‘Let the Fire Burn’ and ‘The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology’ Top This Week’s Nonfics Home Picks


Most people don’t get to see documentaries until they arrive on a home video platform of some kind, whether it’s DVD, Blu-ray, VOD, iTunes, TV, Netflix streaming, etc. So, this may be the most important post of the week for fans of nonfics. Join us every Tuesday for a look at what documentaries and reality programming is recommended by myself and other contributors to the site. As always, if you know of something we missed or should be aware of, drop us an email or a note down below.

Here are our ordered picks for February 18, 2014:

1. Let the Fire Burn

[New to iTunes and Amazon Instant Video] — One of the best directorial debuts I’ve seen in years, this Cinema Eye Honor-winning compilation film by Georgetown professor Jason Osder came in at #5 on my list of the best of last year and #8 on our critics poll. It is also #5 on Nonfics’s best of 2013 list, where Landon Palmer wrote: “The concept of an archival documentary can often suggest stale historical “objectivity,” a straightforward presentation of events unimpeded by the voice of the filmmaker. But Jason Osder’s Let the Fire Burn — an assemblage of occurrences before and after the Philadelphia Police Department set an activist group’s house aflame in 1985 — makes a case for the rich and affecting testimony that the archive alone can uniquely attest to. Meticulously constructing the film from news coverage, home videos, court testimonies and a passionate series of town council meetings, Osder presents a profound chronicle of the MOVE Organization that makes an intensely troubling historical moment feel like it’s unfolding right in front of you.”

Also available on Google Play and YouTube

2. The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology

[New to iTunes and Amazon Instant Video] — Sophie Fiennes’s sequel to The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema reunites her with philosopher and cultural theorist Slavoj Zizek for more sequences where he’s inserted into movie scenes, this time to explore how ideology operates. Landon also penned our ★★★★ review, in which he writes: “hardly a gimmick, as Fiennes’ technique lends a fascinating immediacy to Zizek’s interchangeably insightful, dense, abstract, obvious and redundant ideas. She materializes the thinker’s mind in a way that one of Zizek’s fevered lectures or difficult manuscripts never could. One leaves The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology with a lingering sense that this is how academic essay films (or at least the seemingly expanding Žižek subgenre, specifically) should be done in the 21st century…a convincing piece of evidence that the language of cinema is not only compatible with complex ideas, but animates them like nothing else can.”

Also available on DVD

3. Norman Mailer: The American

[New to Amazon Instant Video] — Not the most polished or polite documentary, this profile on the 20th century icon by Joseph Mantegna is instead quite appropriately crude. Here’s what I wrote of the film at Nothing But the Doc: “it’s as fair and critical as it is certainly favorable as a memorial…the picture and sound, especially during interviews, would look terrible on TV let alone the giant screen of the Walter Reade Theater. It’s ugliness works for the crude man and language, though. A doc like this should look rather rough and unpolished and sound so distorted. Plus it doesn’t matter given how otherwise well-crafted it is. The sequence in which interviewees, including [first wife Adele Mailer], recount the events of the night Mailer stabbed her, is complemented by archive bullfight footage, quickly cut, and it is intense and emotional and mostly just awesome.”

Also available on DVD, Vudu and YouTube

4. Danland

[New to Netflix Watch Instantly] — This documentary about a producer and star of amateur pornography was one of my favorites from the 2012 Slamdance Film Festival. Here is what I wrote in the intro to my interview with its director, Alexandra Berger, for Documentary Channel: “The film begins with this man, ‘Porno’ Dan Leal, on his wedding day, but we can’t really see who the bride is. Then we go back a few years and watch his relationships grow and die, some resurrected, others gone for good. It’s truly a movie for equal enjoyment among couples. There’s the porn stuff for the guys and the romance for the girls. And for just general doc lovers it’s an entertaining look into a strange and complicated world.”

