30 Life Changing Documentaries You Must Watch!

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Documentaries are products of huge efforts, wide research and commitment. They help us to realize what's going around us by using the power of cinematography. In this list, we gathered the most eye opening and enlightening documentaries for you.

Movies are listed according to their imdB points. Summaries are from imdB unless otherwise cited.

30. Occupy Love (2013) I IMDb: 6.5

IMDb

OCCUPY LOVE captures the heart of the movement of movements that is sweeping the planet in response to today's economic and environmental crises. 'Philosopher-filmmaker' Velcrow Ripper travels to history-making hot spots, asking the question, 'How can crisis create a love story?' Scenes include the Egyptian revolution in Tahrir Square, Spain's Indignado movement, Occupy Wall Street NYC, The Maple Spring in Quebec, and indigenous activists at the Alberta Tar Sands. The film explores the aspects of this arising that take the form of what Martin Luther King Jr. called 'Love in action.' Woven throughout is a deep exploration on the meaning and importance of 'public love' - the love of humanity, the love of the planet.

29. The Economics of Happiness I IMDb: 7.1

IMDb

'The Economics of Happiness' features a chorus of voices from six continents calling for systemic economic change. The documentary describes a world moving simultaneously in two opposing directions. On the one hand, government and big business continue to promote globalization and the consolidation of corporate power. At the same time, all around the world people are resisting those policies, demanding a re-regulation of trade and finance - and, far from the old institutions of power, they're starting to forge a very different future. Communities are coming together to re-build more human scale, ecological economies based on a new paradigm - an economics of localization.

28. 2012 Time for Change (2010) I IMDb: 7.1

IMDb

2012: Time For Change is a documentary feature that presents ways to transform our unsustainable society into a regenerative planetary culture. This can be achieved through a personal and global change of consciousness and the systemic implementation of ecological design.

27. The Age of Stupid I IMDb: 7.1

IMDb

This ambitious documentary/drama/animation hybrid stars Pete Postlethwaite as an archivist in the devastated world of the future, asking the question: "Why didn't we stop climate change when we still had the chance?" He looks back on footage of real people around the world in the years leading up to 2015 before runaway climate change took place.

26. Dirt! The Movie (2009) I IMDb: 7.2

IMDb

Dirt, which is unique to Earth of any of the known planets and which acts as the planet's "skin", is made up of the same elements as humans, and is a living, breathing, complex and essential building block for human survival. The relationship between dirt, which covers approximately the top five centimeters of the Earth's surface, and humans is presented. Left to its own devices, the planet is able to regenerate dirt if all the necessary elements are available, such as a diversity in organic matter, microorganisms and water. The planet's forests are a prime example, forest floors which have generally the richest dirt on the planet. But humans have largely altered the natural landscape to affect negatively the planet's ability to maintain the existing dirt and regenerate it as a healthy entity. It is based on what humans generally consider more valuable uses of the land, whether it be for development i.e. covering the dirt with impermeable materials such as asphalt and concrete, resource extraction or something else. Even in the industrial age, mono-cultural farming practices of annual crops, i.e. miles upon miles of only one crop of an annual plant being grown, are depleting the health of dirt, with the answer being often to cut down more forests to create more farmland. As such, humans need to place a higher value on ecological sustainability, most specifically in dirt health, or else risk the species at our own hands.

25. Beyond Elections:Redefining Democracy in the Americas (2008) I IMDb: 7.2

IMDb

What is democracy? Freedom, equality, participation? Everyone has his or her own definition. Across the world, 120 countries now have at least the minimum trappings of democracy - the freedom to vote for all citizens. But for many, this is just the beginning not the end. Following decades of US-backed dictatorships, civil wars and devastating structural adjustment policies in the South, and corporate control, electoral corruption, and fraud in the North, representative politics in the Americas is in crisis. Citizens are now choosing to redefine democracy under their own terms: local, direct, and participatory. In 1989, the Brazilian Worker's Party altered the concept of local government when they installed participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre, allowing residents to participate directly in the allocation of city funds. Ten years later, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was swept into power with the promise of granting direct participation to the Venezuelan people; who have now formed tens of thousands of self-organized communal councils. In the Southern Cone, cooperative and recuperated factory numbers have grown, and across the Americas social movements and constitutional assemblies are taking authority away from the ruling elites and putting power into the hands of their members and citizens. Beyond Elections is a journey that takes us across the Americas to attempt to answer one of the most important questions of our time: What is Democracy?

24. Starsuckers (2009) I IMDb: 7.4

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Documentary that explores mankind's desire to be famous and its effect on society.

