The 35 Best Documentaries on Netflix Right Now (September 2020)

Movies Lists Netflix
Share Tweet Submit Pin
The 35 Best Documentaries on Netflix Right Now (September 2020)

The best documentaries on Netflix are finally, almost wholly, Netflix Originals. With Paris Is Burning recently gone from the service to the Criterion Collection, documentaries not produced by the streaming giant are few and far between their many true crime series.

Regardless, Netflix has still provided groundbreaking and important documentaries a much broader audience, be it semi-obscure essentials like Casting JonBenet, The Queen and Shirkers, festival finds like Crip Camp and Mucho Mucho Amor, which both came to the service very recently, or Oscar-nominated originals like Strong Island and The Edge of Democracy. If you’re looking to find new, compelling stories, there is still plenty to peruse here—not to mention Beyoncé’s Homecoming and American Factory, two of our 25 best documentaries of 2019, one of which won an Oscar seemingly decades ago (February).

For other genres and types, check out Paste’s many, many Best Movies lists, and then make your way through the following so-called “truths.”

Here are 35 of the best documentaries currently streaming on Netflix right now:

Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado

mucho-mucho-amor-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2020
Directors: Christina Costantini, Kareem Tabsch
Rating: NR
Runtime: 96 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Christina Costantini and Kareem Tabsch’s Netflix documentary, Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado, has a hard time categorizing the many complexities of its subject. Filmed during the year before Mercado’s death at age 87, the film revels in the ostentatious nature of the late astrologer, whose boldly androgynous appearance rendered him both approachable yet otherworldly, attracting factions of devout fans, particularly from hispanic and latino communities. While Mercado’s message was one that promoted peace, love and unity, the multitalented performer-turned-television personality was often publicly scrutinized for his gender-nonconforming sensibilities. His jewel-encrusted capes, luscious hair and perpetually pursed lips provoked homophobic comments and jokes while tandemly comforting young queer people who watched his show, Mercado being one of their first cultural touchstones for rejecting gender norms. Of course, the burning question on everyone’s mind during Mucho Mucho Amor is, frankly, if Mercado will finally embrace a distinct label for himself. As a TV personality in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s—decades where homophobia ran rampant in the entertainment industry, especially during the height of the AIDs epidemic—it was widely speculated that Mercado coming out would jeopardize his career. Yet even within a current cultural climate that is far more accepting of LGBTQ and gender fluidity, it seems that Mercado continued to resist the urge to apply labels to himself. Yet many can’t seem to understand Mercado’s enigmatic aura without attempting to make sense of his identity. He is referred to in the film by interviewees and fans alike as a “non-binary asexual,” which in their attempt to bring Mercado into a supportive community also negates the inherent fluidity of his nature. However, when one is deemed as a mystic, ethereal being from a young age (as a child, Mercado’s ability to heal a dying bird brought desperate people from his village to his side, praying that his touch could alleviate their troubles), it appears that understanding yourself as a flesh-and-blood human is perhaps a waste of time. For Mercado, the real journey is not understanding himself on this mortal plane, but rather to prepare for the many riches that come with experiencing the cosmic afterlife. —Natalia Keogan


I Am Not Your Negro

not-your-negro-poster.jpg Year: 2017
Director: Raoul Peck
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 93 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Raoul Peck focuses on James Baldwin’s unfinished book Remember This House, a work that would have memorialized three of his friends, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Medgar Evers. All three black men were assassinated within five years of each other, and we learn in the film that Baldwin was not just concerned about these losses as terrible blows to the Civil Rights movement, but deeply cared for the wives and children of the men who were murdered. Baldwin’s overwhelming pain is as much the subject of the film as his intellect. And so I Am Not Your Negro is not just a portrait of an artist, but a portrait of mourning—what it looks, sounds and feels like to lose friends, and to do so with the whole world watching (and with so much of America refusing to understand how it happened, and why it will keep happening). Peck could have done little else besides give us this feeling, placing us squarely in the presence of Baldwin, and I Am Not Your Negro would have likely still been a success. His decision to steer away from the usual documentary format, where respected minds comment on a subject, creates a sense of intimacy difficult to inspire in films like this. The pleasure of sitting with Baldwin’s words, and his words alone, is exquisite. There’s no interpreter, no one to explain Baldwin but Baldwin—and this is how it should be. —Shannon M. Houston


Strong Island

strong-island-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2017
Director: Yance Ford
Rating: NR
Runtime: 107 minutes

Watch on Netflix

African American filmmaker Yance Ford’s Strong Island is a paean to his brother William, who was shot dead in 1992 by a white mechanic during an argument. The shooter never faced trial—it was ruled self-defense—and in the ensuing decades Ford and his family have wrestled with the injustice. Strong Island is Ford’s way of working through the pain and anger that still consume him, mixing interviews with direct addresses to the camera. It’s a slightly unfocused work (Can anyone fault Ford for being unable to marshal his grief into a completely organized treatise?) but its rawness fuels its astounding strength. —Tim Grierson


The Queen

the-queen-1968-movie-poster.jpg Year: 1968
Director: Frank Simon
Rating: NR
Runtime: 66 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Drag is many things to many people, and in 1968’s The Queen it is a means of brokering power. Documenting the pre-Stonewall 1967 Miss All-America Camp Beauty Contest, Frank Simon treads around these characters’ lives as if creating a prototype—not for queer nonfiction filmmaking, but for Bravo reality TV. To be clear: There’s nothing wrong with that; rather, Simon observes the various players as they gather their documents for the pageant, prepare in their hotel rooms, discuss their backgrounds with impressive frankness and reveal the ways in which the power dynamics they’re creating with one another political in their very documentation and narritivising. A beef between queens and the loss of a crown is delicious entertainment, both high drama and high camp, as Simon’s cameras catch the poisoned words fly backstage, but such a scene is also illustrative of how their performances of gender and race reaffirm the compounded senses of otherness and inequity experienced by the oppressed (even if this space supposedly affords them a modicum of freedom of personal truth), especially with regards to queer and trans people of color. Percolating beneath the surface of The Queen is an excavation of the melange of permutations of gayness and queerness, and the marginality that it invites, even from within the so-called queer community. —Kyle Turner


