Best Documentaries

Few stories are as affecting and inspirational as the true ones that take place in the world every day. The documentaries on this list prove that point and then some. Whether it's a film about astronauts, babies, or climate change, you can learn something new from any movie on this list, but you'll also be entertained and moved along the way. These filmmakers do an amazing job of exploring cultures, exposing issues, and telling stories small and large. You'll cheer, you'll cry, you'll rage, and you might even be inspired to change the world.

Browse Best Documentaries

Great Bear Rainforest: Land of the Spirit Bear Movie Poster Image
Immersive nature docu offers scenic awe and animal awwws.
In Theaters Now
(Release Year: 2019)
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A Beautiful Planet Movie Poster Image
Stunning look at Earth -- and man's sobering impact on it.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2016)
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Back from the Brink: Saved from Extinction Movie Poster Image
IMAX nature docu proves human efforts can make a difference.
In Theaters Now
(Release Year: 2019)
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Backyard Wilderness Movie Poster Image
Nature triumphs over devices in inspiring nature docu.
In Theaters Now
(Release Year: 2018)
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The Elephant Queen Movie Poster Image
Big-hearted, beautiful docu about matriarchal elephant herd.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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March of the Penguins Movie Poster Image
Stunning, loving documentary; some intense peril.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2005)
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Pick of the Litter Movie Poster Image
"Dog"umentary fetches empathy, enlightenment, warm fuzzies.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2018)
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A Reindeer's Journey Movie Poster Image
Captivating reindeer docu has natural beauty, perils.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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Babies Movie Poster Image
Mesmerizing film for kids and parents who adore wee ones.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2010)
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Wonders of the Sea Movie Poster Image
Docu beautifully highlights oceans' delicate balance.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable Movie Poster Image
Inspirational docu has themes of perseverance, gratitude.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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The Biggest Little Farm Movie Poster Image
Poignant, thought-provoking docu about sustainable living.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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Fly Like a Girl Movie Poster Image
Inspiring documentary about pioneering women pilots.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Imba Means Sing Movie Poster Image
Vibrant, uplifting docu about African children's choir.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2015)
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Koshien: Japan's Field of Dreams Movie Poster Image
Compelling docu about Japan's biggest baseball tournament.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2021)
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Mad Hot Ballroom Movie Poster Image
Enchanting dance documentary hits all the right beats.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2005)
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My Octopus Teacher Movie Poster Image
Octopus befriends troubled diver and teaches him about life.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Spellbound Movie Poster Image
Families should see this m-a-r-v-e-l-o-u-s film.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2003)
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Spelling the Dream Movie Poster Image
Upbeat celebration of outstanding kids who spell to win.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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The Last Unknown: The Aleutian Islands Movie Poster Image
Interesting docu provides glimpse of remote location.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2021)
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Woman in Motion Movie Poster Image
Docu about role model Nichelle Nichols inspires, delights.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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Becoming Movie Poster Image
Enlightening journey with Michelle Obama on her book tour.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Chasing Coral Movie Poster Image
Awe-inspiring, poignant docu tracks decline of coral reefs.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2017)
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Kindness Is Contagious Movie Poster Image
Warm, feel-good docu about being nice is uplifting.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2015)
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Aquarela Movie Poster Image
Powerful docu captures beauty and devastation of water.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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Beautiful Something Left Behind Movie Poster Image
Poignant documentary about kids coping with grief.
In Theaters Now
(Release Year: 2021)
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Brian and the Boz Movie Poster Image
Smart docu about controversial football player's redemption.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2014)
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Cher & The Loneliest Elephant Movie Poster Image
Pop legend lends stardom to dynamic animal rescue docu.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2021)
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David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet Movie Poster Image
Attenborough's stark documentary is essential viewing.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Far from the Tree Movie Poster Image
Touching docu about parents raising uniquely different kids.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2018)
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Fed Up Movie Poster Image
Informative, engrossing docu about saying no to sugar.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2014)
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I Am Eleven Movie Poster Image
Charming, thought-provoking global docu about childhood.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2014)
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I'll Push You: A Real-Life Inspiration Movie Poster Image
Touching friendship docu is full of positive messages.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2017)
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John Lewis: Good Trouble Movie Poster Image
Inspiring, timely biography of Congress' legendary activist.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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The Last Man on the Moon Movie Poster Image
Awe-inspiring, insightful docu spotlights American astronaut
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2014)
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Legends of the Knight Movie Poster Image
Stirring docu sees superhero as powerful motivator for good.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2013)
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LIKE Movie Poster Image
Compelling docu digs into social media's pros and cons.
