Immerse yourself in the fascinating true stories of larger than life modern figures.
By
SBS Movies

26 May 2017 - 9:06 AM  UPDATED 26 May 2017 - 11:33 AM

 

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

MA15+, 2010
Genre: Documentary
Director: Anne Sundberg, Ricki Stern
Starring:
What's it about?
An expose of the private dramas of irreverent, legendary comedian and pop icon Joan Rivers as she fights to keep her dreams alive.  Directed by Directed by Ricki Stern & Annie Sundberg the film provides a unique look inside America’s obsession with fame and celebrity - Joan’s story is both an outrageously funny journey and a brutally honest look at the ruthless entertainment industry, the trappings of success and the ultimate vulnerability of the first queen of comedy. Filmed as a cinéma vérité documentary, the film reveals a rare glimpse of the comedic process and the toxic mixture of self-doubt and anger that often fuels it.  

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work Review

Salinger

2013
Genre: Documentary
Director: Shane Salerno
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Martin Sheen
What's it about?
An unprecedented look inside the private world of J.D. Salinger, the reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye.

Nicholas Hoult to play J.D. Salinger in 'Rebel in the Rye'
Salinger Review

Bobby Fischer Against the World

PG
United Kingdom, Iceland, United States, 2011
Genre: Documentary, Drama
Director: Liz Garbus
What's it about?
The first documentary feature to explore the complex life of the troubled genius whose charisma and talent spurred a worldwide fascination with the 'game of kings.' Fischer's evolution from childhood chess prodigy to global superstar, angry recluse and, finally, fugitive from the law is a spellbinding story of the making and unmaking of an American icon.

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

M, 2008
Genre: Documentary, Biography
Director: Hunter S. Thompson
Starring: Hunter S. Thompson
What's it about?
/Gonzo/ is the film biography of a mythic American figure. The film is distinguished by its unprecedented cooperation of Thompson’s friends, family and estate. The filmmakers had access to hundreds of photographs and over 200 hours of audiotapes, home movies and documentary footage of the man. In addition, the estate granted unusual access to the work itself, allowing the film to quote from unpublished manuscripts, as well as the many letters, books and articles that Thompson produced. Ralph Steadman – the visionary artist whose ink-splattered drawings and paintings created a subversively iconic visual landscape for Thompson's words – also granted the filmmakers access to previously unpublished artworks and Polaroid's. The signature of the film, however, is its focus on Thompson’s work, particularly his most provocative and productive period from 1965 to 1975.

The Trials of Muhammad Ali

United States, 2013
Genre: Documentary
Language: [language]
Director: Bill Siegel
Starring: Muhammad Ali
What's it about?
Examines the life of boxer Muhammad Ali outside the ring, beginning with the announcement of his deeply held and controversial Islamic religious beliefs and the decision to change his 'white man's name' of Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali. Ali refused to serve in the Vietnam War - even after his status as a conscientious objector was denied - on the grounds of protesting racial injustice at home. This documentary explores what made him such a controversial, charismatic and influential figure, not only in the sporting arena, but in world history generally.

Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer

M
United States, 2010
Genre: Documentary
Language: [language]
Director: Alex Gibney
Starring: Eliot Spitzer
What's it about?
Nicknamed 'The Sheriff of Wall Street' when he was NY's Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer prosecuted crimes by America's largest financial institutions and some of the most powerful executives in the country. After his election as Governor, with the largest margin in the state's history, many believed Spitzer was on his way to becoming the nation's first Jewish President. Then, shockingly, Spitzer's meteoric rise turned into a precipitous fall when the New York Times revealed that Spitzer – the paragon of rectitude – had been caught seeing prostitutes.