A good documentary sticks with you for life and teaches you about issues and events that you wouldn’t usually think twice about.
Documentaries are capable of heavily influencing the way we think and see the world, as they examine topics in great detail and leave you questioning what you thought you knew.
From the environment and food production to fashion, there are documentaries to suit every taste and curiosity. There’s also a documentary for every mood, from emotionally heartfelt to outright shocking – so they’re a great alternative to a film.
We’ve rounded up eight of the best thought-provoking documentaries that will challenge your preconceptions and change the way you think about issues and events forever.
Before The Flood
Fisher Stevens’ latest documentary follows Leonardo DiCaprio campaigning to raise global awareness of climate change. The film follows DiCaprio as he travels to various countries that are witnessing climate change on a scale that cannot be ignored, from the flooded roads in Miami to the smog-filled streets of Beijing. DiCaprio interviews scientists, politicians and activists to address the hard facts that natural disasters are becoming more frequent, wildlife is vanishing and communities are being destroyed and to ask them what can be done. The documentary features leading figures like Elon Musk, Piers Sellers, Sunita Narian, Pope Francis and President Barack Obama.
Showing in some cinemas from Friday 21st October
My Scientology Movie
In his first feature film, Louis Theroux delves into a discussion around the Church of Scientology. The documentary follows Louis as he is denied access to the Church’s headquarters. The film uses actors to recreate incidents people claim to have experienced as members in an attempt to better understand the way the organisation operates. An interesting twist in the documentary shows the Church of Scientology responding by putting filmmakers under surveillance and denouncing the movie.
The True Cost
This eye-opening documentary will change the
way you see the modern fashion industry and reveals the truth behind
the clothes you wear and the impact it has on our world. The documentary
highlights how the prices of clothes have fallen over the years, whilst
human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. The True Cost
offers an eye-opening journey around the world, from runways to slums,
and shows the lives of the people and places behind the clothes we buy.
Louis Theroux: Extreme Love Autism
master of eye-opening documentaries, Louis Theroux, visits DLC Warren
School in New Jersey – one of the best schools in the US for autism.
During the documentary he meets students and families and learns what
life is like for those dealing with autism on a daily basis. This
emotional documentary reveals the high and low moments facing families
with autistic childre and gives a powerful insight into the lives they lead.
This feature length documentary uncovers the truths behind the most destructive industry facing the world – animal agriculture – and investigates issues that leading environmental organisations are trying to cover up. The filmmaker in the documentary approaches environmental movements with pure facts (that animal agriculture and our food habits is the leading cause of deforestation), but faces an intentional refusal to discuss it. Uncovering such a controversial topic that mainstream green groups are trying to conceal makes this documentary shocking and eye-opening. During the course of filming this documentary, investors pull the funding for the film because they were worried about the impact of rivalling such influential groups might have. However following this Leonardo DiCaprio, a celebrity well known for his environmental activism, decided to produce the movie so showcase the issues surrounding these groups. This documentary will change the way you think about food and human eating habits for the rest of your life, it also highlights the flaws of environmental organisations.
This documentary highlights the fickle and dangerous nature of social media. After initial release, the film had such an impact the filmmakers were commissioned to make TV series about those affected by the issues covered in the documentary. Catfish follows Nev as he builds a romantic relationship with a young woman on Facebook but soon realises that things aren’t quite as they seem. The film was so successful it also coined the use of popular word “catfish”. The documentary is thrilling throughout and has a jaw-dropping twist that you won’t forget about.
Man On A Wire
This documentary looks at Philippe Petit, a tightrope walker, who performed a daring but illegal high-wire routine between New York’s World Trade Centre Twin Towers in the 1970s. This biographical documentary reveals how his stunt turned him into a media sensation and explores every detail of how he pulled off this adventurous crime – from how he acquired building access to how he put up the wire.
Dior And I
This documentary brings viewers inside the world of Christian Dior, with a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Raf Simons’ first haute couture collection. The film combines the everyday pressures of the fashion industry to the brand’s iconic past and gives an exclusive inside look into the Dior fashion house. The documentary also features Marion Cotillard, Jennifer Lawrence and Sharon Stone so if you’re passionate about all things fashion, make sure you give this documentary a watch.
An Inconvenient Truth
This film follows Al Gore as he campaigns to raise awareness of the dangers of global warming and calls for immediate action to curb its destructive effects on the planet. The documentary weaves the science of global warming with Al Gore’s history and lifelong commitment to climate change. Since its release this documentary has been credited for raising public awareness of global warming and has also been shown in school around the world as part of the science curriculum.
This documentary examines the financial and ecological impact of the bottled water industry. It also explores the role bottled water has on our everyday lives on issues such as our health, climate change and pollution. The filmmakers of Tapped decided to make this documentary after researching ocean pollution and finding that it kept leading them to one source – bottled water.