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5 Eye-Opening Documentaries That You Need to See

Like a lot of people, I spend an unhealthy amount of free time browsing Netflix, but what if I told you that you could watch Netflix and educate yourself at the same time? It’s possible and I’m glad that I was able to realize this. It’s too easy for young people like ourselves to turn away from the current issues in society but I’ve found that watching educational documentaries has helped me wake up to the realities of today. If you are someone looking for eye-opening documentaries, here are 5 documentary films that resonated with me and may impact you as well.

1.13th (2016)

Directed by Ava Duvernay, this documentary film focuses on issues of race and mass incarceration within the United States. Centered around the 13th amendment that abolished slavery in 1865 but allowed it to be a form of punishment for criminals, 13th shows that slavery still exists and has merely evolved. Referencing important civil rights movements of the past and present, Duvernay’s film makes it clear that America still has a long way to go and calls upon the people of America to step up and make change, especially when it comes time to elect the next President of the United States. 

2. Audrie & Daisy (2016)

Audrie & Daisy is a heart-breaking documentary that discusses the effects of sexual assault crimes on victims and their families. Focusing on the stories of two young women, Audrie and Daisy, the film sparks an important conversation about the realities of sexual assault and the disturbing behavior of shaming the survivors of such crimes. This film is absolutely gut-wrenching to watch but needs to be seen in order to help start an honest conversation about tough issues like rape and cyber-bullying.


3.  The Hunting Ground (2015)

“One in five women in college are sexually assaulted, yet only a fraction of these crimes are reported, and even fewer result in punishment for the perpetrators.” Statistics like this one are astonishing and frightening, especially for college students like ourselves. Created by filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, The Hunting Ground exposes the harsh realities of rape on college campuses across the country and the constant “institutional cover-ups” that attempt to keep victims silent. This film does a great job at capturing the struggles and triumphs of the women and men who are speaking out and fighting for the justice they deserve.


4. The Mask You Live In (2015)

“Be a man”. We’ve all heard this phrase before but no one ever thinks about what being a man actually means. The Mask You Live In explores “America’s narrow definition of masculinity” and pinpoints elements in society that are pressuring boys to fit such a detrimental mold. Created and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, this film tackles gender stereotypes, the emergence of rape culture and the pressures that boys feel to become a “real” man. Seeing these young boys struggle to define and express themselves was heart-breaking but The Mask You Live In makes it clear that, by understanding the impact of the media and social constructs, “we can raise a healthier generation of boys and young men.”


5. Miss Representation (2011)

Another amazing documentary by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Miss Representation discusses the representation as well as under-representation of women in media. Bombarded by media’s ideas about the ideal body type and materialistic beauty, it’s not hard to imagine how this may impact women and girls all around the world. Through interviews with inspirational women in politics, activism, entertainment, etc., Miss Representation proves that woman have the power to succeed and change the world. While the degradation of women in the media is far from encouraging, knowing that there are strong women out there fighting to break the glass ceiling is inspiring and urges others to do the same.


Thanks for reading! :) 

Liberal Arts student obsessed with books, music, movies and all things creative. American, Japanese, and an honorary Canadian.
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