By Ryan Michael Painter
(KUTV) It's been a good year for documentaries. Here are a few that really stood out.
Rodney Ascher’s documentary about the “hidden meanings” contained within Stanley Kubrick’s film “The Shining” is a fascinating journey through a variety of theories as to what the legendary director was really trying to say with his loose adaptation of Stephen King’s novel. Sometimes what is true isn’t nearly as interesting as what might be true.
2.Indie Game: The Movie
James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot have created a film that examines what is to be an artist in the modern world where the difference between success and bankruptcy is a question of talent, dedication and a whole lot of luck. Worth seeing even if you have no interest in video games whatsoever.
In 1997 con-artist Frederic Bourdin posed as Nicholas Barclay, a 13-year-old boy who went missing in Texas in 1994. Claiming his abductors had taken him to Spain Bourdin was returned to the Barclay family who seemingly believed that he was their son. In the case of “The Imposter,” truth is much stranger than fiction.
4. The Invisible War
Kirby Dick’s documentary about sexual assault in the United States military and how the victims may have been further victimized by counter-effective policies is difficult to watch, but that makes it all the more important.
5. How to Survive a Plague
David France’s film chronicles the efforts of activist groups ACT UP and TAG in the early days of the AIDS epidemic as they fought for access to new drugs, experimental treatments and basic civil rights.
6. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Alison Klayman profiles Chinese artist and outspoken human rights activist Ai Weiwei. It’s nice to be reminded that art, experimental or otherwise, can still be revolutionary and impossible to ignore.
7. Jiro Dreams of Sushi
At the age of 85 Jiro Ono is considered to be one of the world’s greatest sushi masters. His endless search for perfection is as daunting as it is inspirational. David Gelb’s film examines Jiro’s passion and technique and how his legacy has and will continue to impact the lives of his two sons as they try to climb out of their father’s shadow.
8. The Queen of Versailles
What started as a vanity piece for Jackie and David Siegel as they set out to build the largest single-family residence in America became something entirely different when the world’s economy tanked.
9. Chasing Ice
The story of photojournalist James Balog’s attempt to show the impact of climate change by using time-lapse photography to document the receding size of various glaciers around the world.
10. Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story
Booker Wright, an African American waiter, was beaten and his restaurant firebombed after making candid comments about racism for NBC’s 1965 documentary “Mississippi: A Self Portrait.” “Booker’s Place” looks back on the cultural impact of Wright’s statements as well as the price he paid for speaking his mind.
Also worth a look: The Central Park Five, The Gatekeepers, West of Memphis, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory and Searching for Sugarman.
(Copyright 2012 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)