General Question

SamIAm's avatar

Can you recommend any great documentaries?

Asked by SamIAm (8690points) September 9th, 2010

I just finished watching “I Love You. And You. And You.” It’s a documentary on Polyamorous relationships and I found it to be really fascinating. You can watch it here.

I would love to find some more shortish documentaries on lifestyles, subcultures, cultures, anything interesting really…

Do you have any favorites? If you do and they’re available online, will you post a link?

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30 Answers

tranquilsea's avatar

I love The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. Grey Gardens (the documentary) was fascinating too.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Born into Brothels and Herdsmen of the Sun.

iamthemob's avatar

This station is fantastic: Snag Films. All sorts of online docs for free.

I’m partial to Food, Inc.

Also, current tv has a documentary series that’s kind of awesome called Vanguard.

BoBo1946's avatar

I love any of Soledad O’Brien’s work. Especially, “Black In America!”

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

A Class Divided about a lesson on discrimination. It is old and a bit cruel, but the point is made, especially if one watches the follow-up session years later.

JLeslie's avatar


Jeruba's avatar

I agree, Born into Brothels is a good one.

A few days ago I watched this one and really enjoyed it: Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg. I wouldn’t call it great, by any means, but through its focus on an iconic character and the creation of the first TV sitcom, it did reflect on the American culture in the forties and fifties, wartime and postwar.

Seek's avatar

Ricki Lake’s The Business of Being Born was wonderful.

Also, the documentary about Ernest Shackleton

Qingu's avatar

Planet Earth is the most amazing nature documentary I’ve ever seen, and there’s a new one called “Life,” too. (Really, any documentary with David Attenborough and you can’t go wrong.)

I also really liked two Werner Herzog documentaries. Encounters at the End of the World is about Antarctica and the people who live there. Grizzly Man is about a crazy bear-loving hippie who went to film bears up close and got eaten by them, along with his girlfriend.

Jay484's avatar

i don’t know if the band of brother serise would be a documentary

Trillian's avatar

@Qingu Prety much anything that Werner Herzg does is something I enjoy. Encounters was fascinating, though I hated Grizzly Man I recently saw a great one called Wheel of TIme which is a Buddhist ritual that is suppoesd to promote peace and tolerance. There were some scenes with His Holiness which I loved.
@Samantha_Rae Mr Herzog has a bunch of documentaries that are well worth watching, including a new one that promises to be great called; Cave of Forgottn Dreams.

filmfann's avatar

Murderball about paralyzed men playing basketball

In The Land Of The Deaf deaf culture in France

Standing In The Shadows Of Motown the band who backed up all those great hits

The King Of Kong—Fistful of Quarters a competition between two people who kick ass at Donkey Kong.

JLeslie's avatar

Murderball is about paraplegic rugby.

Haleth's avatar

Long Way Round about a trip around the world by motorcycle. They do some crazy adventurous stuff, see really interesting places (especially in Central Asia), and there are some very genuine emotional moments. Bonus, the whole thing is on youtube.

iamthemob's avatar

“The King of Kong” IS totally awesome. I’ve never felt so committed to rooting for someone who was shooting for a goal that means very, very little in the end.

Dear Zachary follows the legal battle over custody of an infant whose mother was accused of killing the infant’s father…and more. I won’t say because it should be watched without further discussion, and is one of the most devastating things I have ever seen in my life.

iamthemob's avatar

“Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock?” ( is totally hilarious on the other hand.

ipso's avatar

Lifestyle… more or less
Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004)
Bukowski: Born Into This (2002)
In the Realms of the Unreal (2004)
Darkon (2006)
Gates of Heaven (1980)

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003)
The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002)
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)
American Masters: Rod Serling: Submitted for Your Approval (1995) (TV)
Cosmos (1980) (TV)

Cruiser's avatar

Radium City. freaked me out like no other documentary ever….I mean a real mind bender at what really goes on under your nose.

