I love many types of film, including feature films, short films, animations and documentaries, especially feel-good documentaries. Here are my all time favourite, good-feeling documentaries—I love them because they always leave me feeling good about life and humanity.
1. Mad Hot Ballroom (2005)
I’ve seen this film at least six times since it came out and I have loved it every time. Whenever I decide to watch it again, I wonder if I’ll enjoy it as much as I did the last time. I watched it again recently in preparation for this post and I can honestly say that this film has never failed to delight me.
2. Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey (2011)
I didn’t grow up watching much of the Muppets, I’ve never had a strong attraction to any of the Muppet productions and I never understood the “Elmo Craze”, so I when I first heard about this documentary, I wasn’t sure that I would enjoy it. But right from the start I knew I was in good hands. This compelling documentary is less about the Muppets and much more about creativity, passion and marching to the beat of your own drummer (even when others don’t really understand your attraction to your craft). Although I didn’t have an appreciation for Elmo before watching this film, I certainly left with one.
3. A Man Named Pearl (2006)
Here’s a film about someone who accomplished something that “he shouldn’t have been able to do”. You never know how or when the artist within you will pour through, but follow your heart’s desire and watch what happens. That’s exactly what happened to a man named Pearl.
4. Babies (2010)
Babies is a 2010 French documentary film by Thomas Balmès that follows four babies through their first year after birth. Two of the babies featured in the film are from rural areas: Ponijao from Opuwo, Namibia, and Bayar(jargal) from Bayanchandmani, Mongolia, and two are from urban areas: Mari from Tokyo, Japan, and Hattie from San Francisco, U.S.
Beautifully filmed and edited. Surprisingly compelling. Simply fascinating. Don’t miss this amazing film.
5. Spellbound (2002)
This refreshing documentary follows eight delightful children between the ages of 10 and 14 as each prepares to compete in the 1999 Scripps National Spelling Bee. These kids are smart and adorable nerdy types who will steal your heart. They come from very different cultural and social backgrounds and as the documentary progresses they all wiggle their way into your heart so that you find yourself hoping that each of them do their very best and win. Can a documentary about a national spelling bee capture your heart? You bet. Check it out for yourself.
6. Animal Odd Couples (2012)
The first time I’d ever heard of cross-species relationships was when my partner’s parents came across a duck nest containing baby ducklings and a baby rabbit while on a hike in the wilds of Northern Alberta. I’d never heard of such a thing before but apparently it’s not as rare as one would think.
This engaging documentary about unusual cross-species companions aired as part of PBS’s Nature series. It tells the fascinating story of several unusual and unlikely friendships.
7. Wordplay (2007)
I love it when people come together to share a passion for something that isn’t necessarily “cool” or mainstream (or, even better, downright nerdy). Wordplay is about the 28th annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, hosted every year in Stamford, Conn., by Will Shortz, the editor of the New York Times crossword puzzle. It’s almost like an adult off-shoot of the documentary Spellbound (perhaps some of the children who compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee end up at this tournament!). I’m not into crossword puzzles, but the nerd in me loved this film.
TV Couple; CC by Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig via Flickr