10 Inspiring Documentaries That Could Change Your Life

Captivating stuff.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Magnolia Pictures

Inspiration comes in many forms, and sometimes – despite a seemingly impenetrable subject matter – a documentary can inspire us in ways we never thought possible. Sometimes, even the most unfamiliar theme or topic can contain universally appreciable components, appealing to everyone’s sense of determination, optimism and resilience against adversity.

Typically, the purpose of documentary filmmaking is educational, yet many manage two separate functions simultaneously: informing or enlightening audiences, as well as encouraging them to seek out change themselves. Sometimes, even a documentary about raw fish can prove downright inspirational, motivating an audience in tremendous and unimaginable ways.

After all, documentary filmmaking is as much concerned with storytelling as conventional cinema; they simply communicate their stories in separate ways, making them just as capable of stimulating an audience as even the most manipulative of Hollywood tear-jerkers.

That said, here are 10 documentaries to completely inspire you…

10. Gasland

Nominated for an Academy Award back in 2011, Gasland is captivating stuff, winning over audiences and critics alike with its stark portrayal of hydraulic fracturing, a process by which millions of gallons of water and sand are pumped into the ground in order to release gas deposits which are otherwise inaccessible. The process is incredibly controversial – and arguably immoral – meaning the subject matter is immediately engaging.

In this respect, the documentary explores the consequences of fracking on poorer, rural communities in certain parts of America, chronicling the severe health issues associated with the practise, as well as the resulting water contamination caused by these gas companies. Despite this, the documentary avoids disparaging its audience, or discouraging them from seeking out further information; the tone especially is more optimistic than defeatist.

Gasland has been credited with stimulating anti-fracking movements, and is perhaps one of the main reasons such groups have managed to gain such momentum, making it hugely inspirational.

Posted On: 

Formerly an assistant editor, Richard's interests include detective fiction and Japanese horror movies.