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28 Documentaries To Watch If They're Not Usually Your Thing

There's something for everyone.

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We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us which documentaries they'd recommend to people who don't normally watch them. Here are some of their responses!

1. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father

"This was one of the first documentaries I fell in love with, it’s such an incredibly heartbreaking story. The less you know about the plot the better your experience will be, but it’s about a filmmaker who makes a movie about his childhood best friend who dies tragically. Can’t. Recommend. Enough."—annf428051dd6Watch on: Amazon Prime Video (US)
MSNBC Films

"This was one of the first documentaries I fell in love with, it’s such an incredibly heartbreaking story. The less you know about the plot the better your experience will be, but it’s about a filmmaker who makes a movie about his childhood best friend who dies tragically. Can’t. Recommend. Enough."

annf428051dd6

Watch on: Amazon Prime Video (US)

2. The Fear of 13

"It’s about a man, Nick Yarris, who has been on death row for 21 years and he tells his story of what happened. Yarris is very articulate and honest with his story and you start to feel for him. To me, it’s more emotional and raw than a typical crime documentary and the end will leave you shocked."—sydneyb44e9f9d2eWatch on: Netflix, Amazon Video, iTunes
Dogwoof

"It’s about a man, Nick Yarris, who has been on death row for 21 years and he tells his story of what happened. Yarris is very articulate and honest with his story and you start to feel for him. To me, it’s more emotional and raw than a typical crime documentary and the end will leave you shocked."

sydneyb44e9f9d2e

Watch on: Netflix, Amazon Video, iTunes

3. The Cove

"A documentary about the dolphin hunt in Japan. Every year hundreds of dolphins are slaughtered there, while a few are taken captive to be sold to aquariums. Won an Oscar for Best Documentary."—fregillianWatch on: iTunes, Amazon Video, Netflix Canada and Germany
Lionsgate

"A documentary about the dolphin hunt in Japan. Every year hundreds of dolphins are slaughtered there, while a few are taken captive to be sold to aquariums. Won an Oscar for Best Documentary."

fregillian

Watch on: iTunes, Amazon Video, Netflix Canada and Germany

4. 13th

"13th on Netflix truly changed the way I look at the world. I had taken sociology courses and was generally aware of the cycle of poverty and incarceration faced by the black community, but it never really hit home until I watched this doc. It’s interesting and dynamic and you’re going to learn so much about what goes on around you every day."—annf428051dd6Watch on: Netflix
Netflix

"13th on Netflix truly changed the way I look at the world. I had taken sociology courses and was generally aware of the cycle of poverty and incarceration faced by the black community, but it never really hit home until I watched this doc. It’s interesting and dynamic and you’re going to learn so much about what goes on around you every day."

annf428051dd6

Watch on: Netflix

5. Chasing Coral

"Chasing Coral follows scientists, divers, and photographers who document vanishing coral reefs and provide an eye opening look into the effects of human impact on our planet. So good!!" —pavitgWatch on: Netflix
Netflix

"Chasing Coral follows scientists, divers, and photographers who document vanishing coral reefs and provide an eye opening look into the effects of human impact on our planet. So good!!"

pavitg

Watch on: Netflix

6. Amanda Knox

"As a person who never watches documentaries, the Amanda Knox documentary on Netflix is absolutely incredible. It gave me an in depth look at the crime and still left me baffled and hungry to know more."—isaaclaheyWatch on: Netflix
Netflix

"As a person who never watches documentaries, the Amanda Knox documentary on Netflix is absolutely incredible. It gave me an in depth look at the crime and still left me baffled and hungry to know more."

isaaclahey

Watch on: Netflix

7. The Jinx - The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst

"If you think Making a Murderer left you speechless you haven’t seen anything! I can’t say much about it without ruining it, but Bob Durst is the heir to a multimillion pound fortune who’s first wife went missing in the '70s...and boy does it get good."—louises427ab4845Watch on: Amazon Video, iTunes
HBO

"If you think Making a Murderer left you speechless you haven’t seen anything! I can’t say much about it without ruining it, but Bob Durst is the heir to a multimillion pound fortune who’s first wife went missing in the '70s...and boy does it get good."

