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This is something of a golden age for film documentary. In the last few years, perhaps as a result of the commercial success of Michael Moore’s Bowling For Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11, documentaries have broken out of their established place as a standard element of broadcast television and onto cinema screens where they began.

The Fog of War DVD cover

The Fog of War and Capturing the Friedmans are demanding but they are also highly stimulating and potentially rewarding films. They both deserve to feature prominently on any documentary course at Key Stage 4 or AS/A2 as fine examples of highly textured and carefully wrought narratives. Both directors embroider their central core material be it a single interview (The Fog of War) or an extraordinary archive of home movie footage (Capturing the Friedmans) with an exciting and evocative array of montage and special effects likely to have a strong impact on audiences.

Capturing the Friedmans DVD cover

Both also feature musical scores that also greatly enhance the tales they tell - frequently running in counterpoint to the images being shown.