Our pick of documentaries to watch on Netflix in March 2018
Who said entertainment can’t be educational as well? When you think about binge-watching on Netflix, your mind probably jumps to that series everyone is talking about, or that movie that a date recommended but you never got round to watching.
In recent years, Netflix has varied the content it offers, and in the process added a whole load of documentaries to its library. The good thing about a documentary is it doesn't quite feel like procrastination when you’re watching it because you’re learning something new. Right? Well that’s what we tell ourselves so we can binge guilt-free.
Without further ado, let’s get cracking.
First up is Icarus. In this daring documentary, director Bryan Fogel takes us along with him on his bold investigation into doping in Russian sport. What’s the best way to understand the effect of performance drugs? By taking them yourself of course (please do not try this at home) and this is exactly what Fogel did.
By enlisting the help of scientist and anti-doping campaigner, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, Bryan Fogel doped himself and observed the changes in his performance, to see if he could evade detection.
For the pair the consequences of the result turn out to be more complex than previously imagined. Accusations of illegal doping run to Russia's highest chains of command, Fogel and Rodchenkov soon realise they hold the power to reveal the biggest international sports scandal in recent history.
This one goes at the top for us as it won an Oscar for best documentary last week and earned the first-ever Orwell Award at the Sundance Festival.
Get ready to have your perceptions of the American justice system challenged. Strong Island shares the intimate story of the director's brother who was lost to gun violence, and the family's painful search for justice and answers.
Created by Yance Ford, Strong Island is an emotional insight into the racial tensions that are still rife in American communities. The documentary chronicles the arc of the Ford family across history, geography and tragedy.
In New York, in April 1992, William Ford Jr, a black 24 year-old teacher, was killed by Mark Reilly, a white 19-year-old mechanic. Although Ford was unarmed, he became the prime suspect in his own murder.
Filmmaker Yance Ford and his family pose the question, how do you cope with the grief of loss when it’s entwined with historical injustice?
Ford said: "Because Netflix is a global platform, Strong Island will be seen by communities around the world who are dealing with the issues that are unpacked on screen.
“It's my hope that this film will offer some a way to make sense of their own experience, and others a new way of seeing. Nothing comes close to describing how astonishing it is for me, that the world will in some measure come to know my brother."
This film earned an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary and a Sundance Special Jury Prize in storytelling. It’s a powerful depiction and we recommend it especially to those who struggle to see the world through someone else’s lenses.
The infamous murder of British-born Meredith Kercher in her bedroom in Italy sent the media into a frenzy in 2007. Her American flatmate Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend were both charged with murder and went on to spend four years in prison.
This documentary focuses around Knox: was she a cold-blooded psychopath or a naive student abroad trapped in an endless nightmare?
In this Netflix Original documentary, directors Rod Blackhurst (Tribeca Audience Award–winner for Here Alone) and Brian McGinn (IDA Award–winner for Chef’s Table) and producer Mette Heide (Peabody Award–winner for India’s Daughter) delve into the case that had everyone talking.
It’s had mixed reviews, the LA Times praised it for shedding, “a powerful light” while “emphasising the ultimate unknowability of absolute truth." However, critics at the Guardian described the documentary as “intriguing but flawed”.
Either way it’s streaming on Netflix so we’ll let you make your own mind up.
Making a Murderer
Throwback to 2015, Making a Murderer was the documentary that everyone was talking about. Just because it no longer clogs up your news feed doesn’t mean it’s no longer one of the most compelling docu-series ever made.
Directors Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos found a newspaper clipping from 2005 and spent the next decade documenting the twists and turns of a criminal case that shook middle America.
Made up of 10 episodes, the story of Steven Avery and his fight against a corrupt justice system will have you questioning your own morality and changing your mind frequently on whether or not he did commit the murder he is accused of. It feels so much like a thriller that part of you will forget this is someone’s real life.
The filmmakers have confirmed they are currently working on the highly anticipated season two. They haven’t said when it will be released yet, but our eyes are peeled and we’ll keep you posted as soon as we know.
The Defiant Ones
The documentaries above are all quiet deep. If you’re looking for something with a bit of a lighter tone and you’re interested in the history of music, The Defiant Ones is the answer. It’s not out yet but is coming to Netflix in just over a week (23 March).
The Grammy Award-winning documentary series features interviews with Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Tom Petty, Bono and a long list of other musical legends.
The Defiant Ones is a time capsule of the last four decades of the music business, telling the story of the partnership between Jimmy Iovine and Dre. Dre. This revealing and often-gritty story takes place in recording studios, in humble homes and massive mansions, in criminal courts and in the highest corridors of corporate power.
Netflix on your telly
If by now you don’t already have a Netflix account or at least managed to weasel a password out of someone that does, then where have you been?
No worries, we’ve got a few tips on how to sort this problem out. Don’t say we never give you anything.
Netflix - from the source
If you find yourself in a pickle because your best mate has changed their Netflix password (how rude?!) you’ll have to go straight to the source. Luckily Netflix offers a free 30-day trial so you can have a binge, see if you like it and if you do then it costs £5.99 a month for the basic subscription. For the standard package with HD streaming and the ability to watch it on two screens at a time it’s £7.99 a month.
The premium package is £9.99 a month for Ultra HD and the ability to have four family or friends stream on different screens at the same time. Top titles like Black Mirror, Suits and Stranger Things are all available to watch on the service with new show releases announced each month.
TalkTalk, BT or Virgin Media TV customers can all stream Netflix straight to your TV through your TV box – and it'll be coming to Sky Q soon. If you don’t have any of these services all is not lost. You can access it through a games console, Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick or Apple TV devices.
Three is giving away 12 months of free Netflix when you pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S9.
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