Documentaries to watch at home - here are our latest recommendations
Click the film image to watch the trailer (for some of the short films, you can watch the films in entirety by clicking the image)
We listed the movie last month as an Oscar nominee but now that the film has won the Oscar for best Documentary, its time to take a view because its really good.
Alex Honnold has long desired to attempt El Capitan, the 3,000-foot granite rock in Yosemite National Park. As he is ready to start the climb, Honnold is plagued by injuries and his friends and family worry for his safety. Of course he can't be stopped and Honnold becomes the only athlete to make the treacherous ascent without ropes. So all you arm chair climbers, sit back and enjoy. Its a National Geographic Channel movie but now Hulu have now acquired rights to the film. If you prefer to watch on a bigger screen, take a trip to the Cape Ann Cinema in Gloucester
Think back 4-5 years - has it been that long? - and the fascination around the NPR Serial Podcast - the case against Adnan Syed. Its now an HBO 4 part documentary . The Case Against Adnan Syed closely re-examines the events leading up to Hae Min Lee’s disappearance, from high school romance, forbidden love and cultural conflict, to the aftermath of her disappearance, the original police investigation and the present day, when Syed awaits a new trial. Presenting new discoveries as well as groundbreaking revelations that challenge the state’s case, and featuring exclusive access to Syed, the defense team, the Syed family, friends and teachers of both students, and members of City of Baltimore law enforcement
The HBO documentary is all about blood testing entrepreneur and one of the chief scammers of our time - Elizabeth Holmes. The doc is the latest effort to chronicle the Theranos founder, who was indicted last year on federal fraud charges after it was found that her revolutionary blood-testing devices, well, just didn’t work. Since then, her alleged crimes and baffling behaviors (including allegedly changing her voice) have been dissected in countless news stories, but the documentary manages to provide even more insight into who she really is. It includes some truly bizarre moments that you’ll find it hard to get out of your minds. Overwhelmingly, bloodily, unblinkingly creepy, and sometimes downright gross – but that might appeal to you.
Thirty years after Bundy's execution, Netflix released a four-part docuseries featuring taped audio of the serial killer responsible for more than 30 brutal sex crimes. Its a creepy-as-hell documentary series and features never-before-surfaced recorded interviews with Ted Bundy before he was caught in 1978. The doc also explores the way he used his characteristics that defied the stereotypes of a serial killer—charm, good looks—to his advantage, allowing him to "hide in plain sight."
HBO’s two-part documentary, Leaving Neverland, had all the makings of a #MeToo bombshell: Over four hours, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, two former child performers, describe, in often excruciating detail, the way Michael Jackson allegedly groomed and sexually abused them while they were children.
The ratings are high; the press surrounding the film is plentiful and the film was the must-see movie at Sundance. Oprah co-signed the documentary by interviewing Safechuck and Robson; and the Jackson Estate engaged in a full–throated counter–offensive, denying the allegations, questioning Safechuck and Robson’s credibility and claiming the film “violates all norms and ethics in documentary filmmaking and journalism. It is a disgrace.”
Since Leaving Neverland premiered, Michael Jackson’s posthumous career is showing few signs of major distress. In the days after Leaving Neverland premiered, per Nielsen Music, Jackson’s spins on U.S. radio dropped from about 2,000 a day to 1,500 a day, while several stations in New Zealand and Canada announced they would stop playing his music altogether. But, according to Nielsen, on streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, Jackson’s solo music fall squarely within his typical range of 16 to 17 million plays-per-week.
This film is suggested by Richard from Nashua, NH after he saw it at the Kittery Land Trust Environmental Film Festival. The film debuted at the Sundance Festival and Variety called the film, “a riveting tale of long-term irresponsibility and injustice.” . The film takes aim at powerful corporations such as Dupont and 3M, following a group of West Virginia whistleblowers who claim both companies knew of the harmful environmental properties of the patented chemical Teflon, and covered it up for decades. Did you know that the chemicals behind Teflon are in the blood of 99.7% of Americans. The film is now available on Netflix.
We thank Richard for his suggestion of "The Devil We Know" as we do for and everyone that have recommended a film. If you have a recommendation for a documentary, a festival, or a local film showing, please share with the community. We plan to have a special community suggests... edition of this blog soon.
Available April 5th - mark your calendars. For those of you who, like me, loved last year’s Blue Planet II, Netflix is at the ready to deliver another stunning nature documentary series. From Alastair Fothergill, the creator of the Planet Earth and Blue Planet series, Our Planet is the culmination of a 4-year project documenting wildlife in over 50 countries, and comprising of over 600 crew members. It is narrated — as every nature documentary should be, with the docite tones of living legend Sir David Attenborough.
