Batten down the hatches and bust out the hobnobs because it is cold, which means that guilt-free Netflix binges are a go-go. But if you think that means endlessly scrolling through trash before eventually settling on something you’ve already seen, fret not because we’ve done all the legwork for you. So put the kettle on and settle in for some of the most thought-provoking docos on Netflix this winter.
The Keepers (2017)
Poised to reach the same critical success as Making a Murderer (also a Netflix doco-series), The Keepers delves into the cover-up and unsolved murder of a Baltimore nun that led to revelations about rampant sexual abuse in one of America’s most troubled cities. It’s haunting, thought-provoking and masterful storytelling.
The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014)
The Internet’s Own Boy follows the story of Aaron Swartz, the programming genius, hacktivist and Reddit co-founder, and his subsequent untimely death in 2013. The Brian Knappenberger-directed doco fearlessly tackles the topic of freedom of information in the digital age, while cleverly depicting Aaron’s incredible life’s work and the complex case against him (he was looking down the barrel of a whopping 35 years imprisonment for illegally downloading academic papers at the time of his death). Prepare to feel a huge sense of loss and more than a little bit angry.
Saving Banksy (2017)
What would you do if you owned a million dollar painting that the artist didn’t want sold? That is the question Saving Banksy explores, a brand new to Netflix documentary based on the people profiteering from the infamous street artist’s work and those trying to stop them. FYI, Rotten Tomatoes has given this film a very credible 100 per cent.
Audrie & Daisy (2016)
Essential, powerful and heart-wrenching viewing, Audrie & Daisy follows the parallel story of two young girls who are sexually assaulted by a group of boys from their respective communities. What then ensues is a vile persecution of the girls, played out largely on social media and with devastating consequences. More concerned with protecting the boys than gaining justice for the girls, the police, their peers and their communities subject the girls to a campaign of hate.
Kardashian: The Man Who Saved OJ Simpson (2016)
Before his family became a multi-million dollar showbiz dynasty, there was once a time when the late acclaimed lawyer Robert Kardashian (yep, Kim’s dad) was a household name in his own right. After allegedly destroying evidence for his client (and longtime buddy) OJ Simpson, Kardashian was integral in getting Simpson acquitted for the 1994 murders of his estranged wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend Ronald Goldman. While Kardashian’s role in the trial tore his family apart, the doco shows how it ultimately paved the way for their eventual success – a perfect way to get your reality TV fix without succumbing entirely to the genre.
Man on Wire (2008)
On August 7, 1974, high-wire artist Philippe Petit walked between the towers of the World Trade Centre on a wire as a dumbfounded crowd gathered on the streets of New York, 110 stories below him. He had neither a net nor a safety harness. Promising heart-in-your-throat scenes and interviews with Philippe and his crew, the award-winning doco describes Philippe’s childhood dream of walking between the Twin Towers in such perfect clarity that you’ll find yourself willing him on.
Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press (2017)
On the face of it, this doco is centred on wrestler Hulk Hogan’s takedown of tawdry tabloid site Gawker, bankrolled by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who had his own score to settle with the now-defunct site. However, in doing so it also explores the notion that traditional media is being censored by the threat of litigation – a topic that seems especially poignant under Trump’s presidency. Another Brian Knappenberger film, this one will be available to view on June 23.
Amanda Knox (2016)
Did she or didn’t she? Despite being twice convicted and subsequently acquitted both times of the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, Amanda Knox’s innocence is still somehow up for debate. In her first on-camera interview, the former US student is given the opportunity to give her side of the story. While it doesn’t add anything new to an already well-documented case, it does ask questions about both the police and the media’s culpability in Amanda’s wrongful imprisonment.
Powerful, galvanising and deeply unsettling, the Ava DuVernay-directed film exposes the racial inadequacy of America’s flawed prison system and draws parallels between imprisonment and slavery. The doco’s title refers to the 13th constitutional amendment – the abolishment of slavery and the state’s right to deprive a person of liberty, with the very specific exception of criminals. Notably, there are currently more African Americans under criminal supervision in the States than there were slaves in the 1850s.