13th

13th.jpg Year: 2016
Director: Ava DuVernay
Rating: NR
Runtime: 100 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Director Ava DuVernay has successfully made a documentary that challenges and even dismantles our collective understanding of one of the most dangerous notions of our time: “progress.” How do we define progress, and who precisely gets to define it? 13th is a captivating argument against those who measure progress with laws that pretend to protect American citizens and amendments, and even to uphold the Constitution. It is a deftly woven and defiant look at how clauses within those amendments (specifically the lauded 13th) and the language of our political system both veil and reveal a profound and devastating truth about America: Slavery was never abolished here, DuVernay and the participants in the film argue. It was simply amended, and it continues to be amended in 2016, with the constant evolution of the criminal justice system. It’s a bold and terrifying statement to make, but in using a documentary instead of, say, a narrative film, DuVernay is able to point directly to that history and to those people who have defined “progress” for black Americans. In doing so, she draws a line directly from the 13th amendment, to today’s America, which has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Like some of the best documentaries of our time, 13th is not just a film, but a demand; it’s a call to reject dangerous reiterations, specifically newer and newer Jim Crows. DuVernay’s work doesn’t expressly name what we might build in their place, but it demands that those of us watching resist the seduction of sameness disguised as slow progress, and imagine something greater: actual freedom. —Shannon M. Houston


Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese

rolling-thunder-revue-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2019
Director: Martin Scorsese
Rating: NR
Runtime: 142 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Bob Dylan’s life and career are so encased in myth that it can be hard to untangle the romanticism from the reality. As much a symbol as he is a man, Dylan has spent most of his adulthood resisting being labeled the voice of his generation while slyly welcoming fans’ desire to dissect his every utterance, devoting much of the last couple decades opening up the vaults to release a series of official “bootleg” recordings associated with his most iconic albums and tours. He invites us to look deeper and listen harder, as if the answers can be gleaned from closer study. Long before David Bowie, Tom Waits, Madonna or Lady Gaga dabbled in persona play, Robert Zimmerman made us ponder masks in popular music. He’s both there and not there, which can be frustrating and fascinating. Both sensations are on display in Rolling Thunder Revue, the oft-spectacular, sometimes shtick-y chronicle of Dylan’s 1975 Rolling Thunder tour. As is typical when depicting anything in the Dylan universe, this concert film/documentary simultaneously oversells its subject’s genius and provides overwhelming evidence of what a brilliant artist he is. The documentary’s full title should also be a disclaimer: Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese. Early on, the movie features a contemporary interview from Dylan confessing that he doesn’t quite remember what prompted Rolling Thunder or what his ambitions were. “I don’t have a clue because it’s about nothing,” he says, another example of obscuration and seduction. The movie is a “story,” which means some parts might be invented or exaggerated, and because it’s “by Martin Scorsese,” the whole film is filtered through one artist’s perspective on another. Scorsese is after something grander than mere documentation—more layers of myth are applied while trying to present an honest account of a tour and a performer. At nearly two-and-a-half hours, Rolling Thunder Revue is overlong but also overpowering, inconclusive yet undeniably stirring. It left me exhausted, but I kinda want to see it again. —Tim Grierson


Casting JonBenet

casting-jonbenet.jpg Year: 2017
Director: Kitty Green
Rating: NR
Runtime: 81 minutes

Watch on Netflix

An unlikely cross-section of humanity also populates Casting JonBenet, which boasts a provocative idea that yields enormous emotional rewards. Filmmaker Kitty Green invited members of the Boulder, Colorado community where JonBenet Ramsey lived to “audition” for a film about her. But in the tradition of Kate Plays Christine or The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear, that’s actually a feint: Green uses the on-camera interviews with these people to talk about Ramsey’s murder and the still-lingering questions about who committed the crime. She’s not interested in their acting abilities—she’s trying to pinpoint the ways that a 21-year-old incident still resonates. It’s a premise that could seem cruel or exploitative, but Casting JonBenet is actually incredibly compassionate. Green wizardly finds connective tissue between all these actors, who have internalized the little girl’s killing, finding parallels in their own lives to this tragedy. High-profile murders like Ramsey’s often provoke gawking, callous media treatment, turning us all into rubberneckers, but Casting JonBenet vigorously works against that tendency, fascinated by our psychological need to judge other people’s lives, but also deeply mournful, even respectful, of the very human reasons why we do so. —Tim Grierson


Shirkers

shirkers-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2018
Director: Sandi Tan
Rating: NR
Runtime: 96 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Making sense of one’s past can be both a lifelong undertaking and a thorny proposition. In Shirkers, novelist Sandi Tan accomplishes that trickiest of endeavors, directing a documentary about herself that isn’t cloying or cringe-worthy. Quite the contrary, her movie is refreshingly candid and self-critical: She may be the star of the show, but she has a story to tell and the right perspective to frame it properly. Tan narrates the documentary as a memory piece, recounting her childhood in Singapore with her best friend Jasmine, where they were the two cool kids in their pretty square school, dreaming of being filmmakers and leaving their mark. To further that ambition, they collaborated with another friend, Sophia, on a surreal road movie called Shirkers, which would be directed by Tan’s mentor, an older teacher named Georges who carried himself as someone who knew his way around a movie camera. In her late teens and perhaps smitten with this man who showed her such attention—the documentary is cagey on the subject—Tan was intoxicated by the rush of making a film that she wrote and would be the star of. So how come we’ve never seen it? The documentary traces the strange, mysterious journey of the project, which was waylaid by Georges sneaking off with the reels of film with a vague promise of finishing the work. That never happened, and 20 years later Tan decides to open those old wounds, connecting with her old friends and trying to determine what became of Georges. Scenes from the unfinished film appear in Shirkers, tipping the audience off to the fact that there will be a happy-ish resolution to Tan’s quest. But the documentary ends up being less about tracking down the film canisters than being an exploration of nostalgia, friendship and the allure of mentors. Tan is lively, self-effacing company throughout—her voice has just the right sardonic tinge—but her visits with Jasmine and Sophia are particularly lovely and illuminating, suggesting how lifelong pals can see us in ways that we cannot. —Tim Grierson


