I freakin’ love documentaries. I love watching a long film on a topic i’m interested in that will open my mind and force me to think about things differently – or sometimes prove i’ve been right all along.
I tend to watch things on business, politics, technology, investing, anything serial killer-related or conspiracy theory-esque. I’m also really into sharks but (and i’m so sorry Netflix), Animal Planet is a better source for shark docs.
The following is a list of documentaries that have blown my mind and in some cases fundamentally changed the way I think. I’ve had Netflix for several years now, most of which I was a student for, so I have seen a lot of documentaries. It was tough to narrow it down.
- Zeitgeist: The Movie
Holy fucking balls this film. I’m not sure where to begin. It covers religion, 9/11, and social order, and by that I mean keeping the rich, rich and the poor, poor. It even suggests a way in which a new, fairer society could form.
I watched this around two years ago in my bed during my third year at Uni. I was hungover but in a state of restlessness and I wanted to learn something new. I can’t remember why I selected this film, but afterwards I remember dragging myself from my bed and going into my housemates’ bedroom to have a long chat about the world and whether anything was as it seems. It was intense.
At the end of the day, it’s likely a lot of conspiracy. But it’s thought provoking none the less. Oh, and you’ll be forever left wondering whether jet fuel can melt steel beams, trust me.
2. What the Health
Ah, the documentary that turned me vegan. I’ve written about What the Health previously when I wrote a blog on why I was going vegan, so I won’t overdo it here. It’s more on the health benefits and less about the effects on the planet and animals, so it’s great for converting selfish people like me to the cause.
Netflix has a bunch of great documentaries on veganism; Cowspiracy, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, Fed Up and Food Matters, to name a few. Not only do you get an insight into why going vegan is such a wonderful choice for you and the planet, but you realise how messed up the meat and dairy industries are, and how powerful groups are able to command such influence on the government. It’ll leave you wondering whether your government really has your interests at heart.
3. Bowling for Columbine
There’s no way Michael Moore’s oscar-winning masterpiece couldn’t make the list. Admittedly it has been many years since i’ve seen this one, but I still remember being nothing short of gobsmacked throughout.
The documentary explores America’s insane obsession with guns. Did you know you could get a gun free when you open a bank account? Or that there’s a town in America where there’s an actual law that states you must own a gun? Whether you love or loathe guns, this is worth a watch.
4. The Internet’s Own Boy
The heartbreaking tale of Aaron Swartz, a co-founder of Reddit and political ‘hacktivist’. Swartz was a fantastically brilliant bloke, a prodigy who believed in access to education for all. He downloaded thousands of files from journal-hosting site JSTOR with the intent to distribute among those who didn’t have access to world class education. Unfortunately he was caught red-handed, and so the documentary recounts the trial and punishment of Aaron Swartz.
Like most documentaries on this list, it will make you furious. I could barely believe what I was seeing, and the ending utterly broke my heart. It’s a documentary perfect for anybody interested in technology, the US justice system and political activism. Watch with a box of tissues.
5. Amanda Knox
This one is a little different to any other on the list. The documentary tells the tale of Amanda Knox’s murder trial. In short, she was a student studying abroad for a year when a murder took place in her flat. She claims she didn’t do it, the Italian police are convinced she did. It’s a real ‘who dunnit’.
Various people connected to the trial are interviewed throughout, including Amanda herself and a reporter from the Daily Mail, who manages to give all journalists a terrible name in just a few short interviews. There’s clear undertones of sexism and blatantly poor police work. I actually watched this with my old housemates and we talked about it for a solid hour after the film had finished. If you like murder, you’ll love this.