READ List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers

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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. (162 items)

Michael Moore is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Michael Moore Michael Francis Moore is an American documentary filmmaker, screenwriter, author, journalist, actor, and liberal political activist. He is the director and producer of Fahrenheit 9/11, a ...more

Morgan Spurlock is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Morgan Spurlock Morgan Valentine Spurlock is an American documentary filmmaker, humorist, television producer, screenwriter, and political activist, best known for the documentary films Super Size Me, Where In ...more

Rosie Malek-Yonan is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Rosie Malek-Yonan Rosie Malek-Yonan is an actress, author, director, public figure and activist.

Mitch Cullin is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Mitch Cullin Mitch Cullin is an American writer of Scotch-Irish and Cherokee descent. He is the author of seven novels, and one short story collection. He currently resides in Arcadia, California and Tokyo, ...more

Robert Hughes is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Robert Hughes Robert Studley Forrest Hughes AO was an Australian-born art critic, writer, and producer of television documentaries. His best seller The Fatal Shore is a study of the British penal colonies and ...more

Alan Lomax is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Alan Lomax Alan Lomax was one of the great American field collectors of folk music of the 20th century. He was also a folklorist, ethnomusicologist, archivist, writer, scholar, political activist, oral ...more

David France is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
David France 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 Eleanor Coppola is an American documentary filmmaker, artist, and writer. She is the wife of director Francis Ford Coppola. She is most known for her 1991 documentary film Hearts of Darkness: A ...more

Henry Louis Gates is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Henry Louis Gates Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is also an Emmy ...more

Shelby Steele is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Shelby Steele Shelby Steele is an American author, columnist, documentary film maker, and a Robert J. and Marion E. Oster Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, specialising in the study ...more

Rory Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Rory Kennedy Rory Elizabeth Katherine Kennedy is an American documentary filmmaker, and youngest child of U.S. Senator Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy. Although her father was ...more

Tamasin Day-Lewis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Tamasin Day-Lewis Lydia Tamasin Day-Lewis, is an English television chef, daughter of the poet Cecil Day-Lewis and actress Jill Balcon, and sister of the actor Daniel Day-Lewis.

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Barbara Kopple is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Barbara Kopple Barbara Kopple is an American film director known primarily for her documentary work.

DeeDee Halleck is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
DeeDee Halleck DeeDee Halleck is a media activist, founder of Paper Tiger Television and co-founder of the Deep Dish Satellite Network, the first grass roots community television network. She is Professor ...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 Frederick Wiseman is an American filmmaker, documentarian, and theatrical director.

Sheila Nevins is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Sheila Nevins 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

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Bruce Sinofsky is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Bruce Sinofsky Bruce Sinofsky was an American documentary film director, particularly known for his films the Paradise Lost trilogy, Brother's Keeper and Some Kind of Monster, all created with Joe Berlinger.

Alexandra Pelosi is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Alexandra Pelosi Alexandra C. Pelosi is an American journalist, documentary filmmaker, and writer based in New York City. She is the daughter of Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives ...more

Joe Berlinger is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Joe Berlinger Joseph "Joe" Berlinger is an American documentary film-maker who, in collaboration with Bruce Sinofsky, has created such films as Paradise Lost about the West Memphis 3, Brother's ...more

Ulrike Ottinger is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Ulrike Ottinger Ulrike Ottinger is a German filmmaker, documentarian photographer and professor at European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.

D. A. Pennebaker is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
D. A. Pennebaker Donn Alan "D. A." Pennebaker is an American documentary filmmaker and one of the pioneers of Direct Cinema. Performing arts and politics are his primary subjects. In 2012, the Academy ...more

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Can Dündar is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Can Dündar Can Dündar is a Turkish journalist, columnist and documentarian. He is one of the best known figures in Turkish media, described as possessing "impeccable republican credentials". ...more

Irene Taylor Brodsky is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Irene Taylor Brodsky 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 Chris Hegedus is a film director.

Raymond Depardon is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Raymond Depardon Raymond Depardon is a French photographer, photojournalist and documentary filmmaker.

