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10 Bizarre True Stories that Became Documentaries

bizarre documentaries

When it comes to spreading a word of awareness or introducing a piece of insightfulness, traditional movies don’t stand a chance against documentaries. Edited films have the unbeatable capacity of catalyzing the dramatic essence of the story, but documentaries present the plots in their purest form. Some documentaries have opportunistically collected weird true stories that are worth having a look at. Here is the list of 10 such bizarre true stories that became documentaries 

1. The Dying Rooms

This 1995 television documentary is about the Chinese state orphanages where babies and children, especially the disabled and girls, were just left to die of thirst and starvation. The cold-blooded murders were not even considered crimes since it was only illegal to kill a child directly and not through neglect.

The Dying Rooms
Image credit: Lauderdale Production

The film stars a baby girl named Mei Ming who was abandoned in one of the Chinese orphanages without anything to eat. In the film, a police officer accidentally finds Mei and takes her to an orphanage in the state social welfare system. The communist welfare system then selects Mei for death along with other such castoff children, mostly girls. 

The theme of the film perfectly captures the innocent gaze of Mei who starves to death after four days. The Dying Rooms is a 38-minute film and is a collective product of Ms. Blewett and Brian Woods.

The revised version of the documentary suggests that more than a thousand poor kids like Mei Ming were dispassionately killed between 1986 and 1992. In China, this inhuman practice of murdering unwanted children is termed as “summary resolution.”

It was estimated that there were 67 such state-run orphanages primarily dedicated to mass-murdering innocent kids. (Source)

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2. My Kid Could Paint That

The story starts with patrons showing interest in anonymous abstract paintings hanging on a coffee shop in Binghamton, New York. The artist turned out to be a four-year-old, Marla Olmstead. Soon she became a media hot topic, and her paintings were auctioned off for over $6,000 each. However, the story became controversial when critics claimed the paintings weren’t made without her parent’s guidance.

Marla Olmstead
Image credit: Passion Pictures

Marla was apparently a highly creative and artistic child prodigy, and people were buying her artwork at the coffee shop. The worth of her paintings grew exponentially, up to five figures when media propagated the story.

The reality was deviated from what was shown in the media. The paintings were a scam; Marla’s father, Mark, an amateur artist guided and coached Marla to paint what she did.

The scandal came to the surface when Mark, Marla, and Marla’s mother, Laura were invited to a television interview where they were heavily accused of fraud. Olmsteads’ enthusiasm could be noticed dropping remarkably when interviewers busted their swindle.

Bar-Lev, the director of the documentary was also on the critical side, so he asked Mark and Laura uncomfortable yet truth-revealing questions.

The Olmsteads failed terribly at their single attempt to rescue their lost glorifying reputation. They created a DVD of Marla painting one of her paintings, Ocean, but a family friend present at the scene makes a case about how to distinguish between childish Ocean and other profound paintings. (Source)

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3. Grizzly Man

The documentary is about a Grizzly enthusiast, Timothy Treadwell, and his girlfriend’s 13-summer-long living experience among the grizzly bears in Alaska’s Katmai National Park. The film horrifyingly documents the audio captured in Treadwell’s camera of an adult bear entering into his camp and brutally killing both Treadwell and his girlfriend in 2003.

Grizzly Bear
Image is used for representational purposes only. Image credit: Shutterstock

Former heroin addict, 46-year-old Treadwell, found peace in spending his life among grizzlies in Alaska. The wildlife became his home He petted some of the bears; they were not less than friends to him. He even gave names to some.

Everything was great until one stormy October evening when an adult grizzly came into Treadwell’s camp and tore apart his body before Amie Huguenard, his girlfriend. Of course, even Amie was not spared after that.

Multiple recordings of Treadwell and Amie’s interaction with bears were found in their camera including their final six bloody moments of life. The chilling audio is the final conversation between the victim couple and the way they were screaming and moaning for their lives.

Based on this ferocious attack, Grizzly Man became an award-winning documentary by Werner Herzog. (Source)

4. Three Identical Strangers

The story describes how the identical triplets, Bobby Shafran, Eddy Galland, and David Kellman who were separated at birth, unexpectedly and coincidently meet at 19 years of age. Each one of them was adopted by a different family, yet Bobby comes across Eddy at a university campus, and David immediately contacted them as soon as he saw their photo in a local newspaper.

Three Identical Strangers
Bobby Shafran(left), David Kellman and Eddy Galland were separated at birth. Image credit: CNN Films

It was Bobby’s first day at his university in 1980 when he was greeted by unfamiliar students as “Eddy.” This made Bobby pretty sure that there was a lookalike on the same campus. Bobby gets to meet Eddy this way, and in no time they were contacted by David whose adoptive mother saw Bobby’s and Eddy’s photo in the local newspaper.

After loads of investigations, the triplets learned about their point of separation which was a luxurious New York City adoption agency called Louise Wise Services.

The documentary is not just a plain story about the triplet’s destiny. Tim Wardle takes it to a next level by introducing the debatable and non-settling question of nature versus nurture.

The triplets were indeed grateful to come across each other. In the documentary, the early moments of their get-together brilliantly portray the diligent amount of excitement, and the commonalities among the three were astounding. The real thought-provoking twists in the story come when things start to go sour in the relationship of the identical brothers. (Source)

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5. Crazy Love

The film is a chaotic love tale between Burt Pugach and Linda Riss. Their relationship started in 1959; it was love at first sight. The couple was crazy for each other until Riss discovered Pugach was already married and had children, so she called it off. Vengeful Pugach tipped three assailants to splash lye on Riss’ face, permanently disfiguring it and almost blinding her. Pugach served 14 years in prison, but the couple enjoyed 40 years of married life after Pugach’s release.

Crazy Love
Linda Riss and Burt Pugach. Image credits: Magnolia Pictures/Shoot The Moon Productions.

Riss, who was 10 years younger than Pugach, declared her engagement to another man as soon as she discovered Pugach was already married.

Naïve Riss was expecting an engagement present when she was attacked by Pugach’s men at her door. Pugach was sentenced to 30 years for his crime but was released in the early 1970s.

After the release, Pugach mentioned that he was in love with Riss for all his time in jail. He even kept in touch with her through letters.

Pugach was barred from meeting Riss, so he just proposed to her on a TV interview, which weirdly worked.

When asked publicly, Riss bluntly replied that Pugach was now a changed man and they did a remarkable job in jail with him.

The man behind the directory of the documentary is Dan Klores. (Source)

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