Best documentaries on Netflix UK

Fancy flexing your grey matter? Prepare to have your mind opened and your preconceptions questioned...

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Swap House of Cards and Pretty Little Liars for some serious brain food. From moving documentaries about music, ageing and the science behind happiness to uncomfortable portrayals of global warming, farming and human cruelty, read on for some brilliant, award-winning films available on Netflix… 

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1. India’s Daughter

This powerful documentary – which originally aired on BBC4 – follows the 2012 news story that shocked the world: the Delhi gang rape and murder of 23-year-old Jyoti Singh. Featuring a filmed interview and confession from one of the rapists in the case, it’s proved to be a controversial film and was banned in India. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCZkjgBgOws

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2. Catfish

When young filmmakers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman started filming their friend Nev they had no idea it would spawn a successful TV show and a new turn of phrase. Catfish follows Nev as a new online relationship turns out to be far from a simple boy meets girl. 

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3. Happy

Are you happy? Do you know how to be? Are you sure you even know what happiness is? Filmmaker Roko Belic travels to more than a dozen countries, searching for the meaning of happiness.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDkv6Mi8JrI

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4. Blackfish

This was the movie that forced SeaWorld to halt its orca breeding programme and stop all live killer whale performances. Following Tilikum, a performing killer whale who killed several people, including trainer Dawn Brancheau, while in captivity, Blackfish challenges the relationship between nature and the multi-billion dollar sea-park industry. 

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5. My Beautiful Broken Brain

Lotje Sodderland was 34 when she survived a hemorrhagic stroke. The producer started filming herself as she was forced to start again in a world which now seems foreign and the results are fascinating. 

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6. An Inconvenient Truth

This Oscar-winning 2006 film has been credited for raising international public awareness about global warming. Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim follows Al Gore as he calls and campaigns for immediate action on the issues affecting our world. Ten years on, it’s as powerful as ever. 

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7. Food, Inc.

The Academy nominated this film about the corporate food industry for Best Picture in 2009. The uncomfortable watch examines ethics around the industrial production of meat and the unsustainable way we produce vegetables and grain, as well as pesticides, fertiliser and problems with food labelling. Let’s just say it’ll make you look twice at your lunch… 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eKYyD14d_0

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8. Fed Up 

Constantly indulging your sweet tooth? You might find it easier to say no after watching this doc. Fed Up aims to shed light on sugar, the world’s obesity crisis and “everything we’ve been told about food and exercise for the past 30 years.” It calls itself “the film the food industry doesn’t want you to see.” 

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9. The True Cost

Do you know how much your affordable high street clothes really cost? This troubling documentary questions consumerism, materialism and the true human consequences of our fashion obsession. 

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10. Capitalism: A Love Story 

In this award-winning doc, Micheal Moore explores the global economic meltdown, asking how corporate interests have been allowed to take precedent over public good. 

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11. Particle Fever 

You’ve heard of the Large Hadron Collider, but do you actually know what it is, what it does, or what it could tell us about our world? Here six brilliant scientists explain.

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12. Alive Inside

Alive Inside is a moving and powerful movie about the surprising power of music, which also questions our beliefs about the ageing process and what it means to be elderly in our society. 

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13. Chasing Ice

This shocking portrayal of climate change refuses to be ignored. Over a number of years, National Geographic photographer James Balog risks everything to capture how our landscape is changing – and his findings are jaw-dropping. 

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14. Deep Web

Directed by Alex Winter and voiced by Keanu Reeves, this documentary chronicles events surrounding Silk Road, bitcoin and politics of the dark web.

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15. Twinsters

The weird and wonderful power of the internet, eh? Samantha and Anais are two adopted young women who connected on social media – and believe themselves to be twin sisters separated at birth.

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16. Deliver Us From Evil

This Oscar-nominated movie focuses on Father Oliver O’Grady, a Catholic priest who was relocated to various parishes around the United States during the 1970s in an attempt by the Catholic Church to cover up the sexual assault of dozens of children.

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17. Girl Rising

This empowering and inspiring documentary is changing the world one girl at the time. Following nine women from different parts of the world who have faced devastating hardships, Girl Rising is part of a global campaign to get girls into education. 

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18. Louis Theroux: Extreme Love

Seasoned documentary maker Louis Theroux turns his camera on autism and dementia in this duo of powerful films. 

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19. Making a Murderer

Never heard of this? Where have you been?! If you’re yet to acquaint yourself with the true-crime series everyone is talking about, now’s your chance. Filmed over 10 years, Making a Murderer follows Steven Avery, a man who served 18 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit, only to be arrested for murder upon his release.

If you’ve seen it and love it, vote for Making a Murderer in the Radio Times Audience Award – the only Bafta voted for by you, the viewers. 

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