It’s the easiest thing to turn a blind eye to the ugliness of the world. It’s easy to stay wrapped up in a bubble, unaware of the horrific atrocities occurring elsewhere. It’s easy to ignore unfortunate realities. It’s easy to keep calm.
But while we’re deciding which party to hit next, infants are being bombed down in Syria. While we’re getting drunk, innocents are cold-bloodedly murdered in hate crimes. While we’re eating out, glaciers are melting at an alarming speed. While we cuddle our pets, entire species are being brutally wiped out.
Every second, we’re losing something forever.
We’re indifferent because we’re unaware. Our planet is suffering, in every way it can suffer. We’re not just restricted to nationalities; we belong to this world too. Shouldn’t we find out what’s really happening?
We need to face the truth, as disheartening or shocking as it may be. Only when we understand the problem can we be a part of the solution. We are the future. If we don’t care, who will?
Please watch these documentaries. They’ll tell and show you a lot. You’ll be a changed person once you’re done. Mark my words.
Director: Orlando von Einsiedel
Enter the breathtaking, war-torn world of Virunga, a mineral-rich world heritage site caught in the clutches of corruption and violence. Situated in eastern Congo, it is also home to the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas. As a group of brave men stay behind to protect their beloved home and it’s endangered wildlife. As poachers, armed militia and rebels threaten to take over and destroy everything, the filmmakers catch a live battle on camera. You won't be the same after watching it.
2. The White Helmets
Director: Orlando von Einsiedel
Here’s another marvel by the same director. He often puts his life in jeopardy to uncover social evils and won an Oscar for this documentary about a group of selfless volunteers who risk their lives everyday to save civilians in danger at bombed locations in Syria and Turkey. They shine as beacons of hope in the midst of severe bloodshed and fear with their relentless rescue efforts. We see unspeakable horrors but a miracle too. As the Quran says, “To save one life is to save all of humanity”.
3. Before The Flood
Director: Fisher Stevens
Leonardo DiCaprio is an avid environmentalist, fighting to save the planet before it’s too late in this revelation of a documentary. He doesn’t just provide a voiceover but goes around the globe showing us the most endangered parts and how man-made activities are destroying the very future of our race. He wants us to know that climate change is very real and very dangerous. Leo also brings onboard visionaries and leaders such as Barack Obama and Elon Musk for their expert opinions on a matter of greatest urgency.
4. Fire At Sea
Director: Gianfranco Rosi
This masterpiece is a magnificent documentation of how a little island in the Mediterranean called Lampedusa is impacted by the intense human struggle in the surrounding seas as African and Middle Eastern refugees desperately try to make it to the shore. Using an incredibly unique perspective to shed light on the massive migrant crisis, Gianfranco Rosi delivers a work of tremendous value, bravery and emotion. He’ll show you what the news couldn’t, up and close. Urgent episodes of rescue efforts, survival and death coexist with the everyday normal lives of the island’s inhabitants, as seen through the eyes of one little boy, Samuele.
5. Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World
Director: Werner Herzog
Made by one of the most celebrated filmmakers of the world, Werner Herzog, this eye-opening documentary tackles the exploration of the Internet and its ever-growing impact on the modern society. As much as we can’t function without it, we fail to realise the magnitude of its complexities and larger impact on the global population. Is cyber security really protecting us or are we getting pulled into a dark hole? Get ready to be utterly fascinated and scared.
6. Chasing Ice
Director: Jeff Orlowski
One spring, renowned nature photographer James Balog embarked on a mission to Arctic so he could expose the shocking reality of Earth’s climate change. What he captured with his lens turned out to be the most unbelievable evidence of our planet’s rapidly deteriorating condition. He caught a 75-minute footage of an ancient glacier falling like a pack of cards. With a team in tow, Balog decided to take the expedition further to reveal the ultimate truth: Our world is transforming and we’re doing nothing about it.
