Top Six Documentaries That Will Change The Way You Look At Things

ACTIVISM | 7 minute read | | 0 Comments | 352 Likes

Documentaries have been having an impact on us since the invention of modern cinema.  Reel or real, they always portray different point of views and sometimes stark truth about our society or things we were previously unaware of.

Some say documentary films must portray truth in order to have an impact on society, whereas others contradict this by saying documentaries can also be a construction of reality rather than a direct address of it.

The point is documentaries often influence powerful viewpoints, so much that most of us believe everything shown and it becomes our hypodermic needle. Better or worse, these films open our minds, make us ponder and investigate further if it has ingested us with enough curiosity.


Keeping this in mind, we have compiled a list of powerful documentaries that explores different aspects of life.

1. The Corporation

This movie shows how our everyday decisions are influenced with the takeover of supermarkets over traditional shops. It charts the progress and the effects profit driven corporations have on the world we live in. This movies is an amalgamation of things that creates an entirely different tapestry including interviews, archival footage, and good old investigative journalism showcasing the impact corporations have in our society; how we've gotten to this point and where all this could be taking us. 

Despite the heavy nature there are a few moments of ironic comedy. What makes this film stand out is it offers a balanced crack at the whip. It does not demonise anything, making it stronger and an engaging cinematic product. Regardless of your political stand, The Corporation is worth watching for its neutrality.

2. Blackfish

Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s film and it draws on shocking video footage and interviews from former orca trainers who detail their naiveity and ignorance on behind the scenes treatment of these majestic species .  This film is a captivating yet troubling exposé of Sea World’s dangerous entertainment trade. Blackfish is definitely worth a watch, as it builds a righteous and ethical argument on behalf of Orca whales – be prepared to be surprised and heartbroken!

3. The Power of Nightmares

This is a three series BBC documentary which exploits fear. This documentary presents highly revealing interviews with senior officials fighting terrorism. The interviews, along with the footage shown raises serious questions about who is behind all of the fear-mongering. The riveting clips in The Power of Nightmares enlightens us about how the media has been manipulated to support power agendas. This oye-opening piece reveals how elite groups use power for their own agenda and demonstrates that the nightmare of a lethal, united terrorist organisation waiting to strike our societies is largely an illusion. 

“In documentary we deal with the actual, and in one sense with the real. But the really real, if I may use that phrase, is something deeper than that. The only reality which counts in the end is the interpretation which is profound.” — John Grierson

4. Born into Brothels

This is a heartwarming documentary captured by Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman captures Zana’s journey into Calcutta's underworld to photograph the city's prostitutes. The movie is an Oscar winner for ‘Best Documentary Feature’, and truly deserves to be for its simplicity, intense storytelling, raw beauty, hope and inspiration. It shows innocent children in India filled with wonder, despair and bag of other intense emotions along with the stark reality of their lives and situations. A must watch for all to see a story of hope within a great challenge.

5. Which way is the frontline

Sebastian Junger captures the life of photo-journalist and filmmaker Tim Hetherington who covered wars in Afghanistan, West Africa and Libya.

Tim’s ability to locate the humanity in any situation, no matter how grim or horrific makes this a truly toucing visual trear. He is less interested in capturing graphic violence and is inclined towards the reflective, silent images, which consists of a a series of portraits of American soldiers in war zones.  If you are interested in this documentary, we also recommend Restrepo –captured in Afghanistan and a beautiful example of journalism.

6. Honor Diaries

Directed by Micah Smith tackles the subject of oppression of human rights and the rights of women in the world, but especially in the Muslim dominated regions. It shows discussions between various women activists who speak about their journey, hardships and focuses not just on women's rights but on women's rights in honor-based societies, which is a topic that few people speak about openly or candidly. Remember Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl who became an international icon for women's rights after being nearly killed by Taliban members for wanting to go to school? Honor Diaries will spark your interest as it discusses various such stories and women who voice their opinion and say culture is no excuse for any kind of abuse. These women are strong Muslim leaders, they are religious, yet are strongly emphasise how religion must not be used to violate any human being, especially women in the name of honor.

Obviously there are many enlightening documentaries, but these are top five picks. Let us know if you have an absolute favorite or talk to us if you a documentary film maker and would like us to promote your work.

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