Desert Runners

Desert Runners

Another film genre that has produced some truly wonderful movies this year is documentary.

The documentary films have ranged from music, to sport as well as looking at institutions and hard hitting issues.

We take a look at the trio of documentaries that have really stood out for us this year.

- Desert Runners

Desert Runners remains the best documentary film that I have seen this year as Jennifer Steinman returned to the director's chair.

The movie focuses on four people who are competing in the 4Desert Ultramarathon; four races in one year through the Atacama Desert in Chile, the Gobi Desert in China, the Sahara in Egypt and Antarctica.

Desert Runner is just the most wonderful documentary about the power of the human spirit, endurance and striving to achieve one's goals and desires.

It is a brutal watch as Steinman really does allow the audience to feel every painful step along this incredible journey. At the same time, her filmmaking style never feels intrusive.

She also brings a very human side to this event as we really get to know the four main protagonists, discover why they are taking part and see them struggle to make it to the end.

Steinman and her cinematographer Sevan Matossian have captured these setting so beautifully, making this also one of the most beautiful films of the year.

- The Crash Reel

Sport has been quite a big theme in documentaries this year, and they haven't come better than The Crash Reel: the latest film from director Lucy Walker.

The movie follows the story of half pipe star Kevin Pearce; who was set to be a major contender for the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

But his life was turned upside down when he crashes. Only just surviving his injuries, the film follows him as he rebuilds his life.

The Crash Reel is so much more than a sports movie, as it is an engaging, inspiring documentary that takes us into the very dangerous world of extreme sports.

Walker really shows the fighting spirit of Pearce, who was determined to get back onto the slopes. But we also follow him on a very personal and moving journey as he learns to accept that things will never be the same.

This is one of those documentaries that will truly leave you breathless, and while there are very touching moments this is not a film that relies on sentiment. Incredibly powerful stuff.

- The Battle of the Sexes

Another sports documentary that really was a winner for me this year was The Battle of the Sexes; which followed events leading up to the 1973 match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King.

This is not just a simple story about men vs women on the tennis court but it captures the social unrest that there was at the time.

Women were fighting for equality in the work place as well as on the tennis court; Billie Jean King was a driving force behind the latter.

But this is not a movie about women's rights, it is more of a tribute to Billie Jean King. Her determination and strength of character really did help put women's tennis on the map.

The highlight of the film is the showdown between King and Riggs as directors James Erskine and Zara Hayes feature original footage from the game.

Battle of the Sexes if a fun, inspiring, entertaining and witty documentary that is a treat whether you are a tennis fan or not. 

Other documentary movies that you should check out include: How To Survive A Plague, Class of '92, My Mother, My Father & Me, At Berkeley, Muscle Shoals and Teenage.

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