We all love a good documentary. The best documentaries are those that have an engaging narrative and keep you wanting more.

The best documentary movies are the ones that will make you feel as if you were there, witnessing the event first hand.

Documentaries are an excellent source of information and can be a great way to learn about new topics.

If you’re looking for a new documentary to watch or want some recommendations on what’s worth your time and money, we’ve got you covered.

We’ll be covering some of the best documentaries ever made in this post, with links to where you can find them online.

From food documentaries to historic films, this list has something for everyone!

Best Documentaries – The List

Whether you’re looking to buy these movies, or add to your Netflix cue, we have an incredible list of films here that will provide you hours upon hours of entertainment and interesting stories.

Let’s start out the list of the best documentaries with a classic that many consider the greatest documentary film of all time.

Hoop Dreams (1994)

Hoop Dreams is a powerful and deeply moving documentary that follows the lives of two African-American high school students, William Gates and Arthur Agee, as they pursue their dreams of becoming professional basketball players.

Director Steve James spent five years filming the boys and their families, capturing the struggles and triumphs of their journey with incredible intimacy and honesty.

At its heart, Hoop Dreams is a film about the American dream and the challenges that come with chasing it. Gates and Agee’s families are from impoverished neighborhoods in Chicago, and basketball offers them a way out.

But as they navigate the pressures of the sport, including injuries, academic struggles, and the politics of high school basketball, they also confront the systemic barriers that prevent many young people of color from achieving success.

The film is both heartbreaking and inspiring, showcasing the resilience and determination of its subjects as they push through adversity to pursue their dreams. It also raises important questions about race, class, and the role of sports in American society.

Hoop Dreams is a must-see for anyone interested in sports, social justice, or the human experience.

It is a true masterpiece of documentary filmmaking, capturing the essence of its subjects with sensitivity and depth. Highly recommended.


Hoop Dreams [Blu-ray]
  • William Gates, Arthur Agee, Emma Gates (Actors)
  • Steve James (Director)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

Night and Fog (1955)

Night and Fog is a haunting and deeply affecting documentary about the Holocaust, directed by Alain Resnais.

The film takes the viewer on a journey through the abandoned concentration camps and the horrific aftermath of the genocide.


Resnais uses a combination of haunting footage of the camps, both past and present, along with powerful narration to create an emotional impact that is truly unforgettable.

The film is a stark reminder of the atrocities committed during the Holocaust and the importance of never forgetting them.

What sets Night and Fog apart is the way Resnais manages to convey the sheer horror and devastation of the Holocaust without resorting to graphic imagery or sensationalism.

Instead, he allows the images and the stories of the survivors to speak for themselves, creating a powerful and thought-provoking film that will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.


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Gimme Shelter (1970)

Gimme Shelter is a gripping and powerful documentary that captures the essence of the counterculture movement of the late 1960s.

Directed by the legendary filmmaking duo, Albert and David Maysles, along with Charlotte Zwerin, the film chronicles the Rolling Stones’ 1969 US tour, culminating in their infamous Altamont Speedway concert.

What makes Gimme Shelter so remarkable is the way it captures the tumultuous and unpredictable nature of the times.

The filmmakers were in the right place at the right time, capturing not only the Stones’ performances but also the growing sense of tension and violence that would ultimately erupt in tragedy at Altamont.

The film is a masterclass in documentary filmmaking, as the Maysles and Zwerin seamlessly blend concert footage with intimate moments featuring the band and their fans. The result is a film that not only captures the music of the era but also the spirit of a generation.

It’s a powerful and unforgettable film that captures a moment in time that will never be forgotten.


The Rolling Stones: Gimme Shelter (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Mick Taylor (Actors)
  • Albert Maysles (Director)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

Salaam Cinema (1995)

Salaam Cinema is a mesmerizing and thought-provoking documentary that takes a behind-the-scenes look at the casting process for a film project in Iran.

Directed by acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, the film captures the raw emotions, hopes, and dreams of over 5,000 aspiring actors who audition for the chance to star in a feature film.

Throughout the film, Makhmalbaf challenges the traditional notions of filmmaking and explores the power dynamics that exist between the director and the actors.


The interviews with the participants are candid, revealing, and often humorous, highlighting the complexities of the casting process and the challenges of being an actor in Iran.

The film is beautifully shot, with stunning cinematography that captures the vibrant energy of Tehran and the diversity of its people. The use of music and sound is also notable, adding depth and emotion to the already powerful subject matter.


Salaam Cinema
  • Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Director)



What Are Documentaries?

A documentary is a nonfiction film that usually focuses on an event, person, or topic. They can also be about the process of filmmaking itself.

The word ‘documentary’ derives from the Latin documentum, meaning “the production of evidence”.

The term originally applied to any work with this purpose; it was only in 1894 that it came to refer exclusively to films that depict actual events.

To reach mass audiences, most documentaries use either a narrative format or an observational one (usually without commentary). Some people prefer these formats because they tend to provide more information than just showing footage.



Close Up (1990)

Close Up is a masterpiece of Iranian cinema that blurs the line between fiction and reality.

The film tells the story of a man who impersonates a famous Iranian filmmaker and ingratiates himself into the lives of a middle-class family, all the while claiming to be making a film about their lives.

What sets Close Up apart from other films is its unique blend of documentary and fiction elements.

Kiarostami cleverly uses-life events and people, including the family who is the subject of the film, to create a sense of authenticity that is both captivating and thought-provoking.

At the same time, the film also plays with the idea of performance the role that cinema plays in shaping our understanding of reality.

