What is it about documentaries that we all can't seem to get enough of? To save you from endless hours of scrolling, we have compiled a list of our top 10 to watch:
1. Searching For Sugar Man
Sixto Rodriguez’s journey to fame is truly remarkable - a forgotten 1970's singer-songwriter from Detroit with two relatively unsuccessful albums who had somehow, unbeknownst to him, become a major icon in South Africa at the time. The story that unfolds of these parallel universes is extraordinary.
2. Crip Camp
The film spans from a disability camp in the US in 1971, a welcome paradise for those that only knew marginalisation, to the influence this had on its attendants through the advent of the disability rights movement. Crip Camp strikes a balance from inciting anger to giving you that feel-good sensation, triumphing in delivering a piece that is educational, entertaining and uplifting.
It is a heart wrenching story that deals with the dark side of fame, rousing both anger and sadness that Amy’s downwards trajectory was so cruelly covered by the media, dressed up as entertainment. The catalogue of home footage spanning her life is what makes this documentary really stand out. You will be left wanting to re-listen to the British soul artist’s albums for days on end.
4. The Work
The Work chronicles an intensive four-day therapy session that brings together convicts and members of the public within the walls of a maximum-security prison in the US. It follows the raw introspective process through which the men come to redefine their understanding of masculinity and rehabilitation as they surrender to their emotions.
5. Grey Gardens
A cult documentary made in 1975 that became a prototype to reality TV, Grey Gardens follows an eccentric mother and daughter living in a reclusive fantasy world. The backdrop - a Hamptons mansion which like their socialite existence has fallen from glory. The women play to the camera, disparaging each other for their state of isolation, and leaving you to question what is real and what is performance.
6. Chasing Coral
Chasing Coral exhibits the alarming rate at which coral reefs are dying because of global warming. Beautifully filmed, it captures the transformation of the coral as it turns from rainbow splendour to white bleached forms. A must watch, the film offers a poignant insight to a beautiful underwater world that is sadly dying because of our activities.
7. For Sama
It would be hard to have missed the hype surrounding this critically acclaimed documentary about Syrian activist, director and film maker, Waad al-Kataeb’s, experience of living in Aleppo, a city under siege. Waad narrates the film as a letter to her daughter, Sama, to help her understand why she chose to remain in a war-torn city even after falling pregnant. It is a love and horror story in equal measures.
8. American Factory
American Factory is the story of an Ohio car plant bought by a Chinese company after its closure 6 years before. Emerging from the elation brought by an influx of employment is a chasm in work cultures. The new management, a reversal of typical power relations, tries to transfer its country’s values of high discipline, militarism and productivity to a US workforce rooted in unionist principles.
Through a trove of archival footage alongside commentary from activists, academics, and ex-convicts, this film explores why the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world and why a disproportionate number of these people are African Americans. An examination of how private corporations capitalise on mass incarceration points towards a racist criminal justice system as an arm for modern-slavery.
10. Dawn Wall
Dawn Wall tracks two climbers, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson's, seemingly impossible free ascent up a 3,000-foot rock face in Yosemite National park. Not just for climbing fanatics, the focus of the documentary is on Tommy’s story: the series of unfortunate life events that he encounters, his grapple with heartbreak, his obsession with the wall and his profound loyalty to Kevin. The documentary provokes an array of emotions but at its core is an uplifting story of hope and perseverance with a beautiful backdrop.