If you’re going to kill countless summertime hours in front of the TV, you may as well make it worthwhile.
I asked a group of young professionals which documentaries they’ve seen recently that have left the largest impact – here are 8 titles I heard over and over again…
The Story of God
When Academy Award-winner and passionate activist Morgan Freeman is behind a documentary, you know you have to see it. Produced for the National Geographic channel, The Story of God explores the meaning of life, God, and how religion has both evolved and shaped society. The doc series features hour-long episodes, each of which covers subjects ranging from “Creation” to “Afterlife.” Throughout the series, Freeman visits seven countries and close to 20 cities.
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is the powerful documentary that challenges the world’s leading environmental organizations in a major way, and may inspire you to make a habit out of #meatlessmondays. The feature-length documentary reveals how agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption, pollution, species extinction, and basically every single other environmental evil there is. Though animal agriculture remains virtually unchallenged, it is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry. This doc will open your eyes to the impacts of large-scale factory farming.
Here’s one for the foodies: Netflix documentary series Cooked examines what food means to us through the lens of the four natural elements: fire, water, air and earth. The four-episode show looks at the meaning of food through the history of food preparation and its ability to unite and connect people. It examines our basic human need to cook and feed ourselves and urges both a return to the kitchen and a deeper meaning and connection to the cook, the ingredients, cooking techniques, and traditions. The series is the brainchild of award-winning food writer Michael Pollan.
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
The film explores the line between art and politics in highlighting the life and initiatives of famous and controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Ai Weiwei is an outspoken domestic critic who isn’t afraid to express himself and mobilize people through conversation-provoking art and social media activity. His actions, however, have not gone over well with Chinese authorities, who have physically assaulted him, removed his blog, destroyed a newly built studio, and held him in secret detention.
Sushi, The Global Catch
The 2012 documentary highlights how the world’s craving for the Japanese cuisine is having a potentially devastating effect on ocean ecosystems. It was shot in five countries, and explores the origins, mass appeal, problems, and potential future problems for the dish we all know and love. The documentary asks if the sushi craze will cause wild fish to disappear, or whether new technologies can be adopted to satisfy our tastes for the dish.
The Water Brothers
The Canadian documentary adventure series is a homegrown project we can be proud of. It follows two young eco-adventurer brothers, Tyler and Alex Mifflin, who travel the world to explore the relationship between humans with water, highlighting problems and their potential solutions. The brothers’ adventures take them everywhere from the largest gathering of humans on earth to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. The series has been nominated for two Canadian Screen Awards.
Requiem for an American Dream
If you’re a Noam Chomsky fan, you are going to want to check Requiem for an American Dream off your must-watch documentary list. Chomsky explores the deliberate concentration of an age-old phenomenon: the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a select few individuals. Relying on four years of interviews, Chomsky highlights policies designed to favour the wealthy, the death of the middle class, and the future of democracy.
Sugar Coated examines the not-so-sweet world of sugar politics, questioning how the sugar industry successfully managed to get society to stop questioning why sugar was so toxic. With soaring rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, the sugar industry is once again under scrutiny. The brand new film (it was released May 21) questions whether the sugar industry will meet the same fate as the tobacco industry. It may make you question the ramifications of your seemingly innocent sweet tooth.