louises427ab4845

Watch on: Amazon Video, iTunes

8. Miss Representation

"It's informative, emotional, inspiring and very entertaining! Great mix of commentary, infographics and personal storytelling. It really gets you thinking on how women are treated and portrayed. Not just a documentary for women, but really a great watch for everyone."—damnitnoWatch on: Netflix US and Canada, Amazon Video, iTunes
Girls' Club Entertainment

"It's informative, emotional, inspiring and very entertaining! Great mix of commentary, infographics and personal storytelling. It really gets you thinking on how women are treated and portrayed. Not just a documentary for women, but really a great watch for everyone."

damnitno

Watch on: Netflix US and Canada, Amazon Video, iTunes

9. The White Helmets

"It follows the men who risk their lives as first responders to the bombings in Syria. Their dedication, service, and sacrifice in the face of such horrific conditions will restore your faith in humanity."—paigeh4b17cd566Watch on: Netflix
Netflix

"It follows the men who risk their lives as first responders to the bombings in Syria. Their dedication, service, and sacrifice in the face of such horrific conditions will restore your faith in humanity."

paigeh4b17cd566

Watch on: Netflix

10. Icarus

"It covers the state-sponsored doping program for Russian athletes. The elaborate urine swap plan during the 2014 Winter Games was fascinating. It also shows the dangers and consequences of releasing private Russian secrets to the world."—cristinac41be40c54Watch on: Netflix
Netflix

"It covers the state-sponsored doping program for Russian athletes. The elaborate urine swap plan during the 2014 Winter Games was fascinating. It also shows the dangers and consequences of releasing private Russian secrets to the world."

cristinac41be40c54

Watch on: Netflix

11. The Staircase

"The Staircase' had me obsessed from start to finish! From moment to moment I flip-flopped between being convinced of the husband's guilt, to being convinced the prosecution and law enforcement concocted a narrative in pursuits of a conviction by ANY means necessary. And so many twists and turns in between! It's an eye opener for those still believing the judicial system is always fair and just."—cdobbins521Watch on: Netflix
Netflix

"The Staircase' had me obsessed from start to finish! From moment to moment I flip-flopped between being convinced of the husband's guilt, to being convinced the prosecution and law enforcement concocted a narrative in pursuits of a conviction by ANY means necessary. And so many twists and turns in between! It's an eye opener for those still believing the judicial system is always fair and just."

cdobbins521

Watch on: Netflix

12. The Imposter

"It literally plays out like a fictional thriller and what actually happened is so insane that if they proposed it as a movie plot, it would be shot down for being unrealistic. That’s how insane it is! 10/10 for anyone who likes true crime/thriller."—lindseym47ffb1b11Watch on: Amazon Video, iTunes
Film4 Productions

"It literally plays out like a fictional thriller and what actually happened is so insane that if they proposed it as a movie plot, it would be shot down for being unrealistic. That’s how insane it is! 10/10 for anyone who likes true crime/thriller."

lindseym47ffb1b11

Watch on: Amazon Video, iTunes

13. There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane

“There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane ruined my life for weeks afterwards. I don’t know how anyone could watch it and not be obsessed with what happened."—madelinew43a52a164Watch on: HBO, Amazon Prime Video (US)
HBO

There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane ruined my life for weeks afterwards. I don’t know how anyone could watch it and not be obsessed with what happened."

madelinew43a52a164

Watch on: HBO, Amazon Prime Video (US)

14. Wild Wild Country

"It's super crazy and seemed almost other-worldly from how massive the scale was. From an average yoga community to an ambitious world-domination plotting cult, it would definitely blow your mind."—daniabeeWatch on: Netflix
Netflix

"It's super crazy and seemed almost other-worldly from how massive the scale was. From an average yoga community to an ambitious world-domination plotting cult, it would definitely blow your mind."

daniabee

Watch on: Netflix

15. Tower

"A beautiful, mainly animated doc about the University of Texas shooting. You will cry, especially with the bravery of some of the students."—mintley88Watch on: Netflix
ITVS

"A beautiful, mainly animated doc about the University of Texas shooting. You will cry, especially with the bravery of some of the students."

mintley88

Watch on: Netflix

16. How to Survive a Plague

"It’s about the early part of the AIDS epidemic. It is amazing what the people featured accomplished in the face of scorn and certain death. They educated themselves and advocated for themselves to the point that they were successful in changing how the FDA approves experimental drugs."—bridgetb43d486c8aWatch on: Amazon Video, iTunes
Public Square Films / Ninety Thousand Words

