The best documentaries on Amazon Prime (October 2019)
From free one-day delivery to a music streaming service, Amazon Prime members have access to many perks. One other perk is Amazon Prime Video, which offers a slew of TV shows and movies. Available content includes documentaries, of which Amazon Prime Video has plenty.
To that end, here’s our list of the best documentaries on Amazon Prime.
The best documentaries on Amazon Prime:
Editor’s note: We will update our list of the best documentaries on Amazon Prime over time
1. Chasing Happiness
It’s easy to cringe at the thought of a documentary on the Jonas Brothers. After all, they rose to fame by forming the Jonas Brothers group, accumulated dozens of awards, and sold over 17 million albums worldwide.
Then, reality set in. No one in the group was happy, with all three Jonas siblings splitting from the group. Chasing Happiness takes you through the rise of the Jonas Brothers, what led to their break-up, and what led to the three brothers finding their way to each other again.
Already several years into a project on surveillance in the post-9/11 world, director Laura Poitras received an email. The email came from someone calling himself “citizen four” and stated he was ready to blow the whistle on the NSA’s covert surveillance programs.
We now know the individual to be Edward Snowden, a CIA employee and subcontractor. However, Poitras didn’t know that at the time. Instead, she knew him as “citizen four” and held many tense meetings with the man now known as one of the most infamous whistleblowers in U.S. history.
3. Ken Burns: The Central Park Five
28-year-old Trisha Meili was jogging through Central Park when she was attacked by a group of teenagers. Ultimately, ten suspects were tried for the attack. Among the ten were four African-American and two Hispanic-American teenagers, with one pleading guilty to the attacks.
What seemed like an open-and-shut case was anything but. The five remaining teenagers pleaded not guilty and refused plea deals. Even though they were convicted of assault and rape charges, the group subsequently known as the Central Park Five highlighted what happens when the justice system fails the innocent.
4. 4 Little Girls
Spike Lee’s first foray into the world of documentaries transports us back to 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama. Addie May Collins, Carol Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, and Carole Rosamond Robertson were in the 16th Street Baptist Church when four members of the United Klans of America placed at least 15 sticks of dynamite under the steps.
Only a few minutes passed when the dynamite exploded. Over 20 people were injured in the blast, with the four aforementioned children dying. The results were expected: groups of black and white youth assaulting each other, lackluster policing, and glorification by white supremacists. However, the incident also marked a significant turning point.
Over a two-year period, Ohio was rocked to its core as 11 women went missing. It wasn’t until October 2009 when authorities finally discovered the 11 women littered around the home of Anthony Sewell. Some were discovered in shallow graves, others were discovered in spaces inside of the home.
However, the focus isn’t on Sewell and his atrocities. The focus is on the surviving victims of his sexual assaults and why Sewell’s killing spree went unnoticed for almost three years.
6. City of Ghosts
It’s not a stretch to say Syria currently faces a humanitarian crisis. An estimated 6.2 million people, including 2.5 million children, are currently displaced within the country’s borders as conflict continues to ravage towns, cities, and families.
Wanting to see the problem firsthand, filmmaker Matthew Heineman flew to Syria and followed the “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently” citizen journalist collective. There, Heineman looks to uncover ISIS’ human rights abuses and propaganda.
7. Finding Oscar
1982 was a rough time for Guatemala. The country was going through a civil war between the government and various leftist rebel groups led by Maya indigenous people and Ladino people. It was also when commandos working as government forces entered the small village of Dos Erres and killed over 250 people.
However, a handful of people survived the massacre. One of them is Oscar Alfredo Ramírez Castañeda, who was abducted by one of the commandos and lived with the commando’s family for years. One day, Oscar received a startling email that looks to upend his entire world.
8. Capitalism: A Love Story
Established as the bedrock of the U.S. economic system, capitalism allows those with the means to pay for their preferred goods and services. Capitalism worked well for the country following World War II, since it helped establish the middle class and allowed the U.S. to prosper.
However, Capitalism: A Love Story posits the luster of capitalism no longer exists for most people. The economic system is still seen as a way to join the wealthy, yet the middle class continues to dwindle in numbers and the already-wealthy simply want to become wealthier.
That was our list of the best documentaries on Amazon Prime. In the comments below, let us know if you have recommendations of your own or thoughts on the documentaries in our list!