The series will also feature local narrators in ten languages, including Penélope Cruz for Spain and Salma Hayek for Latin America. In the first episode, “viewers travel from the Brazilian rainforest to Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, discovering how each fragile habitat is connected and why they are all essential for life to thrive on this planet. Thanks to an extensive team that includes some of the world’s best wildlife cinematographers, researchers and scientists — and the latest in 4K camera technology — each episode features several stunning sequences that have never been filmed before.”
Available from April 1st on PBS stations - 10 PM
The United States is by far the world’s leader in incarceration, with the current trend toward privatization of prisons for profit assuring that dubious title is unlikely to be shed anytime soon. One under-discussed consequence of this lust for lockup is the fact that an estimated one in 14 American youths have a parent in custody. Denali Tiller’s potent, sometimes wrenchingly intimate “Tre Maison Dasan” follows three Rhode Island boys raised under those circumstances, with fathers behind bars (and one mother just newly released).
Parents of a boy on the autism spectrum form a competitive swim team, recruiting other teens on the spectrum and training them with high expectations and zero pity. Swim Team chronicles the extraordinary rise of three diverse young athletes, capturing a moving quest for inclusion, independence and a life that feels like winning.
In New Jersey, the parents of a boy on the autism spectrum take matters into their own hands. They form a competitive swim team, recruiting diverse teens on the spectrum and training them with high expectations and zero pity.
Swim Team chronicles the extraordinary rise of the Jersey Hammerheads, capturing a moving quest for inclusion, independence and a life that feels winning.
Swim Team has screened at over 50 international film festivals, won 14 awards, was released theatrically in the US with its debut at New York's IFC Center and aired on PBS' acclaimed non-fiction showcase POV. It is currently streaming on Netflix.
You dutifully push out your recycling bin every second week. but where does it go? The EPA estimates Americans recycle about 90 million tons of material a year but these days the stuff we recycle has to be purer than Ivory soap. That's because China, the world's largest importer of recycled materials, instituted strict new standards on the quality of the products they'll buy, and the impact is being felt near and far. Newburyport recycling goes to a facility in Charlestown run by Casella Waste Systems. In the past, Casella could easily cover the cost of sorting the materials and selling bales to overseas markets. Municipalities and processing companies would then split the profits. NO LONGER. Start reading up on this key issue - this is short 6 Minute briefing . Watch it here and NOW
A look at the waste problem from the China perspective. This is a short documentary (26 minutes) from ABC (that's the Australia Broadcasting Company), Why is China changing the rules around trash and recycling? Part of the problem is that its own 1.6 billion people are creating huge quantities of garbage and the appetite to be the trash dump of the world is waning. The long term effect on the US is profound, we have been dumping trash on China for years and a major rethink is required.
Watch it here NOW
The short documentary OSCAR winner. In the rural village of Hapur, outside of Delhi, India, women hope to make feminine hygiene supplies easily available and end the stigma surrounding menstruation, which often results in girls having to drop out of school. A machine that makes sanitary pads is installed, and the women operating it find financial security and independence.
The film streams on Netflix
CRISPR - remember this abbrevation. its will be a hot topic of conversation and discussion over the next few years. CRISPR offers unprecedented control over the basic building blocks of life. It opens the door to curing diseases, reshaping the biosphere, and designing our own children. The film, Human Nature, is a provocative exploration of CRISPR’s far-reaching implications, through the eyes of the scientists who discovered it, the families it’s affecting, and the bioengineers who are testing its limits. How will this new power change our relationship with nature? What will it mean for human evolution? To begin to answer these questions we must look back billions of years and peer into an uncertain future. Watch out for the film at film festivals and cinemas now.
No trailer YET - this film premiered at Sundance and will be going onto Netflix soon. The Great Hack gestures at questions around privacy and cultural polarization. But it’s more interested in the particularities of Cambridge Analytica and its use or misuse of Facebook data of 96 people. The film is about what is now possible and this can get scary. Part of the film follows Brittany Kaiser - a former member of Barack Obama’s campaign team. She is either an embittered idealist who joined Cambridge Analytica after years of thankless and poorly paid progressive activism, only to recant after realizing she’d lost her way. Or she might be an opportunistic political operator who’s more interested in power than any particular ideology, refashioning herself as a whistleblower to evade the consequences of her actions. Either way, you'll be sure to check your privacy seyttings on the way home.