Documentary Films – People & Groups

A selection of documentaries telling stories of fascinating people and groups, from popular athletes to talented teens and obscure truffle hunters.

  1. The Truffle Hunters, directed by Michael Dweck & Gregory Kershaw, Italy: This film follows a group of men in their seventies and eighties in their search for the rare, expensive and delicious Alba truffles in the forests of Piedmont, Northern Italy. Guided by a well-guarded secret training passed down through generations and their cherished and expertly-trained dogs, they scour for these rare truffles that have so far resisted all attempts at cultivation using modern science. The Oscar-shortlisted film also examines their simple yet rich and meaningful lives, not connected to the internet but fully connected with their community. Watch the film trailer here.
  2. Boys State, directed by Jesse Moss & Amanda McBaine, USA: This documentary follows the Texas portion of the Boys State leadership camp, where 1,100 seventeen-year-old boys are brought together to build and run a mock representative government from the ground up. The participants learn about American democracy by being randomly split into two political parties to draft party platforms, nominate candidates and campaign for the highest office of Governor of Texas at the camp. By working together and navigating the challenges of politics, the film ultimately shows the value of bringing young people together to learn about working with others who do not share their point of view. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020, where it won the U.S. Documentary Competition Grand Jury Prize. More about the movement behind the film here, watch the trailer here, and stream it on Apple TV+ here.
  3. One Man and His Shoes, directed by Yemi Bamiro, USA: This documentary is the story of “Air Jordan” sneakers, the global phenomenon that created a multi-billion-dollar-business through novel marketing. When Nike moved to target a younger market in the 1980s, it created a platform backed by professional American basketballer Michael Jordan and the sneakers became widely famous. However, the film also touches on the dark side of Air Jordans, and how their high price tag and persuasive marketing have fuelled violence and murder. It is a “parable of America’s love affair with consumer capitalism and celebrity culture”. The film was nominated for The Discovery Award at the 2021 British Independent Film Awards. Watch the film trailer here, and stream it here.
  4. Capital in the Twenty-First Century, directed by Justin Pemberton, France & New Zealand: Adapted from the 2013 ground-breaking bestseller of the same name by French economist Thomas Piketty, this documentary is an exploration of wealth, power and inequality. The film uses relatable pop culture references and interviews with economists and academics to analyse over 300 years of social, political and economic change in Europe and the United States, shattering the myth that the accumulation of capital and social progress go hand in hand. Watch the film trailer here and stream it on Netflix here.
  5. The Capote Tapes, directed by Ebs Burnough, USA: This documentary explores the rise and fall of notable American writer Truman Capote, and the impact of his unfinished novel “Answered Prayers”, a tell-all of New York City’s high society that would spell his downfall. The film uses never-before-seen on-camera interviews with people who knew Capote, as well as new audio archives to tell the author’s story, while cementing him in the 20th-century American literary canon. Watch the trailer here and stream it here.
  6.  Giving Voice, directed by James D. Stern & Fernando Villena, USA: This documentary follows six of the thousands of high school students who gather in New York City for the annual August Wilson Monologue Competition, where they perform a Wilson monologue for a chance to perform at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson is recognized as one of America’s preeminent playwrights, chronicling the African American experience with 10 plays, each set in a different decade of the 20th century. The film is an emotional look at how his work provides a framework for a new generation to connect with his ideals, find their voice and persevere in an increasingly complicated world. It won the Festival Favourite Audience Award at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Watch the film trailer here and stream it on Netflix here.
  7.  Lennox Lewis: The Untold Story, directed by Seth Koch & Rick Lazes, USA: This documentary is the story of former world heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis, from his upbringing in London to discovering his talent in Canada and his stellar boxing professional career, where he established himself and remains the last heavyweight to hold the undisputed championship. Narrated by friend and hip-hop legend Dr Dre, and with new archive footage and interviews from Lewis, his family and other industry players, the film is an officially sanctioned chronicle of the life and career of one of boxing’s greats. Watch the trailer here and stream it here.
  8.  Family Romance, LLC, directed by Werner Herzog, USA: The film tells the story of a Japanese business Family Romance LLC that allows people to hire family members and friends to fill the gaps in their lives and help with challenges. It follows business owner Yuichi Ishii as he pretends to be the father of 12-year-old Mahiro Tanimoto whose father is missing, offering emotional support and reporting on her progress to her mother. As Yuichi grows closer to Mahiro, he begins to guard her secrets and advocates for more freedoms on her behalf. Set in Japan, the film is based on a real company of the same name, and the actual owner Yuichi Ishii plays himself in the film. Watch the film trailer here and stream it here.

About Parminder Vir OBE

Parminder Vir OBE has dedicated herself to positively impacting and transforming lives through a professional career spanning 40 years in philanthropy, entrepreneurship, film and television production, arts and culture, and investment funding. She is the co-founder of the Support4AfricaSMEs campaign and The African Farmers Stories, launched in 2020. She served as the CEO of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, based in Lagos, Nigeria from April 2014 to April 2019. Prior to joining the Foundation, Parminder has enjoyed a distinguished career as an awarding winning film and television producer and private equity investor in film and media.

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