The 10 Greatest Documentaries of All Time According to 340 Filmmakers and Critics

Earlier this year we featured the aesthetically radical 1929 documentary A Man with a Movie Camera. In it, director Dziga Vertov and his editor-wifeElizaveta Svilova, as Jonathan Crow put it, gleefully use “jump cuts, superimpositions, split screens and every other trick in a filmmaker’s arsenal” to craft a “dizzying, impressionistic, propulsive portrait of the newly industrializing Soviet Union.” He mentioned then that no less authoritative a cinephilic institution than Sight and Sound named A Man with a Movie Camera, in their 2012 poll, “the 8th best movie ever made,” But now, in their new poll in search of the greatest documentary of all time, they gave Vertov’s film an even higher honor, naming it, well, the greatest documentary of all time. A Man with a Movie Camera, writes Brian Winston, “signposts nothing less than how documentary can survive the digital destruction of photographic image integrity and yet still, as Vertov wanted, ‘show us life.’ Vertov is, in fact, the key to documentary’s future.”

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