The acting in Close Up is superb, with the real-life participants playing themselves with a naturalness that is rarely seen on screen. The film also boasts stunning cinematography that captures the beauty of Iran’s urban and rural landscapes.


Close-Up (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Hossein Sabzian, Hossain Sabzian, Abolfazl Ahankhah (Actors)
  • Abbas Kiarostami (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)

Gates of Heaven (1978)

Gates of Heaven, a 1978 documentary film directed by Errol Morris, is a mesmerizing exploration of the human relationship with pets and death.

The film takes a deep dive into the world of pet cemeteries and the emotional connections that people share with their animal companions.

Morris effortlessly captures the beauty and absurdity of the pet funeral industry through his signature style of interviewing, which involves letting the subjects speak their minds freely without any interruptions or commentary.

The result is a collection poignant and hilarious anecdotes that reveal the depth of love and grief that we experience when we lose a beloved pet.

The film’s pacing is slow and deliberate, allowing the audience to fully immerse themselves in the unique world pet cemeteries.

The cinematography is stunning, with Morris expertly framing the landscapes and capturing the nuances of his subjects’ facial expressions.

Gates of Heaven is a timeless masterpiece that explores themes of life, death, love, and loss through the lens of our relationship with animals.


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The Hour of the Furnaces (1968)

“The Hour of the Furnaces” is a powerful and thought-provoking documentary that delves deep into Argentina’s tumultuous political history.

The film is divided into three parts, each examining a different aspect of the country’s struggle for social and political justice.

From the exploitation of indigenous people to the rise of labor movements and the 1966 military coup, the film offers a comprehensive and unflinching look at the injustices that have plagued Argentina.

The use of archival footage and interviews with key figures in the resistance movement give the film a sense of immediacy and urgency.

The director, Octavio Getino, and his co-writer Fernando Solanas, clearly have a deep understanding of the political and social issues at play, and their passion comes through in every frame.


Streetwise (1984)

“Streetwise” is a powerful and heartbreaking documentary that gives a raw and unflinching look into the lives of homeless teenagers in Seattle.

The film follows several young people as they navigate the streets, struggling to survive and find a sense of belonging in a world that has left them behind.

Director Martin Bell captures the desperation and resilience of these teens with stunning cinematography and a haunting soundtrack.

The interviews with the young people and their families provide a glimpse into the complex and often tragic circumstances that led them to the streets.

Despite the harsh realities depicted in “Streetwise,” there are moments of hope and humanity that shine through.

The film leaves a lasting impact and serves as a reminder of the ongoing issues of homelessness and poverty in our society.


Streetwise / Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell (The Criterion Collection) [DVD]
  • Ewayne, D., Blackwell, Erin, Im, K. (Actors)
  • Bell, Martin (Director)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

The Five Obstructions (2003)

The Five Obstructions is a mesmerizing experimental film that challenges both the filmmaker and the viewer.

The film follows Leth as he is tasked by von Trier to remake his own 1967 short film The Perfect Human five times, with specific “obstructions” to overcome in each version.

The result is a fascinating exploration of the creative process, as Leth must constantly adapt and find new ways to tell the same story.

The obstructions range from using animation to shooting in the most miserable place on Earth, adding a cameo by a famous actor, and even making a film with no shot lasting longer than 12 frames.

The film is both playful and profound, as the constraints force Leth to examine his own artistry and von Trier’s critiques challenge the idea of artistic perfection.


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The Gleaners and I (2000)

The Gleaners and I is a beautifully introspective documentary that explores the world of gleaning in France, revealing the often-overlooked practice of gathering leftover crops and discarded goods for survival.

Filmmaker Agnes Varda takes us on a journey through the eyes of the gleaners, capturing their struggles, their ingenuity, and their humanity with a poetic and empathetic lens.

Varda’s use of handheld cameras adds an intimate touch to the film, as though we are right there with her, experiencing the joys and hardships of gleaning first-hand.

The film also delves deeper into the idea of gleaning beyond mere physical sustenance, exploring the ways in which we all glean from the world around us, whether it be art, culture, or memories.

The Gleaners and I is a film that lingers long after the credits roll, leaving the viewer with a newfound appreciation for the beauty in the overlooked and a sense of connection to the world and those who inhabit it.

A must-watch for anyone who seeks to understand the human experience in all its complexities.


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Up (series starting 1964)

Seven Up! is a captivating documentary that offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of a diverse group of British children.

Directed by Michael Apted, the film was made in 1964 and has since become a classic in the genre of social documentary.

The film begins by introducing us to 14 children from different backgrounds and social classes, ranging from wealthy children attending private schools to working-class kids living in poverty.

Through a series of interviews, we get to know each child and learn about their dreams and aspirations for the future.

What sets Seven Up! apart from other documentaries is that it was part of a unique long-term project called the “Up” series.

Every seven years, Apted returned to these same children to document how their lives had changed and how their dreams had evolved.

Watching Seven Up! is a truly captivating experience, as it offers a window into the hopes and dreams of children from all walks of life.

Some of the children are precocious and articulate, while others struggle to express themselves. However, all of them are relatable in their own way, and their stories will resonate with anyone who has ever had a dream or faced a challenge.


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Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015)

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief is a chilling, eye-opening look into the inner workings of the Church of Scientology.

Alex Gibney deftly weaves together interviews with former high-ranking members, archival footage, and reenactments to create a compelling and disturbing narrative.

The film delves deep into the organization’s history, from its founding by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard to its current leader David Miscavige.

It exposes the cult-like practices that have led to abuse, coercion, and even imprisonment of members who dare to question the church’s teachings.

