One of the best ways to learn the deeper truths and stories behind today’s current events is by watching documentaries.
If you want to spend some time exploring what’s going on in the world today, I’ve collected 30 thought-provoking documentaries that are freely available to stream on YouTube.
If you have any new documentaries to add please share them in the comments. Here are some of the best new documentaries of 2019:
1. How to Read More Books in the Golden Age of Content
An inspiring mini-documentary on improving your book reading rate and why reading books is so important in this age of digital media.
2. The Bizarre Billionaire That Backed Bannon and Made Trump President
The story of Robert Mercer, a computer scientist who runs Renaissance Technologies, one of the most powerful hedge funds in the world. His money played a crucial role in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Brexit and the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
3. Ellora Caves Documentary: The Mind-Boggling Rock Cut Temples of India
Scientists and archeologists are baffled by how the Ellora caves were built and carved out of a mountain without the use of ‘modern’ technology. It is a construction that we would be hard-pressed to replicate today.
4. The Living Paintings of Roy Andersson
The story of how Swedish Director Roy Andersson creates such unique and startling images. He is regarded as one of the most original artists to ever work in cinema.
5. Theranos: Silicon Valley’s Greatest Failure
What seemed like one of the most groundbreaking companies of the 21st century ended up being one of Silicon Valley’s greatest failures. How did Elizabeth Holmes manage to fool the world?
6. The History of Rome
The history of the Roman Empire from its spectacular rise to dominate the Mediterranean region to its fall as it became morally decadent and over-extended itself.
7. Living in the Coldest Place on Earth
This new documentary explores the coldest inhabited place on Earth with temperatures dropping as low as -96.16 Fahrenheit/-71.2 Celsius.
8. Einstein’s Quantum Riddle
Einstein’s Quantum Riddle tackles the theory of quantum entanglement and the current quest to identify or dispel its existence once and for all.
9. How To See A Black Hole
A brand new documentary following a team on the cutting edge of exploring black holes.
10. Rick Steves On The Story of Fascism
What is fascism? Travel journalist tackles the rise of fascism in the 21st century and the hard lessons to be learned from history.
11. The Loneliness Epidemic: As Deadly As Smoking
In highly developed countries loneliness has become a massive health epidemic. In fact, researchers say being lonely is just as detrimental to our wellbeing as smoking and excessive drinking.
12. Inside The World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis: Yemen
Travel to the frontlines of the crisis in Yemen to experience the lives of the civilians who are being hit the hardest and the brave volunteers risking their lives to save them.
13. The Discreet Lives of the Super-Rich
1% of Germans own over 25% of the country’s assets, but little is known about them. They keep a very low profile and can walk the streets unrecognized.
14. China’s Vanishing Muslims: Undercover in the Most Dystopian Place in the World
China’s Uighur minority lives a dystopian nightmare of constant surveillance and brutal policing. At least one million of them are believed to be living in what the U.N. described as a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy”.
15. How Autism Feels, From the Inside
What is it like to live with Asperger’s syndrome? Jordan Kamnitzer tries to answer that question in “Perfectly Normal,” an Op-Doc from the New York Times.
16. The Real Chernobyl
A 2019 documentary that looks back on the events of April 26, 1986, and the research into the long-term effects of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster.
17. The Legendary Barefoot Bandit
The true story of American teenager Colton Harris-Moore who eluded police and FBI for 3 years and taught himself to fly planes.
18. The Dark Secret Behind Your Favorite Makeup Products
Learn about the unethically sourced ingredient that is in almost all makeup products. Travel to the mica mines in India to uncover the truth about child labor rings behind this mineral.
19. Thailand And The Fallout From Mass Tourism
An interesting look at how mass tourism is destroying the culture and ecosystems in Thailand and some of the world’s most beautiful places.
20. Climate Change: The Facts by Sir David Attenborough
Unfortunately, this important documentary film has been taken down (it’s available here from BBC). A compelling if utterly depressing viewing by legendary BBC documentary host Sir David Attenborough. A cry for help for a dying Planet.
21. A Day In The Life Of A Sushi Master
See for yourself what it takes to operate an 8-seat restaurant in New York City that charges $300+ per person.
22. Timelapse Of The Future: A Journey to the End of Time
This experience takes you on a journey to the end of time, trillions of years into the future, to discover what the fate of our planet and our universe may ultimately be.
23. The History of 2001: A Space Odyssey
A look into the production and perfection that Stanley Kubrick demanded for his science fiction masterpiece 2011: A Space Odyssey.
24. The Coming War On China
Award-winning British Investigative Journalist John Pilger reveals what the news doesn’t – that the world’s greatest military power, the United States, and the world’s second economic power, China, both nuclear-armed, may well be on the road to war.
25. Hawaii: The Stolen Paradise
Hawaii was recognized as an independent nation prior to January 17, 1893. On that day, the nation and government was illegally overthrown by the United States.
26. What Hong Kong’s Protests Look Like From Inside China
Hong Kong protests have seen millions of people flooding into the streets to stand against an extradition law. You wouldn’t know that if you were living inside China.
27. The Devils of Evergreen State College
A three-part series of short films about Bret Weinstein & Heather Heying’s harrowing experience at Evergreen State College, one of the most radical far-left colleges in the United States.
