TIFF Documentaries

The top 10 documentary films to see at TIFF 2016

Fictional films often monopolize the attention at TIFF each year, but some of the best movies you can see fall among the documentaries. With a range of subjects that include everything from true crime to a sweeping history of the universe, this year's crop of TIFF docs look especially promising.

Here are 10 documentary films to see at TIFF 2016.

ABACUS: Small Enough to Jail
Famous documentarian Steve James' (Hoop Dreams) latest work looks at the financial crisis of 2008 through an unexpected lens: the story of the Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, the only bank that faced criminal charges. If you haven't heard of the bank's story, that's one reason to look forward to this: the joy of these documentaries is being told vital stories we didn't know before.

Amanda Knox
Most of us are familiar with the case of Amanda Knox, a student abroad in Italy who was accused, convicted, and ultimately acquitted of the murder of her roommate in 2007. With unprecedented access to the those who reported, investigated, and processed the case, Amanda Knox should be appealing fodder for any lover of true crime stories.

Beauties of the Night
What happens to showgirls when they enter their later years? Made over the course of eight years, Beauties of the Night looks at several Mexican burlesque performers who continue to thrive and live colourful lives inside and outside their careers. In a world obsessed with youth, a reminder that beauty is ageless is well worth checking out.

The Cinema Travellers
Considering how far some movies travel to screen at TIFF, it's appropriate one of them would be about traveling movies. The Cinema Travellers shows us the inner working and struggles of "traveling tent cinemas" in India, which journey to small villages to bring the magic of cinema to those who can't easily access it. This doc should prove a welcome love letter to why movies matter.

Gimme Danger
Director Jim Jarmusch's second film at TIFF (Paterson, starring Adam Driver, being the other), Gimme Danger shines a light not just on the 1960s Rock N' Roll band The Stooges. It also looks at their front man, Iggy Pop, and the path his career has taken. Essential viewing for any music fan.

I Called Him Morgan
The music world is not without its tragedies - Kurt Cobain, Buddy Holly, Marvin Gaye. I Called Him Morgan looks at one not everyone may be familiar with: the death of jazz musician Lee Morgan. Shot by his wife during a club performance in 1972, the documentary won't just trace the events and relationship that led to that tragic night, but the history of jazz as well.

The Ivory Game
A vital doc about a vital issue: the struggle in Africa to stop the illegal ivory trade that threatens to devastate the elephant population. The Ivory Game isn't just a superficial glance at the issue, but an investigate deep dive into who buys, finances, and enables the industry that threatens one of Earth's most beautiful animals.

Voyage of Time: Life's Journey
Film director Terrence Malick (Tree of Life, The Thin Red Line) ventures into the documentary genre for the first time in the most ambitious way possible: a history of the universe. Malick has long had an eye for the profound and the beautiful, which makes this a no brainer to put on your must-see list.

Karl Marx City
Along with co-director Michael Tucker, Petra Epperlain takes a deeply personal journey with Karl Marx City. Returning to the former German Democratic Repbulic where she was born, she investigates her own family - not just her father's suicide in 1999, but the rumor he was a member of the infamous Stasi. The prospect of a documentarian exploring her own past, should make for intriguing viewing.

The Skyjacker's Tale
Over forty years ago, eight people were murdered on a golf course in St. Croix. Those responsible were convicted with one exception: their leader, who hijacked a plane and escaped to Cuba. The Skyjacker's Tale digs up this forgotten bit of history to tell the story of the fugitive, the case, and the island politics that may have led to the murders in the first place.

Which documentary are you most looking forward to seeing at TIFF 2016? Let us know in the comments.

Film still from Amanda Knox


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