The Best Documentaries About Writers  

Ranker Film
337 votes 115 voters 24.9k 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
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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looksharp added
Salinger is a 2013 documentary film about the writer J. D. Salinger, written and directed by Shane Salerno.
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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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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.

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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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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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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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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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
102 Years in the Heart of Euro... is listed (or ranked) 12 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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Greatest Journeys: England: The Journeys of Charles Dickens
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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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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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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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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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Dave Burian added Born Into This
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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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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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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
Fear and Loathing On the Road ... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Documentaries About Writers
Fear and Loathing On the Road to Hollywood