Top 5: Dori Bernstein

Documentary Director Dori Berinstein on her top five film documentaries.


Dori Berinstein of Bedford Corners, a three-time Tony-winning Broadway producer (Thoroughly Modern Millie, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Fool Moon), has directed such award-winning documentary features as Gotta Dance (a profile of the first-ever, senior citizen hip-hop dance team), Show Business: The Road to Broadway, and Some Assembly Required. Here, she shares her favorite, must-view documentaries.

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1) Food Inc. (Mangolia Pictures, 2009)
“Don’t eat another meal until you see this real-world horror story,” Berinstein says. This exposé focusing on “how our nation’s food industry is making us sicker, fatter, and poorer” is a perfect example of “how a powerful, well-crafted documentary can change the way you see the world and/or live your life.”  
2) Spellbound (ThinkFilm, 2002)
“I adored it,” Berinstein says. Calling Spellbound, a film about eight kids competing to win the Spelling Bee crown, “witty, poignant, and suspenseful,” she opines it’s “one of the best sports movies ever made.”
3) The Cove (Lionsgate, 2010)
Berinstein describes this Academy Award winner as “a stirring call to action against the secret slaughter of dolphins in Japan—as gripping, heart-rending, and thrilling as any spy thriller I’ve ever seen or read.”
4) The War Room (Pennebaker Associates, 1993)
Documentarians D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus wanted to follow a presidential campaign from the inside out—and only one campaign would give the filmmakers exclusive access, says Berinstein about this film. “Can you imagine how thrilling it must have been when their basically unknown ‘subject’ emerged out of nowhere to become the forty-second president of the United States?” Berinstein describes this riveting look inside Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign as “simply intoxicating.”

5) Company (Pennebaker Associates, 1970)

“This film captivated me completely,” says Berinstein about the documentary that captures the explosive recording session of the Broadway cast album for Stephen Sondheim’s show, Company. “I knew right away I would one day need to tell my own behind-the-curtain Broadway story.”


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