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List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers

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Updated June 8, 2017 32.7k views 161 items

List of famous documentary filmmakers, with photos, bios, and other information when available. Who are the top documentary filmmakers in the world? This includes the most prominent documentary filmmakers, living and dead, both in America and abroad. This list of notable documentary filmmakers is ordered by their level of prominence, and can be sorted for various bits of information, such as where these historic documentary filmmakers were born and what their nationality is. The people on this list are from different countries, but what they all have in common is that they're all renowned documentary filmmakers.

The list you're viewing is made up of many different people, like Michael Moore and Mitch Cullin.

From reputable, prominent, and well known documentary filmmakers to the lesser known documentary filmmakers of today, these are some of the best professionals in the documentary filmmaker field. If you want to answer the questions, "Who are the most famous documentary filmmakers ever?" and "What are the names of famous documentary filmmakers?" then you're in the right place. (161 items)
Michael Moore is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Michael Francis Moore (born April 23, 1954) is an American documentary filmmaker and author. He is best known for his work on globalization and capitalism. Moore has been labeled a left-wing ...more

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Morgan Spurlock is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Morgan Valentine Spurlock (born November 7, 1970) is an American documentary filmmaker, humorist, television producer, screenwriter, and playwright. Spurlock's films include Super Size Me ...more
Rosie Malek-Yonan is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Rosie Malek-Yonan
Rosie Malek-Yonan (b. July 4, 1965) is an Assyrian-American actress, author, director, public figure and activist. Malek-Yonan became a noted pianist at an early age. Having graduated from the ...more
Mitch Cullin is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Mitch Cullin (born March 23, 1968) is an American writer. He is the author of seven novels, and one short story collection. He currently resides in Arcadia, California and Tokyo, Japan with his ...more
Robert Hughes is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Robert Studley Forrest Hughes AO (28 July 1938 – 6 August 2012) was an Australian-born art critic, writer, and producer of television documentaries. His best seller The Fatal Shore (1986) is a ...more

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Alan Lomax is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Alan Lomax (; January 31, 1915 – July 19, 2002) was an American ethnomusicologist, best known for his numerous field recordings of folk music of the 20th century. He was also a musician himself, ...more
David France is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
David France is an American investigative reporter, non-fiction author and filmmaker. He is a contributing editor for New York magazine, former Newsweek senior editor and published in magazines ...more
Eleanor Coppola is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Eleanor Coppola (born May 4, 1936) is an American documentary filmmaker, artist, and writer. She is married to director Francis Ford Coppola. She is most known for her 1991 documentary film ...more
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. ... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Henry Louis "Skip" Gates Jr. (born September 16, 1950) is an American literary critic, teacher, historian, filmmaker and public intellectual who currently serves as the Alphonse ...more
Shelby Steele is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Shelby Steele (born January 1, 1946) is an American conservative author, columnist, documentary film maker, and a Robert J. and Marion E. Oster Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover ...more
Rory Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Rory Elizabeth Katherine Kennedy (born December 12, 1968) is an American documentary filmmaker and youngest child of U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy. Kennedy has made documentary ...more
Tamasin Day-Lewis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Lydia Tamasin Day-Lewis (born 17 September 1953) is an English television chef and food critic, who has also published a dozen books about food, restaurants, recipes and places. She writes ...more
Barbara Kopple is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Barbara Kopple (born July 30, 1946) is an American film director known primarily for her documentary work. She has won two Academy Awards, the first in 1976 for Harlan County, USA, about a ...more
DeeDee Halleck is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
DeeDee Halleck
DeeDee Halleck (born January 5, 1940) is a media activist, founder of Paper Tiger Television and co-founder of the Deep Dish Satellite Network, the first grass roots community television ...more
Mark Kidel is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Mark Kidel
Mark Kidel is a documentary filmmaker and writer who lives in Bristol, England. His award-winning films include portraits of John Adams, Elvis Costello, Boy George, Ravi Shankar, Rod Stewart, ...more
Frederick Wiseman is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Frederick Wiseman (born January 1, 1930) is an American filmmaker, documentarian, and theater director. His work is "devoted primarily to exploring American institutions". He has been ...more

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#11 of 28 The Most Influential Documentarians of All Time #182 of 192 And The (Honorary) Academy Award Goes To ...

Sheila Nevins is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Sheila Nevins is an American television producer and the President of HBO Documentary Films. She has produced hundreds of documentary films for HBO and is one of the most influential people in ...more
Bruce Sinofsky is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Bruce Sinofsky (March 31, 1956 – February 21, 2015) was an American documentary film director, particularly known for his films the Paradise Lost trilogy, Brother's Keeper and Some Kind of ...more
Alexandra Pelosi is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Alexandra C. Pelosi (born October 5, 1970) is an American journalist, documentary filmmaker, and writer. She is a daughter of the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy ...more
Joe Berlinger is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Joseph Berlinger (born October 30, 1961) is an American filmmaker and producer. Particularly focused on true crime documentaries, Berlinger's films and docu-series draw attention to social ...more
Ulrike Ottinger is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Ulrike Ottinger (born 6 June 1942) is a German filmmaker and photographer.
D. A. Pennebaker is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Donn Alan Pennebaker (; July 15, 1925 – August 1, 2019) was an American documentary filmmaker and one of the pioneers of Direct Cinema. Performing arts and politics were his primary subjects. In ...more
Can Dündar is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Can Dündar (Turkish pronunciation: [dʒan dynˈdaɾ], born 16 June 1961 in Ankara) is a Turkish journalist, columnist and documentarian. Editor-in-chief of center-left Cumhuriyet newspaper ...more
Irene Taylor Brodsky is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Irene Taylor Brodsky is an American documentary film maker. In her several projects, hers was the job of director, producer, writer, cinematographer and editor.
Chris Hegedus is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Chris Hegedus is a film director.