Music, sport, cats and more - there's definitely something for you here.
1) DIG! (2004)
Forming a mutual admiration society, playing shows with each other and telling anyone who'd listen that the other band was the future of rock 'n' roll, the Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols went on to prove the theory that you make your own luck. The Dandy Warhols got signed to a major label, toughed it out in the corporate world and struck the big time when their song Bohemian Like You was used in a mobile phone ad. The Brian Jonestown Massacre were the darlings of the underground who wrecked an industry showcase gig by having a full-on fight onstage (spectacularly captured here) and when there was finally a high profile record deal after countless albums things really fell apart... Director Ondi Timoner was there to capture all of this and her consistently funny and brutally honest film plays like a real-life This is Spinal Tap. You'll have a good time - all the time.
2) Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (2019)
Two hours in the best of company - that's what's on offer here. And if your never-ending list of to-read authors doesn't include the late Toni Morrison (The Bluest Eye, Sula, Beloved), well, it should do after about 15 minutes. This unstuffy documentary lives up to its title as it charts the life of a literary icon from student to librarian to mother to editor to author to Nobel Prize winner, with a special mention for her talents as a star baker along the way. Morrison makes for a brilliant interviewee: matter-of-fact about her work, with steel and a great sense of humour there to inspire newcomers to her novels and longtime fans alike. As for wisdom, well, there's enough to stock a library.
3) Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos (2006)
They were legends and journeymen. They numbered World Cup winners Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer and Carlos Alberto among their ranks, alongside local veterans like Shep Messing and Werner Roth. They raised 'soccer' from the dead in the US and tried to break the stranglehold of gridiron, baseball and basketball on American minds and televisions. In one sense they failed, but decades after their demise, the New York Cosmos occupy a special place in sporting history and are one of the reasons why over 20m people now tog out in the US. This film adds plenty to the Cosmos legend and legacy. And, like all the best games, you never want it to end.
4) The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005)
The late outsider artist Daniel Johnston became known to a mass audience when Kurt Cobain started wearing one of his t-shirts around 1992, but by that stage 10 years of his musical story had already passed, with tough times behind him and more still ahead. Winner of the Best Director award at the Sundance Film Festival, Jeff Feuerzeig used Johnston's own brilliant archive material to create this funny, hopeful, heartbreaking and unsettling film whose audience shouldn't be limited to just music fans or devotees of Johnston's work. It's a must-see, not only for what it says about self-empowerment and unfettered creativity, but also for its examination of mental illness and our attitudes and feelings about it. Johnston's music has touched many; his story deserves to reach far, far more.
5) Lost in La Mancha (2002)
Earlier this year Terry Gilliam finally achieved his decades-held dream of seeing his film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote reach the big screen. This is the story of one of his earlier attempts to make it, when his cherished project unravelled in the most heartbreaking way possible. What Lost in La Mancha captures is filmmaking at its very worst, but Gilliam's level of enthusiasm and relentless desire to keep on going is infectious - and needed now more than ever.
6) My Architect: A Son's Journey (2003)
The quote about every man having a public life, a private life and a secret life finds one of its most moving cinematic proofs of recent years in the story of internationally renowned architect Louis 'Lou' Kahn and his son, Nathaniel. When Lou died the obituaries said that he was survived by his wife and daughter - but he also had two other children by different colleagues. Just 11 when Lou passed away, Nathaniel describes his Oscar-nominated documentary as an attempt to find "whatever was left" of his father. He travelled across the US, and later on to Israel and Bangladesh, to see his projects and talk to people who knew him. This beautiful film is about one man's desire to know more about his father, but that quest is universal and the bittersweet feeling radiates into and out of the screen.
7) Dark Days (2000)
In 1994 Marc Singer was working as a model in New York when he befriended a homeless man, John Murphy, who told him that he wanted to leave the streets and live with the "tunnel people" underground. Fascinated, Singer decided to investigate what he thought was an urban legend. He found a community of over 100 people living beside an Amtrak line, all contending that the rat-infested blackness offered more safety than the streets. Singer had never picked up a movie camera before, but after three months of visits, one of the residents suggested that they should make a film about their lives. Shot over two years, the resulting documentary - winner of three Sundance Festival awards - is both terrifying and heartwarming, depicting the disappointments and 'victories' in the daily struggle to survive. The temptation to play up the human drama unfolding before him may have been great, but Singer's approach is remarkably low-key - one of many reasons why this is a landmark film.
8) Startup.com (2001)
Those were days, Joxer... Harvard graduate Kaleil Tuzman and his childhood friend Tom Herman came up with the idea of govWorks.com, a site which took the bureaucracy out of local government and would allow you to do everything from pay a parking ticket to buy a fishing licence online. They started off with eight staff in April 1999 and a year later had 200 - right when it all crashed and burned. In the intervening 12 months Tuzman and Herman managed to raise around $60m in venture capital, fight, fall out and rediscover why they were friends in the first place - in that order. Even now, Startup.com remains a fascinating, funny and cautionary story of how a world of groups hugs and high fives transforms into night sweats and icy stares once those involved discover that Utopia is bankrolled by people who only see the bottom line.
9) The Decline of Western Civilisation (1981)
Long before she had box office success with Wayne's World director Penelope Spheeris was toughing it out in the clubs of Los Angeles to capture the most incendiary bands of the city's punk scene - Black Flag, Circle Jerks, FEAR, Germs and X. And just like them her film would go on to become iconic. Almost 40 years on. The Decline of Western Civilisation still feels urgent and ahead of its time, as important a music documentary as any of the more widely-seen classics, There are two follow-ups - one about LA-based metal bands, the other about the city's homeless teenagers - that also deserve your time.
10) Kedi (2016)
A wall and genre-jumping mix of documentary, romance, adventure and conniver comedy, Kedi hits the streets of Istanbul with a moggy Magnificent Seven as they hustle, hang out and have their way with the hearts of their human neighbours. More than a celebration of four-legged fascination, Ceyda Torun's dreamy glide through the city grind is a life-affirming look at relationships and resilience (feline and human) as lives crisscross and chance encounters become daily opportunities to recharge the soul. "I believe the cat has superpowers," says one streetwise sage as we near our something-in-my-eye goodbye. The longer you think about that, the easier it is to agree.