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The best documentaries of 2010

Documentaries became a box office factor with the rise of such films as "Hoop Dreams" and "Roger & Me." Before then, there were hit music documentaries like "Woodstock" but most other nonfiction films could expect short runs in few theaters before dutiful audiences. What a small but growing minority of Friday night moviegoers is beginning to discover is that there's a good chance the movie they might enjoy most at the multiplex is a doc.

In alphabetical order, these were the best documentaries I saw in 2010:

Ebert Club

#7 April 21, 2010

A gift from Hawaii for Club members!

From the Big Kahuna: One of our dear friends for more than 25 years has been Jeannette Hereniko, the founder and for many years director of the Hawaii International Film Festival. Jeannette is a key figure in the world of Asia-Pacific Films in general, and several years ago began the smashingly successful  As you can see at the link, she offers a treasure trove of streaming films from all over the region--and as she defines it, it's a very large region indeed.

Jeannette (above) is a member of the Club, and writes: "An idea: Would you like to offer your members one free month of streaming movies on It can save them $8.99 for one month and they can cancel at any time. We can figure out a coupon code for the members to enter that allows them free access for a month. If you like this idea, I'll set the coupon up to start working to coincide with the day you announce it. Anytime after your Festival."

Yes, I like it. This is typical of Jeannette, who was instrumental in my discovery that the Aloha Spirit was something very real, and not a tourist slogan. We'll have a follow-up.

Ebert Club

#3: March 24, 2010

I AM SO PROUD that eight of the Far-Flung Correspondents will be attending Ebertfest 2010, and so sincerely moved that they're providing their own tickets! A shout-out to Ali Arikan, Seoungyong Cho, Weal Khairy, Michael Mirasol, Omar Moore, Omer Mozzafar, Gerardo Valero, and Grace Wang. Only Robert Tan, who has been under the weather, will be missing. They're all bloggers, and will be on a panel Friday morning about the Global Web of Filmlovers.

Roger Ebert

Vincent P. Falk and His Amazing Technicolor Dream Coats

You might never have heard of Vincent P. Falk, but if you've been a visitor to Chicago you may well have seen him. He has performed for the patrons on every single tour boat cruising the Chicago River. And he is known to every viewer of the NBC/5 morning news, and the ABC/7 afternoon news. He's the smiling middle-aged man with a limitless variety of spectacular suits. He stands on the Michigan or State street bridges, showing off his latest stupefying suit. He flashes the flamboyant lining, takes it off, spins it in great circles above his head, and then does his "spin move," pivoting first left, then right, while whirling the coat in the air. Then he puts it on again and waves to the tourists on the boat, by now passing under the bridge, always wearing a suit for the occasion: Shimmering black for Kwanzaa, red for Christmas, neon green for St. Patrick's Day so blinding Mayor Daley wouldn't have the nerve to wear it.

For ABC/7, he stands outside the big windows of the news studio, which open onto State Street. You can't miss him. For NBC/5, he's worked his way up to regular Friday morning appearances. The station's news studio overlooks Pioneer Court Plaza, and when the anchors go outside to chat with people, there's Vincent. He's agreed to appear exclusively on the Channel 5 early news, where I have never seen him, because his usual spin on Fridays is just before the 6 a.m. sign-on of the Today show.