Not entirely sure this qualifies as a documentary as it's a series of short animated films, but they're definitely worth checking out. They are excerpts of lectures given at the Royal Academy in London on topics as diverse as the crises of Capitalism, modern enlightenment and the divided brain, all animated on a whiteboard by a very talented hand (the owner is never shown). They're about 10 - 12 minutes long, can be found on Youtube and never fail to interest.
If corporations are 'people', shouldn't we wonder what kind of people they are? This documentary has done exactly that, and the profile isn't a good one. Drawing on contemporary critics such as Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore, it builds a convincing analysis that our all-powerful Corporations are actually pretty close to psychopathic in nature.
The King of Kong
A modern classic, Kong takes us deep into the heart of Geek. Steve Wieber and Billy Mitchell are two competing Donkey Kong aficionados, each vying for the officially recognised high score for the retro arcade classic. Coming into the film, I knew nothing about this world and was sceptical; as the film drew to a close, however, I was on the edge of my seat to see who would triumph. A true David/Goliath and Good-guy/Bad-guy piece, I promise it will leave you caring about those high scores.
Yes, it's a documentary about a font. That said, it's really quite interesting, tracking the history of the famous typeface and associated design evolutions through the 20th Century and showing some of the personalities behind the font. Ok, you should probably have a passing interest in design before you delve into this one, but it's worth checking out.
Welcome to North Korea
As the world's most diplomatically isolated country (and a fair contender for its strangest), North Korea deserves our attention. While this documentary is unable to offer much in behind the scenes action – the crew were on a controlled tourist trip with minders - it does off a tantalising glimpse into a world where outside media is an unknown luxury, where complete allegiance to the Jong-Il dynasty is a must. Strange and fascinating.
The Interrupters: How to stop a riot
Covering a year in Chicago's history when violence and Chicago were almost synonymous, this BBC documentary does an excellent job of following two 'violence interrupters'. Former offenders themselves, we follow these two as they attempt to stop the cycle of inner-city aggression as part of the organisation CeaseFire. Sometimes gruelling, always engrossing, it's worth the watch.
Road to Guantanemo
Part documentary and part drama, Road follows four Pakistani Britons who decide to see the Afghan war for themselves after attending a wedding there. Captured by Northern Alliance fighters and handed over to characteristically unquestioning American forces (they paid well for anyone who might look somewhat like a Taliban fighter), they were then subjected to 3 years of imprisonment and torture in Cuba's infamous prison. An eye-opener that adds a human face – four, in fact - to all those stories in the media.