THE BEST Documentaries

A History of Silence

A History of Silence

Lois Weber is a name not known to many, but she was a pioneer of the cinema. She directed her first film in 1914, and owned her own movie studio. After directing more than 100 silent films, often tackling difficult subjects, she became nearly lost to history. Documentarian Travis Lee Ratcliff shines a light on her achievements.

The Zo: Induction

The Zo: Induction

Artist Molly Crabapple’s hand-illustrated documentary series kicks off with an episode about the often confusing rules and operational practices in prison that are designed to intentionally disorient, control, and dehumanize inmates. Narrated by Michael K. Williams (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire).

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The Vinyl Revival (Trailer)

The Vinyl Revival (Trailer)

Record stores are no longer an endangered species reports The Vinyl Revival, a doc about why the tables are turning again. Director Pip Piper explores the vinyl renaissance with industry pros, artists, record sellers, and the new generation of vinyl aficionados choosing needle drops over digital streams. DVD drops 4/10/20.

The King of Wheelchairs

The King of Wheelchairs

Coolest Thing introduces us to self-proclaimed mad scientist Lance Greathouse. Among his many builds is a motorized wheelchair that packs a flamethrower on its front end. But he doesn’t just build silly stuff, Lance and the folks from the Wheelchair Labs helps refurbish wheelchairs for people in need.

Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue

“I planted more trees in the city of Baltimore than anybody in the history of the city…” Filmmakers Jonathan Bregel & Steve Hoover of Friendzone introduce us to a truly unique man – the retired Principal City Planner of Baltimore who, after years of working for the city, decided to cover himself head-to-toe with a blue tattoo.

Beastie Boys Story (Teaser)

Beastie Boys Story (Teaser)

Director Spike Jonze filmed this Beastie Boys documentary in front of a live audience. It features interviews with Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz, and loads of classic footage, as they reminisce about their 40 years of friendship and the illustrious history of the band. Coming to Apple TV+ on 4/24/20.

Before Dookie: How Punk Became Pop

Before Dookie: How Punk Became Pop

The punk rock era kicked off in the 1970s, and evolved from the edge of counter-culture to producing top 10 hits songs. While many point to GreenDay and Blink-182 as the seminal pop-punk bands, Trash Theory explores the many earlier bands who bridged the gap between the genres. Be sure to watch both parts.

The DeLorean Paradox

The DeLorean Paradox

Introduced in 1981, the DeLorean DMC-12 was supposed to be the “car of the future,” yet despite its striking looks, it wasn’t that groundbreaking. The company that built it quickly crashed, but Back to the Future made it an icon and dream car for decades to come.

Cyclekarts

Cyclekarts

Cyclekarting is all about zooming about in tiny single-seat race cars. Each one is handbuilt, inspired by a famous vintage car, with a tiny engine, and skinny motorcycle wheels. eGarage introduces us to a group of enthusiasts who get together to share their passion and rally each year in Tieton, Washington. (Thanks Steven!)

Growing The World’s Hottest Pepper

Growing The World’s Hottest Pepper

“I get to hurt people from all over the world… every single day.” WIRED’s Obsessed sat down with PuckerButt Pepper Company founder Ed Currie to find out just what sort of demented mind came up with the spiciest pepper known to humanity. But he’s not done, and is continually cross-breeding hotter and hotter peppers.

Never Surrender (Trailer)

Never Surrender (Trailer)

We love to rewatch the sci-fi/comedy Galaxy Quest whenever we get the chance. This feature-length documentary from Screen Junkies (the Honest Trailers guys) includes interviews with the original cast, celebrities, and superfans to learn why it’s such a magical and enduring movie. Arrives in select theaters 11/26/19.

Master of Pumpkins

Master of Pumpkins

Ray Villafane knows his way around a pumpkin, having carved some of the most incredible and intricate Jack-o-lanterns ever. In this clip from azcentral, we learn a bit more about the artist, and what it is about the orange squash that inspires him. Each fall, his studio cranks out countless pumpkins for displays around the world.