"It’s about the early part of the AIDS epidemic. It is amazing what the people featured accomplished in the face of scorn and certain death. They educated themselves and advocated for themselves to the point that they were successful in changing how the FDA approves experimental drugs."

bridgetb43d486c8a

Watch on: Amazon Video, iTunes

17. Paris is Burning

"Paris Is Burning is necessary viewing for anyone in the LGBT community or any fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Focuses on 'ball culture' and the hopes and dreams of queer and trans POC in NY in the '80s."—marting15Watch on: Netflix
Academy Entertainment / Miramax Films

"Paris Is Burning is necessary viewing for anyone in the LGBT community or any fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Focuses on 'ball culture' and the hopes and dreams of queer and trans POC in NY in the '80s."

marting15

Watch on: Netflix

18. Born into Brothels

"It’s an amazing story of a photojournalist who went to photograph the red light district of Kolkata. There she meets the children of the prostitutes and decides to start a program to teach these children photography and how to document their lives. You get to know each kid and their hopes and dreams for the future, and see the amazing photographs they take along the way." —katherinea416717194Watch on: Amazon Video, iTunes
THINKFilm

"It’s an amazing story of a photojournalist who went to photograph the red light district of Kolkata. There she meets the children of the prostitutes and decides to start a program to teach these children photography and how to document their lives. You get to know each kid and their hopes and dreams for the future, and see the amazing photographs they take along the way."

katherinea416717194

Watch on: Amazon Video, iTunes

19. The Hunting Ground

"Everyone should be aware of the things these colleges are covering up. I love that the film gives a voice to those that have been hushed for so long."—brookeb624Watch on: Netflix, iTunes
The Weinstein Company

"Everyone should be aware of the things these colleges are covering up. I love that the film gives a voice to those that have been hushed for so long."

brookeb624

Watch on: Netflix, iTunes

20. Twinsters

"Like a real life, modern day Parent Trap which navigates the world – addressing questions of identity, family, belonging, love, friendship, and collaboration in the digital age. Experience the true story of identical twins, born in South Korea, separated at birth, one raised in France, the other in the US, meeting by chance via YouTube...utterly captivating."—joachimwWatch on: Netflix, iTunes
Small Package Films / Netflix

"Like a real life, modern day Parent Trap which navigates the world – addressing questions of identity, family, belonging, love, friendship, and collaboration in the digital age. Experience the true story of identical twins, born in South Korea, separated at birth, one raised in France, the other in the US, meeting by chance via YouTube...utterly captivating."

joachimw

Watch on: Netflix, iTunes

21. The Blue Planet

"It's such a interesting and high quality documentary about our oceans, and really brings attention to how complex and absolutely magnificent our marine life is. You get very fascinating footage of really amazing sea creatures. Also I might add that the narrator David Attenborough is the best." —thuienguyenWatch on: Netflix, Amazon Video, iTunes
BBC One

"It's such a interesting and high quality documentary about our oceans, and really brings attention to how complex and absolutely magnificent our marine life is. You get very fascinating footage of really amazing sea creatures. Also I might add that the narrator David Attenborough is the best."

thuienguyen

Watch on: Netflix, Amazon Video, iTunes

22. Evil Genius

"Evil Genius shook me to my core. I don't usually watch documentaries but everyone kept going on about it online so I decided to turn it on as background noise while I did some chores. Needless to say chores did not get done. I've never been more glued to my television. Once it was over, I was frantically scouring the internet for more info about the story and looking for others who had seen it because I had to talk to SOMEONE."—chinarWatch on: Netflix
Netflix

"Evil Genius shook me to my core. I don't usually watch documentaries but everyone kept going on about it online so I decided to turn it on as background noise while I did some chores. Needless to say chores did not get done. I've never been more glued to my television. Once it was over, I was frantically scouring the internet for more info about the story and looking for others who had seen it because I had to talk to SOMEONE."

