The best thing about documentaries is the creative element of truth and real world relatability. The fact that they’re a story set in our own world, centred around real people and events draws us in, in a way a fiction narrative can’t.
So, I thought I’d come up with a short list of innovative documentaries released within the last couple of years that certainly caught my attention. Here are five documentaries worth watching.
1. Fyre: The greatest party that never happened (Netflix) / Fyre Fraud (Hulu)
Technically two different documentaries of the same topic, you’ve most likely heard of them already. This story of a massively failed attempt at an overpriced and far too ambitious music festival in The Bahamas reveals one crazy thing after another.
Young entrepreneur, Billy McFarland and Rapper, Ja Rule bit off more than they can chew, but of course never admit how much they’re failing to make this festival happen and how much money they’re losing. Lucky for us this failure is pure entertainment as the audience can’t look away from this train wreck constantly derailing.
As concert goers arrive on the so called ‘Pablo Escobar’s private island’ they find themselves in a post-apocalyptic nightmare. Unfortunately, their experience of a lifetime was the not experience they payed for.
Not only did I think, ‘What the heck did I just watch?’ when I finished with this one, the same question arose again after a 2nd and 3rd viewing with friends.
The film is about a famous (in New Zealand) Kiwi documentary filmmaker, David Farrier, who stumbles across a video online featuring ‘competitive endurance tickling’. What could be more light hearted than that? Surely no one actually takes this seriously?
David was wrong. It was a can of worms he never even dreamed of opening. The underground world of tickling suddenly turns out to be a web of lies and conspiracy.
You’ll certainly be wondering how deep this rabbit hole goes, especially when it feels like this completely normal, playful act you did as a child has now become a shockingly sadistic subgenre of softcore porn.
3. Expedition Happiness
If you’re a fan of adventure (and also a dog lover) then you’ll probably love this story. Two free spirited, German backpackers and their dog travel the continent of North America in an old bus they restored, gaining a new perspective on life and discovering themselves in the process.
You’d be surprised at the troubles they face. Their coming-of-age journey from Alaska to Mexico is something you’ll want to witness.
The most beautiful thing about this film (apart from Rudi the dog) is the entire soundtrack is written by the leading lady Selima – or ‘Mogli’ as she may be more well known on stage. The music alone grabs your heart and is probably the best documentary, suggested by my Nan-Nan, I’ve ever seen.
(I don’t think an english trailer exists, but you still get the idea.)
4. The Imposter
A heartwarming story of a family reunited with their long lost son turns into a chilling tale of lies and deceit as it turns out he may not be the son they remember. A talented actor or lying sociopath, neither of those things are what a mother needs when all she wants is to have her son back.
This seems like something out of a classic drama/thriller movie so it’s hard to believe it actually happened, but if a Frenchman on the other side of the world can convince a small town family he’s their teenage son then what else is possible? What other lies are believable?
5. Free Solo
This ‘gripping’ doco will have you on ‘the edge’ of your seat.
Directed by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, this story follows Alex Hanold as he embarks on a mission to be the first man in history to successfully climb Yosemite’s El Capitan – without a rope.
“People who know a little bit about climbing, they’re like ‘Oh he’s totally safe’, and then people who really know exactly what he’s doing are freaked out.”
This list might be a little eclectic but they’re all creative, compelling, and totally worth watching, even if some might make you feel woozy or grossed out.
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