For Father’s Day: Documentarians Make Movies About Their Own Fathers

Nell Minow
2 min readJun 19

Once you’ve watched the feature films with the most memorable fathers, take a look at these documentaries from a small but impressive sub-genre, movies made by directors about their own real-life fathers, mostly famous, some contentious or sorrowful, all thoughtful and illuminating, reflecting one of what can be life’s most complicated and freighted relationships.

Tell Them Who You Are: Oscar-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler is profiled by his son, Mark. In one memorable scene, the elder Wexler tries to direct his son. It does not go well.

Five Wives, Three Secretaries, and Me Tessa Blake tells the story of her father and, as the title indicates, eight of the women in his life. By the way, those wives all get along together just fine.

Quincy: One of the most talented musicians and producers of the last half-century is profiled by his daughter, writer/actress Rashida Jones.

My Architect: the son of Louis Kahn explores his father’s legacy. Roger Ebert wrote, “The movie begins as the story of a son searching for his father, and ends as the story of the father searching for himself.”

The Man Nobody Knew: The life of CIA spymaster William Colby is explored by his son. He was controversial in life, revealing abuses by his agency including assassination plots, and his son’t suggestion here that his death was a suicide is still being debated.

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Nell Minow

Movie critic, corporate critic and shareholder advocate, Contributing Editor at @ebertvoices plus @moviemom, and #corpgov #movies and editor at @miniverpress