10 documentaires about the US

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    The United States is a source of inspiration for many documentary makers, whether it's highlighting the social and political problems in this vast country, or zooming in on small-scale stories. This IDFA selection consists of ten documentary films, each highlighting a different aspect of this fascinating country.

    Disarming otherworldliness

    The wide variety of documentary films on the US clearly depict the country’s immense versatility. Big Easy Express is a genuine road movie, Lead Me Home and Angels on Diamond Street show the poverty and inequality of major cities in The United States, while The Queen of Versailles shows the disarming global alienation of a billionaire family.

    From the festival screen to your home cinema

    The IDFA Collection consists of a number of documentary films about The United States. Below you will find a selection of ten unique films on the subject that have screened at the festival in recent years—now available online for free or for a small fee.

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    Angels on Diamond Street

    • Petr Lom
    • 2019

      With a sympathetic eye, filmmaker Petr Lom follows life at the soup kitchen of the Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia. He records what happens when an undocumented Mexican family asks for sanctuary at the church.

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      The Armstrong Lie

      • Alex Gibney
      • 2013

        Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour victories, and his years of lying and intimidation will continue to haunt him. An exhaustive reconstruction.

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        Big Easy Express

        • Emmett Malloy
        • 2012

          A dreamy recording of a train trip across the United States by three folk bands, as they chug along through the landscape by day and perform in railroad yards by night.

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          The Deeper They Bury Me

          • Angad Bhalla, Ted Biggs
          • 2015

            A prisoner in Louisiana since 1972, Herman Wallace tells the disturbing story of his solitary confinement in a series of interactive animations.

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            Joe's Violin

            • Kahane Cooperman
            • 2016

              A Holocaust survivor donates his violin to a girl from a destitute neighborhood in New York, and the instrument offers her a new opportunity in life.

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              Lead Me Home

              • Pedro Kos, Jon Shenk
              • 2021

                Compassionate account of life among the homeless in three major U.S. cities. Personal stories from several homeless people throw light on the underlying social issues.

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                Losing Alaska

                • Tom Burke
                • 2018

                  In this urgent story that makes an acute problem tangible, the inhabitants of Newtok, Alaska are seeing their village literally vanish due to climate change. 

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                  Men at Lunch

                  • Seán Ó Cualáin
                  • 2012

                    This hommage to the photograph "Lunch atop a Skyscraper" (1932) investigates the mysterious history of this iconic image.

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                    Portrait of Jason

                    • Shirley Clarke
                    • 1967

                      Astoundingly intimate portrait of a 40-year-old man, filmed on a single night on the roof of the famous Chelsea Hotel in New York.

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                      The Queen of Versailles

                      • Lauren Greenfield
                      • 2012

                        During construction of their gargantuan mansion, a billionaire family is struck by the credit crunch and prepares for a new life with disarming naïveté.

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