5 eye-opening documentaries

by Lindsay M, School of Public Health

First and foremost, I think it’s only appropriate to thank my ex-boyfriend for not changing his Netflix password. If it weren’t for his generosity forgetfulness, I would not have had the incredible opportunity to watch so many documentaries “for free” over the past few years.

Image used under Creative Commons courtesy of flowercat/flickr.com

Image used under Creative Commons courtesy of flowercat/flickr.com

The thing that I love about documentaries is that they show it “how it really is”—or at least how it is for a particular person or group of people. Documentaries can be extreme, are often one-sided, and tend to leave you with a powerful urge to go and change something, or at the very least post about it on Facebook. And some documentaries are just down-right fascinating.

1. Crips and Bloods: Made in America This documentary brings to light many of the factors that contributed to the evolution of two of the most notorious gangs in America–the Crips and the Bloods. Through insightful commentaries by scholars and historians, and fascinating interviews with current and former gang members, this documentary reveals a story of gang violence that doesn’t often get told.

2. (A)sexual. It has been estimated that about 1% of people consider themselves asexual, or not sexually attracted to people. (A)sexual chronicles one “asexy” man and his experiences being asexual and finding his place in a seemingly sex-obsessed culture.

3. Food, Inc. Okay, okay. I know you’ve all probably seen this one, but if you haven’t…it’s an incredibly eye-opening look into the secrets of our nation’s highly-mechanized food industry. If you’ve ever wondered how modern farming can produce such juicy chicken breasts or the perfect batch of produce, Food Inc. will show you. But I can’t promise the truth will sit well in your stomach.

4. Helvetica Does that word look familiar? You’ve probably seen it in your font menu on Word. Yup, this documentary is all about the font “Helvetica.” When I first started watching it, I thought, how the heck can they talk about a font for an hour-and-a-half? But you’ll be amazed about what you learn about this font–and our world–in that hour-and-a-half.

5. Happy This documentary will leave you feeling as the title suggests—happy! In an era in which people try to sell happiness to us on magazine pages and store shelves, this movie will be a breath of fresh air. Traveling from the Louisiana Bayou to villages of Okinawa—and many points in between–the Happy Movie shows us that if you look for it, you can find happiness just about anywhere!

Lastly, some others that I’ve heard are great (but haven’t seen myself):

Image used under Creative Commons courtesy of ginnerobot/flickr.com

Image used under Creative Commons courtesy of ginnerobot/flickr.com

  • Dirt: The Movie
  • Waiting for Superman
  • Forks over Knives

Have you seen any of these? What did you think? What are your favorites?


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