chinar

Watch on: Netflix

23. In Defense of Food

"I definitely recommend In Defense of Food. It covers how hard the world of food and nutrition can be to navigate with all the information that is thrown at us in today’s society, i.e 'eggs are bad for you...now eggs are good for you'. It’s not your typical food and nutrition documentary that tries to sway you to pick up a certain diet like being vegan or paleo (not that there is anything wrong with those diets). I feel like it recommends the best kind of diet which is to 'eat real food, not too much, mostly plants' and enjoy everything in moderation. Go check it out, it’s on Netflix!"—sammydoodle97Watch on: Netflix, iTunes
PBS

"I definitely recommend In Defense of Food. It covers how hard the world of food and nutrition can be to navigate with all the information that is thrown at us in today’s society, i.e 'eggs are bad for you...now eggs are good for you'. It’s not your typical food and nutrition documentary that tries to sway you to pick up a certain diet like being vegan or paleo (not that there is anything wrong with those diets). I feel like it recommends the best kind of diet which is to 'eat real food, not too much, mostly plants' and enjoy everything in moderation. Go check it out, it’s on Netflix!"

sammydoodle97

Watch on: Netflix, iTunes

24. The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young

“The Barkley Marathons will inspire you to get out into nature and push yourself into reaching a goal that feels so far away. The runners can compete in a 'fun run' of 60 miles or do the full 100 miles of trail running. The quirky race starts with the creator of the race lighting a cigarette and can start at any time during the day or night. They call it 'the race that eats its young' for a reason. Highly recommended."—phishqueenWatch on: Netflix, Amazon Video, iTunes
Barkley Movie LLC

The Barkley Marathons will inspire you to get out into nature and push yourself into reaching a goal that feels so far away. The runners can compete in a 'fun run' of 60 miles or do the full 100 miles of trail running. The quirky race starts with the creator of the race lighting a cigarette and can start at any time during the day or night. They call it 'the race that eats its young' for a reason. Highly recommended."

phishqueen

Watch on: Netflix, Amazon Video, iTunes

25. Planet Earth

"It's an obvious one but the original Planet Earth was what got me into documentaries in the first place and it made a huge impact on my life,. Icould watch it again and again and I will still always be in awe of the powers of our planet!"—corranmWatch on: Netflix, Amazon Video, iTunes
BBC One

"It's an obvious one but the original Planet Earth was what got me into documentaries in the first place and it made a huge impact on my life,. Icould watch it again and again and I will still always be in awe of the powers of our planet!"

corranm

Watch on: Netflix, Amazon Video, iTunes

26. Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown

"In a world where everyone seems to be judging each other, this show is very important because it shows a real look at cultures that are often unfairly judged."—v4f28d72f8Watch on: Netflix US, Canada, UK, and Australia,
CNN

"In a world where everyone seems to be judging each other, this show is very important because it shows a real look at cultures that are often unfairly judged."

v4f28d72f8

Watch on: Netflix US, Canada, UK, and Australia,

27. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

"The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters was funny, heartbreaking, and such a crazy nostalgia trip about an average guy trying to break the high score record of Donkey Kong Jr, and his laughably egotistical nemesis Billy Mitchell who achieved arcade gaming fame back in the early 1980s. Did you like Stranger Things for all its '80s glory? You will love King of Kong. Watch the documentary, then read the latest news about Billy Mitchell, it will be so so satisfying."– Stephanie Derheimer via FacebookWatch on: iTunes
Picturehouse

"The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters was funny, heartbreaking, and such a crazy nostalgia trip about an average guy trying to break the high score record of Donkey Kong Jr, and his laughably egotistical nemesis Billy Mitchell who achieved arcade gaming fame back in the early 1980s. Did you like Stranger Things for all its '80s glory? You will love King of Kong. Watch the documentary, then read the latest news about Billy Mitchell, it will be so so satisfying."

– Stephanie Derheimer via Facebook

Watch on: iTunes

28. Tickled

"It is the weirdest documentary by far, it starts off as a reporter learning theres a tickling competition and wants to film it but it takes a bunch of weird, dark turns."– Becca Dool via Facebook Watch on: Amazon Prime Video, iTunes
A Ticklish Tale

"It is the weirdest documentary by far, it starts off as a reporter learning theres a tickling competition and wants to film it but it takes a bunch of weird, dark turns."

– Becca Dool via Facebook

Watch on: Amazon Prime Video, iTunes

Note: submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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