Documentaries are unique in that they provide a compassionate, immersive experience for the viewer — something that a news story often does not provide. In recent years, documentaries have become a method of awareness and education in the growing media industry. While documentaries shown in the United States are often focused on domestic issues, there are also many films dedicated to places and issues overseas that provide an educational, artistic and fascinating look into the world. Here are 5 documentaries for expanding your worldview.
5 Documentaries For Expanding Your Worldview
- For the Love of Water (Flow): “Flow is an eye-opening, troubling 90 minutes that makes us think twice about an element we take for granted” — The Boston Globe. For the Love of Water is a 2008 documentary by Irena Salina focused on the world’s most precious resource — water. Salina exposes the politics of the water industry and privatization, along with the concerns of pollution and human rights tied into the broken system which turns water from a basic human right to a source of power for those who control it as an economic resource. Through interviews with experts and scientists, who share the goal of creating a world of equality through grassroots organizations and new technologies, Salina creates a haunting portrait of a world without access to water — a world we already live in.
- Fire At Sea: “Fire at Sea occupies your consciousness like a nightmare, and yet somehow you don’t want it to end” — NYT critic review. Fire at Sea, winner of the Best Film Award at the Berlin Film Festival in 2016, paints a moving picture of an ongoing European humanitarian crisis. Focusing on Lampedusa, a small island south of Sicily, director Gianfranco Rosi documents the migrant crisis as refugees from Africa and the Middle East cross the dangerous waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Stark and bleak as it may be, Rosi’s style provides audiences with an educational and artistic view into a world and life many do not yet understand.
- The White Helmets: “The picture that emerges is the reality of living through this intractable and unbalanced conflict, bringing home the scale of the international community’s failure” — The Nation. The Netflix short documentary, The White Helmets, follows three volunteer rescue workers of an organization of the same name in Aleppo, Syria and Turkey. Directed by Orlando Von Einsiedel, The White Helmets highlights the power of those dedicated to saving and protecting the lives of citizens affected by the war. An Oscar winner in 2016 for Best Documentary Short, this film provides insight to not only the current situation in Syria, but to the heroes risking their lives for the safety of others.
- City of Ghosts: “City of Ghosts isn’t merely about the personal sacrifices of these men, but a testament to the necessity of a free and open press the world over” — Arizona Republic. The widely nominated documentary City of Ghosts takes an in-depth look at ‘Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently,’ a citizen journalist collective in Syria. This group is dedicated to exposing the atrocities and human rights violations committed by the terrorist group ISIS. Director Matthew Heinman follows the group as they face the dangers of activism and protest in an era of silence (Rated R for violence).
- Why Poverty Series: The Why Poverty series is a collection of 8 documentaries and 34 short films focused on a variety of issues across a global scale. Created by The Why Foundation — a Denmark based organization focused on educating and broadening the horizons of the world’s population through a global outreach campaign — the Why Poverty series aired across 180 countries on networks such as BBC and PBS. Poor Us, one of the 8 documentaries, is an animated film on the history of poverty. Director Ben Lewis covers 10,000 years of history in just 58 minutes, from hunter-gather food insecurity to industrial revolution laborers to the poverty plaguing so many people, even in the 21st century. This film encapsulates the question The Why Foundation poses with their series — why, with the world’s resources and advancements in science and medicine, does nearly half the world’s population still live in poverty?
Fostering Awareness, One Show At A Time
These five documentaries for expanding your worldview will provide a deeper understanding of the issues faced in the 21st century.
Filmmakers dedicated to exposing the world to both issues and those fighting to make the world a better place provide a perspective that many news outlets cannot.
– Anna Lally