In Theaters Now
(Release Year: 2018)
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Living on One Dollar Movie Poster Image
Earnest, inspiring docu shows realities of rural poverty.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2013)
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Make Believe Movie Poster Image
Teens chase magical dreams in inspiring documentary.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2010)
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Most Valuable Players Movie Poster Image
Moving, engaging docu about high school musical theater.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2010)
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No Small Matter Movie Poster Image
Early education awareness docu offers insight, tips.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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On the Way to School Movie Poster Image
Stirring docu explores school journeys around the globe.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2009)
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Public Trust Movie Poster Image
Engaging docu about outdoor access sparks critical thinking.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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The Reason I Jump Movie Poster Image
Powerful, insightful docu about people with autism.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2021)
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River City Drumbeat Movie Poster Image
Uplifting, heartfelt docu about life-changing drum corps.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Sing Me a Song Movie Poster Image
Thoughtful, beautifully shot docu about influence of tech.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2021)
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Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street Movie Poster Image
Excellent docu about TV classic gets a little salty.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2021)
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Under the Turban Movie Poster Image
Informative docu sheds light on oft-misunderstood religion.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2017)
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Underwater Dreams Movie Poster Image
Inspiring story about an underdog high school robotics team.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2014)
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Won't You Be My Neighbor? Movie Poster Image
Touching biography of the extraordinary Mister Rogers.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2018)
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Coded Bias Movie Poster Image
Must-see docu about tech bias has some strong language.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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The Fight Movie Poster Image
Compelling documentary about the ACLU and its attorneys.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Hello World Movie Poster Image
Tech documentary gently tackles racial, gender inequality.
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(Release Year: 2020)
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I, Pastafari: A Flying Spaghetti Monster Story Movie Poster Image
Irreverent docu challenges religion; violent news clips.
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(Release Year: 2020)
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Inequality for All Movie Poster Image
Engaging economics docu encourages equality, activism.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2013)
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Jiro Dreams of Sushi Movie Poster Image
Subtitled docu about sushi chef inspires and enlightens.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2012)
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Liyana Movie Poster Image
Inspiring, unique film tells two stories of perseverance.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2018)
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Maiden Movie Poster Image
Poignant, thrilling tale of groundbreaking female sailors.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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The Roosevelts: An Intimate History Movie Poster Image
Lots of historical detail in evenhanded, traditional docu.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2014)
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Rooting for Roona Movie Poster Image
Heartbreaking, inspiring docu about an ill girl's journey.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Runner Movie Poster Image
Stirring, inspiring sports docu about overcoming adversity.
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(Release Year: 2020)
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Stray Movie Poster Image
Street dog docu promotes empathy; some strong language.
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(Release Year: 2021)
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The Way I See It Movie Poster Image
Hopeful, lovely docu on former White House shutterbug.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Advanced Style Movie Poster Image
Docu about senior fashionistas promotes positive body image.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2014)
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Behind the Curve Movie Poster Image
Excellent, relevant docu about conspiracy theories.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2018)
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A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story Movie Poster Image
Outstanding role model urges kids to stand up to bullies.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2015)
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Buck Movie Poster Image
Powerful profile on horse whisperer has mature themes.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2011)
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Bully Movie Poster Image
Powerful docu addresses critically important issue for kids.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2012)
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Dancing in Jaffa Movie Poster Image
Uplifting docu promotes religious tolerance via dance.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2014)
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Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football Movie Poster Image
Excellent docu on Muslim high school football players.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2011)
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He Named Me Malala Movie Poster Image
Inspiring, deeply affecting docu explores teen icon's life.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2015)
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Knock Down the House Movie Poster Image
Outstanding docu about underdog congressional hopefuls.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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The Most Dangerous Year Movie Poster Image
Affecting documentary speaks up for trans kids.
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(Release Year: 2019)
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Shake the Dust Movie Poster Image
Poignant docu about B-boys and B-girls around the world.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2015)
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Time for Ilhan Movie Poster Image
Docu follows Somali American's first political campaign.
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(Release Year: 2019)
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Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines Movie Poster Image
Inspiring docu explores female heroes in comics, real life.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2016)
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The World According to Sesame Street Movie Poster Image
Serious adult docu about Muppets in developing nations.
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(Release Year: 2006)
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The All-Americans Movie Poster Image
Lovely documentary digs into football dreams in East L.A.
In Theaters Now
(Release Year: 2019)
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Anita: Speaking Truth to Power Movie Poster Image
Riveting docu may inspire discussion of sexual harassment.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2013)
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Balloon Man Movie Poster Image
Ex-NFL player scores as first Black balloonist master pilot.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2021)
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Battleground Movie Poster Image
Two activists talk bipartisan politics and common beliefs.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Becoming Bulletproof Movie Poster Image
Lovely, big-hearted docu about disability inclusion.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2015)
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Belly of the Beast Movie Poster Image
Mature themes, strong language in prison eugenics docu.
