The United States of Documentaries (Map)

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The United States of Documentaries is a representation of the best documentaries each state of our great union has produced. When I say produced, I mean the main story and subject are set in that state. And when I say best, it could either be that the film itself is great, or that its connection to the state is the most unique or telling.

Disagree with a pick? Add your favorite state-specific doc into the poll below and see if your choice can’t top what’s on the map.

Click the map to view it at full size.

The United States of Documentaries map

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Documentaries bring us closer to the world. We get to go places we normally can’t, and learn about fascinating people and important issues that might otherwise be ignored. But just how comprehensive is our understanding of our own country, based on the documentaries we see? What you see before you takes a first stab at answering that question.

The Films

The Order of Myths
Margaret Brown, 2008

Grizzly Man
Werner Herzog, 2005

Crossing Arizona
Dan DeVivo, Joseph Mathew, 2006

Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills
Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky, 1996

Dogtown and Z-Boys
Stacy Peralta, 2001

Bowling for Columbine
Michael Moore, 2002

Harvard Beats Yale 29-29
Kevin Rafferty, 2008

Keeping the Peace
JJ Garvine, Tai Parquet, 2009

Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin, 1968

Sherman’s March
Ross McElwee, 1986

Riding Giants
Stacy Peralta, 2004

Living with Wolves
Jim Dutcher, Jamie Dutcher, 2005

Hoop Dreams
Steve James, 1994

American Teen
Nanette Burstein, 2008

King Corn
Aaron Woolf, 2007

What’s the Matter with Kansas?
Joe Winston, 2009

Harlan County, USA
Barbara Kopple, 1976

Trouble the Water
Carl Deal, Tia Lessin, 2008

The Way We Get By
Aron Gaudet, 2009

Luke Meyer, Andrew Neel, 2006

Stephen Walker, Sally George, 2007

Roger & Me
Michael Moore, 1989

American Dream
Barbara Kopple, Cathy Caplan, Thomas Haneke, Lawrence Silk, 1990

Freedom on My Mind
Connie Field, Marilyn Mulford, 1994

Slam Planet: War of the Words
Kyle Fuller, Mike Henry, 2006

Ilisa Barbash, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, 2009

The Brandon Teena Story
Susan Muska, Gréta Olafsdóttir, 1998

Area 51: Declassified
National Geographic, 2011

New Hampshire
Winning New Hampshire
Aram Fischer, Mark Lynch, William Rabbe, 2004

New Jersey
Street Fight
Marshall Curry, 2005

New Mexico
American Waitress, New Mexico
Vanessa Vassar, 2002

New York
Man on Wire
James Marsh, 2008

North Carolina
The Trials of Darryl Hunt
Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg, 2006

North Dakota
Jesus Camp
Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady, 2006

Flag Wars
Linda Goode Bryant, Laura Poitras, 2003

Talihina Sky: The Story of Kings of Leon
Stephen C. Mitchell, 2011

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Marshall Curry, 2011

High School
Frederick Wiseman, 1968

Rhode Island
Taking on the Kennedys
Joshua Seftel, 1996

South Carolina
Building Bombs: The Legacy
Mark Mori, Susan Robinson, 1991

South Dakota
Incident at Oglala
Michael Apted, 1992

Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin, 2011

Hands on a Hard Body
S.R. Bindler, 1997

Sons of Perdition
Tyler Measom, Jennilyn Merten, 2010

Man with a Plan
John O’Brien, 1996

A Perfect Candidate
R.J. Cutler, David Van Taylor, 1996

Kurt and Courtney
Nick Broomfield, 1998

West Virginia
Before the Mountain Was Moved
Robert K. Sharpe, 1970

American Movie
Chris Smith, 1999

Daniel Junge, 2002

Washington, D.C.
The March
James Blue, 1964

Vote for your favorite documentary from your favorite state!

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Thanks to Emily Thomas for her virtual travels across America (and for contributing research to the list).

POV Staff
POV Staff
POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 300 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.
  • Ms1aw

    Roger and Me is by far the best documentry I’ve ever seen. Having grown up in Flint Mi, I was unaware of what was going on around me. My folks were very protective and never clued me in on things . My Mom worked for GM for 33 years and right after she retired all h*** broke loose. I joined the Navy and got out of Flint as fast as I could. Best decision I ever made. 22 years later, Flint has only gotten worse. Michael Moore is not my favorite person, but I love his bold honesty and his lack of fear to speak out and expose the greed in this country.

  • Austin

    Hahaahahahahahha Hands on a Hardbody? nice…..

  • C. Neil Scott

    South Carolina: “It’s Grits” (1978, 2008)

  • MrSmith

    Michael Moore’s films are not documentaries. A documentary is something “that purports to be factually accurate and contains no fictional elements.”  Moore’s films are not factually accurate by any stretch, but he’s done an amazing job of convincing the American public they are.  I don’t disagree with his choices of material either, just how he presents it.

  • Pictures of Jesus

    Personally, I’m a documentary junkie and netflix is a great fix for it. :)
    Pictures of Jesus

  • C. Metzler

    Such a great selection and most pretty spot on, but am curious how JESUS CAMP wound up being placed for North Dakota? If I remember correctly, most of the people in the film are from around Kansas City and the camp set in southern Missouri. Probably worth double checking. As a North Dakota replacement, maybe THE OVERNIGHTERS.