Netlfix quite often prioritises quantity over quality, which sometimes results in really bad series or films – that shouldn’t be a secret to anyone who spontaneously decided to give a new release a go, and regretting it 15 minutes later. However, I must say, the same doesn’t apply to their documentaries – or at least, not as often. Most documentaries that I had given a go were at the very least bearable, and sometimes even super interesting. Therefore, I’ve made a list of a couple of them, and I might follow up with a part 2 sometime in the future. I’ve tried to make a selection from a variety of topics, including nature, agriculture, politics, technology, crime, psychology, food and sports.
1. Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom
This is a documentary from 2015, but it rose to prominence especially within the last month and a half, in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The film’s topic is the period of Ukrainian unrest in 2013 and 2014, which originated in student demonstrations calling for closer relations with the rest of Europe, and led to the resignation of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, and was just before Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
This 12-episode documentary delves into the food production practices that most consumers might not be aware of – as well as the corrupt practices, food waste and socio-political implications that agriculture has around the world. Each episode centres around a topic – avocados, peanuts and garlic are some of the plants targeted, while other episodes look at topics such as beekeeping, winegrowing, bottled water or chocolate. It’s a very interesting series that everybody should watch.
3. The Social Dilemma
We all know that social media is addictive, but many think that’s merely a byproduct of how it works. This documentary film provides additional information about this topic, using expert testimony from tech whistleblowers, who shed a light on how search engines and networks work, how the strategy around their conceptualisation comes from, and how they are used in order to influence those who use them.
4. Our Planet
Our Planet is one of the best nature documentaries to come out in the last couple of years – and, unsurprisingly, it’s produced and narrated by David Attenborough. The episodes focus on the sheer diversity of habitats all over Earth, exploring topics that range from frozen worlds and desolate plains to deep oceans and secluded jungles, all while putting everything into modern perspective and ringing alarm bells that surround topics such as global warming, deforestation and loss of habitat.
5. Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer
Set in the years following Los Angeles hosting the Summer Olympics of 1984, when crime rate was experiencing a period of all-time low, this 4-episode documentary explores the killings and hunt for Richard Ramirez, a notorious serial killer which shocked LA during its peaceful time. It uses a good mix of archival footage and interview, and chooses to focus on the detectives’ and victims’ perspectives in order to shed light of the events that transpired.
6. The Mind Explained
This documentary’s title leaves little room for misunderstanding – in short, it tries to explain the mind. The first season deals with topics such as memory, dreams, anxiety and mindfulness, while the second season looks into themes such as focus, personality, creativity and brainwashing. It’s a very interesting and educational watch, and I can warmly recommend it to anyone looking to better understand themselves.
7. Street Food – Latin America
My only advice for watching this series is to not do it when you’re hungry! It’s a well-known fact that Latin America has some of the most delicious street food around, and this 6-episode mini-series seeks to explore it in-depth. The show travels to six South American cities – Oaxaca (Mexico), Salvador (Brazil), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Lima (Peru), Bogota (Colombia) and La Paz (Bolivia) – in an effort to taste and document some of the tastiest street foods they have to offer.
8. Sunderland Till I Die
Often regarded as one of the most feverishly supported football clubs in England, Sunderland has not really experienced much glory as of late. They had struggled for several years towards the bottom of the Premier League, and when they were finally relegated to the Championship in the 2016-2017 season, where they spent just the one year. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t move back up into the Premier League, but down to League One, where they still play their football today. This documentary chronicles some of their highs and lows during their Championship season.