Documentary love

Just now, I was watching Op-Docs on the NY Times website (something I recommend you all do – 5~6 minute documentaries on different topics), and I realised I watch a lot of documentaries. Always have, always will. Documentaries are like movies, except a tiny bit more realistic (and I do honestly mean a tiny bit). They`re informative, can give you more insight in the world, offer ideas and opinions of other people in a visual way a lot of other media can`t quite cover it, and just overall I`m of the opinion that more people should watch more documentaries.

So on that note, I figured I`d share some of my favourites! With favourites I mostly mean that these are ones that left an impact, one way or another, and that I recommend to other people to watch. I`m also well aware that all documentaries have an agenda, and that you need to pay close attention to not only what`s said, but also who made it and who sponsored it. This can tell you so much about how seriously you should take the information presented.

A good example of this last one is The Cove. You know, that documentary about dolphin hunting in Japan that caused such a stir when it was first released. And yes, I do agree it`s all very horrible and should be not be done, full stop. But let`s not forget that this entire documentary is made and sponsored by the organisation who`s trying to stop the Japanese, and therefore offers but one perspective on the entire situation. They will and have edited everything in such a way that it fits their agenda perfectly, and there are likely to be things left out that might not suit their message as much or even contradict it. It happens with all documentaries, and it`s okay. They`re made by humans, who inevitably always have a bias, but it`s something to keep in mind at all times when consuming any type of media whatsoever (including this blog).

Still, here`s five documentaries I recommend to everyone (in no particular order). All of these can be watched through means of questionable legality online, though the better morale is to of course actually buy them.

And remember: if you have any documentary you would like to share, please do let me know!

1) Food Inc.

(Official trailer of the Food Inc documentary)

This is a documentary about the food industry in the United States. While very much based in and aimed at the US, it is to a lesser extent applicable to other countries, too. I know that at least the Netherlands has similar issues, although not quite as extreme as the US just yet. Still, if this video doesn`t tell you a lot about what`s wrong with the current food industry then I don`t know what does (no wait, I do, just wait for #3 in this list).

Luckily, they do give a positive twist to the drama as well, in explaining the power of the consumer and what you can do to help make the powerful companies a tiny bit less powerful while also gaining more health for yourself.

2)Dirt!

(Official trailer)

An international documentary with interviewees and footage from not only the US, but also Argentina, Brazil, Congo, India, and other countries. While this documentary can get a bit, well, spiritual, the message is very clear: we`re messing up the planet, but it could so easily be fixed if we`d all just try. As with the previous documentary in the list, there`s a lot of drama and sensation, but there`s also a very positive message coming through. Worth a watch. Because as it turns out, dirt is not just dirt, it`s not particularly dirty either, and it is actually very important to every single one of us. And we`re ruining it. Yay.

3)The Men Who Made Us Fat

(Short outtake courtesy of BBC)

Another documentary on the food industry, but this time more specifically linked to the current obesity crisis that`s causing immense problems in more and more countries. So how did those problems start? Who can we blame? Is there even anyone we can blame? How did it even get this far?

A very interesting insight into the history of the current food industry and its effects on our bodies. Also a very long watch though, with several one hour episodes, so it`s best to either spread it out a bit or really sit down properly for it.

(From the same maker: The Men Who Made Us Thin, a documentary series about the fitness & diet industry, which is inherently linked to the obesity issues addressed in the other series.)

4) Louis Theroux – Most Hated Family

(Short outtake courtesy of BBC)

To be honest, just watch any documentary Louis Theroux makes. He has this capability of going into strange situations with a very open mind, without losing his own opinions on the matter. He can come across as belittling at times, but overall these are very interesting documentaries.

This one specifically is about the “most hated family of America”, the Phelps family, better known from the Westborough Baptist Church. Yep, those. And no your opinion of this family is not going to improve one bit after this documentary. In fact, I think it might get worse.

Still, it is very interesting to see things from the family`s side, to see how they work and think and what goes on in their lives. I personally couldn`t help but keep wondering what happened to their Christian values that got so skewed along the way.

5)Stephen Fry`s Out There

(Short outtake courtesy of BBC)

All the more pressing now with the recent developments in Russia, Uganda, and the US – and even in the Netherlands, a country that`s growing less and less tolerant – this is a recent documentary series by Stephen Fry, who is of course gay himself, about LGBT people around the world and the types of oppression – and only very rarely freedom – they face daily. From stubborn politicians to mourning mothers who have lost their son because “they thought he was gay”, it provides different points of view from different countries around the world (including Russia, the US, and Uganda. Like it was meant to be).

It`s a two-part documentary that will make you sit back and wonder if we`re actually in 2014 or if we`ve returned to the middle ages with the way some people seem to think about homosexuality. Kudos to Stephen Fry for being brave enough to go out there himself, and to make this documentary in the first place. But even more kudos to all those people willing to be interviewed on TV, often at a lot of risk to themselves. May their courage prove not to be futile.

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