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The 5 Best Movie Documentaries You Need to Watch

Movie documentaries tackle the most controversial topics and do not shy away from releasing shocking content. Their primary purpose is to provide information and shed light on topics that are almost taboo. That said, they aren’t necessarily made to be light in tone.

ExploreTalent is counting down the top five movie documentaries that have the potential to be life-changing. Whether they are centered around social or political issues, one thing is for sure, they managed to get people talking.

Find out which movie documentaries made it to the list below.

5 Movie Documentaries That Changed the World

5. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

An Inconvenient Truth

Former American Vice President Al Gore surprised the world with his documentary that provided an in-depth look into climate change. An Inconvenient Truth is now credited as one of the most influential movie documentaries of the twenty-first century. It generated controversy after critics pointed out how Gore exaggerated most of the facts, and as a result, numerous lawsuits were filed against the film production.

Despite the setback, the film continues to be played in schools around the world.

4. The Cove (2009)

The Cove

At first glance, The Cove may seem like a documentary centered around animal rights, but the trailer and movie poster downplays the true horrors this film single-handedly throws at its viewers. Behind the idea was Ric O’ Barry, the dolphin trainer who helped capture dolphins for the ’60s show Flipper.

O’ Barry does not shy away from exposing the truth behind animal performers. The film suggests that many dolphins, including one that was used to film his TV show, ended up committing suicide by suffocating itself. The Cove also documents the annual dolphin hunt operation in Taiji, Wakayama, Japan.

3. Blackfish (2013)

Blackfish Movie

Movie documentaries that expose the truth behind big corporations are always a big hit with audiences. Blackfish was no exception. The no-holds-barred documentary took on one of the biggest companies in America—Sea World.

It centers around Tilikum, a Sea World orca involved in the deaths of three Sea World employees. The wild orca’s senior trainer, Dawn Brancheau, was the most publicized death among the three. The film explores how stress and captivity can affect these animals on a psychological level. It also features footage of actual attacks done by Tilikum and the rest of the captive whales and includes candid interviews with the witnesses.

Sea World experienced a drastic drop in profits upon the release of the film and many famous personalities threatened to boycott the theme park for good.

2. Citizenfour (2014)

Citizenfour (2014)

The world has been captivated by whistleblower Edward Snowden ever since he found himself in the center of the NSA spying scandal. Citizenfour is a shocking documentary that gives an inside look into the life of Snowden. It was made by American documentary film director Laura Poitras. 

Back in 2013, Snowden famously contacted Poitras via an encrypted e-mail sent under the name Citizenfour. She traveled straight to Hong Kong to document her meeting with Snowden, who was a trapped political agent at that time.

1. Super Size Me (2004)

Super Size Me

First-time filmmaker Morgan Spurlock had just $65,000 to make this film. Upon the release of Super Size Me, he not only won himself a legion of new fans, but he also managed to reveal something big about one of the world’s largest corporations—McDonald’s.

Super Size Me revolves around an experiment conducted by Spurlock himself. For 30 days, he takes on a McDonald’s-only diet, and to top it off, all of his meals have to be supersized. The movie quickly became one of the most recognized movie documentaries of all time for highlighting the physical dangers of fast food consumption and its effects on one’s mental health.

McDonald’s discontinued their super size options shortly after the film was released.

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