With the presidential election upon us, many believe this will be the most important election of their lifetimes. It’s the perfect time to delve into a few political documentaries, for an in-depth look at the problems that are currently in focus.
The documentaries on our list are diverse in terms of their topics and their approach to the issues at hand. Some carry political bias, but that’s true for most political content.
Harlan County, USA
This 1976 production is the work of Academy Award winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple. The film follows a coal miner strike against the Eastover Mining Company in Harlan County, Kentucky. The mining company had hired criminal strike breakers, leading to violent clashes between workers. The film also features a fantastic, thematically-fitting soundtrack produced by local artists.
The War Room
The War Room is a 1993 documentary about the presidential contest between Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr. The title refers to the name given to the media team in charge of the Clinton campaign. The film offers a rare look behind the scenes of a modern campaign, and its day-to-day challenges. The War Room showcases the ties Clinton’s campaign had to the media: ties that remained in place for more than a decade.
This is one of the most famous and popular films on our list, due to the way in which producer Michael Moore approaches the subject matter. The film zeroes in on the aftermath of 9/11, and the ways in which it forever changed the nature of US politics.
Moore is a known critic of republican administrations, and this is quite noticeable in Fahrenheit. The film is widely criticised by the political right, due to what it perceives as a bias against the Bush administration.
The House I Live in
The House I Live In is a 2012 documentary that covers the role of the prison correctional system and the ways it is driven by racism. The film pins the so-called war on drugs as a culprit in the matter, proving it to be a failed policy in nearly every respect. The war on drugs is responsible for as many as 45 million US arrests. Sometimes, the value of a documentary is its ability to show reality as it is, no matter how stark.
Best of Enemies
This 2015 documentary highlights the relationship of 20th century pundits Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr. The two men represented the duelling sides of American political discourse, and shared a rather difficult relationship which ended in a public row. The fight between the two men symbolises the political divide of their parties. It is a timely watch, given the divisive politics of our modern age.
Which documentary about US politics would you add to our list, and why?