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(Release Year: 2020)
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Boys State Movie Poster Image
Teens make like political pros in insightful documentary.
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(Release Year: 2020)
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Cowspiracy Movie Poster Image
Provocative docu has some graphic scenes of animal cruelty.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2014)
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End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones Movie Poster Image
Stellar docu on influential punk band; talk of drugs, drink.
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(Release Year: 2005)
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Fantastic Fungi Movie Poster Image
Fabulous docu finds hope in "magic" mushrooms.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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Flint: The Poisoning of an American City Movie Poster Image
Toxic water supply devastates Michigan city in earnest docu.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Forks Over Knives Movie Poster Image
Engaging docu promotes a vegan diet in nonjudgmental way.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2011)
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Healing from Hate: Battle for the Soul of a Nation Movie Poster Image
Former alt-righters break good in compelling documentary.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2021)
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Hoop Dreams Movie Poster Image
Stunning documentary addresses race and class issues.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1994)
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Gather Movie Poster Image
Docu on food sovereignty has positive messages, role models.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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If You Build It Movie Poster Image
Inspiring docu shows young people capable of great things.
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(Release Year: 2014)
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An Inconvenient Truth Movie Poster Image
Moving, earnest documentary on global warming.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2006)
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Inocente TV Poster Image
Affecting true story of homelessness and the human spirit.
Network: MTV
(2012)
(2012)
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Keepers of the Game Movie Poster Image
Engaging sports docu addresses deeper societal issues.
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(Release Year: 2016)
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A Kid from Coney Island Movie Poster Image
Inspiring sports docu shows value of perseverance.
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(Release Year: 2020)
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The Lavender Scare Movie Poster Image
Powerful docu about LGBTQ persecution by U.S. government.
In Theaters Now
(Release Year: 2019)
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Life in a Day 2020 Movie Poster Image
Intense global compilation of videos has mature themes.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2021)
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Maidentrip Movie Poster Image
Excellent docu about teen sailor; some brief profanity.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2013)
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Mudbloods Movie Poster Image
Underdogs rule in real-life Quidditch docu; some profanity.
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(Release Year: 2014)
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Sacred Cow: The Nutritional, Environmental and Ethical Case for Better Meat Movie Poster Image
Informative docu about improving farming practices.
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(Release Year: 2021)
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The Social Dilemma Movie Poster Image
Eye-opening docu charts social media dangers, offers advice.
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(Release Year: 2020)
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This Changes Everything (2018) Movie Poster Image
Compelling, entertaining docu about women in film and TV.
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(Release Year: 2018)
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Unmarked Movie Poster Image
Black burial grounds preserve their past for the future.
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(Release Year: 2020)
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Us Kids Movie Poster Image
Powerful doc on Parkland activists has traumatic situations.
In Theaters Now
(Release Year: 2020)
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Vice President Kamala Harris: Chase the Dream Movie Poster Image
Black, South Asian woman makes history with White House win.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2021)
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Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations Movie Poster Image
Uneven but undeniably powerful documentary about hate.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Who Will Write Our History Movie Poster Image
Powerful Holocaust docu has disturbing images, stories.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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American Factory Movie Poster Image
Engaging doc about Chinese firm opening U.S. plant; cursing.
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(Release Year: 2019)
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The Black List: Vol. 1 Movie Poster Image
Profound docu explores African-American racial identity.
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(Release Year: 2008)
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Bullied Movie Poster Image
Vital, tragic, brutal look at rise of youth suicide.
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(Release Year: 2021)
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Can You Dig This? Movie Poster Image
Inspiring docu about urban gardening; some profanity, drugs.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2015)
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The Champions Movie Poster Image
Profoundly moving docu about dog rescue and recovery.
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(Release Year: 2015)
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The Cove Movie Poster Image
Gruesome, powerful, and inspiring dolphin documentary.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2009)
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The Friendliest Town Movie Poster Image
Timely docu about trailblazing Black police chief; language.
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(Release Year: 2019)
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G-Dog Movie Poster Image
Inspiring docu about gang intervention program in LA.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2013)
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Homecoming: A Film by Beyonce Movie Poster Image
Concert film of Queen B's Coachella set has salty language.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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The Ivory Game Movie Poster Image
Powerful docu shines light on efforts to save elephants.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2016)
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Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower Movie Poster Image
Docu about brave teen taking on oppressive government.
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(Release Year: 2017)
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Lady Valor Movie Poster Image
Transgender soldier docu portrays bravery, strength.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2014)
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The Latino List TV Poster Image
Top-notch documentary features strong Latino role models.
Network: HBO
(2012)
(2011)
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Miss Representation Movie Poster Image
Earnest, illuminating documentary about women and the media.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2012)
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The Out List TV Poster Image
Poignant LGBTQ docu highlights respect, acceptance.
