Documentary The Best Documentaries About Writers  

Ranker Film
315 votes 102 voters 21.6k views 64 items

List Rules Documentary films about authors, journalists, novelists, poets, playwrights, and any other types of writers

There are many documentaries out there today that look at writers throughout history, specifically with a focus on their personal lives, struggles, inspirations, and motivations in the artistic arena. This list of the best documentaries about writers will shed light on the life and craft of many different writers and authors.

The films featured on this list have been ranked by the community as the best documentaries that feature the stories of writers, their personal lives, struggles, and accomplishments. These films address the historical aspects of what shaped their lives in the early years, the successes and failures of their careers, what influenced their personal stories, awards they received, and how they made an impact on society through their works.

 What are the best documentaries about writers? This list has them all, including: Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth, Charles Dickens’s England, Dreams With Sharp Teeth, Finding Farley, An Impression with John Steinbeck: Writer, In the Wake of the Flood, and Breakfast with Hunter. Vote up for your favorite writer documentary or add one you love that isn't already on the list.
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Gore Vidal: The Man Who Said No Gore Vidal: The Man Who Said No is a documentary film directed, produced, and edited by Gary Conklin. The film follows famed American writer and political gadfly Gore Vidal in his quixotic ...more

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Life Itself is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Documentaries About Writers
Life Itself is a 2014 American biographical documentary film about film critic Roger Ebert, directed by Steve James and produced by Zak Piper, Steve James and Garrett Basch. The film is based on ...more

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The Charles Bukowski Tapes The Charles Bukowski Tapes are a collection of short interviews with the American writer/poet Charles Bukowski, filmed and assembled by Barbet Schroeder and first published in 1987 in the USA. ...more

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looksharp added Salinger is a 2013 documentary film about the writer J. D. Salinger, written and directed by Shane Salerno.

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Robin Williams, Neil Gaiman, Harlan Ellison Dreams with Sharp Teeth is a 2008 biographical documentary film about writer Harlan Ellison. It is composed of original and archive footage of Ellison and talking head segments from colleagues ...more

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The Art of Catching Lobsters is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Documentaries About Writers
The Art of Catching Lobsters

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Trumbo is a 2007 American documentary film directed by Peter Askin, produced by Will Battersby, Tory Tunnell, and Alan Klingenstein, and written by Christopher Trumbo. It is based on the letters ...more

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Breakfast with Hunter is a 2003 documentary film directed by Wayne Ewing.

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102 Years in the Heart of Euro... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Documentaries About Writers
102 Years in the Heart of Europe: a Portrait of Ernst Jünger

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Volcano: An Inquiry into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry Volcano: An Inquiry into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry is a 1976 Canadian documentary film about writer Malcolm Lowry. Written and directed by Donald Brittain and John Kramer, it was ...more

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And Everything Is Going Fine is a 2010 documentary film directed by Steven Soderbergh about the life of the late monologuist Spalding Gray. It premiered at the 2010 Slamdance Film Festival and ...more

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The Dialogues With Solzhenitsyn The Dialogues with Solzhenitsyn is a Russian television documentary by Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The documentary shot in Solzhenitsyn’s home shows his ...more

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dancolliergay added Cooper & Hemingway: The True Gen Sam Waterston, Len Cariou, Elmore Leonard

Explores author Ernest Hemingway's 20-year friendship with actor Gary Cooper.

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Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson is a 2008 documentary film directed by Alex Gibney. It details Hunter S. Thompson's landmark writings on music and politics. Friends and family ...more

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Greatest Journeys: England: The Journeys of Charles Dickens

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William S. Burroughs: A Man Within Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, William S. Burroughs "As director John Waters puts it in Yony Leyser’s long-awaited documentary, William S. Burroughs became famous “for all the things you were supposed to hide: He was gay; he was a junkie; he ...more

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Robert Downey Jr., Lou Reed, Ellen Burstyn Hubert Selby Jr: It/ll Be Better Tomorrow is a 2005 documentary film about writer Hubert Selby, Jr.. The film's title It/ll Be Better Tomorrow is taken from Selby's novel, The Demon, the slash ...more

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Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story is a 2012 documentary film written and directed by Brad Bernstein.

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Dave Burian added Born Into This

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Adventures of a Brown Man in Search of Civilization is a 54-minute color documentary based on the life and thoughts of Nirad C. Chaudhuri. It was made in 1972 and was directed by James Ivory. In ...more

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José and Pilar is a Portuguese documentary directed by Miguel Gonçalves Mendes following the last years of the Nobel Prize winner José Saramago, chiefly through his ...more

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The Political Dr. Seuss The Political Dr. Seuss is a 2004 documentary film written by Ron Lamothe, Eric Martin and Lois Vossen, and directed by Ron Lamothe.

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Charles Dickens's England Derek Jacobi Charles Dickens's England is a feature documentary written and produced by David Nicholas Wilkinson, directed by Julian Richards and presented by Derek Jacobi. Other participants include Roy ...more

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Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey Looking for Richard is a 1996 documentary, drama film directed by Al Pacino.

