Liz Garbus, a longtime documentarian and director of the Netflix feature 'Lost Girls,' shares her picks.
It won the Oscar a couple of years ago for Best Documentary Feature. Full disclosure: It happens to be produced by my husband, another Academy member. You could not imagine a better character than Grigory Rodchenkov, the Russian scientist who ultimately blows the whistle on the Russian doping scandal. He's filled with literary allusions and adaptations and he's crass but high brow at the same time. He was extremely courageous and had a sense of humor about it all the time. But he blew the whistle against Putin, which has got to be a really scary journey and I think it would be ripe for an adaptation.
This doc was so brilliant, but too short, so I'd love to see someone build it out with these characters. Directed by Martin Scorsese, it’s a short doc about his family. The meatball recipe that his mother gives is one of the great documentary filmmaking scenes and we just need it to be 90 minutes long and they need to play themselves. So maybe it's still a documentary, but whatever it is, we need more.
It’s one of those stories that, if you wrote it in a script, you would not believe it. There are so many twists and turns. The characters have such great arc, senses of humor, senses of darkness. Of course, so many things happen that you would never expect. So it would make an amazing scripted film as well as an amazing documentary.
That is a show that I still lie awake at night trying to figure out what the hell happened. The Staircase tells the story of a doctor in North Carolina whose wife mysteriously falls down the stairs to her death one night. And these filmmakers embed with him. He says he's innocent. Nobody can imagine a reason he would have for killing his wife. It unfolds over the course of six or eight episodes where, as they’re peeling back the layer of the onion, you get to learn more about him, and then by the end you're really doubting whether he's innocent or not. It was an incredible story that would be a fantastic role for an actor and we would just love to see.
Citizenfour is a powerful wake-up call for transparency in government and the need for greater whistleblower protections. A chilling and enthralling narrative about the real stakes of defending democratic principles.