CuriosityStream

CuriosityStream gives you access to 2,000 documentary features and series, including originals with stunning visuals and storytelling. Topics include science, nature, history, technology, society, and lifestyle, and will fill your eyes, ears, and brains with wonder. Save 25% off a 2-year subscription in The Awesomer Shop.

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Class Action Park (Trailer)

Class Action Park (Trailer)

Johnny Knoxville’s film Action Point was a semi-fictitious tribute to the world’s most dangerous amusement park. Seth Porges and Chris Charles Scott’s documentary takes us inside the true story of New Jersey’s thrilling, but terrifying Action Park, and the many crimes and misdemeanors that took place during its existence.

(SHn(y)o͞of)

(SHn(y)o͞of)

Most couples have a few silly words that are uniquely theirs. But Bill and Tonya Martin decided to create a complete language of their own that nobody else knows how to speak, called Martinese. Sam Davis and Rayka Zehtabchi’s documentary is at its heart a bittersweet story about parents finding their way after the kids fly the coop.

Treasures in the Trash

Treasures in the Trash

While many of the things we throw away are garbage, once in a while, there’s something of value. During his 34 years on the job, New York sanitation worker Nelson Molina collected items along his route, amassing a collection of over 45,000 items. Nicolas Heller’s documentary offers a profile of the man and his private museum of treasure.

Mad Dreams and Monsters (Trailer)

Mad Dreams and Monsters (Trailer)

Frenetic Arts’ documentary takes us inside the mind and the craft of stop-motion animation maestro Phil Tippett, whose work has been seen in movies like Star Wars: A New Hope, Robocop, Jurassic Park, and Starship Troopers, along with his epic passion project Mad God.

Inside Bill’s Brain

Inside Bill’s Brain

Bill Gates is much more than just a rich computer nerd. This three-part Netflix documentary delves into the inner-workings of Gates’ mind, his philosophies, and his efforts to make a real difference in the world since retiring from Microsoft. Premieres 9/20/19.

Another Day of Life (Trailer)

Another Day of Life (Trailer)

It’s not often that an animated feature tackles such serious issues, but Another Day of Life follows the true story of a civil war that broke out when Angola became independent from Portugal in 1975. Based on the book by Ryszard “Ricardo” Kapuściński, a journalist who begged his way deep into the most volatile places.

Mesh Color Panel Art

Mesh Color Panel Art

Mashable introduces us to Tomislav Topic and Thomas Granseuer of Quintessenz. The duo creates colorful and dynamic art installations by spray-painting flexible mesh material, then layering them into gradations of color. When set against real-world backdrops, they look almost like digital imagery.

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Finger Painting Level 9000

Finger Painting Level 9000

Artist Iris Scott doesn’t believe in paintbrushes. Instead, she creates detailed and vibrant images using only her gloved fingers. Her works include people, animals, landscapes, water, and urban scenes. Find more of her art on her website, and canvas prints are available here.

Desolation Center (Trailer)

Desolation Center (Trailer)

Burning Man, Lollapalooza, and Coachella owe their existence to a series of 1980s guerrilla punk rock events in the California desert. Stuart Swezey’s documentary combines interviews of punk and post-punk luminaries with performances by Sonic Youth, Minutemen, Meat Puppets, Perry Farrell, and more. Drops 9/13/19.

The Great Hack (Trailer)

The Great Hack (Trailer)

This feature-length Netflix documentary is a shocking look inside the multi-trillion-dollar world of digital data collection and mining, specifically in the context of the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal, in which data was harvested from over 87 million people, and used to manipulate public opinions.

Yarrow: The Virtues of Monochrome

Yarrow: The Virtues of Monochrome

Untitled Film Works’ short about one artist’s creative process becomes a film about three artists. At once, it’s a glimpse inside the mind of fine art photographer David Yarrow as he seeks the perfect shot in South Georgia, while showcasing the vision of directors and cinematographers Abraham Joffe ACS and Dom West.

The Typewriter Sculptor

The Typewriter Sculptor

In this episode of Wired’s Obsessed, they introduce us to Jeremy Mayer, an artist who creates truly incredible sculptures of birds, people, and other living things entirely from old typewriter parts. Check out more of his works on his Instagram feed.

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