While there’s lots of hype around the Primetime Emmys, their news and documentary cousin often gets left out. It’s a bit unfair really. After all, news and documentaries real help to shape our responses to the real world around us in a way that other kinds of television just can’t. We thought we’d celebrate the news and documentary Emmys by picking out some of the best ones to watch.
As Making A Murderer and Blackfish proved, documentaries can be just as essential watching as Game Of Thrones! We went through the list of the documentaries nominated for awards and there’s some pretty incredible films out there. Here are some of the biggest and best ones which caught our eye.
Watch these trailers and we dare you not to be convinced to watch these films!
The Emmy-nominated documentaries that you should definitely watch this year:
HBO Documentary Films – Only The Dead See The End Of War
Only the Dead is a war story unlike any ever seen. A story of what happens when one ordinary man, Time magazine war correspondent Michael Ware, transplanted into the Middle East by the reverberations of 9/11, butts into history. Ware handpicked and given a shattering video tape by the most feared, most hated terrorists on the planet to announce his arrival of the world stage sets out on an epic journey into the deepest recesses of the conflict as he seeks answers. Answers that he thinks will lead him to the Truth.
POV – Hooligan Sparrow
The danger is palpable as intrepid young filmmaker Nanfu Wang follows maverick activist Ye Haiyan (aka Hooligan Sparrow) and her band of colleagues to southern China to seek justice in the case of six elementary school girls allegedly sexually abused by their principal. Marked as enemies of the state, the activists are under constant government surveillance and face interrogation, harassment and imprisonment. Sparrow continues to champion girls’ and women’s rights and arms herself with the power of social media. Filmmaker Wang becomes a target, too, and must deal with destroyed cameras and intimidation.
Independent Lens – Autism In Love
Autism in Love is a feature length documentary that explores how adults with autism find and manage romantic relationships.
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Independent Lens – The Armor Of Light
Evangelical minister Reverend Rob Schenck—an anti-abortion activist and fixture on the political far right—breaks with orthodoxy by questioning whether being pro-gun is consistent with being pro-life. Lucy McBath is the mother of Jordan Davis, an unarmed teenager murdered in Florida, the victim of “Stand Your Ground” laws. Lucy is trying to make sense of her devastating loss while using her grief to effect some kind of viable and effective political action. ARMOR follows these unlikely allies through their trials of conscience, heartbreak and rejection, as they bravely attempt to make others consider America’s gun culture through a moral lens. The film is also a courageous look at our fractured political culture, and an assertion that it is, indeed, possible for people to come together across deep party lines to find common ground.
HBO Documentary Films – Underfire: The Untold Story Of Pfc. Tony Vaccaro
An HBO Documentary Film. Tony Vaccaro, a WWII infantryman, smuggled his $47.00 portable camera into battle to create one of the most comprehensive and intimate records of the war.
Independent Lens – No Más Bebés
They came to have their babies. They went home sterilized. The story of Mexican immigrant women who were sterilized at LA county hospital during the 1970s. Alongside young Chicana/o lawyers and a whistle-blowing doctor, they stood up to powerful institutions in the name of justice.
Netflix – Team Foxcatcher
Exclusive footage reveals the inner workings of the Foxcatcher wrestling facility and founder John du Pont’s descent from philanthropist to murderer.
Independent Lens – Meet The Patels
An Indian-American man who is about to turn 30 gets help from his parents and extended family to start looking for a wife in the traditional Indian way.
POV – Iris
Iris pairs the late documentarian Albert Maysles (Grey Gardens, Gimme Shelter), then 87, with Iris Apfel, the quick-witted, flamboyantly dressed 93-year-old style maven who has had an outsized presence on the New York fashion scene for decades. More than a fashion film, the documentary is a story about creativity and how a soaring free spirit continues to inspire. Iris portrays a singular woman whose enthusiasm for fashion, art and people are her sustenance. She reminds us that dressing — and indeed, life — is nothing but a grand experiment. “If you’re lucky enough to do something you love, everything else follows.”
POV – Thank You For Playing
When Ryan and Amy Green learned that their baby son Joel’s rare cancer was terminal, Ryan, an indie game developer, found solace in the only creative outlet he knew: a video game, the critically acclaimed “That Dragon, Cancer.”
Netflix – Into The Inferno
An exploration of active volcanoes around the world with Werner Herzog.
Netflix – My Beautiful Broken Brain
A stroke stripped her of the skills she needs to function. This documentary captures the strange new world she inhabits, teeming with color and sound.
David Attenborough’s Light On Earth
Why do animals produce light of their own? For centuries, we could only marvel at the mystery of bioluminescence. Now we can begin to reveal the amazing truth about these living lights. Sir David Attenborough is our guide, as we venture into a world he describes as “utterly unlike our own”.
Discovery – Sonic Sea
Sonic Sea is a 60-minute documentary about the impact of industrial and military ocean noise on whales and other marine life. It tells the story of a former U.S. Navy officer who solved a tragic mystery and changed forever the way we understand our impact on the ocean.
Netflix – Extremis
Witness the wrenching emotions that accompany end-of-life decisions as doctors, patients and families in a hospital ICU face harrowing choices.