The Best Documentaries About Writers  

Ranker Film
347 votes 120 voters 25.3k 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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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
Fear and Loathing On the Road ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Documentaries About Writers
Fear and Loathing On the Road to Hollywood
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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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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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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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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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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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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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Paul Goodman
Paul Goodman Changed My Life is a 2011 documentary film directed by Jonathan Lee.
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Stay More: the World of Donald Harington
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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
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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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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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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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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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Rwanda pour mémoire
Rwanda pour mémoire is a 2003 documentary film about the Rwandan Genocide.
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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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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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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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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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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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Bartleby en coulisses
Bartleby en coulisses is a documentary film shot in 2009 by the filmmaker Jérémie Carboni.