They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead

theyll-love-me-when-im-dead-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2018
Director: Morgan Neville
Rating: NR
Runtime: 98 minutes

Watch on Netflix

The making-of documentary They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead, released by Netflix to go with the Orson Welles’ finally finished The Other Side of the Wind—the streaming giant’s finest moment—shows Welles, enormous and half-baked, describing what he calls “divine accidents.” These accidents were responsible for some of his oeuvre’s best details (wherein God resides), like the breaking of the egg in Touch of Evil; they were something he aimed to chase after (like chasing the wind) with this, his final project, released several decades after its shooting as Netflix opened their coffers to open the coffin in which the raw footage was locked. His former partners on the shoot, Peter Bogdanovich and Frank Marshall, make good on their old oath to their master to complete the film for him, and in finding the spirit of the thing, deliver us a masterpiece we barely deserve. A divine accident. It’s no wonder Netflix released a lengthy documentary about that whole ordeal; “troubled production” doesn’t quite do justice to the haphazard strife of it all. —Chad Betz


The Square

the-square.jpg Year: 2013
Director: Jehane Noujaim
Rating: NR
Runtime: 104 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Bringing calm insight to an impassioned, still-developing historic event, The Square looks at the 2011 Egyptian Revolution from the perspective of those who were on the frontlines from the very beginning, personalizing the dramatic developments without losing a sense of greater stakes. Director Jehane Noujaim, who previously helmed Control Room and co-directed Startup.com, has delivered a snapshot of a grassroots political movement over its bumpy two-year history, embracing the emotional complexity and logistical obstacles that have made Egyptians’ road to democracy so difficult. Using no voiceover narration and only a handful of intertitles that inform the viewer about the exact time period of events, The Square seeks to create an urgent, immediate experience that tells its story through the reactions of its main participants. In the West, the scenes of peaceful, joyous protest at Tahrir Square were warmly greeted as hopeful signs of a new Middle East. The Square doesn’t throw cold water on those hopes as much as it meticulously demonstrates that systemic change does not come easily. That’s why you care so deeply about the people you see in this movie—it’s not that their quest is easy but that it’s so very hard. —Tim Grierson


The Force

the-force-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2017
Director: Peter Nicks
Rating: NR
Runtime: 93 minutes

Watch on Netflix

A documentary from the same year, director Sabaah Folayan’s bruised, Ferguson-themed Whose Streets?, presents the madness and rage of Michael Brown’s murder with its fallout, in real-time immediacy, chronicling the protests but also some of the protestors so that we get a sense of their daily lives. By contrast, filmmaker Peter Nicks highlights a complementary community in The Force, which looks at the years-long scandal that roiled the Oakland police department over its use of excessive force, among other indiscretions. What’s remarkable about The Force is how we meet people, particularly new chief Sean Whent, who want to transform a toxic culture, making Oakland’s a police department accountable to its citizenry. In other words, it’s a documentary unwittingly trying to address the ills affecting the subjects of Whose Streets?, despite the two worlds being separated by thousands of miles. But The Force is clear-eyed about the limits of bringing about change in a corrupt, entrenched bureaucracy. As we see Whent get laid low by his own scandals, we see why it’s so hard for people of color to feel like they can trust those assigned to protect them. Two communities pull in opposite directions, perhaps permanently. —Tim Grierson


LA 92

LA92-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2017
Directors: Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin
Rating: R
Runtime: 114 minutes

Watch on Netflix

What are you even supposed to say? A quarter century later, what are you supposed to say about the appalling Rodney King verdict and its sickening aftermath? That it was wrong? The word doesn’t begin to cover it. That it should have been foreseen? I’m pretty sure it was. That it was the fault of the jury, the defense team, the police chief; the officers who obeyed the order to stay out of south central Los Angeles while it burned to the ground? The rioters who beat and shot passersby and torched their own neighborhoods in a blind rage? The Korean shop owner who’d shot that black teenage girl in the back of the head and the mousy white judge who’d overturned the guilty verdict and given the murderer probation because “I know a criminal when I see one”? That it was the fault of the long, long history of tolerance for excessive force and racism in the LAPD? Of the stable blue collar jobs that had drained from the area, leaving a wake of poverty and despair and drug dealers and gang wars? To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the riot or uprising or “incident” that torched Los Angeles in the wake of the 1992 Rodney King trial, National Geographic, A&E, Netflix, Showtime, ABC and the Smithsonian Channel all produced films on the subject. National Geographic’s LA 92 does a masterful job of presenting fact and footage without filters or commentary—it feels almost like a slideshow, and that does have a certain power, but I found myself wishing they’d dig deeper. Like the Showtime documentary, it hearkens back to news coverage of the Pachuco riots (also known as the “Zoot Suit” riots) of June 1943 and the commentator’s horrified questioning about whether something like this might happen in Los Angeles in the future. But it raised a number of questions that it didn’t seem to answer. I guess some questions don’t have answers. Maybe that’s the point. —Amy Glynn


Homecoming

homecoming-beyonce-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2019
Directors: Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Ed Burke
Rating: NR
Runtime: 137 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Childish Gambino, Ariana Grande, Tame Impala: None of those performers, or any of the others at Coachella 2019, were able to match the grandiosity of Beychella, Beyoncé’s epic pair of sets at last year’s festival. Netflix’s Homecoming, a documentary written, produced and directed by Mrs. Knowles-Carter herself, features stunning footage of each weekend’s set and dives deep into the symbolism, production and eight-month rehearsal process behind Beychella. The film also arrived with a surprise live album encompassing the entire Coachella set as well as new music. It’s all just The Carters’ latest in a long line of masterpieces, a colossal, visually stunning spectacle that not only summarized Beyoncé’s 20-year career, but also Historic Black Colleges in an entirely new way. We see clips from football games at schools like Howard University and Alabama A&M interspersed with Beychella rehearsal footage, the entire performance and film a celebration of those institutions, perhaps even an antithesis to what most people would consider a primarily white experience. If you haven’t seen it yet, you might want to consider canceling your plans tonight: Bey deserves your full attention. —Ellen Johnson