What makes Going Clear particularly impactful is the firsthand accounts from former members who have escaped the church’s grasp.

Their stories are heart-wrenching and serve as a powerful warning to anyone considering getting involved with Scientology.


Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, John Travolta (Actors)
  • Alex Gibney (Director) - Alex Gibney (Writer) - Alex Gibney (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Loss Is to Be Expected (1992)

Loss Is to Be Expected is a film that explores the complexities of grief and loss. Directed by Sun Yu, the movie tells the story of a family who is struggling to cope with the sudden death of their youngest son.

The film is a slow burn, but it’s worth the investment of time. The director does an excellent job of creating an atmosphere of deep sadness and melancholy that permeates every scene.

The cinematography is beautiful, with muted colors and long shots that capture the desolation of the family’s rural surroundings.

The acting is also superb, with each member of the family delivering nuanced and emotional performances.

The father, played by Li Xuejian, is particularly impressive as a man who is struggling to keep his emotions in check while dealing with his grief.

One of the most striking things about the film is its willingness to delve into the uncomfortable and messy aspects of grief.

The family’s reactions to their loss are not always rational or expected, but they feel true to life. The film is an unflinching look at the ways in which loss can upend our lives and leave us feeling adrift.


Loss Is to Be Expected ( Mit Verlust ist zu rechnen ) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.0 Import - Germany ]
  • Loss Is to Be Expected ( Mit Verlust ist zu rechnen )
  • Loss Is to Be Expected
  • Mit Verlust ist zu rechnen
  • Paul Hutterová, Vladimir Kundrát, Rusena Machaloyá (Actors)
  • Ulrich Seidl (Director) - Loss Is to Be Expected ( Mit Verlust ist zu rechnen ) (Producer)

When We Were Kings (1996)

When We Were Kings is a mesmerizing documentary that transports the viewer to the heart of one of the most iconic moments in boxing history: the Rumble in the Jungle.

The film is a perfect blend of sports, politics, and culture, capturing the spirit of the time and the larger-than-life personalities involved.

Director Leon Gast masterfully weaves together archival footage and interviews with key players such as Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, and Don King to provide a comprehensive and nuanced look at the events leading up to the fight.

The film is also a powerful commentary on the African-American experience, highlighting the role of the fight as a symbol of black pride and solidarity.

What sets When We Were Kings apart, however, is its ability to capture the sheer excitement and drama of the fight itself. The climactic showdown between Ali and Foreman is a masterclass in tension and pacing, and the film’s use of music and editing adds to the sense of epic grandeur.


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Stories We Tell (2012)

“Stories We Tell is a masterful documentary that explores the nature of memory, truth, and family through the lens of director Sarah Polley’s own family history.

With a deft and delicate touch, Polley weaves together interviews, old home videos, and reenactments to create a rich and nuanced portrait of her family and the secrets that lie at its core.

What makes this film truly remarkable is its ability to blur the lines between fact and fiction, challenging the viewer’s perception of what is real and what is imagined.

It’s a beautiful and moving meditation on the power of storytelling and the ways in which we construct our own narratives.

Highly recommended for anyone who loves a good story, and anyone who wants to be reminded of the importance of compassion and empathy in our relationships.”


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Waltz With Bashir (2008)

Waltz With Bashir is a hauntingly beautiful, animated documentary that explores the trauma of war and the human psyche.

Ari Folman masterfully weaves together interviews, personal accounts, and surreal animation to create a unique cinematic experience that is both emotionally gripping and visually stunning.

The film follows Folman as he attempts to uncover his own repressed memories of the 1982 Lebanon War.

Along the way, he interviews fellow soldiers and witnesses, as well as a psychologist who specializes in the effects of war on memory. The result is a deeply personal and introspective journey that ultimately leads to a shocking revelation.

What makes Waltz With Bashir stand out is its use of animation. The surreal, dreamlike quality of the visuals adds an extra layer of emotional weight to the already powerful subject matter.

The scenes of war are particularly striking, with explosions and gunfire painted in vivid colors that are both beautiful and horrifying.

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Sherman’s March (1986)

Sherman’s March is a unique and captivating documentary that explores the American Civil War through the lens of filmmaker Ross McElwee’s personal life.

The film follows McElwee as he sets out to make a documentary about General William Sherman’s infamous march through the South, but instead finds himself embroiled in a series of romantic misadventures.

McElwee’s meandering journey through the South is interspersed with historical footage and interviews with locals, offering a fascinating look at the legacy of the Civil War and the ongoing cultural divide in the region.

McElwee’s introspective narration adds a personal touch to the film, as he grapples with his own romantic struggles and the weight of history.

Despite its seemingly disparate elements, Sherman’s March is a beautifully crafted and cohesive film that offers a unique perspective on both personal and historical narratives.

McElwee’s blend of humor, insight, and pathos makes for a truly compelling viewing experience that will linger long after the credits roll.


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Tales of the Grim Sleeper (2014)

Tales of the Grim Sleeper is a haunting and powerful documentary that sheds light on the shocking murders that took place in South Central Los Angeles over a period of 25 years.

Nick Broomfield’s film is a gripping and emotional exploration of the crimes, the community affected by them, and the systemic failures of law enforcement to properly investigate and bring the killer to justice.

Through interviews with survivors, family members, and community activists, Broomfield paints a vivid picture of the Grim Sleeper’s reign of terror, and the toll it took on the neighborhood.

The film also delves into the larger societal issues that contributed to the murders, such as poverty, racism, and the criminalization of drug addiction.

What makes Tales of the Grim Sleeper so effective is its ability to humanize the victims and give voice to those who have been marginalized and ignored by society.

