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The Best Documentaries About Filmmaking

Updated September 8, 2021 451 votes 46 voters 5.4k views84 items

List RulesDocumentaries about filmmaking, filmmakers, and the film industry.

What is the best filmmaking documentary? The best documentary movies about filmmaking offer strong stories, memorable characters, and emotional payoffs that stick with you long after they're over. They focus on a variety of subjects and approach the craft of making movies in both subtle and more overt manners. They come from big studios and independent distributors.

The best documentary movies about filmmaking, like Cameraperson and Hearts of Darkness, have even found themselves nominated for, or winning, awards. In every way, these are some of the most important movies of our time. A lot of these filmmaking docus are available on streaming services like Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.

This list includes documentary films about filmmaking. Vote up the best filmmaking documentary films to make sure they make it to the top of the list. Be sure to check back for new filmmaking docs as they are added to the list upon release.

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    Cameraperson

    Kirsten Johnson, Michael Moore

    Released2016

    Directed byKirsten Johnson

    Cameraperson is a 2016 autobiographical collage documentary film by director Kirsten Johnson about her life and career as a cinematographer. It relies on footage shot by Johnson across the years in...  more
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    19
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    Released1991

    Directed byEleanor Coppola, George Hickenlooper, Fax Bahr

    Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse is a 1991 documentary film about the production of the 1979 feature film Apocalypse Now....  more
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    Lost in La Mancha

    Vanessa Paradis

    Released2002

    Directed byLouis Pepe, Keith Fulton

    Lost in La Mancha is a 2002 documentary film about Terry Gilliam's unfinished film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, a film adaptation of the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. It was shot in...  more

    More Lost in La Mancha 

    #266 of 459 The Greatest Documentaries of All Time#17 of 19 These Documentaries Took A Hard Left Turn And Left Audiences Shocked And Confused

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    Burden of Dreams

    Mick Jagger, Claudia Cardinale

    Released1982

    Directed byLes Blank

    Burden of Dreams is a feature-length documentary and making-of directed by Les Blank, shot during and about the chaotic production of Werner Herzog's 1982 film Fitzcarraldo, filmed in the jungles of...  more
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    9
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    American Movie

    Mark Borchardt, Mike Schank

    Released1999

    Directed byChris Smith

    American Movie is a 1999 documentary directed by Chris Smith. The film chronicles the real 1996-1997 making of Coven, an independent horror film directed by an independent filmmaker named Mark...  more

    More American Movie 

    #498 of 675 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars#58 of 135 The Best Movies About Movies

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    Best Worst Movie

    Christian Sellers

    Released2009

    Directed byMichael Stephenson

    Most people don't set out to produce a horrible film, so how exactly does it happen? This documentary about 1989's Troll 2 - often referred to as the "worst movie in history" - attempts to answer...  more
  • 7

    Released2008

    Directed byMark Hartley

    Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! is a 2008 Australian documentary film about the Australian New Wave of 1970s and '80s low-budget cinema. The film was written and directed...  more
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    This Film Is Not Yet Rated

    Darren Aronofsky, Matt Stone

    Released2006

    Directed byKirby Dick

    This Film is Not Yet Rated is a 2006 American documentary film about the Motion Picture Association of America's rating system and its effect on American culture, directed by Kirby Dick and produced...  more
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    5
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    The Battle Over Citizen Kane

    Peter Bogdanovich, Paul Winfield

    Released1996

    Directed byMichael Epstein, Thomas Lennon

    Orson Welles' movie stirs the ire of publisher William Randolph Hearst, the man who the film was patterned after....  more
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    Inside Deep Throat

    Gerard Damiano

    Released2005

    Directed byFenton Bailey, Randy Barbato

    Inside Deep Throat is a 2005 American documentary film about the 1972 adult film Deep Throat, at the forefront of the Golden Age of Adult Entertainment, and its effects on American society. The film...  more
  • 11

