21 - 24 JUNE 2021 / EDITION N°32


Sunny Side of the Doc

TOP 10 Documentaries that changed Archive Storytelling

On the occasion this year’s History focus, Sunny Side of the Doc and Elizabeth Klinck are teaming up to bring her expertise to the debate, starting with her Top 10 Documentaries that actually changed the course of Archive Storytelling

The 2020 edition of Sunny Side of the Doc will shine a light on the imminent opportunities of historytelling which tirelessly questions the collective memory, explores the hybrid trends of the genre, introduces new narrative forms, extends the use of archival materials, and is still of interest to international broadcasters, SVOD platforms and distributors.

To that end, Elizabeth Klinck, one of Canada’s most prominent archive specialists, will share her expertise about the significance and added value of never-before-seen archival footage in creating compelling historical documentaries.


Elizabeth Klinck, Archive Producer & Copyright Clearance Specialist

Elizabeth Klinck’s career as a visual researcher has spanned more than three decades and has included work for directors including Werner Herzog, Jennifer Baichwal, Donald Brittain and Alanis Obomsawin, amongst many others. She is a three-time winner of the Barbara Sears Award for Best Visual Research at the Canadian Screen Awards as well as contributing to films that have won Emmy, Peabody and Academy awards. Ms. Klinck is a founding chairperson for the Visual Researchers’ Society of Canada.

→ Read more about Elizabeth Klinck.



Through a selection curated by Elizabeth Klinck, Sunny Side of the Doc gave the opportunity to be part of a playful quiz on its Facebook Page last January, based on her popular archive-based guessing game. Thank you all for taking part!



Discover below the Elizabeth Klinck’s Top 10 and her motivation behind each choice. 

The Kid Stays In The Picture (Nanette Burstein, Brett Morgan 2002)

This 2002 “autobiography told from a third person point of view” remains the gold standard of Hollywood storytelling. At the time it introduced many new ways of working with archival stills and footage and still appears fresh and innovative.  It is a non-fiction film that plays like fiction.

Watch the trailer here

Senna  (Asif Kapadia 2010)

Asif Kapadia fashioned a documentary made entirely out of archival material, but edited to play like a breezy 90-minute drama. Talking heads were recorded, but the interviewees never appear on screen. Instead, the audio from those interviews was stitched together to make a narrative tapestry that plays over an incredible wealth of stock footage.

Watch the trailer here

I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck 2016)

This documentary gives voice to James Baldwin’s published and unpublished writings by associating the author’s words with archive footage and stills, sounds, sound effects, music and even the silence to document the Civil Rights Movement and today’s events in an innovative way.

Watch the trailer here

Apollo 11 (Todd Douglas Miller 2019)

This documentary was put together like a puzzle but one with a road map as far as what needed to fit where and when to tell this story. Inspired editing together of material that was directly related and shot at the same time but discovered later through a very careful cataloging of separately stored inventory of footage.

Watch the trailer here

When We Were Kings (Leon Gast 1996)

This may be one of the greatest sports archive documentaries ever made. It combines the cinema verité footage of “The Rumble in The Jungle” with interviews, analysis and an understanding of the genius of Muhammed Ali.

Watch the trailer here

Night and Fog (Alain Resnais, 1955)

The penultimate film produced about the Holocaust. It describes the terrifying nature of the Holocaust through a series of images and a narration that names the collections of items of the prisoners and survivors. It’s the “cruel poetry” of these simple details that makes the film so heartbreaking and powerful.

Watch the trailer here

Man On Wire (James Marsh,  2008)

Crafted like a Hollywood heist film, it incorporated rare photos and unearthed footage to portray this high wire feat of “lunatic absurdity”

Watch the trailer here

How To Change The World (Jerry Rothwell, 2015)

Now more relevant than ever, this documentary chronicles the adventures of an eclectic group of young activists  who set out to stop Richard Nixon’s nuclear bomb tests in Amchitka, Alaska, and end up creating the worldwide green movement.  Interweaving verité footage, newscasts, private photo collections and interviews, it inspires today’s generation of new activists to think about “changing the world”.

Watch the trailer here

 My Generation (David Batty, 2017)

My Generation offers a fresh approach to a 60s pop culture doc by never showing the characters “now” (except for the narrator Michael Caine) and intercutting with rare and never before seen material of UK pop icons.

Watch the trailer here

They Shall Not Grow Old (Peter Jackson, 2018)

This film was created using original often previously unseen footage of the First World War from the Imperial War Museum’s archives intercut with audio interviews of British servicemen who fought in the conflict. Most of the footage has been colourized and transformed with modern production techniques to be more evocative and to feel closer to the soldiers’ actual experiences.

Watch the trailer here


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