For my English II course this semester, I am thinking of organizing a unit around documentaries. The course is designed to improve students' argumentative writing and critical thinking skills, so I'm hoping to gather a handful of documentaries which can inspire students to write an argument essay on interesting and unique topics. I would love it if you guys could give me some suggestions. My top choices so far are:
Religulous: RELIGULOUS makes a pilgrimage across the globe with political humorist and author Bill Maher as he opens our mind to the ultimate taboo: questioning religion. Known for his astute analytical skills, irreverent wit and commitment to never pulling a punch, Maher brings his characteristic honesty and skepticism to an unusual religious journey.
Into the Abyss: In his fascinating exploration of a triple homicide case in Conroe, Texas, master filmmaker Werner Herzog (Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Grizzly Man) probes the human psyche to explore why people kill--and why a state kills.
The Interrupters: The Interrupters tells the moving and surprising stories of three Violence Interrupters who try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once employed. Shot over the course of a year, The Interrupters captures a period in Chicago when it became a national symbol for the violence in our cities.
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed: Big science has expelled smart ideas from the classroom... What they forgot is that every generation has its Rebel! That rebel, Ben Stein (Ferris Bueller's Day Off) travels the world on his quest, and learns an awe-inspiring truth...that educators and scientists are being ridiculed, denied tenure, and even fired -
for merely believing that there might be evidence of "design" in
nature. Perhaps life is not just the result of accidental, random
chance. In the film Ben says "Enough" - And NOBODY messes with Ben!
Bonhoeffer: A voice of tolerance and courage in one of the world's darkest times, German Protestant clergyman Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke out against the Nazi persecution of Jews and urged his country's Christians to protest, eventually taking part in a failed 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler. Learn about Bonhoeffer's life, faith and influences in this moving documentary.
Zeitgeist: A treatment on Mythology and Belief in society today presenting uncommon perspectives of common cultural issues.
Waiting for Superman: The lives of five Harlem and Bronx families in the high stakes lottery for access to New York City's best charter schools.
Restrepo: RESTREPO is a feature-length documentary that chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. This is war, full stop. The conclusions are up to you.
My Brother's Keeper: This compelling documentary details the strange-but-true murder trial of Delbert Ward, accused of the mercy killing of his brother in rural upstate NY. This real-life murder mystery won the Audience Award at Sundance.
Miss Representation: Newsom interwove stories from teenage girls with provocative interviews from the likes of Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Lisa Ling, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Rosario Dawson, Dr. Jackson Katz, Dr. Jean Kilbourne, and Gloria Steinem to give us an inside look at the media and its message. As the most persuasive and pervasive force of communication in our culture, media is educating yet another generation that a woman's primary value lay in her youth, beauty and sexuality.
For the Bible Tells Me So: Karslake goes to the Bible to examine the ways in which conservative Christian groups have used -- and sometimes exploited -- scripture to deny human rights to gays and lesbians around the world.
Dear Zachary: Kuenne tells the story of a child custody battle between the baby's grieving grandparents and Shirley Turner, Bagby's pregnant ex-girlfriend and suspected killer. Initially, Kuenne made this documentary as a memorial for Andrew's loved ones, but it morphs into an emotional legal odyssey when Turner goes free on bail and is allowed to raise her son.
I have not seen most of these, so any thoughts on these films would be much appreciated. And I'm not stuck on any one of them, so new suggestions are very very welcome!