Broomfield’s approach is empathetic and respectful, yet unflinching in its portrayal of the brutal crimes.


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Solar Mamas (2012)

Solar Mamas is a heartwarming and inspiring documentary that follows the journey of Rafea, a Bedouin woman from Jordan, as she attends the Barefoot College in India to become a solar engineer.

The film beautifully captures Rafea’s determination and resilience as she overcomes cultural barriers and homesickness to learn the skills needed to bring solar power to her village.

Director Mona Eldaief and co-director Jehane Noujaim expertly balance Rafea’s personal story with a larger message about the importance of sustainable energy and empowering women in developing countries.

The film is visually stunning, showcasing the beauty of both Jordan and India, and the importance of preserving our planet’s natural resources.


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Virunga (2014)

“Virunga” is a powerful and emotionally charged documentary that takes viewers on a journey through the breathtaking and dangerous terrain of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The film focuses on the park rangers who risk their lives daily to protect the park’s endangered species, particularly the dwindling population of mountain gorillas, from poachers and armed militias.

Director Orlando von Einsiedel does an outstanding job of capturing the beauty and fragility of the park, as well as the dedication and bravery of the rangers who work tirelessly to protect it.

The film also exposes the political and economic forces at work in the region, particularly the oil industry, and the devastating consequences that their actions have on the park and its inhabitants.

The documentary is both heart-wrenching and inspiring, and it leaves a lasting impact on viewers.

It is a must-see for anyone interested in wildlife conservation and social justice issues. “Virunga” is a cinematic masterpiece that deserves all the attention and accolades it has received. 


Five Broken Cameras (2011)

Five Broken Cameras is an emotional and powerful documentary film that depicts the struggles of Palestinian villagers against Israeli occupation.

The film was directed by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi and has won several awards for its exceptional storytelling.

The film follows Emad Burnat, a Palestinian farmer, who chronicles his village’s resistance against the Israeli army’s construction of a separation barrier.

Burnat uses five cameras over the course of several years to document the events that unfold in his village, including peaceful protests, violent clashes, and the loss of loved ones.

The film’s strength lies in its ability to humanize the Palestinian struggle and the people who are affected by the occupation.

Burnat’s personal experiences and perspectives are presented in a raw and unfiltered manner, allowing the audience to connect with the emotions and struggles of the Palestinian people.

The cinematography is also noteworthy, as the footage captured by Burnat and his cameras is both stunning and heartbreaking.

The juxtaposition of the beautiful landscape with the destruction and violence caused by the occupation creates a poignant and moving narrative.

5 Broken Cameras [DVD]
  • English (Subtitle)

Man With a Movie Camera (1929)

Man With a Movie Camera is a cinematic masterpiece that pushes the boundaries of what was possible with filmmaking in 1929.

Directed by Dziga Vertov, the film is a breathtaking example of experimental cinema that remains relevant and impactful even today.

The film has no narrative, no actors, and no script. Instead, it is a montage of everyday life in the Soviet Union, captured through the lens of a cameraman.

The film is a celebration of the artistry of cinema, as it explores the medium’s ability to capture and manipulate reality.

The editing in Man With a Movie Camera is nothing short of brilliant. The film is a symphony of images, sounds, and music that blend together seamlessly to create a hypnotic and immersive experience.

The camera work is also impressive, with Vertov and his team using a variety of innovative techniques to capture the world around them.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the film is its use of meta-cinema. The film frequently shows the cameraman, the editing process, and other aspects of filmmaking, highlighting the artifice of cinema while also celebrating its power.

Man With a Movie Camera is a breathtaking work of art that showcases the power and potential of cinema. It is a must-see for anyone interested in film history or experimental cinema.


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Le Sang des Bêtes (1949)

Le Sang des Bêtes (The Blood of the Beasts) is a haunting and powerful film that explores the brutal reality of the Parisian abattoirs in the aftermath of World War II.

Directed by Georges Franju, this short documentary is a deeply visceral and unsettling portrayal of the violence and cruelty that is inherent in the human-animal relationship.

Through Franju’s masterful use of black and white cinematography and poetic narration, we are transported to a world that is both beautiful and terrifying.

The film shows us the process of animal slaughter in graphic detail, juxtaposing the serenity of the surrounding countryside with the horror of the abattoirs.

Le Sang des Bêtes is a difficult and challenging film to watch, but it is also an important one. It forces us to confront our own complicity in the violence and exploitation of animals, and to question our assumptions about the natural world.

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The War Game (1965)

The War Game is a harrowing and thought-provoking film that explores the devastating consequences of a nuclear war.

Directed by Peter Watkins, the film presents a fictional scenario of a nuclear attack on Britain, and the ensuing chaos and destruction that follows.

Through a combination of documentary-style footage and staged scenes, the film presents a stark and sobering portrait of the aftermath of a nuclear war.

The scenes of destruction and suffering are difficult to watch, but they are necessary to convey the gravity and horror of the situation.

The film also raises important questions about the role of government and the military in planning for such a catastrophic event.

It is a powerful critique of the arms race and the nuclear threat that loomed over the world during the Cold War.

The War Game is a haunting and impactful film that leaves a lasting impression on the viewer. It is a must-watch for anyone interested in the history of the nuclear age and the potential consequences of war.


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Amy (2015)

Amy is a heartbreaking and intimate portrait of the late singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse.

Directed by Asif Kapadia, the film is a cohesive and emotional piece of storytelling that seamlessly weaves together never-before-seen footage, personal home videos, and interviews with those closest to Winehouse.

