Documentaries to Watch @Home - Spring 2020

Documentaries to Watch @Home - Spring 2020

Documentaries to watch at home - here are our latest recommendations

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Dirty Money -  Jared Kushner: “A tier-one predator”.

Showing on Netflix

Netflix's “Dirty Money” Documentary Season 2 covers a range of topics with Episode 3 hitting out at “slumlord” Jared Kushner: “A tier-one predator”. The new program examines at how Kushner allegedly exploited his White House position as his company preyed on residents. Could this possibly be the same Jared that earlier this week graciously paused his efforts solving the opioid crisis, bringing peace to the Middle East, and “reinventing the entire government” to work on the administration’s response to the Coronavirus crisis? (How did that go?)

Kushner is featured on the episode "Slumlord Millionaire" which details Kushner Companies' shady business tactics. Kushner took control of the company after his father, Charles, went to prison for trying to obstruct an investigation by blackmailing his sister with a video of his brother-in-law having sex with a prostitute. The probe was led by then-prosecutor Chris Christie.

The episode shows "the apple didn't fall far from the tree," and The Daily Beast wrote in its preview, that Kushner "quickly began managing the family business via underhanded practices of a despicable sort."

Much of the episode focuses on "construction harassment." and how Kushner Cos. regularly ousted residents from its rent-stabilized apartments in New York by launching "unnecessary large-scale renovations intended to make life so miserable that tenants flee their homes," In turn, the company was able to increase rent prices without running afoul of the city's rent regulations.


Miss Americana

Showing on Netflix

In what is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated biographical documentaries of the year, Miss Americana lifts the veil on the ever-divisive Taylor Swift. The feature provides a revealing look at the sexism and misogyny that marred the artist's rise to fame (Kanye West's famous interruption at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards included), Swift's subsequent year of "hiding," and her triumphant return to the spotlight. Moving and revelatory, it also highlights her immense songwriting talents, following along during late-night studio sessions with Jack Antonoff and other collaborators.

Rotten

Playing on Netflix

Rotten is a Docu-series produced by Zero Point Zero focusing on problems in the process of supplying food. The show's first season was released on Netflix in 2018 and the second season at the end of 2019. Each show deals with one food product and shows interviews with manufacturers, distributors, and others involved in the process. It also highlights several criminal cases brought against these people.

The documentar series about corruption in the food world, sure to spark strong reactions. Createdby Zero Point Zero Production, the team that worked with Anthony Bourdain on Parts Unknown, these six one hour-long episodes feature a number of farmers, fishermen, scientists, and doctors shedding light on the surprising and at times downright disgusting ways that common foodstuffs are brought to market.

While Rotten is not an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride, the series is packed with surprising revelations and the storytelling is grounded in facts with many of the stories pulled from the headlines of major newspapers, and feature commentary from the people who lived through these incidents. The talking heads are mostly doctors and scientists from esteemed universities and government organizations.


Season 1

1. "Lawyers, Guns and Honey"

2. "The Peanut Problem"

3 "Garlic Breath"

4 "Big Bird"

5 "Milk Money"

6 "Cod Is Dead"

Season 2

1 "The Avocado War"

2 "Reign of Terror"

3 "Troubled Water"

4 "A Sweet Deal"

5 "Bitter Chocolate"

6 "High on Edibles"

The Pharmacist

Showing on Netflix

This is a four-part series, The Pharmacist centers on the story of small-town pharmacist Dan Schneider, whose son was shot and killed in 1999 while buying drugs in New Orleans. Schneider took it upon himself to hunt down his son's killer and bring him to justice after finding the police's efforts unsatisfactory, but soon, another overlooked crisis would cross his path. He began noticing an uptick in high-dose prescriptions for Oxycontin at his pharmacy way before the opioid epidemic became a recognized national emergency. With his son's addiction and subsequent death on his mind, he embarked on a new mission: prevent the same fate from befalling others in his community while holding Big Pharma accountable.

Hillary

Showing on Hulu

Love her or hate her and whether or not you voted for her in 2016, there's no denying Hillary Clinton is a groundbreaking political figure. In another docu-series (do you get the impression I think you have more time on your hands now), the four-part program examines her life and remarkable political ascent from lawyer to First Lady to Secretary of State to presidential candidate. Featuring interviews with Clinton herself, Bill (quite candid ones at that) and Chelsea Clinton, journalists, staff members, and others, it provides an intimate look into the world of one of the most iconic women on earth.

After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News

Showing on HBO

If there's one documentary every American should watch ahead of the 2020 election, it's this one. Examining the rise of fake news and delving into various disinformation campaigns that affected the 2016 presidential election, this film is an eye-opening reality check about the growing dangers of a post-truth culture.

McMillions

Available on HBO

This documentary series tells the stranger-than-fiction story of fast-food fraud. A cop turned security auditor fixed the McDonald’s Monopoly game for a decade. He stole millions and expanded his scam to a wide network of co-conspirators. The six-part HBO series includes firsthand accounts from the FBI agents who took the network down, McDonald’s execs, lawyers, and the culprits.

Dancing with the Birds

Showing on Netflix

Looking for a documentary to watch with your kids/grandkids while they are off from school possibly until the end of the year. Dancing with the Birds is a great option. The movie goes deep into tropical forests, following birds-of-paradise as they search for mates. This captivating documentary explores the wonders of nature and some of its most beautiful creatures. Narrated by Stephen Fry.

Take Your Pills

Showing on Netflix

From award-winning documentarian Alison Klayman comes an insightful look at the growing performance-enhancing drug crisis in the U.S. today. This film explores how prolific stimulant drugs, like Adderall and Ritalin, have become. Klayman follows these drugs from high school classrooms to Wall Street, focusing on the history, the facts, and the pervasiveness of cognitive-enhancement drugs in our culture.

Life Off Grid

Showing on Amazon Prime

Feel like it's time to get away from reality? Fed up of our modern world? Producer Phillip Vannini and director Jonathan Taggart spent 2011 to 2013 visiting 200 people across Canada that have chosen to live “off the grid.” This means that they create their own electricity in some way or another. The film interviews its subjects about what led them to choose this way of life and what other practices they’ve implemented.

A defining factor of the film is to present living off the grid as a valid way of life instead of sensationalizing the people who do it. Interviewing at least one person in each Canadian province, it’s fascinating to see the inventions that can be created simply from wanting to do better by the Earth. One fascinating example is a solar grill which harnesses the heat from the sun to cook food. By showcasing how similar a life people can live off the grid to those who aren’t, the film provides a jumping-off point for anyone to rethink the way they live—maybe even to go off the grid themselves.

If you have a recommendation for a documentary, a festival, or a local film showing, please share with the community