Essential Documentary Reads

Essential Documentary Reads

To stay on top of the documentary film industry, one must go beyond just watching films. There are many articles and essays that provide unique perspectives about the industry. Read on for a list of such material. Some pieces are long and theoretical, but all are worth your time.

Sofia Bohdanowicz on Agnès Varda

Varda by Agnes is the final film produced by Varda: an experimental piece comprised of three main components. These are: inspiration (the desire to make a film), creation (the film’s meaning, and its structure), and sharing (the communion of her work with a larger audience). 

Sofia Bohdanowicz writes about how the movie affected her personally. It was created as a piece for the Mubi Notebook and is a thoughtful, complex essay providing an interesting look into an author you may not be familiar with. 

IDA Courage Under Fire Award

IDA’s Courage Under Fire Award honours filmmakers who work with subjects of political and social importance. One such award was given to Waad al-Kateab, for For Sama: a film studying the life of a refugee in London. An essay from The New York Times covers the award, and the film itself. Written by Eleanor Stanford, it goes in-depth not only about the film but its impact on how we discuss and produce movies about refugees.

Women Make Film

Women Make Film is a documentary about filmmaking and the role women play in its history. The film is produced by Mark Cousins, drawing negative reactions, as it is a history of women in cinema produced by a white man. Justine Smith of Little White Lies writes about the documentary in a positive way, however. She praises the author’s knowledge of film history, remarking that overall her view of the film is a positive one.

VR Documentaries

Films have always depended on the technology with which they are made. VR is set to be the next big change in the industry. On his monthly blog for Film Independent, Anthony Ferranti speaks with producer Amanda Shelby about the new VR technology, and what can be done with it. Their conversation is an interesting glimpse into plans for years to come. A must-read.

The Future of Cinema

Indie Wire’s Editor in Chief penned a great article on the future of movie theatres and cinema in general. A prior law from 1948 forbidding monopolies in the theatre business has officially been revoked, and will likely change the roles of large streaming services in the cinematic industry.


There are quite a few interesting articles concerning the future of documentary filmmaking. Subscribing to relevant publications will give you a broader look into fresh industry perspectives.