From the opening moments of the film, it’s clear that Kapadia is not interested in simply recounting the highlights of Winehouse’s career.

Instead, he delves deep into her personal life, exploring the relationships and experiences that shaped her as an artist and as a person. It’s a raw and vulnerable portrayal that is both beautiful and devastating to watch.

Though the film is undeniably heartbreaking, it’s also a celebration of Winehouse’s incredible talent.

The footage of her performing is electrifying, and it’s impossible not to be moved by the power and emotion in her voice.

As a whole, Amy is a stunning and powerful film that does justice to the life and legacy of Amy Winehouse. 

  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Amy Winehouse, Tony Bennett, Mark Ronson (Actors)
  • Asif Kapadia (Director) - Adam Barker (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Iraq in Fragments (2006)

Iraq in Fragments is a documentary that delves deep into the complexities of post-war Iraq. The film is divided into three parts, each focusing on a different aspect of Iraqi society.

The first part explores the lives of Sunni Arabs living in Baghdad, who feel marginalized and oppressed under the new Shia government. The second part follows the daily struggles of a young Kurdish boy and his family in the north.

Finally, the third part examines the lives of Shia militias in the south, who are fighting against both the Sunni insurgency and the American forces.

Director James Longley does an incredible job of immersing the viewer into these different worlds, using stunning cinematography and an intimate approach to storytelling.

The film is a powerful testament to the resilience of the Iraqi people, despite the immense challenges they face.

Iraq in Fragments is not an easy watch, as it confronts some of the harsh realities of war and its aftermath.

However, it is an important and illuminating film that provides a rare glimpse into the lives of ordinary Iraqis.

Anyone interested in understanding the complexities of the Iraq war and its aftermath should definitely give this film a watch.


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Buena Vista Social Club (1999)

Buena Vista Social Club is a vibrant and soulful documentary that captures the essence of Cuban music and culture.

Directed by Wim Wenders, the film follows a group of legendary musicians as they come together to record an album and perform in Havana.

What makes this film truly special is the way it celebrates the richness and diversity of Cuban music.

Each musician brings their own unique style and personality to the group, and the film does an excellent job of showcasing their talents and telling their individual stories.

From the lively rhythms of the bolero to the melancholic melodies of the son, the music in Buena Vista Social Club is simply mesmerizing.

The film also offers a fascinating glimpse into Cuban history and society, highlighting the struggles and triumphs of a people who have faced adversity with resilience and creativity.

Buena Vista Social Club (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
  • Ry Cooder, Ibrahim Ferrer, Rubén González (Actors)
  • Wim Wenders (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: G (General Audience)

The Thin Blue Line (1988)

The Thin Blue Line is a true crime documentary that tells the story of Randall Dale Adams, a man who was wrongfully convicted of murder in Texas.

Filmmaker Errol Morris expertly weaves together interviews, reenactments, and archival footage to create a gripping and suspenseful account of the case.

The film’s structure is unique and masterful, as Morris uses recurring imagery and themes to connect different pieces of information and build a compelling narrative. The score by Philip Glass is haunting and perfectly complements the film’s moody atmosphere.

But perhaps the most impressive aspect of The Thin Blue Line is the way in which it ultimately led to Adams’ release from prison.

Through his meticulous investigation and presentation of new evidence, Morris was able to poke holes in the prosecution’s case and bring much-needed attention to the flaws in the criminal justice system.

This film is a must-watch for fans of true crime, as well as anyone interested in the power of filmmaking to effect change. It’s a chilling and thought-provoking work that will stay with you long after the credits roll.


The Thin Blue Line [Blu-ray]
  • Randall Adams, David Harris, Gus Rose (Actors)
  • Errol Morris (Director)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

Bowling for Columbine (2002)

Bowling for Columbine, directed and narrated by Michael Moore, is a thought-provoking documentary that explores America’s obsession with guns and the tragic Columbine High School massacre that shook the nation.

The film is a rollercoaster ride of emotions, ranging from sadness and anger to hope and disbelief.

Moore’s distinctive style of storytelling and his ability to blend humor with serious topics make Bowling for Columbine an engaging and entertaining film.

He takes the viewer on a journey through America’s history of gun violence, including shocking statistics and personal stories of victims and survivors.

One of the film’s most memorable scenes involves Moore visiting a bank that gives free guns to customers who open new accounts. The juxtaposition of a bank giving away guns with the horrors of the Columbine massacre is both disturbing and eye-opening.

Bowling for Columbine also delves into the media’s role in perpetuating a culture of fear and paranoia, and the impact of politicians and corporations on gun laws.

Moore’s interviews with Charlton Heston, the former president of the National Rifle Association, and Marilyn Manson, who was blamed for the Columbine shooting, provide insightful commentary on these issues.

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Global Report (1981)

“Global Report” is a hauntingly prescient film that feels just as relevant today as it did when it was released in 1981. 

The film centers around a journalist named Robert Caine (played brilliantly by Powers Boothe) who uncovers a massive conspiracy involving the CIA, the KGB, and various other shadowy organizations.

As he delves deeper into the story, he finds himself in increasingly dangerous situations, and the stakes become higher and higher.

What makes “Global Report” so compelling is its unflinching look at the ways in which governments and intelligence agencies can manipulate the truth and use propaganda to advance their own agendas.

The film is a reminder that we must always be vigilant in questioning the information we are given, and that the truth is often much more complicated than it seems.

The Queen of Versailles (2012)

“The Queen of Versailles” is a captivating and thought-provoking documentary that takes on a wild ride through the lives of a billionaire family, the Siegels, who are building the largest and most expensive house in America. 