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Rudyard Kipling: A Remembrance Tale Rudyard Kipling: A Remembrance Tale was a 1-hour 2006 BBC documentary on the life of Rudyard Kipling, particularly as relating to his loss of his son during the First World War. It was presented ...more

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Margaret Atwood: Once in August Margaret Atwood Margaret Atwood: Once in August is a 1984 documentary film about Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, directed by Michael Rubbo and produced by the National Film Board of Canada. The film was made ...more

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Fear and Loathing On the Road ... is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Documentaries About Writers
Fear and Loathing On the Road to Hollywood

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Sacred Poet Sacred Poet is a feature length documentary film on Italian poet, filmmaker and intellectual, Pier Paolo Pasolini. The film explores, through a series of dialogues and reminiscences, the work of ...more

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Helen Hayes, Ruth Gordon, Margalo Gillmore The Ten-Year Lunch: The Wit and Legend of the Algonquin Round Table is a 1987 American documentary film about the Algonquin Round Table, a floating group of writers and actors in the ...more

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Patti Smith, Flea, Tom Verlaine Patti Smith: Dream of Life is a 2008 documentary film about Patti Smith directed by Steven Sebring. It was presented at Berlin International Film Festival. The movie won the "Excellence in ...more

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Love Always, Carolyn Love Always, Carolyn is a 2011 English-language Swedish documentary film written and directed by Malin Korkeasalo and Maria Ramström. The film is about Carolyn Cassady's recollection of ...more

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Tillie Olsen: A Heart in Action is a 2007 documentary film directed and produced by Ann Hershey on the life and literary influence of Tillie Olsen, the U.S. writer best known for the books Tell ...more

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Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth is an documentary film directed by Pratibha Parmar, made by Kali Films production company. The film follows the life of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, poet and ...more

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Liza Minnelli, Leslie Caron, Michael York Chris Don: A Love Story is a 2007 film directed by Tina Mascara and Guido Santi.

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Amos Oz: The Nature of Dreams Amos Oz: The Nature of Dreams is an Israeli documentary film, written, directed and produced by Yonathan and Masha Zur. It is a portrait of Israeli author Amos Oz, author of the memoir A Tale of ...more

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Harto The Borges Osvaldo Bayer Harto The Borges is a documentary film created by Eduardo Montes-Bradley. Harto The Borges escapes the unwritten rule of biographical films on Latin American writers by exploring the ...more

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Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media is a documentary film that explores the political life and ideas of Noam Chomsky, a linguist, intellectual, and political activist. Created by ...more

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Dominick Dunne: After the Party Joan Didion, Robert Evans, Griffin Dunne Dominick Dunne: After the Party is a 2008 documentary directed by Kirsty de Garis and Timothy Jolley. Hollywood outcast, top-selling author and reporter, Dominick Dunne is a prominent columnist ...more

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Bartleby en coulisses Bartleby en coulisses is a documentary film shot in 2009 by the filmmaker Jérémie Carboni.

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From No. 37 From No. 37 is an Iranian documentary about the 20th century Persian author Sadegh Hedayat. It was directed by Mohsen Shahrnazdar and Sam Kalantari. From No. 37 lasts for 90 minutes and was ...more

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Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton As Himself Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself is a 2013 American documentary film directed by Tom Bean and Luke Poling about the writer George Plimpton, who was a co-founder of The Paris Review ...more

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Rwanda pour mémoire Rwanda pour mémoire is a 2003 documentary film about the Rwandan Genocide.

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Ingmar Bergman, Liv Ullmann, Ruben Östlund Searching for Ingmar Bergman is a 2018 documentary film directed by Felix Moeller, Margarethe von Trotta, and Bettina Böhler. A closer look at Swedish director Ingmar Bergman's life and ...more

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Meryl Streep, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak is a 2009 television documentary film directed by Lance Bangs and Spike Jonze about children's author Maurice Sendak.

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Waldo Salt: A Screenwriter's Journey Waldo Salt: A Screenwriter's Journey is a 1990 American documentary film directed by Eugene Corr. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. The film was screened at the ...more

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Stay More: the World of Donald Harington

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Over the River…Life of Lydia Maria Child, Abolitionist for Freedom is a 2007 documentary film and book about the life of Lydia Maria Child. The film was produced by Permanent Productions, Inc., ...more

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Mère-Bi Mère-Bi is a 2008 documentary film about Annette Mbaye d'Erneville by her son, director William Mbaye. The first Senegalese female journalist, she was deeply involved in the development ...more

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The Mystery of Mazo de la Roche Severn Thompson, Deborah Hay, Jordyn Negri The Mystery of Mazo de la Roche is a 2012 biographical film written and directed by Maya Gallus.

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Leuchtturm Des Chaos Sterling Hayden, Hanns Zischler Leuchtturm des Chaos is a 1983 documentary profile of the American actor Sterling Hayden. The film features discussions with Hayden concerning his life and career, intercut with clips and stills ...more