Documentary filmmaking has had a banner year. Instant favorites like Tiger King and Cheer have introduced us to odd subcultures, cults, and Carole Baskin. If you want to learn more about the city where you live, here are some worthy films (and a TV docuseries) about Washington people and places.
Deaf U: Reality TV star Nyle DiMarco created this docuseries about life at Gallaudet University, the DC school for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Full of gossip and drama, the series displays the deaf community in a new light. Available on Netflix October 9.
Residue: Not a documentary, but this deeply personal look at racism and gentrification in DC is based on the director’s experiences. It was picked up by Ava DuVernay’s distribution company, Array. Director Merawi Gerima’s film is about someone who returns to his childhood home in Eckington only to find the neighborhood completely transformed. Available on Netflix.
Basketball County: In the Water: Kevin Durant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and other basketball greats feature in this documentary about Prince George’s County, which has produced dozens of basketball stars over the last 20 years. Available on Showtime.
Kindred Spirits: Artists Hilda Wilkinson Brown and Lilian Thomas Burwell: What begins as a film about two artists, an aunt and niece, during the Great Depression becomes a portrait of segregated DC, where Black artists had to create their own spaces to be recognized. Available screenings.
Anacostia Delta: The Legacy of DC’s TeleMasters: Danny Gatton, Roy Buchanan, and other DC guitarists are celebrated in this documentary from director Brian Reichhardt. The film depicts a rich music scene—equal parts blues, rock and roll, country, and soul—that flourished along the Anacostia during the late 20th century. Available for digital download.
The Inn at Little Washington: A Delicious Documentary: This documentary follows Chef Patrick O’Connell, called “The Pope of American Cuisine,” as he hones his menu at his small-but-mighty restaurant on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. On the eve of the restaurant’s 40th anniversary, O’Connell continues to perfect his cuisine in search of that elusive third Michelin star. Available on Amazon Prime.