Through interviews with the family members, Greenfield shows the human side of the Siegels, highlighting their struggles and vulnerabilities.

Their story is both fascinating and tragic, as they are forced to confront the reality of their financial situation and the consequences of their actions.

The cinematography is stunning, capturing the grandeur of the Siegels’ mansion and the beauty of their surroundings.

The film also raises important questions about wealth, consumerism, and the American dream, making it a must-watch for anyone interested in exploring these topics.


The Queen of Versailles
  • Jackie Siegel, David A. Siegel, Victoria Siegel (Actors)
  • Lauren Greenfield (Director)
  • Spanish (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)

Blackfish (2013)

Blackfish is a gut-wrenching and eye-opening documentary that exposes the horrific truth behind the captive killer whale industry.

Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite delivers a powerful and emotional narrative that will leave you questioning the ethics of keeping these intelligent and complex creatures in captivity.

The film follows the story of Tilikum, a captive killer whale responsible for the deaths of several trainers, and the devastating impact captivity has had on him and other whales like him.

Through interviews with former trainers, scientists, and experts in the field, Blackfish reveals the inhumane treatment and exploitation of these majestic animals for the sake of entertainment.

The film is a sobering reminder of the consequences of our actions and the importance of education and advocacy in protecting the natural world. It’s a must-watch for anyone who cares about animal welfare and the environment.

  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Kim Ashdown, Ken Balcomb, Samantha Berg (Actors)
  • Gabriela Cowperthwaite (Director) - Gabriela Cowperthwaite (Writer) - Manuel V. Oteyza (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Some Kind of Monster (2004)

Some Kind of Monster is a gripping documentary that takes the viewer behind-the-scenes of one of the biggest rock bands in history: Metallica.

The film chronicles the band’s tumultuous journey as they record their eighth studio album, St. Anger, with the help of therapist Phil Towle.

Director Joe Berlinger offers an intimate look at the band’s interpersonal dynamics, capturing the tensions and conflicts that arise as they try to create music that lives up to their legacy. The highlight of the film is the footage of the band’s therapy sessions, which are raw, emotional, and revealing.

Despite its nearly three-hour runtime, Some Kind of Monster never feels dull or self-indulgent. Berlinger keeps the pace brisk and the editing tight, making sure that every scene serves a purpose.

The film is also beautifully shot, with stunning concert footage and haunting shots of the band’s hometown.

What makes Some Kind of Monster so compelling, however, is its honesty. Metallica bares their souls to the camera, exposing their flaws and vulnerabilities. It’s a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a band that has been notoriously private throughout their career.


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When the Levees Broke (2006)

When the Levees Broke is an absolute masterpiece of a documentary film. Directed by the prolific filmmaker Spike Lee, the film explores the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the catastrophic failure of the levee system in New Orleans.

Through a combination of archival footage, interviews with survivors, and expert analysis, Lee paints a vivid and heart-wrenching portrait of the human toll of the disaster.

What sets When the Levees Broke apart from other documentaries on the subject is its unflinching portrayal of the failures of government officials, the Army Corps of Engineers, and other institutions that were supposed to protect the people of New Orleans.

Lee doesn’t shy away from the anger and frustration of those who were affected by the disaster, and the film is all the more powerful for it.

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Capturing the Friedmans (2003)

Capturing the Friedmans is a documentary that is both fascinating and disturbing. The film follows the story of the Friedman family, who were torn apart by accusations of child molestation and abuse. 

The film is filled with interviews with family members, lawyers, and law enforcement officials, all of whom offer different perspectives on the case. Through these interviews, Jarecki manages to paint a complex picture of the Friedmans, showing both their flaws and their humanity.

What makes Capturing the Friedmans so compelling is the way that Jarecki presents the evidence. He never takes a side, but instead allows the viewer to come to their own conclusions based on the information presented.

The film is also notable for its use of home video footage, which adds an extra layer of intimacy to the story.

Capturing the Friedmans is a thought-provoking and emotional documentary that is definitely worth watching. It is a powerful reminder of the importance of seeking the truth, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable it may be.


Capturing the Friedmans
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Jack Fallin, Arnold Friedman, Elaine Friedman (Actors)
  • Andrew Jarecki (Director) - Andrew Jarecki (Producer)
  • Spanish, English (Playback Languages)
  • Spanish, English (Subtitles)

Grizzly Man (2005)

Grizzly Man is a haunting and deeply moving documentary that follows the life of Timothy Treadwell, a man who spent 13 summers living among the grizzly bears in the Alaskan wilderness. 

Through a combination of Treadwell’s own footage and interviews with those who knew him, Herzog paints a complex portrait of a man who was both deeply passionate about protecting the bears and dangerously deluded about his ability to coexist with them.

The footage of Treadwell’s interactions with the bears is both breathtaking and terrifying, and Herzog’s narration provides a sobering counterpoint to Treadwell’s idealistic worldview.

At its core, Grizzly Man is a meditation on the consequences of our actions and the limits of our understanding of the natural world.

It’s a powerful and thought-provoking film that will stay with you long after the credits roll. Highly recommended for anyone interested in nature, psychology, or the human condition.

Grizzly Man [Blu-ray]
  • Werner Herzog (Narrator)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

The 3 Rooms of Melancholia (2004)

The 3 Rooms of Melancholia is a powerful and haunting documentary that explores aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, focusing on the experiences of survivors in Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

Through a series of interviews with individuals who lost loved ones, homes, and communities, director Pirjo Honkasalo creates a deeply emotional and thought-provoking portrait of grief and resilience.