5. These Birds Walk

[New to Amazon Instant Video] — I am not the biggest fan of this film (see my ★★ review), but it has to be included and recommended since it did make my list of most memorable nonfiction moments of the year (for a riveting crowd sequence near the end) and it was also #7 on Nonfics’s best of 2013 list, where Robert Greene wrote: “Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq’s debut feature is a near-perfect burst of cinematic poetry, from the vigorous opening shot to the quietly devastating final scenes. What begins as a portrait of Pakistani humanitarian Abdul Satar Edhi and his orphanage transforms into a deeply poignant study of youth under pressure and a potent reminder of the affecting possibilities of observation. The searching camera is constantly reframing these charismatic boys’ experiences, favoring exhilaration and sadness over issue-driven analysis. These Birds Walk is delicate, lovely and pulsating with life.”

Also available on DVD, iTunes and Google Play

6. Lucky

[Available on Amazon Instant Video] — Not a new release but a film that Dan Schindel highlighted as his latest Doc Option, this one to be paired up with the Oscar-nominated narrative feature Nebraska. Here’s an excerpt from that post: “Lucky was released in 2010 to little fanfare, despite coming from director Jeffrey Blitz, whose Spellbound was one of the most popular and well-loved docs of the 2000s. The film tours the lives of a few people upon whom fate has smiled most generously, those who have pulled off the one-in-two-hundred-million chance of winning the lottery. It examines who they were before their lives were drastically upheaved, and who they are now that they’ve come into such extraordinary comfort.”

7. The Human Scale

[New to iTunes and Amazon Instant Video] — This entry previously appeared in a Nonfics Home Picks last week. Andreas Dalsgaard’s new film is about urban design, looking specifically at architect and urban planner Jan Gehl and the cities of Copenhagen, Chongqing, New York City, Melbourne, Dhaka and Christchurch. In his ★★★★ review of the doc, Daniel Walber compares it to Gary Hustwit’s Urbanized, stating that the two films “elevate each other,” and calls The Human Scale “a widely scoped adventure” and “a tight, compelling and well-designed film about design,” acknowledging “that’s harder to pull off than one might think.”

Also available on DVD and other VOD and digital outlets

New to DVD [and/or Blu-ray]:

The 99rs (ESPN Nine for IX)

1964 (American Experience)

Biblical Collector’s Series: Biblical End Times / Biblical Prophesies

Biblical Collector’s Series: Biblical Old Testament Mysteries / Biblical Authors

Biblical Collector’s Series: Biblical Rapture / Biblical Armageddon

Biblical Collector’s Series: Biblical Women / Biblical Adam & Eve

Biblical Collector’s Series: Lost Biblical Stories / The Early Years of Jesus

Biblical Collector’s Series: Noah’s Ark and the Biblical Flood / Moses — Man of God

Branded (ESPN Nine for IX)

The Bull and the Ban

Die Super Rock n’ Roll Show

Dry Bones: Live Your Life Holy

Edgar, Allan & Poe

Egypt: Akhenaton: The Heretic King

Egypt: The Boy King

Egypt: Giza the Lost City of the Pyramid Builders

Egypt: Heliopolis The Cult of the Sun

Egypt: Hidden Treasures of the Cairo Museum

Egypt: Karrnak and Luxor

Egypt: Lost Tombs of Thebes

Egypt: Ramses II Quest for Mortality

Egypt: Saqqara the Cult of the Dead

Egypt: Secrets in the Valley of the Kings

Hanging Shadows: Perspectives on Italian Horror Cinema

Harold & Maude

H.H. Holmes: America’s First Serial Killer

Incredible Maine: Kelp Is On the Way

JFK: The Camelot Presidency

Keepin It Real Conference Parts 1–7 (S.O.V. with Dr. Vicky Lee TV)

The Living Christ Volumes I — VI

The Lottery of Birth (Creating Freedom Episode One)

Miguel: The New Wave of R&B

The Military Might of the West

Miracles Around Us Volume One: Guardian Angels

Miracles Around Us Volume Two: Saved By the Light

Miracles Around Us Volume Three: Amazing Visions

Miracles Around Us Volume Four: Angels Among Us

Miracles Around Us Volume Five: Answered Prayers

Miracles Around Us Volume Six: Finding Faith

Noah’s Ark Revealed — Documentary Combo Pack

Now That’s Supernatural!

