Maybe you have been going to YouTube for your documentary fixes (check out 20 of the best on YouTube here), but did you know how many great documentaries are available on Amazon Prime Video, all of which are free for you to watch if you have a Prime membership?
Prime is not all about blockbusters and original series. They are currently streaming some of the best documentaries to be found anywhere online, including classics that you will want to watch again and again, and topical new releases.
Here are ten of the best to get you started.
The Brain that Changes Itself (2008)
Based on the research of Dr Norman Doidge, this film looks at the adaptability of the brain and the limitlessness of human potential. There is a particular focus on the brain changing to overcome mental and psychological disabilities when other parts of the brain are damaged. It is both fascinating and uplifting.
The Central Park 5 (2012)
While the Netflix dramatization of these events has brought this story back into the headlines, this documentary tells the real story of the group of five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in Central Park in 1989. It delves into the miscarriage of justice, and the lasting impact the events have had on the boys and their families.
Fahrenheit 11/9 (2018)
This documentary by Michael Moore has never been more relevant. It looks at the state of American politics in the wake of the election of Donald Trump in 2016. It dives into the grassroots movements that are changing the face of politics. Rather than focusing on the president himself, it looks at those who paved the way for him.
Hale County, This Morning This Evening (2018)
This film dives into the lives of black people living in Hale County, Alabama. There is no clear, linear story, it is rather an experiential film that offers tantalizing glimpses into the lives of others. It feels a little like looking through someone else’s photo album with no context. There is no didactic message from a producer.
Life Off Grid (2016)
The two producers of this documentary spent two years traveling across Canada speaking to people who choose to live “off-grid”, This means that they produce their own electricity in some way or other, without relying on the national service. The film looks at how they manage, but more importantly why. What was it that motivated them to choose this way of life?
The Milky Way (2014)
This documentary looks at the profound changes that women experience as they become mothers. Not just during pregnancy, but what happens to their bodies and their social standing after their children are born. While breastfeeding acts as the lynchpin of the story, it is a broader examination of what it means to be a mother in the 21st century.
One Child Nation (2019)
This is an American documentary about China’s one-child policy that lasted from 1979 to 2015. It regulated family sizes, limiting couples to one child in order to control the swiftly growing population. The policy is a gateway to tell a broader story about totalitarian regimes that try to infiltrate every aspect of the lives of its citizens.
Out of Mind, Out of Sight (2014)
This documentary takes us inside a psychiatric institute for the criminally insane. But rather than focusing on the crimes committed by the patients, it delves into the process of rehabilitation. Central to the story are plans to reintegrate several patients into society, and their fears about the future and what this will mean.
In 2011, the bodies of 11 young women were found. This is their story. Unlike most murder mystery documentaries that focus on the predator, this focuses on the women, giving them a life and a voice beyond being just one more victim. It also looks at how people manage to ignore evidence that is staring them in the face.
The Witness (2015)
This documentary looks back at a 50-year-old murder mystery. Kitty was murdered in Kew Gardens in 1964. 38 people witnessed her screaming and took no action. Told from the perspective of Kitty’s brother, this film looks at what happened to Kitty, and what goes on in the human psyche that no one came to her aid.
What To Watch Next?
If you are looking for more great documentaries, there are loads to choose from on Netflix. Need some inspiration. Check out our list of the best murder documentaries on Netflix and the best sports documentaries currently streaming there.