10 Documentaries That Will Change Your Life!

In search of a great documentary? Pick any of these phenomenal ones, and you will see the world differently afterwards.

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    Think the youth of today are lazy and too electronically driven?

    Think again! Laura Dekker, born in New Zealand, but raised by her father in the Netherlands, grew up helping him work on boats, and sailing whenever she got the chance. At the age of 13 she decided she would circle the globe with her 27 foot sailboat, 'Guppy", alone. The documentary, Maidentrip, is mostly recorded by Laura herself, highlighting her days at sea, and also showcasing the places and people that she meets along the way. Her bravery, courage, and optimism will no doubt leave you inspired.

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    How about scaling everything down?

    Tiny, a documentary about living in small homes, is one you have probably heard of or seen. The tiny house movement started before this film was made, but the film follows Christopher Smith and his girlfriend on their journey, start to finish, on building their own tiny house. The film touches on people that have already chosen to live this lifestyle, downsizing to usually 200 square feet or less of living space. It focuses on the freedom and happiness tiny house owners discover by living with less space, fewer possessions, and most importantly little to no mortgages and teeny, tiny utility bills. Less can indeed be more.

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    Want to understand why it seems the world is falling apart?

    John Shadyac, an affluent filmmaker who had it all, had a tragic bike accident, leaving him with post-concussion symptoms, and severe depression that led him to question, "What's wrong with the world," and "What can we do about it?" He set out to film a documentary, interviewing some of the most intelligent minds on the planet, including scientists, religious leaders, philosophers, and environmentalists, to answer those questions. Instead of finding out what was wrong with the world, he found out more of what was right, and how our species is hardwired to cooperate and connect with one another on a profoundly deep level. This film, no doubt, will change the way you think about the world.

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    Want to be incredibly inspired?

    Evelyn Glennie, a Grammy winning classical percussionist, takes us through her journey with sound and the music she finds in everyday living. Why so inspiring? Evelyn is profoundly deaf, and she relies on her ability to feel the sound to compose her astonishing works. She also uses that skill to accompany other world renowned musicians. This ability to feel the vibrations of sounds fuels her in her work, and inspires her in a way we may never truly understand. The documentary challenges us to think about sound in a whole new way; whether it be to find the beauty in the unique sounds of raking the garden, or in cooking a meal, in Evelyn's eyes it is all an art: it is all music. It is our own, distinct soundtrack that we make every day.

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    Think the movement against plastics is getting out of control?

    Think again. This documentary, directed by Angela Sun, reveals the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an island and its surrounding polluted waters, argued to be the size of Texas or larger. It is home to tons of plastic debris that makes its way from major industrial nations every year. The documentary focuses on the fact that plastic never goes away, and when eaten repeatedly by marine life, causes death to it, and its predators. Because plastic is created from oil, it also contains harmful chemicals that we in turn consume when we eat ocean life, or foods and beverages stored in plastic containers. Whether or not you are an environmentalist, this film will definitely challenge you to reduce the use of plastics in your everyday life.

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    On a more positive note...

    It's hard to believe that sex slavery, targeted at children, is still prevalent today. But in Calcutta, filmmaker Zana Briski, enters into the brothels of the red light district to meet some amazing children, in hopes of helping them escape their fates. She teaches them to photograph their city, which no outsider could ever achieve, and to appreciate the beauty in their everyday lives. Not only does Zana give them a newfound creative outlet, and to find beauty in their poverty ridden city, but she puts together a showcase of their works to feature at Sotheby's, which will raise money for the children's freedom.

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    Believe in rehabilitation?

    In this inspiring documentary, it's hard to decipher who is more rehabilitated, the dogs... or the inmates of the prison where they are fostered. The film follows the lives of several inmates of a Massachusetts State prison, and the dogs that they foster back to health and happiness in their own small cells. When the inmates first get the dogs, there is fear to break through, and trust issues that stem from the dogs having traumatic pasts. The bonds between the inmates and the dogs is tremendous, and gives both parties a reason to be happy and a will to thrive.

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    Still on the fence about global warming?

    Renowned environmental photographer, James Balog, decides to risk it all to plant time-lapse cameras in multiple locations to see what is really happening to the world's largest glaciers. Somewhat cynical and skeptical of existing research regarding climate change, he is driven to get his own answers on what is happening, and how quickly. His passion takes him to some extremely dangerous places, and technological failures present very expensive and rather deflating setbacks. Nonetheless, he is able to get some remarkable time-lapse footage that will no doubt astonish you.

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    Want to watch a documentary on surfing?

    There's no doubt some good surfing footage is in this film, but there's so much more that will astonish you. Five renowned feral surfers (surfers in pursuit of amazing virgin waves), head to Papua New Guinea, an isolated and dangerous island, in search of the perfect undiscovered wave. The people they meet along the way, and their stories of kidnappings and genocide, leave a greater impact. Travis Potter, the group's main guide, travels to England after the trip to investigate how to shine the spotlight on the oppression and mass murder of the Papuans, that simply want freedom and independence from Indonesia. Despite some criticism of the ethnocentric nature of these surfers, you can't help but feel motivated to help the Papuans in their quest of freedom after this film.

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    Women's right have come a long way... but the fight for justice is still going strong!

    The docu-drama Girl Rising blends real footage, and re-enacted scenes of the lives of nine girls, across the globe, who are still fighting for the rights to education and work, and freedom from arranged marriages and/or slavery. An attribute these nine girls share is their sheer determination to basic human rights and their willingness to stop at nothing. Despite the oppression and often lack of support from their cultures, they want to become leaders to help save other girls, and fight for longstanding change. They will become your new heroes.

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