Pompeii: The Doomed City

Property Wars

Railways of Belgium & Luxembourg

Raven Rick’s Deadly Adventure

Ravens vs. Crows

The Rise and Fall of Penn Station (American Experience)

Rise of the Beast Image

Runner (ESPN Nine for IX)

Secrets of Archeology: Ancient Cities Bordering On Latium

Secrets of Archeology: Ancient Itinerary in Ionia

Secrets of Archeology: At the Court of the King of Kings

Secrets of Archeology: Athens: Western Splendor

Secrets of Archeology: The Cities of the Pharaohs

Secrets of Archeology: Cities of the Sea and Wind

Secrets of Archeology: The Civilization of the Heroes

Secrets of Archeology: Egypt According to Cleopatra

Secrets of Archeology: The Fabulous Centres of Hellenism

Secrets of Archeology: The Forgotten Civilizations of Anatolia

Secrets of Archeology: Glorious Rome, Capital of an Empire

Secrets of Archeology: Greek Cities in Italy

Secrets of Archeology: Greek Legacy In the West

Secrets of Archeology: The Lost Cities of the Maya

Secrets of Archeology: On the Courses of the Phoenicians

Secrets of Archeology: A Place Called Etruria

Secrets of Archeology: Pompeii: A City Rediscovered

Secrets of Archeology: The Ports of the Desert

Secrets of Archeology: Pyramids Designed For Eternity

Secrets of Archeology: The Pyramids of the Sun

Secrets of Archeology: Retracing the Tracks of Hannibal

Secrets of Archeology: The Roads to El Dorado

Secrets of Archeology: The Roman Empire in Africa

Secrets of Archeology: Roman Imprint On the West

Secrets of Archeology: Secrets of The Island of Minos

Secrets of Archeology: Travels Through Greece

Secrets of Archeology: Visit of the Sanctuaries of Apollo

Secrets of Witchcraft and the Occult

Sick Birds Die Easy

Tyler Perry: Filmmaker, Business Entrepreneur, Entertainment Mogul

Who Are the Sons of God in Genesis 6?

New to Netflix Watch Instantly:

Danland (★★★ Nonfics rating) [Stream Now]

The Motivation [Stream Now]

The Summit (★ Nonfics Review) [Stream Now]

New to iTunes/Amazon Instant/VOD:

Alaska Fish Wars Season 2 [Amazon Instant Video]

Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations Season 1 [Amazon Instant Video]

Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations Season 2 [Amazon Instant Video]

Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations Season 3 [Amazon Instant Video]

Bering Sea Gold Season 3 [Amazon Instant Video]

Beyond 360º [Amazon Instant Video]

Breath of Freedom [Amazon Instant Video]

Dance Masters: Arnie Zane [Amazon Instant Video]

Dance Masters: Bill T. Jones [Amazon Instant Video]

Dance Masters: Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane [Amazon Instant Video]

Dance Masers: Katherine Dunham [Amazon Instant Video]

Dance Masters: Mark Morris [Amazon Instant Video]

Dance Masters: Paul Taylor [Amazon Instant Video]

Furever [iTunes] [Amazon Instant Video]

Grounded: The Making of The Last of Us [Amazon Instant Video]

Homegoings [Vimeo On Demand]

The Human Scale (★★★★ Nonfics review) [iTunes] [Amazon Instant Video]

Let the Fire Burn (★★★★ Nonfics rating) [iTunes] [Amazon Instant Video]

The Magic Life [Amazon Instant Video]

MIA: A Soldier’s Homecoming [Amazon Instant Video]

The Mind of a Chef Season 2 [Amazon Instant Video]

