15 must-see documentaries this summer, including Val Kilmer, ‘Pray Away’ and ‘The Lost Leonardo’

Two titans of stage and screen are now the subjects of heart-rending new films.

“Batman Forever” actor Val Kilmer and legendary choreographer Alvin Ailey each get the documentary treatment this month in “Val” and “Ailey,” respectively.

“Val” (in theaters and streaming on Amazon Prime now) uses intimate behind-the-scenes video – most of which was shot by Kilmer – to trace the movie star’s four-decade career, endearing fans with performances in ’80s and ’90s classics including “Top Gun,” “Willow” and “Tombstone.” Co-directed by Leo Scott and Ting Poo, the doc also features emotional new interviews with Kilmer, 61, as he reflects on personal and professional highs and lows, and struggles to regain the full use of his voice following a two-year throat cancer battle.

‘You want it to hurt’:Val Kilmer, daughter Mercedes explain why their tearful ‘Paydirt’ scenes are so emotional


“Ailey” (in theaters now) is similarly poignant in its reflection on Ailey, who died in 1989 from AIDS-related complications at age 58. The doc revisits the wondrous choreography and activism of the Black gay trailblazer, painting a portrait of a man who was warm and unpretentious yet intensely private. Director Jamila Wignot intercuts the film with breathtaking rehearsal footage of Ailey’s dance company preparing for a 60th anniversary tribute to him in 2018.

“Val” and “Ailey” are two of the many real-life stories coming to the big and small screen this summer. From music to mysteries to a lonely whale, here are all the docs that should be on your radar:


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