The best documentaries of 2015 – my list

As 2015 comes to an end, it’s that time of the year again, the period when every cinephile is compelled to make his/her best movies list. I couldn’t not post my own one. I’ve mostly watched documentaries from East Asia, my list is then more like a “Best documentary of 2015 from East Asia” type of list, but at the end I’ve added a couple of movies from other part of the world and some (re)discoveries I’ve done during this 2015. Just a disclaimer, it’s a favorite list more than a best list, here we go (listed in the order I’ve seen them):

Walking with my Mother (Sakaguchi Katsumi, 2014)

An exploration of loss, sickness and memory in a society (the Japanese one) that is getting older and older, told in the shape of a private documentary, here some thoughts on the movie.


Aragane (Oda Kaori, 2015)

The camera follows patiently and almost hypnotically the workers of an old coal mine in Bosnia down into the darkness of their daily routine. The movie is visually stunning, partly documentary and partly experimental cinema, director Oda Kaori knows how to use the digital medium for her cinematic purposes in a work that revolves around the concept of duration and its materiality, and that is almost structural cinema in its construction. I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing the director, the conversation was published on the Italian newspaper Il Manifesto, I’m currently working on an English translation and on a review/piece for this blog (maybe next year).

Oyster Factory (Sōda Kazuhiro, 2015)

The latest work from Japanese director Sōda Kazuhiro, together with Theatre 1 and 2, my favourite among his documentaries. I’ve written more about the film here.


France Is Our Mother Country (Rithy Panh, 2015)

Rithy Panh (2-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine, The Missing Picture) constructs a critical and satirical work about the colonial rule of Cambodia by France, using only footage, archival images and propaganda films shot by the rulers themselves. The power of re-editing and collage documentary.


Night and Fog in Zona (Jung Sung-il, 2015)

A documentary about the great Wang Bing by movie critic-turned-director Jung Sung-ilhere you can read my review.


The Moulin (Huang Ya-li, 2015)

Formally engaging and elliptical, I don’t really know how much of my fascination for this movie comes from its themes, a group of Taiwanese avant-garde artists active in the 30′ during the Japanese colonial period, and how much from the documentary itself.


Documentaries from other parts of the world:

The Iron Ministry ( J.P. Sniadecki, 2014) and in general all the movies by Sniadecki: Demolition, People’s Park, Yumen….

Jujun (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2015)


(re)discoveries of 2015:

The Vampires of Poverty (Carlos Mayolo, Luis Ospina, 1977)

All the documentaries/works of the great Agnès Varda (it was a pleasure watching 14 of her films this year)



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