Becoming

becoming.jpg Year: 2020
Director: Nadia Hallgren
Stars: Michelle Obama
Rating: NR
Runtime: 89 minutes

Watch on Netflix

There seem to be two goals of Netflix’s new Michelle Obama documentary—first, to humanize (or normalize) the former First Lady of the United States as she embarks on a countrywide book tour (for her bestseller of the same name), and second, to reinforce the idea that Michelle Obama is a woman necessarily and eternally concerned with race and racism in America, particularly for Black women. The first goal is achieved, almost as much as it can be, and the personal stories and appearance of family members like her mother and brother are the strongest part of the Becoming experience. The second goal is a little more complicated, largely due to the fact that Michelle Obama occupies a strange space as a figure who is neither a politician, nor an activist—but who often presents like one or the other. Nadia Hallgren’s film is an attempt at a portrait of a lady seemingly on fire, now that she’s “free at last.” In an early scene, Obama and billionaire Oprah Winfrey laugh as they candidly discuss the relief that came with the end of her time in the White House. Becoming is about the “liberation” of Michelle Obama, and it takes care to remind us of all that she endured on the road to the White House. There’s a hollowness sometimes echoed in Obama’s celebrity interviews (on her press tour, she sits down with the likes of Oprah, Stephen Colbert, Gayle King and Reese Witherspoon), but something far more interesting happens when Obama is working as a mentor. In several scenes, she sits down with small groups—groups of Black women, young female students, Native American students in Arizona, and older black women in the church. In one especially compelling scene, we go home with Shayla, a teen in one of the groups, and we get to know the women who are inspired by Obama’s story of becoming. Watching a young black girl, giddy as she imitates the former First Lady’s walk down a hall, we get the sense that the mere experience of being in the same space as Obama will change some of these girls forever. They light up the screen in this documentary; they are the true stars, and they bring the real magic to this story. —Shannon M. Houston


American Factory

american-factory-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2019
Directors: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert
Rating: NR
Runtime: 115 minutes

Watch on Netflix

The plight of the American Rust Belt in the era of globalization, mechanized labor and outsourced jobs is real but, also, a media construct that’s been simplified into a talking point. For those not experiencing that reality on a daily basis, it can very easily become an abstraction. Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert’s American Factory sympathetically illustrates what those everyday pains look like, bringing us into the world of an Ohio automotive plant laid low by the 2008 recession. Several years after the factory closed, a Chinese company called Fuyao moved in, hiring back many of the employees of the old plant and offering hope to an economically depressed community. The American workers would help build windshields for cars and, ideally, along the way discover that Chinese and American employees can live together in harmony. Bognar and Reichert’s film chronicles how that wishful thinking collapsed, but this is not a simpleminded story in which we can grasp onto an easy rooting interest. While American Factory is certainly told more from the perspective of the Americans, there’s an evenhandedness to the filmmaking, which gives the material the sobering weight of grim inevitability. Early on, we can surmise that things may not work out: The Chinese bosses note derisively to their cohorts that the Americans have fat fingers, while the American workers feel alienated by motivational slogans put on the walls in fractured English. American Factory is a portrait of how two cultures clash—not violently or maliciously or even intentionally. Nonetheless, divisions start to form, and overriding financial interests take precedence over individuals, resulting in employment shakeups for both workforces. A documentary as bluntly titled as American Factory may suggest a definitive take on a large socioeconomic situation, but Bognar and Reichert’s film succeeds because it stays micro. Even their conclusions are measured, if also dispiriting. American Factory doesn’t suggest that China is the future—or that America is in decline—but, rather, just how much power corporations have in shaping society and dictating our fates. One of this film’s most crushing ironies is that its true villain is a faceless, insatiable desire for higher and higher profits. Every person we meet in American Factory is at that monster’s mercy. —Tim Grierson


I Called Him Morgan

called-morgan-poster.jpg Director: Kasper Collin
Rating: NR
Runtime: 89 minutes

Watch on Netflix

I Called Him Morgan is the story of two troubled people, one of whom killed the other. Documentarian Kasper Collin—who previously made My Name Is Albert Ayler, also about a jazz musician—looks at the difficult, abbreviated life of trumpeter Lee Morgan, who was shot dead in the winter of 1972 in New York. It’s not a mystery who pulled the trigger—it was his common-law wife, Helen, who was more than 10 years his senior—but I Called Him Morgan isn’t about solving a crime, rather, it’s about connecting the dots regarding why the crime happened. Throughout the film, you feel the slow, grim pull of inevitable tragedy set against a lush visual palette. (Oscar-nominated Arrival cinematographer Bradford Young is one of I Called Him Morgan’s credited cameramen.) Talking heads’ tales are crosscut with dreamy images—snowy nights in New York, a hypnotically colorful fish tank—that always feel pertinent to what’s being discussed. And then there are the interview subjects and the milieu. Jazz musicians such as Wayne Shorter and Charli Persip talk about their friend with specificity and insight, and Lee Morgan’s music—as well as the music he played in other people’s bands—fills the soundtrack. The film will be heaven for jazz aficionados, but those who don’t know the difference between bebop and hard bop won’t feel lost. Collin understands that his film is about people, not art, but his deft storytelling—and the endless sadness that comes from his tale—flexes its own nimbleness and beauty. —Tim Grierson


Trophy

trophy-doc-poster.jpg Year: 2017
Directors: Shaul Schwarz, Christina Clusiau
Rating: NR
Runtime: 108 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau’s Trophy should find an audience among people with a sensitivity to animal suffering, but there’s a decent chance it won’t. Their documentary, an intimate, breathtaking examination of the overlap between conservation efforts and the big game hunting industry from Namibia to South Africa, is too unflinching and honest, too willing to put that suffering at its forefront as a necessary gesture for driving home its points about the unexpected ways its two focal points intersect. Schwarz and Clusiau bounce back and forth from hunters, to safari agents, to conservationists, to ecologists, letting each tell their story of Africa’s relationship to animals, and to the art of the hunt. The film ultimately ties its threads into one innately messy but startlingly cohesive tangle, making the case not for any one of its arguments (whether in favor of hunting or conservation or both), but for nuance in a conversation that tends to trigger most of us. If the thought of seeing rhinos doped up on tranquilizer darts having their horns sawed off is upsetting, or if the idea of animals living out their days in cages, waiting for hunters to select them as prey, gives you nightmares, then you’re the type of person for which Trophy was made, but you’re also the type of person who will find the film unendurable. —Andy Crump


Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids

Thumbnail image for large_justin_timberlake_and_the_tennessee_kids.jpg Year: 2016
Director: Jonathan Demme
Rating: NR
Runtime: 90 minutes

Watch on Netflix

It becomes clear after only one song that Jonathan Demme was the perfect person to direct this ebullient performance doc. In Stop Making Sense, Demme iconized David Byrne in the Big Suit, intuiting that the best performances of all time are simply a matter of precision; here he seemed to understand not only what kind of performer Justin Timberlake is, but why. Filmed over the final two nights of Timberlake’s 20/20 tour in Las Vegas, JT + the Tennessee Kids is so finely tuned one might be hard pressed to pinch an ounce of fat on this thing, Demme obviously knowing that Timberlake depends on his enormous tour ensemble (introduced briefly at the beginning of the film and given plenty of time throughout) to make sure the whole show is a seamless amalgam of moving parts. Consummate professionals in thrall to consummate professionals: Each frame, whether it hugs Timberlake’s glowing face close or expands to display the intimidating breadth of the band, breathes with love—for the music, for the audience, for each other. But that doesn’t even touch how flawlessly Demme can capture the essence of each section/song, how during “My Love” the camera is positioned at stage level, condensing our perspective so that the whole stage is layered like a two-dimensional side-scrolling videogame or a diorama of paper dolls, emphasizing the celestial geometry of Timberlake and his pop-and-locking dancers. Later, during “Only When I Walk Away,” Demme has the camera behind the band, facing the audience lit with lasers and lighters, shooting Timberlake as an opaque silhouette, like dark matter amidst a flurry of constellations. Even later, a macroscopic view of the whole stage, set against some retro computer graphics, pans slightly down to reveal a piano, and next to that emerges a much larger Timberlake. Perspectives are skewed but steered with aplomb and purpose. Just like every single minute of this wonderful film. —Dom Sinacola


Crip Camp

crip-camp-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2020
Directors: Nicole Newnham, James Lebrecht
Rating: NR
Runtime: 108 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Crip Camp, a documentary about a summer camp for disabled teens, is a movie that, in a casual director’s hands, could turn very easily into a piece of exploitation honed in on adversity. But Jim Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham aren’t casual. They’re coworkers, having collaborated on three documentaries together over the past decade and a half, and Lebrecht, who has Spina Bifida, attended said summer camp in 1971. The film is a personal matter for Lebrecht, facilitated with his longtime colleague. Guided by their relationship, Crip Camp functions partly as a portrait and partly as advocacy. Half of it is spent strolling down memory lane, revisiting either through oral history or archival footage days at Camp Jened in the Catskills, where teenagers with disabilities—deaf teenagers, blind teenagers, teenagers who survived polio, teenagers with cerebral palsy—congregated under the guidance and care of hippy counselors. Here the teens, many for the first time in their lives, were treated simply as teens, and not as societal inconveniences. The other half of the movie unfolds against the backdrop of the battle for Section 504, fought in 1977, as disabled Americans, many of them former Jened campers, organized protests and a famous sit-in to persuade Joseph Califano to sign the important regulations into law. The campaign for disabled rights deserves a spotlight for its own merits, as this isn’t really a chapter in history standardly taught in American schools, but the specifics of Crip Camp’s subject speaks to a broader, urgent point about the power of community: When people unite under one banner for a common cause, there’s little they can’t accomplish. A message as timely as it is timeless. —Andy Crump


Into the Inferno

into-the-inferno.jpg Year: 2016
Director: Werner Herzog
Rating: NR
Runtime: 107 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Drawing lines from current events or public moods to the documentaries of Werner Herzog wouldn’t make for a constructive use of time. The only lines Herzog draws are carefully through his own work, the people he’s met and spectacles he’s witnessed and subjects he’s buried deep within him on-call should the spirit move him. In the case of Into the Inferno, Herzog enlists the help of volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer—met while in Antarctica for Encounters at the End of the World—to visit and then gaze into the violent hearts of active volcanoes, a subject he once broached 30 years before in La Soufrière. Shot with the same intensity for long takes he once brought to bear on the Amazon River of Aguirre, the camera in awe of the lava flows, Into the Inferno, like most Herzog documentaries, can’t help but follow symbolic hunches down unexpected tangents. This is how Herzog ends up in North Korea, waxing rhapsodically via voice over about autonomy and artificiality, the mythic spectre of a volcano god hovering in the film’s periphery. As was the case with Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World, and Cave of Forgotten Dreams before it, and Grizzly Man before that, Into the Inferno works as moving, majestic, mind-boggling primer on a director who always has one more movie left in him. —Dom Sinacola


Amanda Knox

amanda-knox.jpg Year: 2016
Directors: Rod Blackhurst, Brian McGinn
Rating: NR
Runtime: 92 minutes

Watch on Netflix

With the Amanda Knox saga (seemingly) done for good, Netflix recently released a definitive documentary covering it from beginning to end—the murder of Meredith Kercher and subsequent arrest, trials and appeals of Knox and Raffaele Sollecito; the ensuing media frenzy; the quiet, fast-track trial of Rudy Guede, the only party upon whose guilt everyone seems to agree. The film relies mainly on talking head interviews with Knox, Sollecito and two highly entertaining “villains”: boorish prosecutor Giuliano Mignini and smarmy Daily Mail journalist Nick Pisa, the latter wearing a Hugh-Grant-caddishness and a shit-eating grin. While Knox herself is probably the least interesting interview in the film—more fascinating by half are pre-arrest home recordings depicting her as a naïve, giggly teen—Blackhurst and McGinn are clear about where their sympathies lie, and contrasted with the ghastly Mignini and Pisa, it’s hard not to side with these two kids. But still the film feels thoughtful and relatively well-balanced: The media is its true target, and the filmmakers nail the insidious ways that its sensationalism and greed can derail justice and irrevocably ruin lives. —Maura McAndrew