Monsters and Mysteries in America [Amazon Instant Video]

Nice Bombs — Director’s Cut [Amazon Instant Video]

Norman Mailer: The American (★★★ Nonfics rating) [Amazon Instant Video]

The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology (★★★★ Nonfics review) [iTunes] [Amazon Instant Video]

Rods N’ Wheels [Amazon Instant Video]

Take Me To Your Mother Season 2 [Amazon Instant Video]

These Birds Walk [★★ Nonfics review] [Amazon Instant Video]

Top Gear Season 21 [Amazon Instant Video]

Ultimate Survival Alaska Season 2 [Amazon Instant Video]

Very Young Girls [Amazon Instant Video]

What’s Wrong With Frank Chin? [Amazon Instant Video]

World’s Weirdest Season 4 [Amazon Instant Video]

You Don’t Know Dick [Amazon Instant Video]

Must-See Nonfiction TV:


The Flaw [2/18 on Link TV, 1:30pm ET]

Dave Chappelle’s Block Party [2/18 on Showcase, 11pm ET]


Galapagos [2/19 on 3net, 1pm and 7pm ET]

Last Call at the Oasis [2/19 on Pivot, 1:30pm ET]

We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists [2/19 on Pivot, 5pm ET]

Man on a Mission: Richard Garriott’s Road to the Stars [2/19 on Pivot, 7pm ET]


The Gatekeepers [2/20 on Starz Cinema, 4:15am ET]

Hubble 3D [2/20 on 3net, 1pm and 7pm ET]

Money For Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve [2/20 on Al Jazeera America, 3pm ET]

Lenny Cooke [2/20 on Showcase, 7pm ET]

Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic [2/20 on Showcase, 11:45pm ET]


Last Days Here [2/21 on Showtime Next, 3pm ET]

The Other F Word [2/21 on Showcase, 5:45pm ET]

Into the Deep 3D [2/21 on 3net, 7pm ET]


Pearl Jam Twenty [2/22 on Palladia, 12am ET]

West of Memphis [2/22 on Starz East, 1:50am ET, and Starz West, 4:50am ET]

El Bulli: Cooking in Progress [2/22 on Link TV, 4am ET]

Make Believe [2/22 on Showtime Beyond, 8:45am ET]

Man on a Mission: Richard Garriott’s Road to the Stars [2/22 on Pivot, 10am ET]

Into the Deep 3D [2/22 on 3net, 1pm ET]

Chimpanzee [2/22 on Starz Kids & Family, 1:35pm ET]

Money For Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve [2/22 on Al Jazeera America, 3pm ET]

Grizzly Man [2/22 on Starz Cinema, 6:10pm ET]

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory [2/22 on CNN, 9pm ET]


The Last Waltz [2/23 on MGM HD, 2am ET]

Money For Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve [2/23 on Al Jazeera America, 4am ET]

Lenny Cooke [2/23 on Showtime East, 1:30am ET, and Showtime West, 4:30am ET]

Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D [2/23 on 3net, 1pm and 7pm ET]

Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic [2/23 on Showtime 2, 8:30pm ET]


Galapagos 3D [2/24 on 3net, 11am and 5pm ET]

Hubble 3D [2/24 on 3net, 9pm ET]

Deep Sea 3D [2/24 on 3net, 10pm ET]


Hubble 3D [2/25 on 3net, 12am, 3am, 6am, 9am and 3pm ET]

Deep Sea 3D [2/25 on 3net, 1am, 4am, 7am, 10am, 4pm ET]

Lenny Cooke [2/25 on Showtime 2, 3:30am ET]

Last Days Here [2/25 on Showtime Next, 1:45pm ET]

My Kid Could Paint That [2/25 on Starz Cinema, 9:45am ET]

Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D [2/25 on 3net, 8pm and 11pm ET]

Space Station 3D [2/25 on 3net, 9pm ET]

Under the Sea 3D [2/25 on 3net, 10pm ET]

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.