldier in Uganda. He defected when he came to the US with a military boxing team for a competition and went on to be come a world champion boxer.
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#8 jason joseffer

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 02:41 AM

Not a "documentary" in the classic sense, but none the less a fabulous piece of documentary filmmaking is This American Life TV series episode John Smith. I was blown away!

I thought this looked amazing: Kassim the Dream

Kassim was kidnapped and forced to be a child soldier in Uganda. He defected when he came to the US with a military boxing team for a competition and went on to be come a world champion boxer.


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#9 Chris Burke

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 10:23 AM

errol morris has been mentioned, but I will still suggest Fog of War.
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#10 Austin Serr

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 08:07 PM

Ron Fricke's photography in Koyaanisqatsi and Baraka is stunning. Easily the best I've seen in a documentary.
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#11 Robert Costello

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 03:54 PM

Mondo Cane, Africa Addio, and Women of the World always impressed me with content as well as style-
everything about them is pretty above and beyond the usual.

All by the same basic group of people--

great music too-
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#12 Brian Rose

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 09:11 PM

Ron Fricke's photography in Koyaanisqatsi and Baraka is stunning. Easily the best I've seen in a documentary.


Oh yes! A few years back I saw a brand new 70mm print, struck from the OCN. Absolutely mind blowing. Easily in the top two or three movie going experiences of my life.
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#13 Maximilian Schmige

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Posted 23 November 2010 - 11:15 PM

I had seen Baraka and Errol Morris films. Truly amazing works. Outside of Baraka, I feel like a lot of documentaries such as by Errol Morris rely on amazing subject matter and editing. I am looking for more films along the line of truly amazing visuals and visual storytelling.

I'll look into the other films mentions. Thank you for all the recommendations!
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#14 Roland Lazarte

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 09:43 PM

Hi Max,
Check out the Betrayal directed by Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath. Ellen Kuras' cinematography, filmed over 23 years, is truly beautiful and fitting for the film.
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#15 Jason Reimer

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 02:23 AM

I'm kind of a broken record about this subject, but Iraq in Fragments was some of my favorite cinematography of any genre (along with the usual suspects by the likes of Deakins, Lubezsky, etc.) Check it out.
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#16 Edgar Dubrovskiy

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 06:40 PM

Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait


I promise, you have never seen a football match shot like this. It's Darius Khondji, in the end of the day.
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#17 Kevin Thomas

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 08:41 PM

If you are looking for extraordinary cinematography above and beyond the usual then Peter Greenaway's Rembrandt's J'Accuse is an excellent example. There is a short clip on YouTube:
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#18 Roberto Schaefer asc aic

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 12:20 AM

For a classic but really well shot documentary cinematography that is beautiful in it's own right look at "Waiting For Superman" as well as "The September Issue".
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#19 Peter Moretti

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 03:36 PM

"Lake of Fire" and "Dark Days."
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#20 Gustav Lassen

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 08:01 PM

I can highly recommend a recent gem from my country, Denmark, namely Armadillo which won the critics award at Cannes.
It's cinematographer Lars Skree shot everything himself except from some headmounted cameras on the soldiers:


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CineTape

Aerial Filmworks

Zylight

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Technodolly

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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

rebotnix Technologies

Paralinx LLC

ORCA Bags

Tai Audio

Glidecam

CineLab

Abel Cine

Ritter Battery

Cadrage Directors Viewfinder

K5600 Lighting

The Slider

Pro 8mm

NIBL

Cinelicious