Hidden Gems in the Documentary Genre

Hidden Gems in the Documentary Genre

There are advantages to be found in streaming services and their ability to pick and choose from thousands of different films. Sadly, so many choices can lead to some films being lost at the bottom of the pile. Read on to discover some of these hidden gems, all in the documentary genre.

Chuck Norris vs Communism

With a title like that, you might expect a silly action film from the 80s. However, the film actually offers an interesting look at how American pop culture has affected the world–particularly during the communist era. The film explores how American action films were secretly exported into communist Romania, and the subculture that emerged as a result.

Dogtown And Z-Boys

Dogtown and Z Boys takes a deep and educated look into skater culture and its roots in surfboarding: subcultures not always treated with proper respect. The film’s name is derived from an area of California where the sport originated, and covers its pioneers from Zephyr Skateboarding team. It is narrated by Sean Pean, and uses original footage as well as interviews that truly bring the era back to life.

The White Helmets

Despite its recent and important subject matter, this film hasn’t gotten the attention is truly deserves. The White Helmets studies the war in Syria, and the work of the UN White Helmets–particularly in the city of Allepo. It is a harrowing depiction of war and heroism, focusing on the human side of the story that is often overlooked and forgotten. The film won an Academy Award in 2017, but sadly its videographer–a “White Helmet” himself–was refused entry into the US, and was unable to attend the awards.

The Staircase

There are plenty of true crime documentaries, but few are as gripping as this 13-episode series. The Staircase follows the story of Michael Peterson: an author accused of murdering his wife. The documentary is told from his point of view, with pacing that steadily devolves into an increasingly bizarre tale.

Mercury 13

The 1960s was truly a different era. NASA still believed that men should be the only candidates for space travel, but a group of scientists set out to prove that women could handle the same sets of conditions. Thus came about the project known as Mercury 13. The film follows the program from its start to finish, presenting a gripping tale of sexism and how far we’ve come in the battle for gender equality.

The Fear of 13

The Fear of 13 is a documentary film about the death penalty, tackling the subject matter in a unique approach. It follows an inmate facing a life-sentence, who has given up his legal fight. The film shows that even the guilty are human, a fact we must acknowledge regardless of one’s stance on the death penalty.