• Kimberly Motley in the SBS documentary 'Super Woman in Kabul'. (SBS)Source: SBS
Prepare for a heavy dose of perspective, courtesy of SBS On Demand.
By
Amie Liebowitz

17 Jul 2017 - 12:21 PM  UPDATED 17 Jul 2017 - 12:33 PM

Go Back to Where You Came From (Australia)

“They’re still people” – Jodi, season three

Award-winning SBS documentary series Go Back to Where You Came From has always provoked conversation and controversy. Each season takes six Australians with different backgrounds and political views, and challenges their preconceived notions about refugees and asylum seekers. Travelling to refugee camps in destinations like Malaysia, Kenya, Afghanistan and Christmas Island, they are deprived of their belongings, sent on a rickety boat and required to experience a typical processing - or lack thereof - by government officials. By going through these hardships, participants are forced to question their own views, with most coming to realise the topic is more complex than they'd thought.

The entire series is available at SBS On Demand. Watch the start of series three here:

 

Super Woman in Kabul (Afghanistan)

“Let’s go do our superhero thing, like the Justice League… I want to be the new Wonder Woman, because she can fly” – Kimberley Motley

It was supposed to be a one-year gig, but American lawyer Kimberly Motley has been working in Afghanistan since 2008 – she is the only foreigner with a licence to litigate in the country’s courts. Super Woman in Kabul highlights Motley’s struggle to balance her work in Afghanistan in a male-dominated system with her life back in North Carolina, where her husband and kids still live.

 

When We Rise (USA)

“Now I know what I’m supposed to do here” – Cleve Jones

This eight-episode series documents the lives of four real-life LGBT individuals from quite different backgrounds who shared one thing in common – their struggle for equal rights. Events begin just after the Stonewall Riots of 1969, when homosexuality was still considered an “illness”, and run through 40 years of history, including the fight against Proposition 6 and the HIV/AIDS crisis. Featuring an all-star cast (Guy Pearce, Mary-Louise Parker, Rachel Griffiths, Michael K Williams), When We Rise is a powerful account of one of the most significant civil rights movements in history.

 

Born into Brothels (India)

“I keep thinking about going somewhere else. I want to get an education” – Kochi

Filled with colour, noise and the vibrancy of India, Born into Brothels follows the lives of children living in the red-light district of Calcutta. The recipient of the Best Documentary Feature Oscar in 2005, the doco focuses on Zara Briski, an English photographer who lives among the children in the slums and gives them the opportunity to learn photography. These photography classes become a coping mechanism for the children, who provide honest accounts about their day-to-day lives.

 

Viceland Presents: Cut-Off (Canada)

“I’m cautiously optimistic. Not one promise from now until forever can be broken” – Sarain Carson-Fox

Hosted by Aboriginal Canadian Sarain Carson-Fox, this doco tells the story of Shoal Lake 40, a reserve in the Manitoba region where 140 Cross-Lake First Nation peoples self-harmed or threatened to commit suicide within a two-week period in March 2016.

The dire situation caused the declaration of a state of emergency and prompted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to travel to the isolated reserve. Cut-Off examines the historical events that contributed to the state of affairs as well as the current factors exacerbating the problem. The film also highlights the resilience among the youth, their parents and their communities to fight for equal rights in a developed nation where they are often forgotten.

 

Looking After Mum (United Kingdom)

“I try to hide it because my friends know me as the happy, jolly type. I want to be happy” - Tom

In the United Kingdom, there are at least 700,000 young carers looking after a loved one, often facing challenges adults would struggle to cope with and generally with no support. Looking After Mum follows the lives of three such cases over a period of six months. 

In Stockport, Tom, 10, and Joe, 14, care for their mum who is suffering from a debilitating liver disease; in Worsley, Antonia-Rae, 11, tends to her mum who is paralysed from a stroke; and in Slough, Kashanna, 18, has been looking after her blind mother since the age of five. The children carers discuss how their mothers' conditions have affected them, while the mothers explain how difficult it is to have the usual care roles reversed and the guilt they carry because of that.

More on the Guide
SBS On Demand docos that'll keep you woke AF
For those moments when you wanna change the world but you know a can of Pepsi just won’t cut it.
10 docos that will shake you out of your comfort zone
Expand your worldview with these must-see documentaries, all now showing on SBS On Demand.