Radium City Documentary

In 1986 documentary film maker Carole Langer that covered the plight of the so called “Radium Girls” who worked in the watch dial industry. The women, who had been told the paint was harmless, ingested deadly amounts of radium after being instructed to lick their paintbrushes to sharpen them; some even painted their fingernails with the glowing paint. Many of the women began to suffer from anemia, bone fractures and necrosis of the jaw, a condition now known as radium jaw. Many of these women died young.

The documentary interviews survivors from the industrial tragedy who relate their experiences of the poisoning and the bureaucratic nightmare they were forced to contend with in seeking compensation and justice. Radium City outlines the aftermath of these events with a focus on the social and political consequences as well as the medical ones.

According to the film, after the Radium Dial workers began to get sick, a lawsuit was brought against Radium Dial Company. With the looming lawsuit, it closed and then re-opened under the name Luminous Processes in another part of town. The workers, though more concerned, kept on working.

The film shows the dismantling of the High School where the Radium Dial Company was housed. The building materials were eventually turned into landfill. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began removing contaminated material in 1986[1]. The work continues.

After the plant closed and before it was dismantled many residents took items from the factory for their homes. This spread the contamination even further.
[edit] Areas still impacted by Radiation

Several areas of Ottawa are still radioactive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study[2] outlining areas where contamination by radium-226 (Ra-226) as well as emissions of radon-222 (Rn-222) are at above normal levels. These areas include homes, public areas, schools, and even a car sales lot that is housed directly over the old Radium Dial Company site.

It should be noted that the radium in Ottawa’s water supply is not from Radium Dial and Luminous Processes. Rather, it’s naturally occurring and found in water from deep wells all over northern Illinois[3]. A reverse osmosis water treatment plant removes the radium so the city’s tap water complies with federal regulations[4].

Taciturnu's avatar

Food Inc will make you want to buy a farm and start making everything yourself.

FLOW opens your eyes to water justice issues.

iamthemob's avatar

“Blue Gold: Water Wars” is another good one on water justice.

Taciturnu's avatar

@iamthemob I’ll have to check that one out.

MacBean's avatar

Off the top of my head: I second Planet Earth and Life. The Cove really did me in. Children Underground might be my favorite doc of all time.

Piper_Brianmind's avatar

Dark Days.
When We Were Kings.
Super High Me.
And I don’t know if this fits what you want, but there’s a very good show called I Shouldn’t Be Alive. Very intense. All true stories.

hobbitsubculture's avatar

Helvetica is about the font by the same name, its ubiquity, and how it’s used to shape our perceptions.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated is a good one if you’ve ever wondered why film ratings are so screwy. Why is sex rated more mature than violence?

@iamthemob and @Taciturnu I keep hearing great stuff about Food Inc, but I’m already so familiar with its subject, I’m not in too much of a hurry to watch it.

iamthemob's avatar


If you like Helvetica, you’ll get a kick out of Objectified, about the general thinking behind the design of a lot of our most used objects, and how form and function have less and less to do with each other in the digital age.

And yeah – Food, Inc. is really only useful if you’re unfamiliar with corn subsidies and CAFOs.

weeveeship's avatar

The End of Suburbia

Really gets you thinking.

hobbitsubculture's avatar

@iamthemob Thanks, I just put Objectified on the Netflix Instant queue.

@weeveeship Telling my partner about The End of Suburbia. He’s been following Peak Oil for awhile now, and is a scholar of collapse.

dmrob2009's avatar

Hi! I have a few good documentaries for you. The Streets of Plenty; In Lies We Trust: The CIA, Hollywood and Bioterrorism; These Streets are Watching; JFK II: The Bush Connection; Making a Killing: The Untold Story of Psychotropic Drugging; The True Story of Blackhawk Down; Analytical Survival (there are many good documentaries on this Youtube Channel); The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition.

Maiki's avatar

I really liked The Cove. It’s AMAZING.
And Anvil! : The story of Anvil , really hilarious.
here is the trailer of both.

The Cove:
Anvil!: The story of Anvil:

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