One of the strengths of the film is its willingness to avoid easy answers or simplistic narratives. Instead, Honkasalo allows the survivors to tell their own stories in their own words, capturing the complexity and nuance of their experiences.

Some express anger and frustration at the slow pace of relief efforts and government corruption, while others find solace in spiritual beliefs or community solidarity.

Visually, the film is stunning, with breathtaking shots of the devastated landscapes and intimate moments of human connection. The use of music, including a haunting score by composer Kimmo Pohjonen, adds to the emotional impact of the film.


The 3 Rooms Of Melancholia [Italian Edition]
  • documentario (Actor)
  • pirjo honkasalo (Director)
  • Italian (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: G (General Audience)

Pina (2011)

Pina is a stunning tribute to the late German choreographer Pina Bausch, beautifully directed by Wim Wenders.

This documentary is not just a film about dance, but a love letter to an artist who revolutionized the way we think about movement and performance.

The film is shot in 3D, which adds an incredible depth to the already mesmerizing dance sequences.

The camera moves seamlessly around the performers, making you feel like you’re right there on stage with. The use of 3D technology also allows the audience to fully appreciate the intricate details of Bausch’s choreography.

But what makes Pina truly special is the way it reveals the humanity behind the dances. The performers speak about their personal connections to Bausch and her work, and we see footage of Bausch herself discussing her creative process.

The film highlights the emotional depth of Bausch’s work, which is often abstract and challenging.

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Into Eternity (2010)

Into Eternity is a haunting and thought-provoking documentary that explores the complex and terrifying issue of nuclear waste storage.

The film takes you deep into the heart of a massive underground bunker in Finland, where engineers are designing a system to store radioactive waste for 100,000 years – a time frame that is almost impossible for the human mind to comprehend.

Director Michael Madsen does an excellent job of balancing scientific explanations with philosophical musings, weaving together interviews with experts and stunning visuals of the bunker and its surroundings.

The result is a film that is both informative and deeply emotional, forcing you to confront the unsettling reality of our reliance on nuclear energy and the long-term consequences of our actions.

The film’s pacing can be slow at times, but this only adds to the sense of unease that permeates the entire experience.

By the end of Into Eternity, you will feel a sense of awe and dread at the sheer magnitude of the problem we face as a species. This is a must-watch for anyone interested in environmental issues or the future of humanity.


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Le Joli Mai (1963)

Le Joli Mai is a unique and engrossing documentary that captures the mood and spirit of Paris in the early 1960s.

Directed by Chris Marker and Pierre Lhomme, the film takes an intimate look at the lives of ordinary Parisians and offers a fascinating snapshot of a city in transition.

The film is divided into two parts, each focusing on a different aspect of Parisian life. The first part is a series of interviews with a wide range of people, including factory workers, office clerks, artists, and even a priest.

Through these interviews, we get a sense of the hopes, dreams, and fears of everyday Parisians, and how they see themselves and their city.

The second part of the film focuses on the aftermath of the Algerian War, which had ended a few months before filming began. Marker and Lhomme capture the mood of the city as people come to terms with the legacy of colonialism and the changing political landscape of France.

What makes Le Joli Mai such a compelling documentary is its intimacy and attention to detail. Marker and Lhomme use a range of techniques, including long takes and naturalistic sound, to create a sense of immediacy and authenticity.

The film also features stunning black and white cinematography, which captures the beauty and complexity of Paris in all its glory.

Le Joli Mai ( A Film by Chris Marker and Pierre Lhomme) [DVD]
  • English, French (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003)

Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer is a powerful, intense, and haunting documentary that explores the life of Aileen Wuornos, one of America’s most notorious female serial killers.

Directed by Nick Broomfield, the film delves deep into Wuornos’ troubled past, her relationships, and the events that led to her killing spree.

The documentary is a fascinating portrait of a complex and deeply troubled individual, and Broomfield’s approach is both empathetic and unflinching.

Through interviews with Wuornos herself, as well as her family members, lawyers, and even a former lover, Broomfield paints a vivid picture of the events that shaped her life and ultimately led to her downfall.

What makes Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer such a compelling and thought-provoking documentary is the way in which it challenges our perceptions of crime and justice.

Wuornos’ story is one of extreme violence and tragedy, but it is also a story of abuse, neglect, and profound mental illness. Broomfield never shies away from the darker aspects of her life, but he also humanizes her in a way that is both rare and deeply affecting.


Monster / Aileen - Life and Death of a Serial Killer [DVD]
  • Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Bruce Dern (Actors)
  • Joan Churchill (Director) - Patty Jenkins (Writer)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

The Power of Nightmares (2004)

“The Power Nightmares” is a riveting documentary that explores the political and social implications of the war on terror.

The film masterfully weaves together the stories of three key figures: neo-conservative ideologue Leo Strauss, Islamist ideologue Sayyid Qutb, and al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Through their stories, the film examines how their ideologies have shaped the political landscape of the 21st century.

Director Adam Curtis expertly combines archival footage, interviews, and narration to create a thought-provoking and engaging film that challenges our understanding of the war on terror.

The film argues that the threat of terrorism has been exaggerated by politicians and the media, and that this has led to a climate of fear and paranoia in Western society.

At times, “The Power of Nightmares” can be unsettling and even disturbing, but it is ultimately a powerful and important film that sheds light on the complex and often misunderstood world of terrorism and politics. 

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Sisters in Law (2006)

Sisters in Law is a powerful and inspiring documentary that follows the lives of two women fighting for justice in Cameroon’s patriarchal legal system.