The Unknown Known

unknown-known-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2013
Director: Errol Morris
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 96 minutes

Watch on Netflix

As with Errol Morris’s Fog of War, which was a similar interview with 1960s Secretary of State Robert McNamara, The Unknown Known consists mostly of its subject talking. Even-keeled and slightly cocky, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2006, answers Morris’s questions, which range from government policy to how he proposed to his wife. To be sure, Rumsfeld can be extremely evasive and willfully vague, but what’s remarkable is how often he isn’t. He doesn’t confess to any major mistakes, but he’s candid in explaining his rationale. And although he may not convince you of his motives, there’s little doubt that he convinced himself a long time ago. As per norm, Morris utilizes his Interrotron, a device that allows his interview subject to look directly at the audience, and Rumsfeld recalls everything with impressive clarity—unless, that is, Morris confronts him with a fact that he doesn’t want to address. (The former Secretary of State asserts that the American people weren’t led to believe by the Bush administration that the invasion of Iraq was launched because Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks, even though opinion polls from the time clearly suggest that was the case.) No film in years has produced such a shockingly vivid reminder of what the Bush years felt like: utter confidence, vague contempt, a fiendish skill for playing the PR game in such a way that the administration was guaranteed to come out on top. Rumsfeld “wins” the argument with Morris because he knows how to phrase responses so that his interviewer can’t really rebut them—it’s exactly what he did during those press conferences as well. You get the sense that Rumsfeld might have been Morris’s white whale—the one man who could finally be taken to task for the failures of the Iraq War. But even he can’t get Rumsfeld to crack. In a way, that’s fitting: What kind of worthy adversary would Rumsfeld be if he was so easy to catch? —Tim Grierson


20 Feet From Stardom

20-feet-from-stardom.jpg Year: 2013
Director: Morgan Neville
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 89 minutes

Watch on Netflix

“Da Doo Ron Ron.” Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say.” Joe Cocker’s “Feelin’ Alright.” Lynyrd Skynrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama.” The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.” Strip these classic anthems of their backup vocals, and they’re just not the same. In 20 Feet from Stardom, music documentarian Morgan Neville introduces talented women like Darlene Love, Merry Clayton and Lisa Fischer, who, for one reason or another, lived mostly out of the spotlight. As Bruce Springsteen says in the movie’s opening interview, “That walk to the front [of the stage] is complicated.” 20 Feet from Stardom is a thorough document on the craft of backup singing, revealing the special skill set required to achieve a perfect blend of voices and the spiritual high that can sometimes result; the difference between backup singers and eye candy (looking at you, Ike Turner); and the recording of “Sweet Home Alabama” amid the Civil Rights Movement. And it’s all set to a soundtrack of some of the best tunes to come out of the second half of the 20th century. —Annlee Ellingson


Let It Fall: LA 1982-1992

let-it-fall-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2017
Director: John Ridley
Rating: NR
Runtime: 120 minutes

Watch on Netflix

It was, arguably, the first “viral” video. The world saw it. Over. And over. And over. We saw it and were horrified and no matter how many times they played it we never stopped being horrified. A Black man who had provoked a high-speed chase through the streets of Los Angeles was removed from his vehicle and beaten to within an inch of his life by four white cops, illuminated by the spotlight of a police helicopter. A man in the building across the street saw what was happening and documented the incident with his video camera. He tried to take the tape to the police. The police didn’t want it. But the media sure did. In fact, the tape was seen so many times that the defense attorneys moved to re-venue the trial because public attention had made it impossible to get a fair hearing in Los Angeles. (Public attention would have made it equally impossible to get a “fair” trial in the Aleutian Islands.) Nonetheless, the motion was granted and the trial moved to a town in Ventura County where approximately one in three adult residents was in law enforcement. The policemen who savaged Rodney King were acquitted, to worldwide shock, of having used “excessive and potentially deadly force under color of authority.” What happened next remains the most destructive civil disturbance in U.S. history (and one of the most destructive, period). The 1992 Los Angeles riots lasted five days, claimed 55 lives, injured more than 4,000, and caused $1 billion in damage to the city. Depending on your age, you might or might not have a clear memory of it: That footage was sickeningly familiar to me. John Ridley’s Let It Fall: Los Angeles, 1982-1992, on ABC, is a gut-wrenching and kaleidoscopic oral history, combining the commentary of both police and civilians; it’s multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and provides perhaps the richest sense of context for the riots; by the end of this one you’ll understand that in most ways, the riots were basically inevitable and not particularly about Rodney King. Los Angeles was a tinderbox long before the night he was battered by those cops. Their acquittal happened to light the match, but anything might have. —Amy Glynn


Chasing Trane

chasing-trane-poster.jpg Year: 2016
Director: John Scheinfeld
Rating: NR
Runtime: 99 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Those old and new to John Coltrane will find something to appreciate in this vivid, albeit effusive, tribute to the jazz legend. Family members, former bandmates and famous fans (Kamasi Washington, Wynton Marsalis, John Densmore, Bill Clinton) recount the genius of the sax player’s compositions and evolution of his talents, from his Charlie Parker-mimicking early work to his later, freeform experimentation. Devotees shouldn’t expect much of a deep dive here on any level; via home movies, archival footage and personal diaries read by Denzel Washington, the film takes a linear, survey-style approach to his North Carolina childhood and drug-addled twenties, two marriages, and quick succumbing to liver cancer in 1967 at only 40. Filmmaker John Scheinfeld dips in and out of the music—too much so, it turns out, and with too little insight into the specifics of his gifts. Still, the overarching salvation Trane found in music resonates with such joy. The sequence about his civil rights opus “Alabama,” which took its phrasing cues from the cadence of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is a stirring illumination of his creative process. As Coltrane’s notes unfold atop King’s words, music and speech flow into and out of each other in a still urgent, impassioned release. Elsewhere, the doc looks at the transformative power of Coltrane’s faith, his relationships and his legacy with iconic works such as “My Favorite Things” and “A Love Supreme.” Midway through the film Dr. Cornel West describes Coltrane as a thermostat, not a thermometer, of the times, an instrument personified that adapted rather than just measured. In its best moments, Chasing Trane succeeds in that as well. —Amanda Schurr


