7 Of The Best Netflix Documentaries To Watch In December
November 29, 2016 (No Comments) by theSharpeUser

7-of-the-best-netflix-documentaries-to-watch-in-december

1. 13th (2016)

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution mandates that slavery must be abolished – with the addendum that it will be allowed as the punishment for a crime. This starkly honest documentary from Selma director Ava DuVernay argues that the mass incarceration of black Americans and the utilisation of state rehabilitation centres as a moneymaking scheme has permitted slavery to continue, in what many would otherwise call ‘The Land of the Free’.

There are clips of speeches and interviews from former presidents, the 2016 Presidential candidates at various points in time, and many more. The US has the largest prison population in the world, and a worrying amount are black males, many locked up for years on end for non-violent crimes. This film addresses the tough questions that no-one else seems to be asking.

the-thirteenth-amendment

2. Audrie and Daisy (2016)

This unflinching documentary on the relationship between social media and sexual assault was lauded at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. It is based around the two high-profile rape cases of Audrie Potts and Daisy Coleman, a pair of teenage girls in the US who were vilified by their communities after their assaults. The film dives into not only what happened to Potts and Coleman, but also the rape culture and tendency towards victim-blaming that seems to pervade our society, all the more apparent in a vulnerable high school environment.

Never has the flaws in the justice system been more clear, as ‘star athletes’ walk free after committing unspeakable acts while their victims are left to rebuild themselves – or not. It was directed by husband-and-wife duo Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, who decided to tell the girls’ story – and the story of many girls who have endured similar situations – after they heard about both cases, and became aware of just how desensitised we can become towards others’ suffering so long as we view it on a screen.

audrie-and-daisy-2016

 3. Particle Fever (2013)

This documentary was filmed over a period of seven years, and follows the experimental and theoretical physicists that worked tirelessly on the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva in Switzerland. There are two narrative threads that converge towards the end of the film; the first tracks the physicists at CERN who fire up the Large Hadron Collider, while the second follows two scientists’ competing theories of the multiverse and supersymmetry – both of which would define space and time as we know it. It is an upbeat and hopeful film from director Mark Levinson, communicated flawlessly in layman’s terms, with the excitement of the people working on the LHC becoming almost infectious as you watch them work.

particle-fever-2013

4. Virunga (2014)

In 2012, Virunga National Park, located in the Eastern Congo, was being threatened by poachers, oil companies and a radical Islamic revolutionary army. This documentary tells the story of four people trying to protect the park, its neighbours and its animal inhabitants; a gorilla caregiver, a French journalist, the park’s chief warden and its central sector warden. It plays like a thriller, the ‘heroes’ of the piece having to fight for the rights of the park and the safety of the people in the nearby village that acts as a pseudo-gateway to Virunga while up against behemoths such as British oil company Soco International.

The courage and strength of the native people, and the rangers’ and reporters’ efforts to protect something so precious, makes for a story that leaves the viewer inspired. It was directed by Orlando Von Einsiedel, and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2014, nominated for an Oscar the same year.

virunga-2014

5. Food, Inc. (2008)

In a world with an exploding population and high demand, food is the most lucrative business there is – and what works fastest, works best. This shocking documentary takes an in-depth look at corporate farming in America, and how the current process of producing food is generally environmentally harmful, as well as being abusive of livestock and even the people that the biggest companies employ.

The film addresses the industry’s tendency to use practises that are economically and environmentally unsustainable, with working class consumers unwittingly buying products that may be making them sick. It makes revelations about the amount of petroleum-based chemicals used in food preparation, and how advertisements and labelling styles are manipulated to ensure the public buys foods that are quick and easy to make rather than buying locally, which tends to be more expensive but healthier. It was directed by Robert Kenner and nominated for an Academy Award and the Independent Spirit Awards in 2009.

food-inc-2008

 6. How to Change the World (2015)

This film deals with the formation of the environmentalist group Greenpeace, and the birth of the green movement during the 1970s. A small team of idealistic young pioneers from Canada set sail in a tiny fishing boat in 1971, aiming to stop Nixon’s testing of a nuclear bomb in Amchitka, Alaska. They later put themselves between whaler harpoons and a school of whales in an attempt to publicly shame the poachers who made a living off killing the animals.

They were led by eco-warrior Robert Hunter, and the documentary tracks over 40 years of footage chronicling the beginning of his adventures, and later his part in creating the global environmental protection movement, Greenpeace. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and was written and directed by Jerry Rothwell.

how-to-change-the-world-2015

7. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About his Father (2008)

In a stunning, heart-wrenching film written, directed, filmed and composed by Kurt Kuenne, viewers are invited to learn about the tragic murder and legacy of Kuenne’s best friend from childhood, Andrew Bagby. It is a story told in a visual scrapbook made for Andrew’s young son, born after his death. The documentary cleverly interweaves the case of Andrew’s murder and its tumultuous aftermath with accounts of Andrew’s life from his massive pool of friends and family, all of whom are scattered across the world. Ultimately it is a celebration of one man, and the enormous impact he made on those around him in the 28 years he was alive.

Kuenne’s personal attachment to the material and people in the film are palpable, the emotion and grief as raw as though the viewer knew Andrew themselves. The journey Kuenne makes with this film is by no means taken on a straight line; twists and turns in the case and the story make this documentary utterly harrowing in its execution. It has won numerous awards and promoted awareness for the intense activism of Andrew’s parents. I recommend watching without any prior research to avoid spoilers – the shocking unearthing of the details of Andrew’s murder and his killer is a great portion of the story, and most of why it is so devastating.

dear-zachary-a-letter-to-a-son-about-his-father-2008

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7 Of The Best Netflix Documentaries To Watch In December
November 29, 2016 (No Comments) by theSharpeUser

7-of-the-best-netflix-documentaries-to-watch-in-december

1. 13th (2016)

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution mandates that slavery must be abolished – with the addendum that it will be allowed as the punishment for a crime. This starkly honest documentary from Selma director Ava DuVernay argues that the mass incarceration of black Americans and the utilisation of state rehabilitation centres as a moneymaking scheme has permitted slavery to continue, in what many would otherwise call ‘The Land of the Free’.

