THE BEST Documentaries

Giant Robot Builder

Giant Robot Builder

Goldthread introduces us to Sun Shiqian, a man whose love for robots has turned into an obsession. In his studio in the Chinese city of Dalian, he has built numerous giant robots, including replicas of Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, as well as a huge, wearable mech suit.

I, Pastafari (Trailer)

I, Pastafari (Trailer)

Despite its silly premise, The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is one of the fastest growing religions on the planet. Michael Arthur’s documentary delves into the absurdist faith, and the efforts of its Pastafarian believers to to be granted the same privileges and protections that other organized religions enjoy.

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The Extreme Vespas of Indonesia

The Extreme Vespas of Indonesia

In most of the world, Vespas are just simple city scooters with a retro flair. But on the roads of Indonesia, they can be seen zooming around with some insane modifications. Great Big Story takes us on a spin to the Asian island nation for a ride-along with some of the scooter’s most passionate fans.

Rebuilding Paradise (Trailer)

Rebuilding Paradise (Trailer)

Director Ron Howard and producing partner Brian Grazer visit Paradise, California, which was ravaged by a horrifying firestorm in 2018, resulting in unfathomable damage, and at least 86 fatalities. Despite the enormous tragedy, members of the community are resolved to rebuilding their lives there.

The Origin of Digital Communities

The Origin of Digital Communities

Before the Internet we know today, we had standalone services like AOL. And before that, we had Bulletin Board Systems. These homebrew hangouts let people with similar interests congregate via their computers. Off the Cuf looks back at the first BBS and its creators, and how they laid the groundwork for much to come.

The World’s Largest Truck Stop

The World’s Largest Truck Stop

Off the Cuf’s video not only takes us on a tour of the enormous Iowa 80 Truck Stop, it spends a good bit of time delving into the history of trucking goods across America, and the importance of this critical industry in delivering food and other items that we rely on every day.

Arctic Drive (Trailer)

Arctic Drive (Trailer)

Traveler Arkady Fiedler and photographer Kamil Piechowiak present 3-minutes of footage their epic 6000-mile journey from Copenhagen to the Arctic Circle to Finland. From the Aurora Borealis to whiteout snowstorms, the images they captured along the way are spectacular. The full documentary series is due out 9.2020.

Gun Killers

Gun Killers

Jason Young’s wordless documentary introduces us to John and Nancy Little, a couple who spends their days enjoying retirement in the Nova Scotia countryside, and their nights performing a secret task for the RCMP. The short film stands as both a commentary on gun violence, and an intriguing work of visual art.

30 for 30: Long Gone Summer

30 for 30: Long Gone Summer

While pro sports might be on hold in 2020, ESPN is keeping the dream alive with lots of great stories about the past. This episode of 30 for 30, docu-series looks back at the steroid-powered summer of 1998, as the Cardinals’ Mark McGwire and the Cubs’ Sammy Sosa battled it out for home run supremacy. Premieres 6.14.20.

A Toy Store Near You (Trailer)

A Toy Store Near You (Trailer)

Brian Volk-Weiss is the man behind The Toys That Made Us. When he heard about the challenges faced by independent toy stores in the face of COVID-19, he got to work producing a docuseries about 50 wonderful shops, giving them some added exposure, and donating the majority of the show’s proceeds to the stores featured.

Have a Good Trip (Trailer)

Have a Good Trip (Trailer)

In this upcoming documentary, actors, musicians, and other celebrities share their experiences of what they felt, saw, and did while tripping on psychedelic drugs. Their stories – good, bad, and ugly – are each accompanied by appropriate animations. Coming to Netflix 5.11.20.

This Is Not a Conspiracy Theory

This Is Not a Conspiracy Theory

“Theories ease our anxieties, and make us feel that we can anticipate the future.” Filmmaker Kirby Ferguson’s (Everything is a Remix) documentary series explores the nature of conspiracy theories, what drives them, and how they shape attitudes and beliefs – especially in times of crisis.

Tiger King Honest Trailer

Tiger King Honest Trailer

If you missed out on the Tiger King craze, it’s never too late to watch. And if you still need convincing, perhaps Screen Junkies‘ take on the insane Netflix docuseries will push you over the edge. And if you’ve already seen it, welcome back to the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park.

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Spaceship Earth (Trailer)

Spaceship Earth (Trailer)

Matt Wolf’s documentary takes us inside of the world of the famed Biosphere 2. The project, which kicked off in 1991, locked eight people away for two years inside of a sustainable approximation of the Earth’s ecosystem. But was the experiment grounded in science, or was it just part of a cult? Drops 5.8.20 on Hulu and digital.

Kubrick By Kubrick (Trailer)

Kubrick By Kubrick (Trailer)

Stanley Kubrick was one of the greatest film directors who ever lived. Every frame of his movies was like a fastidiously-composed work of art. Grégory Monro’s documentary weaves together exclusive interviews with the filmmaker and his collaborators, taking us inside the mind of a true master of his craft.

Slimy Piece of Worm-ridden Filth

Slimy Piece of Worm-ridden Filth

Most of today’s science fiction movies use CGI for creature effects, but the original Star Wars trilogy (and some of the recent ones) used puppets. Jamie Benning’s 2015 documentary takes us behind the scenes of Return of the Jedi, and introduces us to Toby Philpott and his fellow puppeteers who brought the slimeball to life.

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).

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.

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.

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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.

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