Dir. Alison Klayman (2012, USA)
If there was one film that wanted to grab you by the shoulders and give you a shake of reality, it was Ali Klayman’s debut socio-political documentary, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. Capturing on film the life and struggles of China’s most globally recognised dissident, the artist Ai Weiwei, this is a first-hand view of the devastating corruption within the Chinese government. This is a voice that needs to be heard.
Dir. François Ozon (2012, France)
Pivoting around that old archetypal ‘Mrs Robinson’ gem, Ozon’s In the House is a transgressive landslide of characters’ perverse desires and latent fantasies. Though this may be a strange entry to a Top 5, I cannot deny that I was transfixed the whole way through. The blur of fantasy and fiction was all-consuming.
3. The Imposter
Dir. Bart Layton (2012, USA)
This dramatic debut documentary from Bart Layton gains a well-deserved and respectable third place. It runs almost like a mockumentary, but actually this far-fetched story of Frédéric Bourdin’s impersonation of missing child Nicholas Barclay is as true as the sun is bright. It is as much thriller as it is docu, and you will be gripped.
Dir. Kevin Macdonald (2012, USA/UK)
The most outstanding documentary of last year: Kevin Macdonald’s biopic of Bob Marley, the anti-establishment Rastafarian singer/song-writer. Balancing on a razor edge between the celebration of liberation and unity and the sadness and heartache of struggle and oppression, Marley documents the life of one man and his impact on mankind.
Dir. Benh Zeitlin (2012, USA)
The heartfelt and honest Beasts of the Southern Wild tops the list after bringing in a mesmerising performance from the completely unknown newcomer, Quvenzhané Wallis as Hushpuppy. Beasts is a contemplation of the way the universe fits together which plays out in an unusual and beautiful magic realist bridging of reality and dream sequence.