Best Documentary Directors are 1. Michael Moore 2. Alex Gibney 3. Claude Lanzmann and 7 others.

Directors are the creative head in the movies responsible for artistic and dramatic aspects. They are visionary who can see the whole process starting from pre-production to the final release.

The documentary is a motion picture that aims to show the reality and actual truth. Such films aim to provide education, instruction or keep a historical record.

Here we have curated the list of top reality-driven filmmakers who stand out because of their creative excellence. 

10 Top Directors Of All Time

1. Michael MooreBowling for Columbine
2. Alex GibneyThe Inventor: Out For Blood In Silicon Valley
3. Claude LanzmannShoah
4. Jimmy ChinFree Solo
5. Ava Duvernay13th
6. Joshua OppenheimerThe Act Of Killing
7. Joe BerlingerParadise Lost (film series)
8. Adam CurtisThe Power Of Nightmares
9. Amy BergDeliver Us From Evil
10. Heidi EwingJesus Camp

1. Best Michael Moore Documentaries

Michael's Old Picture Of Speaking At A Political Event
Source : twitter

Michael Moore documentary about healthcare titled Sicko was released in 2007. It is about the health insurance of the pharmaceutical industry.

The film established him as one of the prominent creative leads in the entertainment field. Some other works of Michael include Fahrenheit 9/11, Capitalism: A Love Story, and Where To Invade Next.

Moore is also an author, producer, and right-wing activist. He studied drama and debate at Davison High School for which he was chosen as the board of directors.

Michael tried his luck in journalism and worked at The Michigan Times and Mother Jones. He stepped his foot in film direction in 1989 and debuted with Roger & Me.

Born on 12 April 1954, the 68-year-old artist was raised by parents Helena Veronica Wall and Francis Richard Moore. He was married to Kathleen Glynn for 22 years.

Moreover, Moore shares a daughter named Natalie Moore with his ex-partner.

2. Alex Gibney

Alex At The Premiere of Why We Hate In Los Angeles
Source : twitter

Alex Gibney is famous for his projects The Inventor, Going Clear, We Steal Secrets, and more. However, he received major breakthrough from Taxi To The Dark Side in 2007.

It focuses on the use of US military torture while exploring the unsolved murder case of an Afghani taxi driver from 2002. His motion picture relies on testimony from subjects and voice-over narration.

Gibney is a writer, producer, and president of Jigsaw Productions. Moreover, he is a contributor to media publications like The Atlantic and Huffington Post.

Alex attended the Pomfret School before joining Yale University. After graduation, he became a student at the University of California, Los Angeles Film School.

The creative personnel was born on 23 October 1953 to Harriet Harvey and Frank Gibney. He tied the nuptials with his wife Anne DeBovoise in 1982.

The 69-year-old Gibney and his long-term spouse have a son named Nick Gibney.

3. Claude Lanzmann

Claude Attending the 2001 Cannes Film Festival to present his film
Source : twitter

Claude Lanzmann was one of the creative leaders in the film sector with an eye for detail. His most renowned doc is over 9 hours long and is titled Shoah.

Being a freedom fighter during the French Resistance, he made Shoah based on the German holocaust. The artist took 11 years to film and did not use single historical footage.

Lanzmann took interviews with survivors, witnesses, and perpetrators from the holocaust sites and extermination camps. He earned widespread recognition for his precise work in the film.

Claude released the last part of Shoah in 2017. Prior to that, he served as the editor of Les Temps Modernes and a lecturer at the European Graduate School. 

Born on 27 November 1925 to parents Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, he passed away on 5 July 2018 at the age of 92. He was married to Judith Magre and Angelika Schrobsdorff. 

Claude is survived by his two grown-up children named Felix Lanzmann and Angelique Lanzmann.

4. Jimmy Chin Documentary

Jimmy Posed For Picture While Carrying A Trekking Bag during the filming of Edge of the Unknown
Source : twitter

Edge Of The Unknown with Jimmy Chin is a series about the minds of adventure athletes. It focuses on transformative stories.

Jimmy is the executive producer of the series. Besides that, he is popular for his reality-based movies The Rescue, Free Solo, and Meru. He received an Oscar for his exceptional direction in Free Solo.

Chin is a professional mountain athlete who incorporates thrill and adventure in his films. He also serves as a photographer, author, and producer in Hollywood.

Jimmy earned a BA in Asian Studies degree from Carleton College. He started his photography career and eventually found a passion for filmmaking.

Chin was born to Chinese parents on 12 October 1973 in Mankato, Minnesota. He exchanged vows with his partner and fellow filmmaker, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi.

The 49-year-old artist is the father of daughter Marina Chin and son James Chin.

5. Ava Duvernay Documentaries

Ava Attended The 95th Academy Awards On 13 March 2023
Source : instagram

Finding Your Roots documentary Ava Duvernay got shocked after learning about her biological roots. Ava dived into her ancestral background.

Her stepfather's third great-grandfather was revealed as a former slave. When further digging was done on Ava's ancestry, it was found that she hailed from the family line of French slave owners. Later, she gets to know that she is 57.3% African.

Duvernay made a biopic on Martin Luther King Jr. and titled it Selma. She pictured the discrimination and violence towards men and women of color in the movie.

Ava also earned popularity for her other film 13th named after the thirteenth amendment of the U.S constitution. It explored the topics of racial intersection, justice, and mass incarceration.

Duvernay was born on 24 August 1972 and raised by her mother Darlene and step-dad Murray Maye. According to Today, she has decided not to get married or have kids.