Network: HBO
(2013)
(2013)
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Rebuilding Paradise Movie Poster Image
Intense disaster docu highlights resilience, humanity.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Social Animals Movie Poster Image
Insightful docu looks at pros, cons of Instagram; language.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2018)
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Stonewall Outloud Movie Poster Image
Highly original, affecting docu about iconic LGBTQ uprising.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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Storied Streets Movie Poster Image
Thoughtful, moving homelessness docu shatters stereotypes.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2014)
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A Thousand Cuts Movie Poster Image
Thought-provoking docu about freedom of the press.
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(Release Year: 2020)
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Underplayed Movie Poster Image
Inspiring docu about women in the electronic music industry.
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(Release Year: 2021)
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Waste Land Movie Poster Image
Inspiring documentary portrays the dignity of the poor.
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(Release Year: 2010)
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When We Were Kings Movie Poster Image
Thrilling boxing docu covers race, politics; some profanity.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 1997)
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White Riot Movie Poster Image
Docu about British bands' fight against racism has swearing.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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The Whole Gritty City Movie Poster Image
Vibrant, poignant, inspiring music docu; some profanity.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2013)
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After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News Movie Poster Image
Bitter, upsetting, but enormously informative docu.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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American Murder: The Family Next Door Movie Poster Image
Murders, strong language in disturbing true-crime docu.
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(Release Year: 2020)
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Desert Runners Movie Poster Image
Intense, awe-inspiring docu about extreme marathoners.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2013)
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The Dissident Movie Poster Image
Intense docu on the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
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(Release Year: 2020)
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Eating Animals Movie Poster Image
Farm docu's stomach-churning stories offer food for thought.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2018)
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Feels Good Man Movie Poster Image
Shocking subject matter in disturbing but powerful docu.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened Movie Poster Image
Mature doc about outrageous scam is funny, sad, instructive.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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I Am Santa Claus Movie Poster Image
Docu about holiday helpers has mature themes, profanity.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2014)
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Icarus Movie Poster Image
Eye-opening docu on Russian doping scandal; some cursing.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2017)
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Jawline Movie Poster Image
Eye-opening docu about rising social media star has cursing.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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Most Likely to Succeed Movie Poster Image
Docu follows four promising students; some cursing.
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(Release Year: 2019)
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The Rape of Recy Taylor Movie Poster Image
Awful crime becomes civil rights flash point in moving docu.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2017)
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Seahorse Movie Poster Image
Important transgender pregnancy doc has strong language.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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Seaspiracy Movie Poster Image
Docu shows grim costs of commercial fishing; violence.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2021)
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Untouchable Movie Poster Image
Weinstein's alleged sex crimes explored; language, violence.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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13th Movie Poster Image
Searing docu decries racial bias; intense violence, cursing.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2016)
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17 Blocks Movie Poster Image
Outstanding, mature docu shows impact of systemic racism.
In Theaters Now
(Release Year: 2021)
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Always in Season Movie Poster Image
Lynching docu is chilling but effective; horrifying images.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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Citizenfour Movie Poster Image
Bold docu explores Edward Snowden's controversial actions.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2014)
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Disclosure Movie Poster Image
Docu frankly depicts trans struggles; language, nudity.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2020)
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For Sama Movie Poster Image
Powerful, intense docu about young mother's war-torn life.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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17 Blocks Movie Poster Image
Outstanding, mature docu shows impact of systemic racism.
In Theaters Now
(Release Year: 2021)
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Last Men in Aleppo Movie Poster Image
Gripping docu shows real-life footage of ongoing Syrian war.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2017)
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Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine Movie Poster Image
Moving documentary brings hate-crime victim to life.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2015)
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Minding the Gap Movie Poster Image
Skateboarders try to overcome childhood abuse; language.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2018)
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My Scientology Movie Movie Poster Image
Riveting and tense docu has frequent cursing.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2015)
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People's Republic of Desire Movie Poster Image
Shocking docu reveals dangers of China's livestream trend.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2018)
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Tell Me Who I Am Movie Poster Image
Intense docu about twin brothers has violence, cursing.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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They Shall Not Grow Old Movie Poster Image
Astonishing, groundbreaking, graphic images of WWI.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2019)
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Virunga Movie Poster Image
Outstanding but shattering docu set in war-torn Congo.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2014)
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When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts TV Poster Image
Spike Lee's masterful and disturbing Katrina docu.
Network: HBO
(2007)
(2006)
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Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom Movie Poster Image
Brutal but inspiring docu about 2013-'14 Ukrainian uprising.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2015)
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Bowling for Columbine Movie Poster Image
Must-see gun violence documentary is brutal.
On DVD/Streaming
(Release Year: 2002)
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