In the mood to do some learning this weekend? Feel like broadening your mind to a controversial topic or two? Here are the 10 best documentaries that you can watch on Netflix Australia.
Chef's Table is an amazingly delicious journey into the worlds and private lives of some of the world's most high-profile culinary artists. Do me a favour — just make some time and watch the first episode, following chef Massimo Bottura around the town of Modena and his restaurant Osteria Francescana, and try to stop drooling. Then watch every other episode. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: Chef's Table" offers viewers the opportunity to go inside the lives and kitchens of six of the world's most renowned, international culinary talents. Each of the six episodes features an acclaimed chef, who include Ben Shewry (Melbourne, Australia), Magnus Nilsson (Järpen, Sweden), Francis Mallmann (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Niki Nakayama (Los Angeles, CA, USA), Dan Barber (New York City, USA) and Massimo Bottura (Modena, Italy).
IMDb: Chef's Table goes inside the lives and kitchens of six of the world's most renowned international chefs. Each episode focuses on a single chef and their unique look at their lives, talents and passion from their piece of culinary heaven.
Planet Earth is the one nature documentary series that you have to watch, and that you have to show your friends. Each of the 11 episodes uncovers a different biome on planet Earth, and I defy you to watch and not be awestruck by the majesty of creatures and places both large and small. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: This landmark series transports nature lovers from the Himalayan Mountains to the depths of the ocean and everywhere in between.
IMDb: Emmy Award winning, 11-episodes, 5-years in the making, the most expensive nature documentary series ever commissioned by the BBC, and the first to be filmed in high definition.
Hot Girls Wanted follows the boom in amateur porn that has
blessed filled the Internet in recent years. From community-run sites like Reddit's GoneWild to professional operations like YouPorn and RedTube, this doco charts the subtle and insidious exploitation of women who accidentally enter the am-porn industry. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: This 2015 Sundance Film Festival breakout documentary from producer Rashida Jones spotlights the "amateur" porn industry and the women it exploits.
IMDb: A documentary about young women who have been drawn into the sex trade — and how easy it is for a web-savvy generation to end up making porn.
Virunga is beautiful and simultaneously heartbreaking. Its name refers to the Virunga National Park in Congo, home to the last mountain gorillas in the world and site of some amazing battles — both political and physical — over natural resources.
This doco was produced entirely by Netflix, and I actually think it's a better use of the streaming giant's time and money than House of Cards is. Watch it and open your eyes to a world that you didn't even know existed. (Then donate some money to keep it alive.) Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: In the forested depths of eastern Congo lies Virunga National Park, one of the most bio-diverse places in the world and home to the last of the mountain gorillas. Here, an embattled team of park rangers that includes an ex-child soldier and a Belgian prince, risk their lives to protect this UNESCO World Heritage Site from armed rebels, poachers, and even corporations trying to wrest control of Congo's rich natural resources.
IMDb: A group of brave individuals risk their lives to save the last of the world's mountain gorillas; in the midst of renewed civil war and a scramble for Congo's natural resources.
Dirty Wars is a documentary that explores and charts the hidden world of the United States of America's covert wars — operations carried out without the sanction of Congress, under the purview of the Joint Special Operations Command, including the assassination of US citizens. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: A 2014 Oscar nominee for Best Documentary Feature, this film explores America's controversial covert operations around the globe.
IMDb: Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill is pulled into an unexpected journey as he chases down the hidden truth behind America's expanding covert wars.
Indie Game examines a world close to the heart of gamers worldwide — indie game developers, and the trials and tribulations they face getting their home-grown products to market. It's a little introspective and perhaps whiny at times, but it's still a fascinating look into a world that we as gamers usually don't see. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: This captivating documentary follows several indie game designers as they painstakingly develop their games and hope for breakthrough success.
IMDb: A documentary that follows the journeys of indie game developers as they create games and release those works, and themselves, to the world.
The Square is a documentary covering the events of Tahrir Square and its snowballing, ever-growing effects which became the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. It's beautifully shot, but more importantly it chronicles an important and ongoing part of our world's political fabric. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: Winner of three Emmys and nominee for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, this powerful film immerses the viewer in the intense emotional drama of young people on the streets of Cairo claiming their right to create a society of freedom and conscience. As two governments topple in quick succession, the personal stories of the freedom fighters unfold in an inspiring tribute to the power of citizenship.
IMDb: A group of Egyptian revolutionaries battle leaders and regimes, risking their lives to build a new society of conscience.
Hoop Dreams was the "best film of the 1990s", according to Roger Ebert. Some people think it's the best documentary ever made. Charting the lives of two Chicago high school basketballers, it takes a jump partway through the film to explore the struggles of those basketballers' families, living in '90s America and all the hardship that involves. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: Two of Chicago's top high school basketball prospects face pressure on and off the court in this iconic documentary about sports, family and race.
IMDb: A film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional.
Chasing Ice deserves a place on the list of Netflix's best documentaries not only because it's visually stunning, but because it records the changing face of the world's glaciers, those fragile Arctic and Antarctic blocks of ice that maintain global climate. As they melt, we should be asking questions. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: Environmental photographer James Balog deploys time-lapse cameras to capture a multiyear record of the world's changing glaciers.
IMDb: Follow National Geographic photographer James Balog across the Arctic as he deploys time-lapse cameras designed for one purpose: to capture a multi-year record of the world's changing glaciers.
Blackfish is heartbreaking. It's ostensibly about Tilikum, a performing killer whale who has killed several people including his star trainer while in captivity, but deeper down it explores the practices of SeaWorld in the US, not all of which are humane or animal-friendly. Watch it now on Netflix.
Netflix: This fascinating documentary examines the life of performing killer whale Tilikum, who has caused the deaths of several people while in captivity.
IMDb: A documentary following the controversial captivity of killer whales, and its dangers for both humans and whales.