Wrinkles the Clown (2019, dir. Michael Beach Nichols)

The story of an online sensation: a clown you can pay to scare your children. Solid documentary (which flirts with the extent to which it might be fictional, an art project, or something else) that explores memes, contemporary media folk devils, coulrophobia, parenting, “behavioural services”, and more.

New Town Utopia (2018, dir. Christopher Ian Smith)

A documentary about the new town of Basildon in Essex, focusing on its modernist post-war architecture, the utopian ideas underpinning new towns, and social issues generated via unintended consequences. Hopeful in the ways it seeks positives, finding value in art, expression, and subcultures; there’s lots to appreciate here.

Filmworker (2017, dir. Tony Zierra)

A documentary about Leon Vitali, who turned from acting in Barry Lyndon – abandoning an established career – to become director Stanley Kubrick’s amanuensis from the mid-70s on. Fascinating case study of fan-worship and obsessions, of the tolls that they can take, and of the centrality of lived experience to cinematic legacy. Recommended.

Birth of the Living Dead [AKA Year of the Living Dead] (2013, dir. Rob Kuhns)

The making and impact of George A Romero’s 1968 horror film Night of the Living Dead. Genial documentary, focused on an interview with Romero himself plus genre stalwarts such as Larry Fessenden, making some straightforward though nevertheless valid points about the film’s counterculture origins and its social commentary, as well as on its genre status.

Feats First: The Life and Music of Lowell George (2015, dir. Eliot Riddle)

A documentary exploration of the life and music of Little Feat frontman Lowell George. Overlong and reverent but still engrossing overview of the career and life of George, linking him and Little Feat to the LA of the 60s and 70s. Niche, inevitably, but well-researched and with plenty of input from the likes of Van Dyke Parks.

An Accidental Studio (2019, dir. Bill Jones, Kim Leggatt & Ben Timlett)

The rise and fall of Handmade Films. Linear documentary – reliant on talking heads, clips, and archive interviews – charting George Harrison and Denis O’Brien’s company; in doing so, offering a potted history of 80s British cinema, and of the making of some key movies (Time Bandits, Withnail & I, Mona Lisa¬†etc) of that period.

The Wildest Dream (2010, dir. Anthony Geffen)

Two mountaineers attempt a re-creation of the 1924 Mallory/Irvine Everest expedition. Generally-effective documentary (with perhaps-recreated scenes as well as some dramatisation) that tells the story of the original attempt while also covering the 1999 emulation; the experiment indicates Mallory and Irvine could have completed the ascent.

Hail Satan? (2019, dir. Penny Lane)

A documentary about the US Satanic Temple. In offering an overview of the Temple’s focus for exploring personal freedom, social justice and equality, the documentary makes some relevant points, while also exploring the media-savvy mischief of their approach, and of tensions within the movement.

The Fear of God: 25 Years of The Exorcist (1998/2019, dir. Nick Freand Jones & Mark Kermode)

The restored festival-circuit cut of this authoritative making-of documentary. An object lesson in how to do this kind of thing. While reliant on interviews, the scope of the investigation of The Exorcist‘s production, release, legacy and UK censorship issues – including excised footage from the film – means that the approach used here remains influential. Recommended.

Apollo 11 [AKA Apollo 11: First Steps Edition] (2019, dir. Todd Douglas Miller)

A documentary record of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, taken exclusively from archive footage. An oft-told true-life story, but in a new version that draws on unfamiliar and in some cases new material, much of it shot in 70mm. A tremendous addition to the canon. Recommended.