Director: Keith Maitland
On 1st August 1966, a man rode to the top of University of Texas Tower and started shooting. He killed 16 people and injured dozens. This haunting masterpiece sheds light on the ugly gun violence in USA. It’s an instigating collection of animated and archival footage, armed with eye-opening testimonies of the witnesses and survivors of a national tragedy. The way you witness the whole account of the inhumane crime will astound you; it’s something entirely new, undone before. Make sure you don’t miss it.
Director: Ava DuVernay
The 13th amendment to constitution states, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States." Then why is an outrageous number of African-Americans behind bars? Racism has been rampant in the country for centuries now, denying people their social, economic and cultural rights. This superbly daring, extraordinary venture into the country’s overflowing prisons will expose the reality of the criminal world and reveal truths that’ll alarm and unnerve you.
Director: Kirsten Johnson
Kirsten Johnson has travelled the world as a documentary maker and cinematographer. After 25 years of pursuing a plethora of places, people and cultures, she finally put together her important experiences in a stunning memoir. The footage is multi-dimensional, coming together like a world mosaic. Her personal journey of interaction and revelations has been compiled and edited with astounding care. It effectively reflects the relationships and ideologies she forged along the way. She wanted to show us what she saw through her long, inspiring career as a cameraperson and delivered a truly awe-inspiring collection.
10. The Ivory Game
Directors: Kief Davidson, Richard Ladkani
How many precious species on Earth will we have to lose to barbaric human cruelty? So many exotic creations of nature have already been destroyed by our greed and indifference. The African elephants are next now, killed mercilessly for their tusks, also called ‘white gold’. These fearless filmmakers went undercover to enter the dirty, corrupt realm of ivory trafficking and shot for 16 months with large teams to infiltrate the circle. What they returned with will make you both mournful and livid. Who could’ve thought that we might lose elephants someday? Well, the day isn’t far.
11. Jim: The James Foley Story
Director: Brian Oakes
He was the first American journalist to go. Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) cold-bloodedly beheaded the 41-year-old after kidnapping him from Syria where he was reporting the civil war, initiating a long list of similar executions. No one can forget the image of Foley kneeling helplessly in the desert, knowing he's about to die, reading out a note of regret before a terrorist savagely cut off his head. This is the story of the fallen hero’s legacy. How he chose to face the worst in humanity and ultimately died for his cause. Family, friends and colleagues remember and discuss Foley in his moving documentary about hope and empathy, tragedy and courage.
Director: Tatiana Huezo
Two stories of pain and suffering run alongside in this intimate, visionary documentary. The beautiful imagery and pictorial depth will speak volumes alone. We embark on separate and very personal journeys with two Mexican women who are victims of extreme injustice that crushed them and took away everything except their last remaining shreds of dignity. Their lives became living nightmares, fuelled by colossal violence and corruption. Blatant abuse of power and Mexico’s dire drug cartels problem is brought into the limelight, presenting the country’s degrading socio-economic structure while elevating the urgency to take action.
13. Homeland: Iraq Year Zero
Director: Abbas Fahdel
This is a hard-hitting account of Iraq before and after the U.S. invasion. This is your opportunity to see the other side, the Iraqi citizens and their everyday lives, spent in the constant fear of a dark, uncertain future. Their home has been taken over, rendering them helpless in their very own homeland. The director returned to his country from France in 2002 as his family and friends were bracing for war. How they managed without food, water and freedom while containing their overwhelming panic is a compelling tale of survival you’ll remember for a long time.
Director: Dawn Porter
It might be a first world nation but America’s conservative anti-abortion laws have taken away women’s rights and ownership of their very bodies and lives. Called TRAP - targeted regulation of abortion providers, these restrictions are making their way to an increasing number of states, instigating fear from protestors and bafflement over the future in women all over. The government is taking extreme measures to exercise this by shutting down clinics and raising surgery costs, rendering all methods ineffective, especially for those without means or an education.
The documentaries on this list cover different subjects from different parts of the world. Each cause is of great significance. Do watch.