In case you haven’t been able to tell from my preference in book genres, I really enjoy reading and watching non-fiction things. Non-fiction books often lean on the drier side when it comes to engaging content, but it’s not always the case for documentaries. Over the years, I have discovered many informative and captivating documentaries, many of which are readily available to be viewed on the Internet. For each of the documentaries I have recommended, I have also included where on the Internet it can be found for your viewing pleasure. Are you a fan of documentaries? What is your favorite?
Before the Flood
YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play
This documentary was made by Leonardo DiCaprio in collaboration with National Geographic. Like other climate change-focused documentaries, this film takes a look at the terrible acceleration of climate change that has been caused by humans. Where this film differs from other documentaries is that while depressing, this film gives concrete recommendations of how we can each make changes in our lives to make a positive impact – recommendations I hadn’t heard before. The imagery from this documentary was so beautiful and powerful that I couldn’t tear my eyes from the screen. You may be able to catch a replay of this film on National Geographic, otherwise it costs $3 to stream from the sources I’ve listed above. It is an incredibly compelling film that is well worth the few dollars.
What the Health
Since watching Before the Flood in the spring, I have made a conscious effort to be more mindful when it comes to my food. As you know, I’m a food lover and appreciater and am always available to learn something new, particularly if it’s about food. That’s what led me to this documentary on Netflix. This PBS documentary talks broadly about how the American diet is filled with manufactured sugars and fats that have led to the obesity epidemic. One aspect that this documentary focused on was meat consumption. As someone who lives with a picky vegetarian and cooks every day, if I eat meat I’m typically out of the house. That being said, years ago I was a vegetarian for 6 months and this film made me go back to that mental space. This documentary wasn’t unnecessarily disgusting or graphic – it presented arguments objectively, which was refreshing for this topic. If you’re looking for more information on the American food system, this is a great documentary to have under your belt.
The Sixties and The Seventies
Anytime these two decades come up in conversation, even if I’m talking about music or clothes, I bring up these docuseries. CNN has created a docuseries that examines important themes and social issues/change that occurred during their respective decades. These are not the only two decades covered in this docuseries, these are the two decades I’ve watched so far (The Eighties is also on Netflix currently). If you are an American history fanatic and/or love learning about the beginning of the Cold War era, I cannot recommend these two seasons enough. Both are on Netflix and if you’re lucky, you can catch reruns of episodes from this docuseries on CNN.
Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Video, iTunes, Google Play
When this documentary was initially released on Netflix, it caused quite the controversy. In the years since then, my understanding is that SeaWorld has taken great steps to remedy the issues highlighted in the film. If you haven’t heard of this documentary or the fallout from its release, this film follows the orca Tilikum who lived at SeaWorld and examines the treatment of orcas in captivity. I would like to stress that since the release of this film, SeaWorld has taken steps to end its orca-captivity program and improve the living conditions of its other animals. So how is this film relevant now? I’m glad you asked! This film made me pause, think about the living conditions of animals at zoos and become more supportive of sanctuaries, zoos and rehabilitation facilities that
Exit Through The Gift Shop
Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes
If you’re a fan of street art and murals, this is the documentary for you. Directed by the renowned street artist Banksy, this documentary follows one immigrant street artist on his journey in Los Angeles. What I find so captivating are the vivid and incredibly powerful street art installations that are displayed throughout the film. Banksy is known for making strong social statements through some of his art and that ability to engage viewers comes through in the documentary.
Netflix, YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play
I watched this documentary for my Writing Across Media class about a year ago and it was one of the most well-told stories I have ever watched. This films follows a particularly passionate sect of Evangelical Christians and focuses primarily on how the children in this sect behave and why – it was so interesting. The story progresses in a way that is very natural and, once it’s over, can lead to some incredibly thought-provoking discussions. If you find yourself in a mood where you want to watch something different, I recommend to give this film a play.
(More on the blog: Perfect Movies for a Date Night at Home)
On my list to watch:
This newly released Netflix documentary examines the prison and criminal justice systems as means of perpetuating socio-econominc disparities between white and minority men. Given the title ‘The 13th,’ this film discusses how racial inequality between minorities and whites were not eliminated by any stretch of the imagination when the 13th Amendment abolished slavery. Rather this documentary shows how racial inequality has become embedded in the structure of American society, particularly in prison.
Netflix, YouTube, Cowspiracy.com
In short, this documentary examines the specific role that cattle have had on the acceleration of climate change. I didn’t realize that Leonardo DiCaprio was an executive producer of this film – surprise! As I wrote earlier, I’m always interested in learning about food-related topics especially when the impact of our food choices on the planet is discussed.
Netflix, YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play
I’m going to share with you the synopsis from the movie’s website that makes me want to watch it:
“Everything we’ve been told about food and exercise for the past 30 years is dead wrong. FED UP is the film the food industry doesn’t want you to see. From Katie Couric, Laurie David (Oscar winning producer of AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH) and director Stephanie Soechtig, FED UP will change the way you eat forever. The film opens in theaters across the country on May 9th.”
Pretty convincing, no?
The Inexplicable Universe with Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Neil DeGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist who has written several books and has made an array of public/televised appearances in the last few years. In short, he’s a wildly brilliant guy who knows how to simplify really complicated concepts about physics and the universe for non-scientists. I’m itching to read his newest book Astrophysics for People in a Hurry and think that this docuseries may supplement my astrophysics education (which until this point has been non-existant).
Somm: Into the Bottle
Netflix, Amazon Video, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play
This documentary discusses the history, politics and intricacies of wine as told by sommeliers as they open ten bottles of wine. I love wine and I love learning – how bad could this be?
Do you enjoy watching documentaries? What is next on your list?