Documentaries: Netflix CAN Make you Smarter!

The age of Netflix: it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. As I’m sure any fellow binge-watcher can attest, there is almost no better feeling than curling up with a cozy blanket and the first three seasons of any TV series. Too much of a good thing can be dangerous, however, and I’ll be the first to admit that finding out whether Mr. So-and-so gets the girl can often come at the expense of other, ahem, more educational activities (that next episode button is just so conveniently placed!). On a recent snow day I was feeling really guilty about all of the brain cells I had killed staring blankly at a screen, so I decided to search for something to watch that would actually enrich my knowledge. I stumbled across the documentary section of this fateful website and was immediately surprised and pleased. Now, I know what you’re thinking: documentaries are meant to be watched when you need something to help you fall asleep and usually fall into the category of vicious animals/cool nature, Americans are fat, or semi-inspirational biographies. In reality, there are hundreds of films about almost anything you can imagine. I watched just three of the first few options that I saw, and am so glad I chose to open my eyes up to the world we live in rather than indulge in the trash TV shows I could have wasted my time on. Here are a few of the documentaries I would recommend:

Girl Rising

This 2013 documentary was directed by Academy Award-nominated Richard E. Robbins and follows the stories of nine girls around the globe as they fight the oppression they face in their society. The girls themselves are featured, and their stories are told by actresses including Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, and Selena Gomez. As HHS seniors learned when they watched the movie here last fall, each of the girls faces her own unimaginable challenges. Sokha in Cambodia was born an orphan and grew up picking through the village dump for scraps of metal. But when she receives an education, Sokha works to teach other girls in her community and attends youth leadership conferences around the world including Washington DC. Wadley is just 8 years old when her native Haiti is struck by the huge 2010 earthquake that forced half the population to live in tent camps and shut down her school. But Wadley refuses to give up her education and starts a school in the tent camp itself. Suma in Nepal is forced into bonded labor at the age of 6 to help support her family, and spends her childhood working for a variety of “masters.” When Suma is taught to read, however, she glimpses a brighter future and makes her way to helping herself and other girls to freedom. Yasmin in Egypt is sexually assaulted but rather than hiding in shame she tells her story to the world to illuminate a problem, and Ethiopian Azmera refuses to marry at the age of 13 in order to continue her studies. A girl named Ruksana in India lives with her family on the streets so they can afford an education, while Senna in Peru uses poetry to bring beauty to her desolate mining town. Mariama lives in war-torn Sierra Leone, but stars on her own radio show and helps girls with real-life problems. Finally, Amina in Afghanistan is a child bride but pushes the limitations of a male-dominated society. Each of these stories is true, and all are equally amazing.

The Dark Matter of Love

dark matterFourteen year old Cami Diaz and her family live in a suburban Wisconsin town not too different from good ole’ Hanover, MA. The Diaz family has always wanted more children, but after being unable to conceive for over a decade, they decided to adopt Masha, 11, and twins Marcel and Vadim, 5, from an impoverished area of Russia. Having never experienced parental love, it is unclear whether Masha and the twins will be able to reciprocate the love the Diaz family plans to give the children. The family works with developmental psychologists at the University of Virginia School of Medicine to learn more about the bond parents and children share to help these children to know they are valued and cared for. This documentary is about the psychological and scientific explanations of love, but also follows the orphans as they experience a collision of cultures and become part of a family for the first time.


Food, Inc.

food incDid you know that the average American meal travels 1,500 miles before reaching your plate? Would you believe it if I told you there was some form of corn in every meal you ate? Food, Inc. focuses all about the corporate side of American food consumption. Almost all of the chicken we eat comes from one of two huge corporations, and cows, pigs, and poultry are being genetically engineered as we speak to provide customers with more bang for their buck. The documentary features interviews from farmers to CEOs, and even gives viewers a glimpse into meat-packing factories, industrial hen houses, and Midwestern farms. I found this movie fascinating but also pretty terrifying . . . let’s just say I only ate salads for a few days after watching. If you’re really big on meat, I’d steer clear of this one, you may never want to look at a filet mignon again!

6 thoughts on “Documentaries: Netflix CAN Make you Smarter!”

  1. I’ve seen Food Inc too. Definitely a life changing experience which raises awareness as just how a nation a big as America manages to feed all of its people, for better or in this case for worse.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s