The Battered Bastards of Baseball

battered-bastards.jpg Year: 2013
Directors: Chapman Way, Maclain Way
Rating: NR
Runtime: 80 minutes

Watch on Netflix

There’s always been something romantic about independent minor league baseball teams, but that romance has never been quite in full bloom like the story of the Portland Mavericks, a team with no major league affiliation. Owned by actor Bing Russell (Kurt Russell’s dad), Maverickdom spread from Oregon to the nation, beginning with Joe Garagiola’s NBC special. With characters like blackballed Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton, the first woman general manager in baseball (age 24) and the first Asian-American (at 22), the inventor of Big League Chew, batboy Todd Field (Oscar-nominated screenwriter for In the Bedroom), and a ball dog, the antics of the team were as entertaining as the game itself—and yet the their run from 1973-1977 was one of the best in the minor leagues. Bing’s goal was to embody that baseball cliché: For the love of the game. As Bouton says of his fellow $400-a-month teammates, “Our motivation was simple: revenge. We loved whomping fuzzy-cheeked college-bonus babies owned by the Dodgers and Phillies.” The Mavericks’ is an underdog story made for a documentary, and Chapman and Maclain Way have given the team the movie it deserves. —Josh Jackson


The Edge of Democracy

edge-of-democracy-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2019
Director: Petra Costa
Rating: NR
Runtime: 113 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Though her take is sweeping, her drone shots a tad too obligatory, director Petra Costa draws as many parallels as she’s able to line up the political roots of her family tree with those of her home country. The Edge of Democracy, then, is likely most compelling for viewers unfamiliar with Briazilian politics in pretty much any capacity. Costa intuits this reality—its Oscar nomination signals some Netflixian prestige for this kind of exceptionally well made documentary—and, without being explicit, makes a clear argument that Brazil is, at least, as deserving of its doom as those of us under Trump. Whether you feel that way or not—that everything is sad and fucked—as an American it’s difficult to not see the stories of these two relatively young world powers align with almost monomythical certainty. And yet, Costa allows her sadness to permeate the film, narrating frequently about her grandfather’s construction business, which flourished during the dictatorship while her mother and father put their lives on the line as revolutionaries, in between a wealth of footage and melancholy tracking shots. The moral poetry of it all tips every once in a while into the obvious, but Costa’s handle on the breadth of what she’s covering, aided by some intimate access to key political figures and Brazilian icons like Lula and Dilma Rousseff, bears impressive responsibility for all the personal connections, and self-serious gestures, she makes. —Dom Sinacola


The Fear of 13

fear-13.jpg Year: 2015
Director: David Sington
Rating: NR
Runtime: 96 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Sington’s The Fear of 13 has a unique vision often not associated with (though probably well suited for) true crime, applying a stark, poetic narrative style to a fairly run-of-the-mill criminal justice story. Death row inmate Nick Yarris sits in a dark room, like in a black box theater, and recounts his story. The film relies almost entirely on Yarris’s charisma and gift for storytelling—developed during the years he spent educating himself in prison—with just the occasional visual or sonic flourish. It’s a risky strategy, but it pays off: The delights of The Fear of 13 lie in Yarris’s elegantly rendered anecdotes in which death row inmates sing in the dark, a bathroom break provides an opportunity for a nail-biting escape and how there’s palpable joy in learning new words like “triskaidekaphobia.” Though Sington leaves the viewer context-less for most of his film—Is Yarris telling the truth? Is he really on death row? Is he guilty or not?—he answers all in due time, but not before taking viewers on a pleasure of a ride. —Maura McAndrew


Knock Down the House

knock-down-the-house-movie-poster.jpg Year: 2019
Director: Rachel Lears
Rating: PG
Runtime: 86 minutes

Watch on Netflix

For viewers expecting comprehensive policy platforms and detailed breakdowns of the candidates’ positions on the issues of the day, Knock Down the House is about as valuable as the Joe Crowley flyer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez holds under harsh scrutiny partway through the film: All flash, no substance, nothing to inform the audience of the subjects’ politics beneath the surface. But Rachel Lears is more interested in character and profile than she is in ideology, so the unintended hypocrisy is forgivable. Knock Down the House is accidental history in the making, a movie about four progressive Democratic campaigns leading into the 2018 midterms—those of Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush and Paula Jean Swearengin—and the factors driving them to take American governance into their own hands.

Truthfully, this is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: The Movie. Lears couldn’t have known it at the time—AOC wasn’t AOC then—but Vilela, Bush and Swearengin aren’t household names. They are, bluntly put, losers, and culture tends to remember the winners. Ocasio-Cortez’s presence sets the movie aflame. Even if Lears avoids talking about policy, there’s value in learning about this unexpected Bronx superhero, her origins, her humanity, her success. (Watching footage of Ocasio-Cortez walking into a bar to find that she won her election is a rare, astounding gift.) But even the defeated candidates tell a greater story about increased political action in the late 2010s, as Republican rule increasingly chokes out huge swaths of the country, even swaths that their voters call home. Some people get into politics because of legacy or because they believe in service. Others get into politics because the political is personal. Knock Down the House might not strike the right balance between all of its participants, but it understands that philosophy well. —Andy Crump


Fire in the Blood

fire-in-the-blood.jpg Year: 2013
Director: Dylan Mohan Gray
Rating: NR
Runtime: 86 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Narrated by William Hurt, Fire in the Blood paints a damning portrait of how government corruption and corporate greed resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of people in developing countries. Filmmaker Dylan Mohan Gray asserts that beginning in 1996, Western pharmaceutical companies as well as the governments of many countries in Africa and on other southern continents prevented low-cost AIDS medicines from reaching the people who needed them. It took the combined efforts of global figures like Bill Clinton and Desmond Tutu, as well as lesser-known ones such as Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz, to turn the tide on the AIDS epidemic. Ultimately, Gray’s film gives us hope that individual good can overcome institutionalized evil. —Allison Gorman