There are clips of speeches and interviews from former presidents, the 2016 Presidential candidates at various points in time, and many more. The US has the largest prison population in the world, and a worrying amount are black males, many locked up for years on end for non-violent crimes. This film addresses the tough questions that no-one else seems to be asking.

the-thirteenth-amendment

2. Audrie and Daisy (2016)

This unflinching documentary on the relationship between social media and sexual assault was lauded at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. It is based around the two high-profile rape cases of Audrie Potts and Daisy Coleman, a pair of teenage girls in the US who were vilified by their communities after their assaults. The film dives into not only what happened to Potts and Coleman, but also the rape culture and tendency towards victim-blaming that seems to pervade our society, all the more apparent in a vulnerable high school environment.

Never has the flaws in the justice system been more clear, as ‘star athletes’ walk free after committing unspeakable acts while their victims are left to rebuild themselves – or not. It was directed by husband-and-wife duo Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, who decided to tell the girls’ story – and the story of many girls who have endured similar situations – after they heard about both cases, and became aware of just how desensitised we can become towards others’ suffering so long as we view it on a screen.

audrie-and-daisy-2016

 3. Particle Fever (2013)

This documentary was filmed over a period of seven years, and follows the experimental and theoretical physicists that worked tirelessly on the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva in Switzerland. There are two narrative threads that converge towards the end of the film; the first tracks the physicists at CERN who fire up the Large Hadron Collider, while the second follows two scientists’ competing theories of the multiverse and supersymmetry – both of which would define space and time as we know it. It is an upbeat and hopeful film from director Mark Levinson, communicated flawlessly in layman’s terms, with the excitement of the people working on the LHC becoming almost infectious as you watch them work.

particle-fever-2013

4. Virunga (2014)

In 2012, Virunga National Park, located in the Eastern Congo, was being threatened by poachers, oil companies and a radical Islamic revolutionary army. This documentary tells the story of four people trying to protect the park, its neighbours and its animal inhabitants; a gorilla caregiver, a French journalist, the park’s chief warden and its central sector warden. It plays like a thriller, the ‘heroes’ of the piece having to fight for the rights of the park and the safety of the people in the nearby village that acts as a pseudo-gateway to Virunga while up against behemoths such as British oil company Soco International.

The courage and strength of the native people, and the rangers’ and reporters’ efforts to protect something so precious, makes for a story that leaves the viewer inspired. It was directed by Orlando Von Einsiedel, and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2014, nominated for an Oscar the same year.

virunga-2014

5. Food, Inc. (2008)

In a world with an exploding population and high demand, food is the most lucrative business there is – and what works fastest, works best. This shocking documentary takes an in-depth look at corporate farming in America, and how the current process of producing food is generally environmentally harmful, as well as being abusive of livestock and even the people that the biggest companies employ.

The film addresses the industry’s tendency to use practises that are economically and environmentally unsustainable, with working class consumers unwittingly buying products that may be making them sick. It makes revelations about the amount of petroleum-based chemicals used in food preparation, and how advertisements and labelling styles are manipulated to ensure the public buys foods that are quick and easy to make rather than buying locally, which tends to be more expensive but healthier. It was directed by Robert Kenner and nominated for an Academy Award and the Independent Spirit Awards in 2009.

food-inc-2008

 6. How to Change the World (2015)

This film deals with the formation of the environmentalist group Greenpeace, and the birth of the green movement during the 1970s. A small team of idealistic young pioneers from Canada set sail in a tiny fishing boat in 1971, aiming to stop Nixon’s testing of a nuclear bomb in Amchitka, Alaska. They later put themselves between whaler harpoons and a school of whales in an attempt to publicly shame the poachers who made a living off killing the animals.

They were led by eco-warrior Robert Hunter, and the documentary tracks over 40 years of footage chronicling the beginning of his adventures, and later his part in creating the global environmental protection movement, Greenpeace. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and was written and directed by Jerry Rothwell.

how-to-change-the-world-2015

7. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About his Father (2008)

In a stunning, heart-wrenching film written, directed, filmed and composed by Kurt Kuenne, viewers are invited to learn about the tragic murder and legacy of Kuenne’s best friend from childhood, Andrew Bagby. It is a story told in a visual scrapbook made for Andrew’s young son, born after his death. The documentary cleverly interweaves the case of Andrew’s murder and its tumultuous aftermath with accounts of Andrew’s life from his massive pool of friends and family, all of whom are scattered across the world. Ultimately it is a celebration of one man, and the enormous impact he made on those around him in the 28 years he was alive.

Kuenne’s personal attachment to the material and people in the film are palpable, the emotion and grief as raw as though the viewer knew Andrew themselves. The journey Kuenne makes with this film is by no means taken on a straight line; twists and turns in the case and the story make this documentary utterly harrowing in its execution. It has won numerous awards and promoted awareness for the intense activism of Andrew’s parents. I recommend watching without any prior research to avoid spoilers – the shocking unearthing of the details of Andrew’s murder and his killer is a great portion of the story, and most of why it is so devastating.

dear-zachary-a-letter-to-a-son-about-his-father-2008

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