6. Joshua Oppenheimer

Joshua's Picture Uploaded By Sundance Now Twitter Page Photo: Daniel Bergeron
Source : twitter

Joshua Oppenheimer earned recognition from his first film, The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase. His moving pictures feature crimes like mass murders.

Oppenheimer released his debut feature film The Act Of Killings in Indonesia. It is about the mass killings in Indonesia in 1965 and 1966.

The main subject of the film is the perpetrators and their interviews. Joshua did not reveal their names and credited them as anonymous to hide their privacy.

Oppenheimer made the sequel The Look of Silence in 2014. Due to his outstanding direction, both projects were nominated for the Oscars.

The artist received a BA in film-making from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from Central Saint Martins College. He also serves as a professor of film at the University of Westminister.

Joshua was born on 23 September 1974 in a Jewish family. He is romantically attracted to men and lives in Copenhagen, Demark with his long-time partner Shu. 

7. Joe Berlinger

Joe Leaning Against The Wall As He Posed For The Camera
Source : twitter

Joe Berlinger is a creative lead recognized for the film series Paradise Lost. It revolves around a true crime story of physical mutilation in West Memphis.

Berlinger's work in the trilogy spanned over 2 decades. It was believed that the boys were mutilated in a satanic ritual by three teenagers named Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley Jr, and Jason Baldwin.

Joe's film series raised doubts about the legitimacy of the conviction of the accused. Later, a movement was launched and they were given an Alford Plea deal.

Berlinger is recognized for his direction in Killing Richard Glossip, Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, and "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile" starring Zac Efron. Zac played Troy Bolton in the High School Musical.

The filmmaker graduated with a BA in the German Language from Colgate University in 1983. Before diving into the film sector, he worked at an advertising agency.

Joe was born on 30 October 1961 and is 61 years old. He is married to his wife Loren Eiferman and has a daughter named Maya Berlinger.

8. Adam Curtis

Adam Lying On The Couch And Looking At The Camera Photo:© Scenester.tv
Source : twitter

Adam Curtis is a BBC filmmaker famous for his distinctive presentation. He explores sociology, psychology, philosophy, and political history in his pictures.

The artist made a name for himself via his works on HyperNormalization, Out of Court, Pandora's Box, Paranoia and Moral Panics, and Russia 1985-1999: TraumaZone.

The Power Of Nightmares became his biggest hit. It is a compilation of archive footage with his voice narration which compares neoconservatism with radical Islamism.

Cutis got a county scholarship and he graduated from the Sevenoaks School. Then, he earned a BA in human sciences from Mansfield College before kickstarting his career. 

Adam received four BAFTA awards for his services to the entertainment sector. Born on 26 May 1955, the 67-year-old documentarian has not retired from his profession.

9. Amy Berg

Amy's Picture Shared By Entertainment Weekly Twitter Page Photo: Matt Carr
Source : twitter

Amy Berg hit the spotlight with her first motion picture Deliver Us From Evil. She portrayed the real cases of physical abuse at the Roman Catholic Church.

Berg creatively directed the West of Memphis, based on the story of the teenagers convicted for three murders. She has also worked in Prophet's Prey and The Case Against Adnan Syed.

Amy's first film was nominated for the Academy Awards. She has expanded her horizons in the entertainment sector as a screenplay writer and producer.

Before becoming a filmmaker, the artist produced film segments for CNN Investigations and KCBS's '30 Minutes of Special Assignment'.

Berg is 52 years old as she was born on 13 October 1970. Although she stays away from the limelight, her journey as a filmmaker greatly impacts audiences.

10. Heidi Ewing

Heidi Picture Shared By Deadline Hollywood Twitter Page
Source : twitter

Heidi Ewing is a fact-based filmmaker who received prominence from Jesus Camp. It featured the Kids on Fire School of Monastery and the evangelical Christian community of the United States.

Ewing is also recognized for her works in projects including The Boys of Baraka, DETROPIA, Love Fraud, Makers: Women Who Make America, and Endangered.

Heidi graduated from Mercy High School followed by Georgetown University. Moreover, she is a writer, producer, and the founder of Loki Films since 2001.

The creative artist engaged in holy matrimony with her husband Doug Easdon on 26 August 2007. They wedded twice: once at her parents' home and another time in Mexico.

As per her Instagram posts, Heidi is the dog mother to their cute pet named Rico.

What Makes A Documentary?

Poster Of The Movie Hearts of Darkness
Source : twitter

Best documentary cinematography is Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, Samsara, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and The Salt Of The Earth.

Some more reality films with exceptional cinematics are listed below:

  1. Grey Gardens (1975)
  2. Baraka (1992)
  3. The Thin Blue Line (1988)
  4. Man On Wire (2008)
  5. Crumb (1994)

Although filmography makes an impact on the motion picture, it is not the only factor. Factual content, subject matter, purpose, and audience experience also play a major role.

The use of real people and the place where the event took is also quintessential. The harmonious composition of all these aspects along with the production techniques makes a fact-based recording worth watching.

Documentaries About Movies

Movie Poster Of A Personal Journey With Martin Scorsese Through American Movies
Source : twitter

Documentary about filmmakers includes Hitchcock/ Truffaut and A Personal Journey With Martin Scorsese Through American Movies.

We have come up with a list of binge-worthy movies about filmmakers.

  1. American Masters (1985)
  2. Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin (2003)
  3. Fritz Lang: Circle of Destiny (2004)
  4. The Man You Loved To Hate (1979)
  5. Directed By John Ford (1971)
  6. George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey (1984)
  7. Luchino Visconti (1999)
  8. Stanley Kubrick: A Life In Pictures (2001)
  9. Bergman Island (2004)
  10. Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991)