6 Compelling And Informative Docos To Watch Over Your Break

Good news, guys! We’ve reached the end of 2016. For most of us, a short (or for the lucky ones, long) break from work has finally arrived. It’s time to switch off which, for many, means switching on the television.

While there’s a never-ending list of rom-coms, blockbusters and not-so-real reality TV shows on the Internet to distract us, you can’t go wrong by choosing something that will teach you a thing or two and leave you feeling worldlier than when you pressed play. Spend your leisure time on these six compelling and educational documentaries and we promise you’ll return to work in the New Year with plenty of fascinating water-cooler talk.

#1 Winter On Fire

What started as a peaceful student protest in Ukraine in late-2013 erupted into 93 very long and very violent days. Among other things, President Viktor Yanukovych had gone back on his word to sign a long-awaited trade agreement with the European Union. Against the people’s wishes, he was leaning towards a deal with Russia instead.

Winter on Fire gives a straightforward view of who was fighting, what they were fighting for, and how the violence finally came to an end. This one is not for the faint of heart; it’s as tear jerking as it is intriguing. Ukraine’s struggle is still fresh and Winter On Fire spells out what went down in easy to absorb steps.

#2 The Thread

Media types, Internet nerds and fans of Black Mirror: this one is for you. The Thread tells the story of the hunt for the Boston Marathon bomber, and it’s one of the most interesting examples of “citizen journalism” in the modern age of smartphones, social media and instant information.

The shock and heartache of the bombing is at the core of the film, but The Thread is also about the Internet hysteria that took place during the five-day manhunt for the culprits. Instead of reporting to the police, Boston citizens turned to the internet to share information. The film gives an insight into the role that Reddit and Twitter played, and how this became key in the bomber’s capture.

#3 Searching for Sugarman

If you haven’t seen Searching For Sugarman yet, now is the time. It’s a bit of a slow burn, but please – for heaven’s sake – stick with it. It’s the most heartfelt and bizarre musical journey you’ll ever witness.

Basically, two fans from South Africa are on a mission to find out what really happened to their musical idol, Rodriguez. Rodriguez was a big star in the country in the ‘70s but his life and career were a complete mystery. It was widely believed that the singer died on-stage in the US, but no one knew for sure. Let’s just say they discovered way more than they bargained for. I’ve already said too much. Just watch it please.

#4 For Those Who Feel The Fire Burning

Don’t be deterred by the subtitles or by the fact that it’s narrated by the ghost of a dead man. For Those Who Feel The Fire Burning is abstract and a little bit spiritual, but that just adds to the charm.

The Dutch-made movie is a fly-on-the-wall view of the current European refugee crisis. It tells the stories of individuals and their struggles to reach the safety of the Mediterranean. Don’t expect to be left with any glowing feelings about humanity’s virtues here.

#5 Uprising

In a similar vein as The Thread, Uprising takes a highly emotional political event and explains it in depth with relatable personal stories along the way.

The Egyptian Revolution took place not that long ago (2011) and for the first time in world history, it was Facebook being used to rally support and organise protests. The people of Egypt had been suffering through widespread poverty, unemployment and corruption for over 30 years, but with Facebook at their disposal, thousands of young people were able to overturn a world leader. Monumental.

#6 Cuba: The Forgotten Revolution

Production-wise, this doco is a little dry to say the least, but what it lacks in imagery it more than makes up for in storyline.

In the wake of Fidel Castro’s death, check out Cuba: The Forgotten Revolution. This film has the potential to rewrite the history books of Cuba. Its focus is on two lesser-known Cuban visionaries who may have been just as instrumental in the 1950’s liberation as Castro himself.

Kate is the summer editor of The Cusp. She gets by in life as a publicist but finds time to regularly contribute to The Cusp and AWOL. Follow her travels on Instagram @katermac and Twitter @krmcc.