The Two Killings of Sam Cooke

ooo.jpg Year: 2019
Director: Kelly Duane de la Vega
Rating: NR
Runtime: 74 minutes

Watch on Netflix

The Two Killings of Sam Cooke is another installment of Netflix’s original music documentary series ReMastered, attempting to create a holistic portrait of American soul legend Sam Cooke—one that doesn’t carelessly whitewash his story just because his crooner soul also appealed to white audiences. In an effort to save his “murdered legacy,” the film examines his early roots in black churches, the evolution of his music, his impressive business acumen and his political activism later in life, which is believed to have led to his eventual murder. As Cooke became an increasingly influential cultural figure, his associations with other politically active black figures like Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown posed a threat to the racial status quo. Cooke’s murder arises as an integral point of discussion in the film, and the details to this day are still muddy. Just as Cooke began writing politically-minded music—the sequence where “A Change is Gonna Come” plays in the background is breathtaking—his life was tragically cut short, and this film is a reminder of his unbelievable talent, and his embrace of blackness, that history largely forgot. —Lizzie Manno


I Am Divine

i-am-divine.jpg Year: 2014
Director: Jeffrey Schwarz
Rating: NR
Runtime: 90 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Jeffrey Schwarz’s I Am Divine covers the life of Divine (born Harris Glenn Milstead) from his early childhood in conservative Baltimore through his rise to fame as the “most beautiful woman in the world.” The story of Divine is intertwined with the story of the Dreamlanders—Divine’s adopted family, a group of people who joined forces to create a safe space to express who they were without fear of judgement from the rest of the world. Warhol’s Factory did the same thing (Schwarz makes a number of allusions to Warhol), but where Warhol grew to resent his superstars, John Waters, Divine, Mink Stole and the rest of them all seemed to genuinely like one another. What Schwarz uncovers in his movie—or at least, what he illuminates—is how kind, quiet and generous Milstead was, despite his outrageous alter ego. Through a series of interviews with former collaborators, friends and family, Schwarz helps paint a picture of an extraordinary boy who lived so far outside what was considered “normal,” he had no choice but to blaze his own trail. In turn, I Am Divine leaves one with was a sense that all things are possible. After all, John Waters and Divine—without experience, without contacts, without money—accomplished what Hollywood continually fails to do. —Lee Tyler


Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond

jim-andy.jpg Year: 2017
Director: Chris Smith
Rating: NR
Runtime: 94 minutes

Watch on Netflix

The porous boundaries between storytellers and their stories are the linchpin of Netflix’s Chris Smith-directed, Spike Jonze-produced Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, a fragmentary, yet compelling, look at the extreme lengths to which Jim Carrey went to portray his idol, singular entertainer Andy Kaufman, in the late Milos Forman’s 1999 biopic Man on the Moon. The film’s narrative hook is immediate: Jim & Andy draws from hours of behind-the-scenes footage that Universal had mothballed so viewers wouldn’t think Carrey, then one of Hollywood’s biggest and brightest stars, was “an asshole.” As we see some 18 years later, Carrey embodied Kaufman both on camera and off, his method acting antics begging meaningful questions about what drives performers to give themselves over to fantasy as well as how warped reality can get with such immersion. Jim & Andy is as moving as it is thought-provoking, a reminder that often in art there is no great joy without great pain. —Scott Russell


Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan

wendy-whelan-poster.jpg Year: 2017
Directors: Adam Schlesinger, Linda Saffire
Rating: NR
Runtime: 90 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan isn’t a “dance movie,” per se. Except during the last 10 minutes (and even then, in what looks like a truncated form), there aren’t really any sustained ballet sequences in which to marvel at the former New York City Ballet principal dancer’s legendary physicality. It’s doubtful that neophytes will come away from Adam Schlesinger and Linda Saffire’s documentary with a deeper appreciation of the art form. Instead, this is a portrait of an artist at a professional and personal crossroads, as Whelan faces the potential death of the creative livelihood that has sustained her for so many decades, one that has given her life joy and meaning. Whelan’s process of trying to rediscover herself after a personal setback would not have been half as involving as it is if she hadn’t been so generous with the access she granted the filmmakers. She isn’t afraid to lay bare her vulnerabilities for the camera, and Schlesinger and Saffire are able to capture their subject in occasional private moments that make their subject seem poignantly human. It’s that intimacy that makes Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan an artist documentary that will play movingly—inspiringly, even—for those who aren’t already fans. —Kenji Fujishima


Chasing Coral

chasing-coral.jpg Year: 2017
Director: Jeff Orlowski
Rating: NR
Runtime: 91 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Folks, I don’t care what you happen to believe. Sure, global climate change events happened in the past, before the Industrial Revolution. We refer to them as the “Great Extinctions.” You might not believe we’re experiencing one now. Coral begs to differ with you. You might say, “OK, it’s happening, but it’s not being generated or accelerated by humans.” Coral begs to differ with you. Coral would like you to know it is time to be terrified. So would the folks who made Chasing Coral. The film tracks a crew of dedicated coral-nerds who are trying to capture a “coral bleaching” event (mass death from overheated water) so they can start making the public pay attention to what’s going on beneath the ocean’s surface. There’s some beautiful underwater photography, both still and moving, of corals—healthy coral reefs look like they were drawn by a Finding Nemo animator at Pixar, and they are stunning. On the whole, the documentary is not a blazing artistic groundbreaker. And it isn’t meant to be. It’s meant to get you tuned in to the fact that while everyone’s talking about the impact of global warming as if it were something still in the future, ocean temperatures are now regularly experiencing what used to be extremely exceptional random events—namely, “fever” temps that cause coral to die. And corals are the foundation species of insanely diverse symbiotic ecosystems, ranking only with rainforests for sheer species diversity. Chasing Coral is not intended to be an artwork, though elements of it are artful enough. It is explicitly a public service announcement, and a call to action. We tend not to spend much time thinking about things like corals, because they live in a place we don’t usually see (unless we’re lucky enough to live near a reef). What goes on under the surface of the ocean might not seem that connected to what’s going on here on land, but that’s an illusion. Corals would like you to know that you and they are connected far more directly than you imagine, and that without them, you face a radically destabilized environment. —Amy Glynn

Also in Movies