SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: DOCUMENTARIES OFFER FRESH PERSPECTIVES ON DIVERSE LIVES / by chad walker

Korengal: The follow-up to the Oscar-nominated "Restrepo" is less about combat than the overall experience of soldiers living in an outpost in the reportedly "most dangerous place on Earth," the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan. It is a valuable reminder of exactly what we are asking our fighting men and women to do, to live through, when we send them to war. (now showing, 84 minutes; adult themes and language)

Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro Sr.: Yes, it's a labor of love by the artist's actor son. But for philistines such as this writer, it serves partly as primer on the vibrant postwar art scene in New York, and partly as reminder of the personal forces that drive creative people. It's a rich and deeply affectionate tribute. As a bonus, Philip Glasscontributes a gorgeous score, especially its haunting closing piece. (HBO; 40 minutes)

Underwater Dreams: Perhaps the liveliest and most life-affirming entry on this list is the story of the ragtag squad that entered a collegiate underwater robotics competition to compete against the likes of M.I.T. in 2004. The team was made up of high schoolers. From land-locked Arizona. From a largely impoverished community. And many were undocumented immigrants. The awards-worthy "Underwater Dreams" is by turns rousing and heartbreaking, and organically touches on important social issues as it examines the wide-ranging impact of that upstart team's efforts. (VOD, 86 minutes; free screenings available for schools and community groups starting July 19; screening and reception July 17 at Rocket Studios in San Francisco)

We Must Go: Soccer in the time of revolution: Egypt's national team struggles to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 24 years. Its new American coach, an aging but highly respected star, and rising young talent try to navigate social and political earthquakes and terrible tragedies. It sounds like a Disney movie, but it really happened. You don't have to be a futbol fan - this writer isn't - to find this stuff fascinating. (VOD, 94 minutes; contains intense news footage)

Whitey: A CNN piece, with all the resources that entails, about one of the notorious mobsters in American history - James "Whitey" Bulger. The ultimate verdict in Bulger's trial is secondary to questions as to whether the FBI was complicit in his decades-long reign of terror - either due to corruption, an overzealous informant program, or both. (VOD, 107 minutes) {sbox}