Whether it’s raining outside, you’ve had a long week, or you just need some good old-fashioned downtime, one thing is certain: Netflix is here and ready to help. Even better, you can kick back and get educated on any number of topics thanks to the plethora of documentary films Netflix adds on the regular. Ahead, check out nine of the best new docos around – on everything from climate change to design to politics.
1. Last Chance U
If you know how it feels to chase a big dream, Last Chance U is well worth a watch. This documentary series – which is already two seasons in – focuses on the East Mississippi Community College football program. Many of the players in the program were set to hit the big time and play Division 1 football, but due to academic or disciplinary problems, they were demoted to JUCO level. Last Chance U follows these players as they do everything they can to prove they have what it takes. Prepare yourself to feel all the feelings as hearts are broken, dreams are chased and lives are changed forever.
2. Losing Sight of Shore
If you ever needed proof we can do anything we set our minds to, line up a date with Losing Sight of Shore. This doco follows four women who set out to row across the Pacific Ocean from America to Australia, all to support two charities. The journey is gruelling, covering more than 8,000 miles of ocean over approximately nine months. Happily, this doco doesn’t hold back. You’ll see extreme mental and physical grit up-close, giving you all the motivation you need for your next adventure.
3. What the Health
At first glance, What the Health appears to be an eye-opening take on the link between diet and disease – and what the pharmaceutical industry doesn’t want you to know. But the reason everyone is talking about the film is slightly more complicated. While the film’s core concept – that poor diet can have an adverse impact on your health – is steeped in truth, the filmmakers have been criticised for allowing “confirmation bias” and “misinformation” to influence the narrative. If one thing is sure, it’s that What the Health provides plenty of fodder for your next dinner party conversation.
4. Abstract: The Art of Design
Abstract is a shout-out to anyone who is interested in design of any kind. The eight-episode documentary series celebrates creativity by shining a spotlight on eight creative visionaries who have shaped the world, whether through architecture or typography or anything in between. Each part focuses on a different industry, and through interviews and stunning imagery, you’ll begin to understand the depths of design – the feelings, the energy, and the motives that come together to form each work.
5. Emmanuel Macron: Behind the Rise
World politics has had its highs and lows lately. One of the more interesting stories in the last few years, however, is the rise and rise of Emmanuel Macron, the youngest president in French history. This documentary follows Macron throughout his brutal campaign, which was targeted by the same Russian hacking group accused of hacking the DNC in America. If you’ve felt a little bruised by world politics lately, you’re likely to find this documentary particularly refreshing.
6. I Am Jane Doe
Actress Jessica Chastain narrates this challenging documentary, which chronicles the legal crusade of a group of American mothers whose teenage daughters were enslaved in the child sex trade. While I Am Jane Doe is brutal and gut-wrenching always, it also offers up a powerful voice to victims of sex trafficking, an industry which sadly is on the rise in first-world countries such as the United States.
7. Daughters of Destiny
Daughters of Destiny will pull your heart in a million directions. Filmmaker Vanessa Roth spent seven years following five young girls from India’s most disadvantaged families. These girls have been given the opportunity to attend a revolutionary boarding school that offers free education, housing and food to its students throughout their 12 years of study. The school’s aim is simple: to prepare the children for jobs that can support their extended families and ideally pull them from poverty forever. Get your tissues.
8. Chasing Coral
We’ve all heard politicians around the world debate climate change. It’s a tiring argument. In Chasing Coral, viewers follow a team of divers, photographers and scientists who set out to end the argument forever by documenting the disappearance of the world’s coral reefs. While this journey is disheartening at times, Chasing Coral also spotlights the people working to change the outcome before it’s too late.
9. Banking on Bitcoin
You’ve no doubt heard about Bitcoin, the disruptive cryptocurrency. But if you’ve struggled to understand it, this documentary will show you the way. Banking on Bitcoin shines a light on the currency’s controversial history – from the Mt. Gox security breach to the various authorities who have challenged its legality – as well as the different possibilities in Bitcoin’s future. In other words, this doco is a quick, easy-to-follow masterclass on the ins-and-outs of cryptocurrency. Consider yourself schooled.