23. Capitalism : A Love Story (2009) I IMDb: 7.4

IMDb

Capitalism: A Love Story examines the impact of corporate dominance on the everyday lives of Americans (and by default, the rest of the world). The film moves from Middle America, to the halls of power in Washington, to the global financial epicenter in Manhattan. With both humor and outrage, the film explores the question: What is the price that America pays for its love of capitalism? Families pay the price with their jobs, their homes and their savings. Moore goes into the homes of ordinary people whose lives have been turned upside down; and he goes looking for explanations in Washington, DC and elsewhere. What he finds are the all-too-familiar symptoms of a love affair gone astray: lies, abuse, betrayal...and 14,000 jobs being lost every day. Capitalism: A Love Story also presents what a more hopeful future could look like. Who are we and why do we behave the way that we do?

22. What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire (2007) I IMDb: 7.5

IMDb

What A Way To Go: Life at the End of Empire is a 2007 documentary film about the current situation facing humanity and the world.

It discusses issues such as peak oil, climate change and the effects of global warming, population overshoot and species extinction, as well as how this situation has developed. The documentary features supporting data and interviews of Daniel Quinn, environmental activist Derrick Jensen and academics such as Richard Heinberg and many others.

The tagline of the documentary is, "A middle-class white guy comes to grips with Peak Oil, Climate Change, Mass Extinction, Population Overshoot and the demise of the American lifestyle."

Source: Wikipedia

21. Money & Life (2013) I IMDb: 7.5

IMDb

MONEY and LIFE is a passionate and inspirational essay-style documentary that makes a provocative proposition: can we see the economic crisis not as a disaster, but as a tremendous opportunity? An optimistic film steeped in appreciation for human ingenuity, MONEY and LIFE is a respectful invitation to consider questions critical to all our well-being: How can we move beyond being merely consumers, debtors and creditors, and put money in service to what we really care about as citizens, as human beings? Can we design a monetary circulation system that fosters democratic equality? What does it really mean to make a living? MONEY and LIFE empowers each of us to respond to the fundamental issues of our time and participate in the emerging new economy.

20. The Crisis of Civilization (2011) I IMDb:7.5

IMDb

The Crisis Civilization is a documentary feature film investigating how global crises like ecological disaster, financial meltdown, dwindling oil reserves, terrorism and food shortages are converging symptoms of a single, failed global system. Proving that 'another world' is not merely possible, but on its way.

19. Origins (2014) I IMDb: 7.5

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IMDb

"Origins" takes a journey through the biological roots of where we have come from and where we have gone. Using fire as a metaphor for technology, the film looks at the advances of our civilization and how the recklessness of unchecked technology is now choking out the environment and poisoning our bodies. Interviews with the biggest names in the health and green space create compelling context and arguments for how we can better coexist with nature. "Origins" shows how man, technology, and nature can walk together in balance.

18. The Yes Men Fix the World (2009) I IMDb: 7.6

IMDb

Troublemaking duo Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, posing as their industrious alter-egos, expose the people profiting from Hurricane Katrina, the faces behind the environmental disaster in Bhopal, and other shocking events.

17. Gasland (2010) I IMDb: 7.7

IMDb

An exploration of the fracking petroleum extraction industry and the serious environmental consequences involved.

16. Garbage Warrior I (2007) IMDb: 7.8

IMDb

Imagine a home that heats itself, that provides its own water, hat grows its own food. Imagine that it needs no expensive technology, that it recycles its own waste, that it has its own power source. And now imagine that it can be built anywhere, by anyone, out of the things society throws away. Thirty years ago, architect Michael Reynolds imagined just such a home - then set out to build it. A visionary in the classic American mode, Reynolds has been fighting ever since to bring his concept to the public. He believes that in an age of ecological instability and impending natural disaster, his buildings can - and will - change the way we live. Shot over three years in the USA, India and Mexico, Garbage Warrior is a feature-length documentary film telling the epic story of maverick architect Michael Reynolds, his crew of renegade house builders from New Mexico, and their fight to introduce radically different ways of living. A snapshot of contemporary geo-politics and an inspirational tale of triumph over bureaucracy, Garbage Warrior is above all an intimate portrait of an extraordinary individual and his dream of changing the world.

15. Schooling the World: The White Man's Last Burden (2010) I IMDb: 7.8

IMDb

If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th century when it forced Native American children into government boarding schools. Today, volunteers build schools in traditional societies around the world, convinced that school is the only way to a 'better' life for indigenous children. But is this true? What really happens when we replace a traditional culture's way of learning and understanding the world with our own? SCHOOLING THE WORLD takes a challenging, sometimes funny, ultimately deeply disturbing look at the effects of modern education on the world's last sustainable indigenous cultures.

