The Mitchell documentary is well done; the Lee documentary is a work of art. The Mitchell film follows the life of the author. It describes her childhood, looks at her marriages, her work in journalism, her periods of depression, and the writing of her book. It talks about the motion picture with plenty of clips of Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, and goes on to detail her life after the hoopla had died down. It describes her activity during the war years and her contributions for medical students at Morehouse University. It is a creditable portrait of the woman and her work.
The Lee documentary is an impassioned expression of admiration for an emotionally charged life changing novel. What there is of the author's life, and there isn't all that much, is all related in some way to the contents of the novel. Award winning filmmaker Mary McDonagh Murphy, author of Scout, Atticus & Boo: A Celebration of To Kill a Mockingbird, has done masterful job of melding biography and fiction. She points out the origins of many of the characters and describes locations used in the novel. Certainly, she pays attention to Lee's life in New York, to the interest she took in the film, her friendship with Truman Capote and their estrangement, but the emphasis is always on the book. Indeed the way she weaves together readings from the novel with lines from the film is a very effective indication of the close relationship between Horton Foote's script and Lee's original dialogue. In many respects it is a love song to the book.
These are two excellent documentaries, both well worth your attention. It is merely that the one pales in the presence of the other. Watch them both to be sure, but if you only have time for one, you don't want to miss Harper Lee: Hey, Boo.