Update 4/3/2015: 3… 2… 1… Game over! And Errol Morris’s Interrotron camera beats Arthur Agee’s uniform 51–49. What a game. Agee, the unforgettable subject from Steve James’s Hoop Dreams, was in the lead for much of the game but Morris’s camera, which has pried into the souls of war criminals big and small, tabloid fodder and other odd examples of humanity, took the lead and defended a late charge by Agee to hold on to the first ever March of the Docs Madness crown. You wouldn’t think that one of Long Island, New York’s own could withstand the ball handling skills of Chicago, but that’s why we call it “madness.”

What does it all mean? Not much other than that clearly there are a lot of doc fans out there who like to have fun with the form. Thanks to everyone who voted and took part. This year, it was a brilliant stylist who overcame a modern classic verite subject. Next year, let’s see if Morris can keep his title. I’m thinking Agee will come back hitting 3’s with a vengeance.


Voting begins: Monday March 30
Voting ends: Wednesday April 1 at midnight ET

We’ve made it to the final, in which Arthur Agee’s uniform (from masterpiece Hoop Dreams) will be battling it out with Errol Morris’s truly inspired Interrotron camera. Could it have turned out any other way? It’s doc subject versus doc camera! It’s two members of the old-new guard (Steve James and Morris) locking horns! It’s verite versus doc-nerd style! It’s March of the Docs Madness!

marchofthedocs2015-03-errol-morris-interrotronSteve James' Hoop Dreams sold 140,000 units at the video store, a record-breaker for documentaries.

Errol Morris’s Interrotron (51%) vs. Arthur Agee’s Uniform (49%)

Final 4

Voting begins: Thursday March 26
Voting ends: Sunday March 29 at midnight ET


Errol Morris’s Interrotron (54%) vs. Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” Signs (46%)

Steve James' Hoop Dreams sold 140,000 units at the video store, a record-breaker for documentaries.marchofthedocs2015-31-man-on-wire

Arthur Agee’s Uniform (84%) (56%) vs. Philippe Petit’s Cross-Tower High-Wire (44%)

Elite 8

Voting begins: Monday March 23
Voting ends: Wednesday March 25 at midnight ET


Errol Morris’s Interrotron (56%) vs. The Ken Burns Effect (44%)


Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” Signs (58%) vs. Nanook’s Spear (42%)

marchofthedocs2015-19-jiro-dreams-of-sushiSteve James' Hoop Dreams sold 140,000 units at the video store, a record-breaker for documentaries.

Jiro Ono’s Sushi (27%) vs. Arthur Agee’s Uniform (73%)


Emperor Penguins (23%) vs. Philippe Petit’s Cross-Tower High-Wire (77%)

Sweet 16

Voting begins: Thursday March 19
Voting ends: Sunday March 22 at midnight ET

In the first round, there was some major thumping. Who knew the car from Hands on a Hard Body would stall so badly with doc audiences? Or maybe it’s just that Man on Wire is so strong. The tightest race by far was between narrow winner kid-from-Spellbound over Donkey Kong. The biggest surprise: Jiro Ono’s sushi over the Food, Inc. cow. In this Sweet 16 round, all eyes are on Albert Maysles glasses in a tough match up with Errol Morris’s Interrotron camera. Now, vote!


Albert Maysles’s Glasses (49%) vs. Errol Morris’s Interrotron (51%)


The Ken Burns Effect (62%) vs. Banksy’s Gorilla Head (38%)


Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” Signs (53%) vs. Little Edie (47%)


Nanook’s Spear (54%) vs. The Chauvet Cave Paintings (46%)


Werner Herzog’s Shoe (32%) vs. Jiro Ono’s Sushi (68%)

marchofthedocs2015-22-cinema-eye-honors-awardSteve James' Hoop Dreams sold 140,000 units at the video store, a record-breaker for documentaries.

The Cinema Eye Honors Award (16%) vs. Arthur Agee’s Uniform (84%)


Emperor Penguins (57%) vs. The Kid Spellers (43%)


The Art of Robert Crumb (36%) vs. Philippe Petit’s Cross-Tower High-Wire (64%)

Round of 32

Voting begins: Sunday March 15
Voting ends: Sunday March 18 at midnight ET

What does a chest-beating, commercialized college basketball tournament have to do with documentary filmmaking? Not much, right?

Well, wait, not so fast. If you can cut through the tired machismo and Buffalo Wild Wings ads, the big NCAA contest is all about thrilling, climactic finishes, underdog heroes, stirring storylines, heart-breaking losses and unbelievable performances. It’s about putting it all out there. And it’s about passionate fans.

I might as well be talking about documentary filmmaking. And while colleges with great basketball traditions have inspiring, famous mascots, the doc world has its own. Both have iconic moments that can be replayed ad nauseam. Both have legends and crowd-favorites.

With all of this in mind, I present to you the March of the Docs Madness tournament. We invite you to vote for the doc icons that you believe should move on to the next level. Your vote is not a prediction — it will really be counted as we see which symbols make it to the finals, which will happen concurrently with NCAA tournament.

In this first round of our contest, we have documentary titans (Michael Moore, Al Maysles) squaring off and some upstarts (Josh Fox) slamming the boards with legends (Werner Herzog). Who wins? You decide.


Michael Moore’s Baseball Cap (29%) vs. Albert Maysles’s Glasses (71%)


Errol Morris’s Interrotron (66%) vs. Robert Drew’s 16mm Auricon Camera (34%)


The “Kid Stays In The Picture” Effect (39%) vs. The Ken Burns Effect (61%)


Super-Sized McDonald’s Meal (44%) vs. Banksy’s Gorilla Head (56%)


David Byrne’s Big Suit (37%) vs. Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” Signs (63%)


Willi Ninja Voguing (38%) vs. Little Edie (62%)


Helvetica Font (40%) vs. Nanook’s Spear (60%)


The Chauvet Cave Paintings (64%) vs. Henry Darger’s 15,145-page “In the Realms of the Unreal” (36%)


Werner Herzog’s Shoe (61%) vs. Josh Fox’s Banjo (39%)


Jiro Ono’s Sushi (52%) vs. Cow You’ll Never Look At The Same Way Again (48%)


The Parkas of the Sundance Film Festival (38%) vs. The Cinema Eye Honors Award (62%)

marchofthedocs2015-23-dogtown-and-zboysSteve James' Hoop Dreams sold 140,000 units at the video store, a record-breaker for documentaries.

Jeff Ho’s Skateboards (26%) vs. Arthur Agee’s Uniform (74%)


Emperor Penguins (73%) vs. Bugs Up Close (27%)


The Kid Spellers (51%) vs. Donkey Kong (49%)


Al Gore’s Keynote Presentation (32%) vs. The Art of Robert Crumb (68%)


Philippe Petit’s Cross-Tower High-Wire (79%) vs. A Brand New Nissan Hardbody Truck (21%)

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Published by

Tom Roston
Tom Roston is a guest columnist for POV's documentary blog. He is a former Premiere magazine senior editor, who graduated from Brown University and started his career in journalism at The Nation and then Vanity Fair. Tom's freelance work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, The Hollywood Reporter and other publications. He has written several Kindle Singles, including the bestselling Kindle Singles Interview: Ken Burns. Tom's current list of favorite documentaries are: 1. Koyanisqaatsi by Godfrey Reggio; 2. Hoop Dreams by Steve James; 3.Stories We Tell by Sarah Polley; 4.Crumb by Terry Zwigoff; 5. Montage of Heck by Brett Morgen