Documentary Films

All films start at 3 PM Films may change without notice due to circumstances beyond our control.

Please note: Many of these documentary films are available for loan through the McGill Library system (Redpath Library downtown and/or Macdonald campus) or through the FREE download on the KANOPY website.


2017 Winter Werner Herzog films


Jan. 8: CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS (2010).  Werner Herzog films inside the Chauvet caves of southern France, capturing the oldest known pictorial creations of humankind in their astonishing natural setting. He puts 3-D technology to a profound use, taking us back in time over 30,000 years.

Jan. 15: ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD (2007). There is a hidden society at the end of the world. One thousand men and women live together under unbelievably close quarters in Antarctica, risking their lives and sanity in search of cutting-edge science. Now, for the first time, an outsider has been admitted. Werner Herzog, accompanied only by his camera man, traveled to Antarctica, with rare access to the raw beauty and raw humanity of the ultimate Down Under.

Jan. 22: FROM ONE SECOND TO THE NEXT (2013). Stories of serious traffic accidents caused by texting and driving are told by the perpetrators and surviving victims. With the rise of cell phones has come a deadly new menace on the roads, texting while driving. This film has a variety of vignettes featuring various perpetrators of this foolish carelessness and their surviving victims and relatives. As they tell their stories of the traumatic accidents they suffered along with the attending police officers' testimonies, the film explores how their lives are changed forever.

Jan. 29: GRIZZLY MAN (2005).  'Bear whisperer' Timothy Treadwell's life was a tangle of passionate environmental activism, idealistic half-truths and outright lies. And with his shocking death in October 2003, it all began to unravel. What few knew about Treadwell was that much of his life was an invention. Timothy Treadwell, the avowed bear man of the Alaska wilderness, lived poor and little known for most of his 46 years despite a desire for the spotlight of celebrity. He claimed to have led a life of drugs, brawls and booze until, in the late 1980s, he found his way to the grizzlies, most recently in Katmai National Park and Preserve on the Alaska Peninsula about 300 miles southwest of Anchorage. His cause: to save them from hunters and poachers who apparently didn't exist.

Feb. 5: LAND OF SILENCE AND DARKNESS (1971). The heroine of this documentary is a blind and deaf woman whose job is to help others similarly afflicted.

Feb. 12: LESSONS OF DARKNESS (1992). An apocalyptic vision featuring the oilwell fires in Kuwait after the Gulf-War, as a whole world burst into flames. This film is stylized as science fiction, as there is not a single shot in which you can recognize our planet.

Feb. 19: LITTLE DIETER NEEDS TO FLY (1997).  Feature-documentary about the extraordinary capture and escape of the German/US pilot Dieter Dengler in Laos.

Feb. 26:  LO AND BEHOLD. "Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World" was funded by an internet security company. It is about technology and the internet. It’s about robots and AI. It’s about our relationship with technology and how – perhaps – in a few generations our kids won’t need each other, because they’ll have their machines.

Mar. 5: QUEEN OF THE DESERT (2015). The film tells the story of Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) who, as historian, novelist and member of the British secret service, played a decisive role around 1920 in setting the course for the new political order in the Middle East. As an educated young woman, for whom no suitable husband can be found in England, she journeys to Tehran. After a tragic love affair with diplomat and inveterate gambler Henry Cadogan, she decides to give up on her private life and discover the region as an explorer. Before the backdrop of the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire she learns languages, translates literature, meets with Muslim dignitaries in Cairo, Basra and Baghdad and earns their trust through her pluck and respect. Predestined to be a mediator between the Orient and the British Empire, she contributes to defining the new borders in the region after the First World War. And then love enters her life once again.

Mar. 12: SCREAM OF STONE (1991) Starring: Donald Sutherland, Vittorio Mezzogiorno, Mathilda May, Stefan Glowacz. Two men, a woman and the most challenging mountain on earth. The story of two climbers driven by the obsession of conquering the impossible. Based on an original idea of the famous mountaineer Reinhold Messner.

