My Next: Documentaries

Images compiled by Abby Lass

Gil Alon

Arts Reporter

Documentaries uniquely offer the viewer a real perspective into the incredible stories of extraordinary people. By teaching and entertaining the viewer, documentaries are a critical way our society learns about the past, as well as how to prevent tragedies in the future. These are the next documentaries to watch, all of which are available on Netflix.  

The emotional documentary: Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father.

Directed by Kurt Kuenne, this 2008 American documentary is a letter to a son about his dead father. Kuenne’s close friend, Andrew Bagby, was murdered by Shirley Jane Turner after Bagby ended their relationship; however, Turner was pregnant with their child and gave birth to their son Zachary. Since Zachary will never know his father, Kuenne interviews family and friends to show Zachary what his father really was like. This heartfelt documentary will be perfect on any day that you feel the urge to cry.

The food documentary: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Examining the exclusive Sukiyabashi Jiro sushi restaurant with its genius 85-year old head chef (Jiro Ono) and and the elaborate process he uses to make his ultra-luxurious sushi, this documentary offers a lighthearted look into an exotic world. With ten seats at his restaurant and the price tag going into the hundreds ($$$), his uber exclusive restaurant is only for elites. With this light-hearted documentary, you are transported into the extravagant world of Jiro and his food.

The intense documentary: Into the Abyss

Directed by Werner Herzog, Into the Abyss consists of conversations with death row inmate Michael Perry about his multiple murders. Even though he confessed to two murders, Perry still claims that he was not responsible for the crimes. The documentary is filled with interviews of Perry, counting down the days to his execution, including news reports from the crimes. If you are interested at all at crime shows or prisoners, this intriguing documentary is an excellent examination into the United States prison system from one inmate’s perspective.

Foreign documentaries:

First, Sins of My Father.

This 2009 Argentine-Colombian documentary, directed by Nicholas Entel, follows the journey of Pablo Escobar’s son Juan and the apology he makes for his father’s actions. The Escobar family fled to Argentina after their patriarch, Colombia’s premier drug lord (and the subject of the television series Narcos), was shot. Hiding from authorities and the press, Juan, his mother, and siblings changed their names and tried to live a normal life. Years later, this documentary highlights the moment when Juan decides to return to Colombia to beg pardon for his deceased father’s actions. The story is an excellent way to learn about a notorious man and the family he left behind to grapple with his crimes.

Second, The Act of Killing.

In this 2013 documentary, Joshua Oppenheimer shows the story of the Indonesian death squad, who slaughtered hundreds of thousands of citizens and women in 1965 and ‘66. Ironically, these killing machines were treated like royalty in their native villages. The documentary focuses on the killers in the present day and their past actions, which opens the doors to hundreds of horror stories– and the men behind them. This documentary reveals the unknown tale behind these death squads, shedding enlight on their unique situation and decision making.