Netflix has become one of the world’s leading internet television networks, and has increasingly been distinguishing itself as a producer of high quality original series, documentaries, and feature films. When it comes documentaries in particular, Netflix often covers subjects that don’t get the attention of the big networks, often producing beautiful and interesting stories. Here are three recent documentaries to catch the next time you need some inspiration:
The White Helmets
This short documentary just launched on September 16, about a group of rescue workers in Syria who have been nominated for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. Set in Aleppo, Syria, and Turkey the film follows three volunteers as they risk their lives to save civilians affected by the war, all the while worrying about the well-being of their own loved ones. Directed by Academy Award®–nominated director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara, The White Helmets is a snapshot of the horrific realities for ordinary Syrians in the country today, but also the courage and humanity that exists in the midst of horrific violence and great suffering.
Part nature documentary, part investigative journalism, this film (also directed by Orlando von Einsiedel, with Leonardo DiCaprio as executive producer), follows a group of people who are determined to save one of the most bio-diverse places on earth — Virunga National Park. Located on the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the park is home to the few remaining mountain gorillas on earth. A UNESCO world heritage site, it is under threat from poachers, armed militias, and others who seek to control Congo’s rich natural resources. Virunga has won countless awards since its release for its demonstration of courage in the face of greed and corruption, and the importance of saving certain species from being eradicated from the planet.
Chef’s Table is a documentary series, now in its second season, that brings us into the kitchens and the lives of some of the world’s most renowned chefs. It may be the most beautiful food-related show ever filmed, at least in this writer’s opinion. In the first season, we go Italy, Argentina, Australia, Sweden and the United States, following chefs like Dan Barber, Niki Nakayama and Magnus Nilsson. In the second season, we stay in France, with the likes of the great Alain Passard. Most striking about Chef’s Table is its intimate portrayals of the chefs and the artistry, sacrifice, and devotion they each possess.