Directed by Kim Longinotto and Florence Ayisi, the film is a testament to the strength and resilience of women who refuse to be silenced.

The film centers on the work of State Prosecutor Vera Ngassa and Court President Beatrice Ntuba, two women who have dedicated their careers to fighting against gender-based violence and advocating for women’s rights.

Through a series of compelling interviews and courtroom scenes, we witness their tireless efforts to bring perpetrators to justice and empower women to stand up for themselves.

What makes Sisters in Law so impactful is its unflinching portrayal of the violence and abuse women face in Cameroon.

From the horrific case of a young girl who was repeatedly raped by her neighbor to the story of a woman who was beaten by her husband and left for dead, the film doesn’t shy away from showing the harsh realities of life for many women in the country.

But despite the difficult subject matter, Sisters in Law is ultimately a hopeful film. Ngassa and Ntuba’s dedication to their work is truly inspiring, and their efforts have led to real change in their community.

Through their work, they have shown that justice is possible, even in the face of overwhelming obstacles.


Sisters In Law
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Kim Longinotto (Director) - Kim Longinotto (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

Man on Wire (2008)

Man on Wire is a captivating documentary that tells the story of French high-wire artist Philippe Petit’s daring and illegal tightrope walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974.

Director James Marsh masterfully weaves together archival footage, interviews, and reenactments to create a thrilling and emotional experience for the audience.

The film chronicles Petit’s meticulous planning and preparation for the walk, including his sneaking into the towers disguised as a construction worker and his team’s complex rigging of the tightrope.

The tension builds as Petit’s team races against the clock to complete their setup before they are caught by security.

But the heart of the film lies in Petit’s sheer passion and determination to accomplish his dream, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

His love for the art of tightrope walking and his desire to create something beautiful and meaningful are palpable throughout the film.

Man on Wire is a triumph of storytelling and filmmaking, a tribute to the human spirit and the power of creativity.

Man on Wire
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Philippe Petit (Actor)
  • James Marsh (Director)
  • English, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)

Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1998)

Little Dieter Needs to Fly is a beautifully crafted documentary that tells the story of Dieter Dengler, a German-American pilot who was shot down over Laos during the Vietnam War and held captive for six months.

The film, directed by Werner Herzog, is a masterful blend of interviews with Dengler himself, stunning reenactments of his experiences, and footage from the war.

What makes this film so powerful is the way it captures the resilience and determination of Dengler, who survived unimaginable hardships to eventually escape his captors and return home.

Herzog’s direction is understated but effective, allowing Dengler’s story to take center stage and speaking volumes with simple shots of the landscape and the people involved.

At times, Little Dieter Needs to Fly is difficult to watch, particularly as Dengler describes the torture he endured at the hands of his captors. But it is ultimately an uplifting and inspiring film that celebrates the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

Dengler’s story is a testament to the power of hope and the resilience of the human heart, and this film does it justice in every way.


Little Dieter Needs To Fly
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Werner Herzog, Dieter Dengler, Eugene Deatrick (Actors)
  • Werner Herzog (Director) - Werner Herzog (Writer) - Lucki Stipetić (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Shoah (1985)

Shoah is a monumental documentary that stands as a devastating testament to the horrors of the Holocaust.

Director Claude Lanzmann spent over a decade researching and filming interviews with survivors, witnesses, and perpetrators of the genocide, resulting in a nine-and-a-half hour epic that manages to be both exhaustive and intimate.

The film is a masterclass in pacing and structure, seamlessly weaving together testimonies from different perspectives and locations to create a comprehensive portrait of the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime.

What makes Shoah so powerful is its refusal to rely on archival footage or reenactments. Instead, Lanzmann relies solely on the words of those who lived through the events, allowing their harrowing accounts to speak for themselves.

The film is unflinching in its depiction of the horrors of the concentration camps, but it also explores the ways in which the Holocaust affected every aspect of Jewish life, from the ghettos to the death trains.

Shoah is not an easy film to watch, but it is an essential one. It is a reminder of the unspeakable evil that humans are capable of, but also a tribute to the resilience and humanity of those who survived.

Lanzmann’s dedication to telling the story of the Holocaust in all its complexity and nuance is nothing short of remarkable. Shoah is a film that demands to be seen, and one that will stay with you long after the credits roll.

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China: Beyond the Clouds (1994)

China: Beyond the Clouds is a breathtaking documentary that takes the viewer on a journey through the stunning landscapes and diverse cultures of China.

The film is directed by Phil Agland, who masterfully captures the essence of China’s people, traditions, and natural wonders.

What sets China: Beyond the Clouds apart from other travel documentaries is its focus on the lesser-known regions of China. From the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas to the arid deserts of Xinjiang, the film showcases the beauty and diversity of China’s landscapes.

But what truly makes China: Beyond the Clouds a must-watch is its intimate portrayal of the people who call these regions home.

Through interviews and candid footage, we get a glimpse into the lives of the nomads, farmers, and artisans who have preserved their traditions for centuries.

The cinematography in China: Beyond the Clouds is simply stunning. The sweeping shots of mountains, rivers, and forests are breathtaking, and the close-up shots of people and their daily lives are equally captivating.

Overall, China: Beyond the Clouds is a visually stunning and emotionally moving documentary that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the beauty and diversity of China.

It’s a must-watch for anyone interested in travel, culture, or simply experiencing the world from a new perspective.


China: Beyond the Clouds
  • Lisa Lu (Actor)
  • English (Publication Language)

Best Documentaries – Wrapping Up

We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to the best documentaries of all time. Have we missed out your favorite documentary film? Let us know right here below in the comments section.

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