“Blackfish” (2013) is hands-down the best, most moving documentary that I’ve ever seen. I’m pretty sure it made me cry. It gives a thorough history of SeaWorld’s capture and mistreatment of orcas, and focuses specifically on Tilikum – an orca who has been involved in three deaths during his captivity at SeaWorld.
The film caused a lot of controversy, and although SeaWorld has refuted the filmmakers’ claims, one of the biggest things “Blackfish” has going for it is employee testimony.
You’re going to want to pull a “Free Willy” after this. Also, be prepared to have your heart broken when you hear baby and mama whales crying as they are separated. This thing could make Hitler want to save the whales
2. Crazy Love
You know how it goes. Boy meets girl, boy hires someone to dump acid in girl’s face and goes to prison, and then somewhere in there, there’s a wedding. This shit makes the stalker ex who goes through your trash at night seem perfectly harmless and lovable.
Don’t make the same mistake I did for the first half of this movie and mentally scoff at the fact that Linda is wearing sunglasses for all of her interviews. Spoiler alert: she’s blind – from, you know, having acid dumped in her face.
There’s a fine line between passionate and obsessive, and Burt Pugach definitely crosses that line. Nobody panic – he still gets the girl in the end.
3. Jesus Camp
Speaking of crazy, if there is anything more terrifying than religious fanatics, it’s the influence that these fanatics have over their children. “Jesus Camp” (2006) documents the brainwashing and manipulation that goes on at a particularly controversial Christian summer camp.
This one can be kind of tough to stomach, as it’s basically an hour and a half of watching children undergo psychological torture.
And don’t worry, this
horror movie documentary isn’t a bash on your average Christian. The leaders of the camp are definitely extremists, and are so far to the right that they have the kids lay hands on and pray to a cardboard cut-out of a particular U.S. president (hint: it’s George W. Bush). So, don’t get offended. Just get angry.
4. Sound and Fury
Continuing with the theme of
abusive questionable treatment of children, we turn now to “Sound and Fury” (2000), which explores two brothers’ decisions about giving their deaf children cochlear implants that would allow them to hear.
One of the brothers is super adamant about keeping his 5-year-old daughter deaf, even when she specifically asks for the implant.
Apparently this is a thing in the deaf community, so we aren’t really supposed to be mad about it. As a group, they have a very strong sense of culture and see the cochlear implant as a rejection of this identity. The debate gets pretty heated, and the documentary is pretty intriguing.
Also, if you like this one, there is a follow-up on YouTube called “Sound and Fury: Six Years Later,” and a TEDx Talk by Heather Artinian (the little girl who wanted the implant), which is also available on YouTube.
5. It’s a Girl
I’m don’t really consider myself to be hugely interested in the feminist movement, so I put this one off for a long time. After watching it, I feel stupid for doing that. “It’s a Girl” (2012) is about gendercide and violence toward women and girls in India and China, not straight up feminism.
It’s a super serious subject – one Indian woman emotionlessly describes how she killed her multiple (I think it was eight) infant daughters. The only weird thing about this documentary is that these hard-hitting stories are paired up with cutesy animations that I could have done without.
“It’s a Girl” is a good one to watch if you just want to stay updated on what’s going on in the world. I feel like I’ve heard about China’s one-child policy a million times, but I didn’t really know how it affected people on an individual level until I watched this.