    Released1965

    Directed byJohn Spotton, Gerald Potterton

    Buster Keaton Rides Again is a 1965 documentary film about the filming of Buster Keaton's film The Railrodder, which was also released in 1965. Although it is a production documentary, this film is...  more
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    Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust is a 2004 documentary history film directed by Daniel Anker....  more
  • 13
    4
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    Iran: A Cinematographic Revolution

    Iran: A Cinematographic Revolution is a 2006 documentary film written by Nicolas Bertrand and Nader T. Homayoun and directed by Nader T. Homayoun....
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    A Film Unfinished

    Alexander Beyer, Rüdiger Vogler

    Released2010

    Directed byYael Hersonski

    This haunting film about a film examines a classic Nazi propaganda movie used by historians for decades to provide insight into the realities of life in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942. The recent...  more
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    5
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    The Five Obstructions

    Lars von Trier, Patrick Bauchau

    Released2003

    Directed byLars von Trier, Jørgen Leth

    The Five Obstructions is a Danish film of 2003 by Lars von Trier and Jørgen Leth. The film is a documentary, but incorporates lengthy sections of experimental films produced by the filmmakers. The...  more
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    6
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    Reel Injun

    Adam Beach, Chris Eyre

    Released2009

    Directed byJeremiah Hayes, Neil Diamond, Catherine Bainbridge

    The portrayal of Native Americans in cinema. / Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond takes an entertaining, insightful, and often humorous look at the Hollywood Indian, exploring the portrayal of North...  more
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    5
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    Document of the Dead

    George A. Romero, Tom Savini

    Released1985

    Directed byRoy Frumkes

    Document of the Dead is a 1979 documentary film by American filmmaker Roy Frumkes that was largely shot during the production of the 1978 film Dawn of the Dead. Originally a 66 minute feature, it has...  more
  • 18
    Audience of One is an award-winning 2007 documentary directed by Michael Jacobs that was premiered on 9 March 2007 at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas....  more
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    Full Tilt Boogie

    Salma Hayek, George Clooney

    Released1998

    Directed bySarah Kelly

    Full Tilt Boogie is a 1997 documentary directed by Sarah Kelly. It chronicles the production of the 1996 film From Dusk Till Dawn. It features extensive interviews with the cast and crew covering a...  more
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    5
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    Overnight

    Troy Duffy, Jeffrey Baxter

    Released2003

    Directed byTony Montana, Mark Brian Smith

    Overnight is a 2003 American documentary film by Tony Montana and Mark Brian Smith. The film details the rise and stumble of filmmaker and musician Troy Duffy, the writer-director of The Boondock...  more
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    3
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    Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno

    Bérénice Bejo, Romy Schneider

    Released2009

    Directed byRuxandra Medrea, Serge Bromberg

    "The French director Henri-Georges Clouzot is renowned for suspenseful classics such as Le Salaire de la peur (in English, The Wages of Fear) and Diabolique. Now this incredible documentary gives us...  more
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    Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff

    Sylvester Stallone, Audrey Hepburn

    Released2010

    Directed byCraig McCall

    Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff is a 2010 documentary film that explores the work of the cinematographer Jack Cardiff. It reviews his work and with the input of many of his...  more
  • 23
    The Pervert's Guide to Cinema is a 2006 documentary directed and produced by Sophie Fiennes, scripted and presented by Slavoj Žižek. It explores a number of films from a psychoanalytic theoretical...  more
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    Prisoner of Paradise

    Kurt Gerron, Marlene Dietrich

    Released2002

    Directed byMalcolm Clarke, Stuart Sender

    Prisoner of Paradise is a 2002 documentary film directed by Malcolm Clarke and Stuart Sender, and produced as a British-Canadian-American collaboration. The film tells the true story of Kurt Gerron,...  more
  • 25
    It's All True is an unfinished Orson Welles feature film comprising three stories about Latin America. "My Friend Bonito" was supervised by Welles and directed by Norman Foster in Mexico in 1941....  more