Documentaries have the power to educate and serve as a tool that sparks conversation, shares information, and can cause social movements.
Documentaries pull together reliable information and important issues; in a sense they put a human face on real issues hearing and seeing these experiences through the work of documentary filmmakers helps us to envision ourselves in that situation to gain understanding.
Understanding can take the form of empathy, real issues, struggles, injustices, and truth.
Life can be summed up as epic, complex, magnificent, tragic, — when you find a powerful documentary- it grips you and stays with you beyond a day or a week.
The following documentaries have captured my attention recently:
- Tiger King – Is a 7 episode true crime Roxi- series centered around “Joe Exotic” an infamous collector of giant cats like lions and tiger in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin have many years of hate based on the closure of G.W. Soo and Joe is convinced that Carole killed her husband and fed him to her tigers. Tiger King really captures attention.
2. Making a Murderer – There are 2 Seasons : Freed from prison for a crime Steven Avery did not commit amid allegations of police misconduct; he finds himself arrested for the murder of Teresa Halbach. His cousin, Brendan Dassey was also found guilty of the crime. These seasons evoke waves of emotions and the concerns of injustice as you watch helplessly. For me, I am all about justice and personally would never want the wrong person going to prison and if I was uncertain, I would not want “innocent or questionable people in jail”
3. American Murder: The Family Next Door – this 1:23 movie really hit me. Shanann really shared a lot of her life on social media and so many aspects are shared on this series. It really provided a glimpse into their life. The marriage was in disarray, the social media outlet that was to everyone good and “fantastic” really was an illusion. Chris Watts killed his kids and wife and dumped them in the oil field (the girls in the tanks and wife in the field) – the situation unraveled when the timelines and information did not line up. Money and the play by play events that lead up to the crime including actual text messages.
4. 41 – George H W Bush is a personal documentary that dives into his surprising childhood and evolution of leadership throughout his life. His story captivates an audience with the house in Maine, the life in Texas, how he loved sports, and ran for Senate, was flying and his plane was shot down, (actual footage of his rescue was shown), was involved in the Carter Presidency, and spent time in China. He shared how he took a job at the CIA and made his way (unconventionally) into the White House. The tender moments of the loss of his daughter and the home footage really hit home. George’s love of family, home, roots, Yale, sports, and country shined. In some ways, this could be considered an interview rather than a documentary- either way – it provided a lens of history that engages me and caused emotion in the life of privilege and his struggles to the life of a Vice President and later President.
5. Don’t F**k with Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer – 3 part documentary where a group of internet sleuths launch a manhunt for the kitten killer. Luka Magnotta gained attention in Canada – he also lured an innocent international student and killed him. The student’s torso was recovered outside the apartment Magnotta had rented and the head was discovered later. It was an eye opener and a binge watch as you could not believe everything that was happening.
6. Filthy Rich: Based on the life of Jeffrey Epstein – 4 episodes about the manipulation, abuse, scars, and emotional turmoil suffered at the hands of Jeffrey Epstein. This is a modern day Gatsby who human trafficked and abused children. Money and influence continually let Epstein carry on with his behavior even after he was in some trouble. The FBI was contacted back in 1996, 2005 more allegations; girls made reports about being pressured to provide massages and other favors for $200. The private island, New York, London, and in 2008; a deal where Epstein served 11 months of 13 months in a Palm Beach Jail – out 6 days a week on work release and provided immunity and non prosecution agreement – later in 2019, on charges similar – he allegedly committed suicide – personally I am not buying it
7. Aaron Hernandez: 3 episodes – This Sports Documentary takes places with many interviews of friends, players, and insiders. It takes a look how an NFL star becomes a convicted killer. The series starts with Aaron’s arrest and his life and relationships before becoming a star. During Aaron’s college days, some of his behaviors are questionable and then moves into his first trial and the defense of concussions. I found this series interesting and very fascinating.
8. The Staircase – 13 episodes in this series and was it an accident or was it murder? Author Michael Peterson’s wife is dead, but everything in his life is examined. From Michael’s almost seemingly hidden life, to a suspicious event from his past, the coincidence just makes me cringe. There are a lot of twists and turns including a visit to the staircase and information that comes to light later…. This is a great watch and makes me question…what happened to Kathleen?
9. The Keepers – 7 episode American documentary web series that explores the unsolved murder of nun Catherine Cesnik. She taught at an all- girl’s school in Baltimore and there is speculation that the priest may have had something to do with her death especially since the priest was found guilty of sexually abusing students.
10. Tiger – is a 2 part documentary that looks at the early years of Tiger Woods and his family experiences; it detailed his high school experiences as well as his dad’s relationships – it paints the picture of Tiger being removed from friends and a girlfriend; how he cut people out of his life his high school girlfriend, his caddy, his friends, it explains the cheating that went on for years, the prescription drug and hidden lifestyle and Rachael Uchitel shares her relationship and how went from being epic and admired to disgraced and a mess…
11. Robin Williams: Come inside my mind – The intimate portrait examines one of the world’s most amazing comedians. Robin’s own voice and footage – some never seen before – shares his incredible life and career.
12. Amanda Knox – the story of the trial, conviction and acquittal of Amanda Knox for the murder of an exchange student. This story was one I personally followed from the beginning Amanda’s behavior was odd for someone whose roommate was murdered, however, being odd and taking drugs may cause a different kind of reaction… following the documentary through the years and two convictions. Interesting to learn about the case and the interesting facets of the case.