Mar. 19: TEN THOUSAND YEARS OLDER (2001). In 1981, the last of the hidden tribes that had lived a nomadic life in the remotest parts of the Brazilian rain forest was finally contacted by our civilization. This event propelled a tribal people from a stone-age existence into the world of TV, cars, and big cities. They were pushed 10.000 years ahead in time. Most of them died away quickly from chickenpox and the common cold – for them, lethal diseases against which they did not have millennia in which to develop immunity. The children of those who survived feel embarrassed to be born of “savage” parents. They prefer to speak Portuguese, and want to be Brazilians.

Mar. 26: THE DARK GLOW OF THE MOUNTAINS (1984). In the summer of 1984, famous mountain climber Reinhold Messner climbed two of the highest peaks in the world back to back. A film about stark and austere inner landscapes, and what compels these climbers.

Apr. 2: THE FLYING DOCTORS OF EAST AFRICA (1969). Documentary on the work of an independent group of physicians in remote areas of East Africa. A film about the differing mindsets of African patients and Western medicine, a difference that calls for a new way of thinking.

Apr. 9: THE WHITE DIAMOND (2004).  Airship engineer Dr. Graham Dorrington embarks on a trip to the giant Kaieteur Falls in the heart of Guyana, hoping to fly his helium-filled invention above the tree tops. But this logistic effort will not be without risk. Twelve years ago, a similar expedition into the unique habitat of the canopy ended in disaster when Dorrington's friend Dieter Plage fell to his death. With the expedition is Werner Herzog, setting out now with a new prototype of the airship into the Lost World of the pristine rain forest of this little explored area of the world, to record and tell this unique story in an extraordinary, feature-documentary film.

Apr. 16: MUSEUM CLOSED

Apr. 23: THE WILD BLUE YONDER (2005). This is the story of astronauts lost in space, the secret Roswell object re-examined and BRAD DOURIF as alien, telling us all about his home planet -the Wild Blue Yonder- where the atmosphere is composed of liquid helium and the sky frozen. Using unique, beautiful, and unseen footage,with access to the five astronauts responsible for the Galileo-mission, and with haunting specially composed music, Herzog has created a spectacular vision of imagery, sound, music and human emotion, all part of his science-fantasy.

Apr. 30: WHEEL OF TIME (2003). Documentary film about the largest Buddhist ritual to promote peace and tolerance, held by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Bodh Gaya, India and Graz, Austria in 2002, including exclusive interviews with the Dalai Lama, access to secret rituals for the first time on film as well as footage of a pilgrimage to the Holy Mount Kailash in Tibet.

May 7: WODAABE - HERDSMEN OF THE SUN (1981). A fascinating portrait of the Wodaabe tribe of the Sahara, who consider themselves the world's most beautiful people.

May 14: HAPPY PEOPLE - A YEAR IN THE TAIGA. Werner Herzog presents a picturesque documentary about the life of the indigenous people living in the heart of the Siberian Taiga. The camera follows a trapper through all four seasons of a year. Siberia extends from Ural to the Pacific and is one and a half times the size of the USA. 38 million people live in this giant area, the majority of them in the prosperous south. In the heart of the Siberian wilderness, deep in the taiga and far away from civilization, 300 people inhabit a small village Bakhtia at the river Yenisei. There are only two ways to reach this outpost: one is by helicopter, the other by boat. Here, deep in the wilderness, there is no telephone available, nor running water or medical aid. The people are on their own. The natives, whose daily routines have barely changed over the last centuries, keep living their lives according to their own cultural traditions. If the human civilization was destroyed, they would survive – thanks to the knowledge of their forefathers.

May 21: HOW MUCH WOOD WOULD A WOODCHUCK CHUCK (1976). A film about the Final Days of poetry. Shot at the World Championship of Livestock Auctioneers.

May 28: MUSEUMS DAY. No film

June 4: JAG MADIR (1991). The eccentric private theatre of the Maharajah of Udaipu