Ross McElwee is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Ross McElwee Ross McElwee is an American documentary filmmaker known for his autobiographical films about his family and personal life, usually interwoven with an episodic journey that intersects with larger ...more

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Sarah Kernochan is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Sarah Kernochan Sarah Marshall Kernochan is an American documentarian, film director, screenwriter and producer from the United States.

Jon Ronson is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Jon Ronson Jon Ronson is a Welsh journalist, author, documentary filmmaker, and radio presenter, whose works include the best-selling The Men Who Stare at Goats. He has been described as a gonzo ...more

John Safran is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
John Safran John Safran is an Australian documentary maker and radio broadcaster, known for combining humour with explorations into religion and other issues. His more famous television segments include ...more

Haim Gouri is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Haim Gouri Haim Gouri is an Israeli poet, novelist, journalist, and documentary filmmaker.

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, is a Pakistani journalist and documentary filmmaker. She won an Academy Award for her documentary, Saving Face in 2012 and became first Pakistani to win an Oscar. She won ...more

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Bruce Brown is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Bruce Brown Bruce Brown is an American documentary film director, known as an early pioneer of the surf film. He is the father of filmmaker Dana Brown.

Ali Kazimi is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Ali Kazimi Ali Kazimi is an Indian-born Canadian film-maker and writer.

Douglas Rushkoff is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Douglas Rushkoff Douglas Rushkoff is a New York-based writer, columnist and lecturer on technology, media and popular culture.Rushkoff graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University. He moved to Los Angeles ...more

Greg MacGillivray is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Greg MacGillivray Greg MacGillivray is an American film director and cinematographer.

Saira Shah is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Saira Shah Saira Shah is an author, reporter and documentary filmmaker. She produces, writes and narrates current affairs films.

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Ester Anderson is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Ester Anderson Esther Anderson is a Jamaican filmmaker, photographer and actress, sometimes listed in credits as Ester Anderson.

Peter Watkins is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Peter Watkins Peter Watkins is an English film and television director. He was born in Norbiton, Surrey, lived in Sweden, Canada and Lithuania for many years, and now lives in France. He is one of the ...more

Leonard Retel Helmrich is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Leonard Retel Helmrich Leonard Retel Helmrich is a Dutch cinematographer and film director of Indo descent. He was born the 16th of August 1959 in Tilburg, Netherlands and has lived in Amsterdam since 1982. He ...more

Dexter Scott King is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Dexter Scott King Dexter Scott King is the second son of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. His siblings are Martin Luther King III, the Reverend Bernice Albertine King, and the ...more

Tukufu Zuberi is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Tukufu Zuberi Tukufu Zuberi is an American sociologist, filmmaker, social critic, educator, and writer. Zuberi has appeared in several documentaries on Africa and the African diaspora, including Liberia: ...more

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Lixin Fan is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Lixin Fan Lixin Fan is a film editor.

Eddie Schmidt is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Eddie Schmidt Eddie Schmidt is a documentary filmmaker, writer/producer, commentator, activist, and satirist. He is best known for producing and shooting the Oscar nominated Twist Of Faith, producing, ...more

James West is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
James West James West is an Australian journalist, and author. He was born in Sydney and attended high school at Barker College, an independent school in Hornsby, a North Shore suburb of Sydney. He is a ...more

Mike Leyland is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers

Mila Aung-Thwin is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Mila Aung-Thwin Mila Aung-Thwin is a Canadian documentary filmmaker, producer and activist whose films deal with social justice. He had a multi-disciplinary education in arts, journalism, and photography. In ...more

Seldon Hunt is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Seldon Hunt Seldon Hunt is an artist best known for his photography and his graphic artwork for rock musicians. Hunt's photography usually consists of thick undergrowth yet is often devoid of any human ...more

Edgar Anstey is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Edgar Anstey Edgar Anstey OBE, was a leading British documentary film-maker. Anstey was educated at Watford Grammar School for Boys and Birkbeck College. He spent a few years as a civil servant before ...more

Peter Wintonick is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list List of Famous Documentary Filmmakers
Peter Wintonick Peter Wintonick was an independent documentary filmmaker based in Montreal. A winner of the 2006 Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts, former Thinker in Residence for the Premier of ...more