This week sees the first ever Dogwoof re-release - with documentary Dark Days heading back into cinemas from Friday, and London Q&A's with director Marc Singer. Dark Days is often labelled a classic cult documentary, not seen by that many people, but with a cult following, where those that have seen it love it. This got us thinking about what our other favourite 'cult' documentaries are, and we have collated a list of the teams favourites below. Tell us which cult docs you would love to see back on the big screen over on our Twitter and Facebook pages...
For years, a homeless community took root in a train tunnel beneath New York City, braving dangerous conditions and perpetual night. Dark Days explores this surprisingly domestic subterranean world, unearthing a way of life unimaginable to those above. Through stories simultaneously heartbreaking, hilarious, intimate, and off the cuff, tunnel dwellers reveal their reasons for taking refuge and their struggle to survive underground. Filmed in striking black and white with a crew comprised of the tunnel's inhabitants and scored by legendary turntablist DJ Shadow (Endtroducing...), Dark Days remains a soulful and enduring document of life on the fringe.
In 'The London Nobody Knows' (1967), James Mason narrates as the viewer is taken on a tour round a side of London the tourists don't see. Documenting the street vendors and local characters, and giving a fascinating glimpse of a culture soon to disappear, the film contrasts starkly with the 'swinging sixties' vision of London at the time.
Meet Big and Little Edie Beale: mother and daughter, high-society dropouts, and reclusive cousins of Jackie Onassis. The two manage to thrive together amid the decay and disorder of their East Hampton, New York, mansion, making for an eerily ramshackle echo of the American Camelot. An impossibly intimate portrait, this 1976 documentary by Albert and David Maysles, codirected by Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, quickly became a cult classic and established Little Edie as a fashion icon and philosopher queen.
A documentary film about hip-hop DJing, otherwise known as turntablism. From the South Bronx in the 1970s to San Francisco now, the world's best scratchers, beat-diggers, party-rockers, and producers wax poetic on beats, breaks, battles, and the infinite possibilities of vinyl.
Seth Gordon's documentary The King of Kong follows the exploits of the two best Donkey Kong players in America. Billy Mitchell has held the world record for the popular video game for over 20 years. The film covers his rise to prominence, and the circle of associates he keeps in the Twin Galaxies organization, which serves as the official referee and scorekeeper of the electronic gaming world; within the organization, Mitchell is highly revered for his prowess at a number of games. Eventually Steve Wiebe, with time on his hands now that he finds himself without a job, decides to seriously hunker down and challenge Mitchell's record. Gordon gets close to both men, and shows how the passionate arcade subculture harbors very powerful feelings about both of them
Errol Morris’ second feature set out to document the inhabitants of a sleepy swamp town who lop off their limbs for insurance money. "They literally became a fraction of themselves to become whole financially," Morris commented. When his subjects threatened to murder him, he re-thought the project and came back with Vernon, Florida, a delightful and truly original portrait of the town’s most eccentric inhabitants.
In 1920, explorer and American anthropologist Robert J Flaherty travelled alone, with camera in hand, to the remote Canadian tundra. There, for over a year, he lived with Eskimos, documenting their daily lives and returning to his editing studio with the raw footage. The result of his rigorous study was groundbreaking; with Nanook of the North, Flaherty pioneered both a new cinematic genre, the narrative documentary, and created a timeless drama of human perseverance under the harshest of conditions.
DA Pennebaker's portrait of Bob Dylan in Don't Look Back captures the seminal singer-songwriter on the cusp of his transformation from folk prophet to rock trendsetter. Shot during Dylan's 1965 British concert tour, Don't Look Back employs an edgy vérité style that was, and is, a snug fit with the artist's own consciously rough-hewn persona. Its handheld black-and-white images and often-gritty London backdrops suggest cinematic extensions of the archetypal monochrome portraits that graced Dylan's career-making, early-60s album jackets.