This post was originally published on the Documentary Channel Blog on February 14, 2012.
I can’t immediately think of any genuinely romantic documentaries nor many nonfiction films that follow love stories, courtships or other relevant Valentine’s Day subject matter. Romance-centered docs do exist, of course, though not as readily as romance-centered fiction films. And while Dan Klores’ Crazy Love does always eventually pop into my head as an example, I admit I still haven’t seen it.
That is one of the docs mentioned in today’s POV Blog piece on Valentine’s Day Docs, which include a number of other films I’ve never seen, such as Southern Comfort, Sweet Old Song and For Better or Worse. Meanwhile Basil Tsiokos’ latest Hulu curation for Indiewire spotlights films I wouldn’t have thought as being fitting to the holiday, such as Kurt and Courtney and 51 Birch Street, while others like Out in the Silence and Pull Out sound like perfect selections.
One of my favorite docs of all time, Ross McElwee’s Sherman’s March, certainly works even if the filmmaker doesn’t meet his wife among any of the women he dates through this particular story. And one of my favorite documentary couples, the inconsistent homeless duo from Frederick Wiseman’s Welfare, could provide some good laughs on a day like this.
Something more recent that I think is worth seeing is Alexandra Codina’s Monica & David, which covers the wedding and marriage of the director’s cousin, who is one half of a young couple with Down syndrome. I also enjoyed much of the saccharine multi-narrative doc Love Etc., which hopefully hits home video soon (it’s currently airing on another cable network).
And finally some festival titles I’ve seen in the past year that I think would make for decent Valentine’s Day — or any date night — viewing include With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story, because the Lees are adorable together, and Morgan Spurlock’s Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, which features an adorable example of geek love in a couple who become engaged during the San Diego Comic-Con.
I’m sure there are plenty more that I’m forgetting about, but then there is also another kind of documentary love story that nonfiction fans aren’t thinking enough about today: the passionate profile of a band, artist, person, profession, pastime or other subject of focus. In a column for Movies.com titled “Passion and Love Abound in Documentary Valentines to Music, Design, Movies and More,” I consider new titles like Re:Generation, Urbanized, Wiseman’s Crazy Horse, Pina, The Interrupters, These Amazing Shadows and Ultrasuede as being like love letters from their directors to their subjects and/or featuring passionate interviewees and storytellers talking about things they love.
More than the obvious romantic stories you think about first at a time like Valentine’s Day, these are the sorts of docs I prefer to celebrate right now, because we all just need passion and love for something, whether a “significant other” or a kind of film (doc lovers may think of Capturing Reality for instance) or whatever.
What’s your favorite nonfiction love story?
This is re-printed with the permission of Participant Channel, Inc. © Participant Channel, Inc. 2014.