Sunday, 15 October 2017

Blogtober Day 15- 5 Amazing Documentaries on Netflix Right Now!

Now that the nights are drawing in, it's a lot more tempting to curl up on the sofa in front of the TV than it is to go outside. Therefore, I thought I'd do a post on what you should watch while curled up on that sofa! I don't think I've mentioned this on my blog before, but I'm a little bit of a documentary/factual programming nut - to the extent that I've an MA in documentary production and want to work in factual TV -  and I wanted to do something a little different than just what I'm binge-watching right now. So, I've decided to write about five fantastic documentaries you should check out on Netflix right now.

I'm working with Panasonic on this post to celebrate the release of their new 4K TV! More information on the Panasonic Ultra HD 4K TV can be found here.

What I love about documentaries is the insight into areas and subcultures I know nothing about. I love the look into other people's lives and other worlds that have no intersection with my own. I'm constantly surprised by the richness of our world and how there's so much going on that none of us know about. So, in that vein, here are some documentaries on Netflix I've really enjoyed (in no particular order).

Chef's Table

This Netflix series first appeared on the service in 2015 - there's now three series of it, each with six episodes. Each episode profiles a single, world-renowned chef, their restaurant, and their food. It was created by David Gelb, who directed the fantastic documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. (If Jiro was on Netflix, it would be on this list instead of Chef's Table. It's fascinating and really well done). I love the look into these amazing restaurants and the lives of the chefs who run them, and who are totally dedicated to their art. 

Mea Maxima Culpa

This is not a documentary for the faint-hearted, nor anybody who wants to watch something light. Directed by the Academy Award-winning Alex Gibney, Mea Maxima Culpa examines the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church by telling the story of boys who were abused at St. John's School for the Deaf in Wisconsin in the 1960s. It's harrowing and heartbreaking and very dark, but I think it's an incredibly important documentary. 

I didn't actually watch this one on Netflix, I saw it at a special showing in Dublin which was followed by a Q&A with Alex Gibney, and I remember crying my eyes out during the film, particularly when the men who were abused described not being able to tell their families what was happening to them, as none of them could understand sign language. If you decide to watch this - and it is worth it - keep a box of tissues handy.

The Blue Planet

I owe an awful lot to the BBC Natural History unit. They're a major factor in why I love both biology, and documentaries. You always know that when you sit down to watch one, you're going have a truly phenomenal experience, from the storytelling to the camerawork to the music. Every single thing about them is incredibly well done, and all are worth a watch. However, I've chosen The Blue Planet in particular for this like. 

Blue Planet is a series exploring life in the earth's seas. Like all of the BBC NHU docs, it's incredible. My favourite episode is the second - The Deep, which explores the creatures you find in the deepest parts of the ocean. How they managed to shoot it is completely mind-blowing to me. I have no idea how on earth they managed it, and I could watch it over and over. With the sequel (Blue Planet II) coming out soon on BBC One, you're definitely due a rewatch of this stunning series. (Also, David Attenborough has the best voice of any person ever, and is possibly my favourite person alive.)

Sour Grapes

This was actually a really recent watch for me - it popped up in my Netflix suggestions last week, so I  gave it a go and I'm really glad I did. Sour Grapes explores the world of incredibly high-end wine auctions, and the story of wine collector Rudy Kurniawan, who forged possibly thousands of bottles of the most expensive and rare wines in the world. 

This film exemplifies what I love most about documentaries in general - a look into an exclusive world that the vast majority of us will never experience, complete with an enthralling story. Even if you're not a wine enthusiast at all (I'm certainly not), give this a go.

The True Cost

This 2015 documentary, directed by Andrew Morgan, focuses on fast fashion. It explores various aspects of the clothes industry, from genetically modified cotton-growing in India, to terrible working conditions in factories in countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia, to how the media affects clothes consumption in the US, to what happens to old clothes in Haiti. I think so many people in the blogging community - and I am absolutely including myself in this - are blind to what exactly it takes to get cheap clothes into my local high street shops, and since watching this I've tried to shop preferentially in places that prioritize the rights of the people who make their clothes - although I'm not always great about it. 

I hope you enjoyed this list, and I would really love some more recommendations on documentaries to watch! What have you been enjoying lately?


  1. I think The True Cost sounds really interesting, and Mea Maxima Culpa does in parts from how you described it kind of remind me of The Keepers which is another good doco on Netflix!

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

    1. Thanks for your comment! I've been meaning to check out The Keepers for quite a while now- I must move it up my to-watch list!


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