14. End: Civ (2011) I IMDb: 7.9

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IMDb

The causes underlying the collapse of civilizations are usually traced to overuse of resources. As we write this, the world is reeling from economic chaos, peak oil, climate change, environmental degradation, and political turmoil. Every day, the headlines re-hash stories of scandal and betrayal of the public trust. We don't have to make outraged demands for the end of the current global system - it seems to be coming apart already. But acts of courage, compassion and altruism abound, even in the most damaged places. By documenting the resilience of the people hit hardest by war and repression, and the heroism of those coming forward to confront the crisis head-on, END:CIV illuminates a way out of this all-consuming madness and into a saner future. Backed by Jensen's narrative, the film calls on us to act as if we truly love this land. The film trips along at a brisk pace, using music, archival footage, motion graphics, animation, slapstick and satire to deconstruct the global economic system, even as it implodes around us. END:CIV illustrates first-person stories of sacrifice and heroism with intense, emotionally-charged images that match Jensen's poetic and intuitive approach. Scenes shot in the back country provide interludes of breathtaking natural beauty alongside clearcut evidence of horrific but commonplace destruction.

13. Food Inc (2008) I IMDb: 7.9

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An unflattering look inside America's corporate controlled food industry.

12. A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash (2006) I IMDb:7.9

gaiadergi.com

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A theatrical documentary on the planet's dwindling oil resources.

11. War Made Easy (2007) I IMDb: 8.0

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War Made Easy reaches into the Orwellian memory hole to expose a 50-year pattern of government deception and media spin that has dragged the United States into one war after another from Vietnam to Iraq. Narrated by actor and activist Sean Penn, the film exhumes remarkable archival footage of official distortion and exaggeration from LBJ to George W. Bush, revealing in stunning detail how the American news media have uncritically disseminated the pro-war messages of successive presidential administrations

10. Inequality For All (2013) I IMDb: 8.1

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A documentary that follows former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich as he looks to raise awareness of the country's widening economic gap.

9. The Corporation: (2003) I IMDb: 8.2

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Documentary that looks at the concept of the corporation throughout recent history up to its present-day dominance.

8. Propaganda (2012) I IMDb: 8.3

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An anti-western propaganda film about the influences of American visual and consumption culture on the rest of the world, as told from a North Korean perspective.

7. Zeitgeist: Moving Forward (2011) I IMDb: 8.3

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A feature length documentary work which presents a case for a needed transition out of the current socioeconomic monetary paradigm which governs the entire world society. This subject matter will transcend the issues of cultural relativism and traditional ideology and move to relate the core, empirical "life ground" attributes of human and social survival, extrapolating those immutable natural laws into a new sustainable social paradigm called a "Resource-Based Economy".

6. Inhabit (2015) I IMDb: 8.4

IMDb

Inhabit explores the many environmental issues facing us today and examines solutions that are being applied using the ecological design process called 'Permaculture'. Permaculture is a design lens that uses the principles found in ecosystems to help shift our impact from destructive to regenerative. Focused mostly on the Northeastern and Midwestern regions of the United States, Inhabit provides an intimate look at permaculture peoples and practices ranging from rural, suburban, and urban landscapes.

5. The Lottery of Birth (2013) I IMDb: 8.5

IMDb

THE LOTTERY OF BIRTH is the first in a three-part documentary series entitled 'Creating Freedom' exploring the relationship between freedom, power and control in Western democracies. The series draws together interviews with some of the world's leading intellectuals, journalists and activists to offer an alternative perspective on today's society and the future we're creating. We do not choose to exist, or the environment we grow up in. Our starting point in life is one of passive reliance on forces over which we have no control. THE LOTTERY OF BIRTH shows that from birth onwards our minds are a battleground of competing forces: familial, educational, cultural, and professional. The outcome of this battle not only determines who we become, but the society that we create.

4. The War You Don't See (2010) I IMDb: 8.5

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IMDb

The War You Don't See is a 2010 British documentary film written, produced and directed by John Pilger with Alan Lowery, which challenges the media for the role they played in the Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel/Palestine conflicts. The film, which went on nationwide general release on 13 December 2010, had its premiere at the Barbican and was aired through Britain's ITV1 on 14 December 2010 and later through Australia's SBS One on 10 April 2011.

3. Earthlings (2005) I IMDb: 8.7

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Using hidden cameras and never-before-seen footage, Earthlings chronicles the day-to-day practices of the largest industries in the world, all of which rely entirely on animals for profit.

2. Within Reach (2012) I IMDb: 8.8

IMDb

After quitting their jobs and selling their house and cars, Ryan and Mandy bike-pack around the country visiting 100 sustainable communities as they look for a new place to live. Along the way, they explore the meaning of community -- and of life itself.

1. HUMAN (2015) I IMDb: 8.8

IMDb

A collection of stories about and images of our world, offering an immersion to the core of what it means to be human.

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