28. The Pattern Machine: What Is Deep Learning?
This documentary film covers the key ideas behind Deep Learning (machine learning and distributed representations) and some of the amazing things that deep learning can do.
29. Guilty: The Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Four Corners reveals how Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, was brought to justice for sexual offences against two teenage boys.
30. Seeing The Beginning of Time
A cutting-edge film based on the work of scientists opening a powerful new window into deep space using the latest high-tech telescopes and supercomputers.
31. Mormon “Gay Conversion Therapist” Comes Out
David Matheson, the American intellectual godfather of “Gay Cure Therapy” concedes that the practice is harmful and comes out as gay at the age of 57.
32. 5G Technology: The New Earth Project Documentary
A controversial documentary that claims 5G is an existential threat to humanity. Makes some shocking claims, definitely worth doing your own research.
33. The History of Europeans in America
Thirty million Europeans emigrated to the USA in the 19th Century to realize their American dream but much of their settlement came at the expense of the Native Americans.
34. Saudi Aramco: The $2 Trillion Company
Saudi Aramco is enormous – staggeringly so. Yet by one measure that matters a lot – the $2 trillion valuation envisaged by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – it’s still not enormous enough.
35. Future Earth: What Will Earth Look Like in 2025?
Earth is running out of freshwater and due to a growing population and global warming, by 2030 there will be a 50% greater demand for it.
36. Inside The Secret World of Incels
Told primarily through the personal stories of three men who identify as incels, the documentary explores how loneliness and social isolation can push unattractive young men into disturbing behavior.
37. The Aristocrats: The Rothschilds
A good, non-conspiratorial look at Jacob Rothschilds, the current heir to massive Rothschilds fortune and his family’s relationship with the aristocrats of Britain.
38. Elon Musk’s SpaceX Mars Missions That Will Change Humanity Forever
What does Elon Musk know that we don’t? In this new, never before seen documentary, Musk claims colonization of Mars is possible and that this colony could save the human race.
39. North Korea: All The Dictator’s Men
North Korea is one of the poorest countries in the world, but its leader Kim Jong Un has still found the money he needs to finance a nuclear weapons program.
The biggest and most comprehensive documentary made on the European border crisis.
41. Congo: A Journey To The Heart of Africa
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a vast, mineral-rich country the size of Western Europe.
42. Superhuman Geniuses: Extraordinary People Documentary
An entertaining mix of human interest stories and popular science, Superhuman Geniuses explores people with incredible mental knowledge and strength.
43. South Africa: Cities Without Water
By the year 2050, a quarter of the world’s cities will be facing water shortages. Cape Town is already running out of water now.
44. Angkor Wat Documentary: Cambodia’s Long Lost Ancient Jungle City
It has baffled and mystified visitors for centuries. How did Angkor Wat come to be? How did this mysterious construction arrive in the jungle? Why build such a magnificent place in such an inhospitable place?
45. The Awakening of Gaia
A visual trip down the rabbit hole of what humanity is doing to nature and why we are a threat to the biodiversity and ecological balance of Planet Earth.
46. The Sky at Night: Supermassive Black Hole
The Sky at Night team reveals how the first picture of a supermassive black hole was captured. When the photograph of the hole at the heart of the M87 galaxy was released in April, it captured the world’s imagination and made headlines everywhere.
47. Lisbon: What Makes Portugal’s Capital City So Attractive?
Lisbon, Portugal’s “White City”, is an old multifaceted city in Europe. Lisbon has experienced many periods of prosperity and has survived many crises.
48. The Mueller Report
This collaboration between PBS NewsHour and FRONTLINE illuminates the complex details behind the Mueller investigation and analyzes what’s yet to come.
49. Bigfoot Documentary: The Supernatural Sasquatch
Does the mythical Big Foot or Sasquatch exist? This new documentary film looks at the mysteries behind the Big Foot.
The Childfree by choice explain why parenthood and having children is not for everyone.
51. Mediastan: A Wikileaks Road Movie
Mediastan is a documentary film directed by Johannes Wahlström and co-produced by Julian Assange, detailing the publication of the very documents for which both Assange has been incarcerated.
52. England’s Forgotten Queen: Lady Jane Grey’s Execution
This is a story of intrigue, conspiracy, political manoeuvring and a capital city preparing to be attacked. It is also the story of a young woman, ferociously manipulated by powerful men in the palace, who ends up losing her life as a result.
53. Inside China’s High-Tech Dystopia
Bloomberg Businessweek’s Ashlee Vance heads out into a city where you can’t use cash or credit cards, only your smartphone, where AI facial-recognition software instantly spots and tickets jaywalkers, and where at least one factory barely needs people.
54. Blitzed: Nazis On Drugs
The story of the drugs used the Nazis during World War II and how it fuelled their early success but later played a role in their spectacular downfall.
55. Trump’s Trade War
As the trade war between the U.S. and China escalates, FRONTLINE and NPR take a look at what led to the rising tensions and what’s at stake.
Check back soon as I’ll be adding new documentaries regularly.
Any other thought-provoking new documentaries that you’ve seen this year?
Please share and link them in the comments.