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Classic Documentaries
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Introduction to Classic Documentaries

A cinematic tradition that depends more on reality than artifice, the documentary film has been with us in one form or another since the movies' inception, showcasing and exploring the world around us. With this Festival, TCM offers a half-dozen documentaries by some of the genre's most celebrated directors. Included is the TCM premiere of Rob Epstein's The Times of Harvey Milk (1984), winner of the Academy Award® as Best Documentary Feature of 1984. The film follows the political career of Milk, San Francisco's first openly gay supervisor, through his assassination in November 1978 and the subsequent trial of the man charged with shooting him.

Other films in this tribute include another Oscar® winner, Barbara Kopple's Harlan County USA (1976), which documents a coal miners' strike in Southeast Kentucky in 1973; Salesman (1968), an account of door-to-door Bible salesmen directed by Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin; and Les Blank's God Respects Us When We Work, But Loves Us When We Dance (1968), a documentation of the attitudes and fashions at a mid-1960s "love-in" with "hippies and flower children" at Elysian Park in Los Angeles. Two of the films are from France: Louis Malle's Calcutta (1969), a documentary offering impressions of the West Bengal city; and Chris Marker's Sans Soleil (1983), an impressionistic reflection upon the nature of human memory.

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