Gain insight into important issues, explore Australia, dive into colourful histories or discover a new recipe: these essential documentaries have it all.
By
SBS Guide

26 May 2021 - 3:10 PM  UPDATED 31 May 2021 - 4:29 PM

From road trips around Australia to investigations into history, disease (and couples therapy!), plus some musical entertainment, take a dive into these essential documentaries, all streaming now at SBS On Demand or coming to SBS VICELAND. 

Pandemic 2020

The epic story of how people around the world lived through the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, from lockdowns to funerals to protests. Filmed across the globe and using extensive personal video and local footage, this three-part documentary series shows how people and countries responded to COVID-19 across cultures, races, faiths and privilege.

Pandemic 2020 is streaming now at SBS On Demand

 

Going Places With Ernie Dingo

In this captivating series Ernie Dingo explores Australia’s most iconic destinations, and lesser-known corners, meeting traditional owners and others who live and work in these amazing places. Across four seasons, Ernie has visited everywhere from popular destinations such as Kakadu to Kangaroo Island to small communities such as Yirrkala. During his travels, he meets local Elders, artists, musicians and more. 

The full four seasons of Going Places with Ernie Dingo are streaming now at SBS On Demand. Start at the beginning with season 1:

 

Couples Therapy

This documentary series from the US follows four couples in their weekly therapy sessions. Guided by world-class therapist, Dr Orna Guralnik, the couples move through struggles, confrontations and breakthroughs. This insightful series unlocks the hidden world of other people’s relationships, and doesn’t feel as voyeuristic as you might think.

Season 1 of Couples Therapy plus one-hour special Couples Therapy: The COVID Special are streaming at SBS On Demand. Season 2, featuring four new couples, premieres on SBS VICELAND on Tuesday 15 June with a double episode. Start here with season 1:

 

Adam Liaw’s Road Trip for Good

Small towns are at the heart of regional Australian life. In this food and travel series, Adam Liaw is on the road to visit some of the most beautiful parts of the country and to discover the sources of some of the best food Australia has to offer. Many of these regional communities were hit hard by the summer bushfires of 2019–20, but as Adam discovers, the thing that gives these regions their strength and resilience is strong community spirit. In each episode, Adam also collects produce from the areas he visits, then returns to his kitchen to cook delicious, simple meals. (Get links to all the recipes in the Episode Guide here.)

Adam Liaw’s Road Trip for Good is streaming now at SBS On Demand. It is also available with Hindi, Arabic, Korean and simplified Chinese subtitles. 

 

See What You Made Me Do

A “probing, compassionate, respectful and ultimately important inquiry into the scourge of domestic abuse in Australia” (The Australian), revelatory documentary series See What You Made Me Do explores an epidemic that is showing no signs of slowing down. Hosted by investigative journalist, Jess Hill, and inspired by her award-winning book of the same name, this three-part series looks at the shocking number of Australians who have been subjected to domestic abuse and the many shapes abuse can take, talks to survivors and asks what needs to be done to keep women and children safer.

See What You Made Me Do is streaming now at SBS On Demand. The series is also available with subtitles in multiple languages. 

If this documentary raises issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, please call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800respect.org.au. For counselling, advice and support for men who have anger, relationship or parenting issues, call the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491 or visit ntv.org.au.

 

Black Lives Matter: A Global Reckoning

Following the 2020 police killing of George Floyd, people around the world rallied not only to show solidarity in the fight against police brutality in the US, but also to confront their own countries’ unique issues with racism. 

Black Lives Matter: A Global Reckoning is streaming now at SBS On Demand

 

Australia in Colour

A huge effort went into this series, which brings Australia’s past to vivid life. Photographs, advertisements and clips from feature films, newsreels and home movies have all been colourised through many hours of painstaking work and consultation with experts. Australia in Colour shows a new view of history with moments in time brought to life for the first time in stunning colour. Narrated by Hugo Weaving, the two seasons of this documentary series reflect the nation’s character, attitudes and politics.

How ‘Australia In Colour’ brought our nation’s past into the present
Putting the greens and golds into black and white...

Seasons 1 and 2 of Australia in Colour are streaming now at SBS On Demand. They are also available with subtitles in several languages. 

 

Punk

This four-part docu-series explores the history of punk music featuring global music icons. Interspersing stories from America’s punk pioneers with those of UK bands of the same ilk looking to conquer the USA, Punk defines the genre’s American DNA and explores its subsequent propagation across the Atlantic. It features a seamless blend of rare and unseen photos and gritty video, a crackling soundtrack of punk hits and misses, original interviews and VIP access to the scene’s biggest movers and shakers.

Ageing rockers revel in the raw power of ‘Punk’
This four-part documentary series explores the anarchic history of punk music under the aegis of executive producer, Iggy Pop.

Punk is streaming at SBS On Demand. 

 

Addicted Australia

Addicted Australia is a bold, revelatory and inspiring documentary that puts a spotlight on Australia’s addiction crisis in the most powerful and deeply personal way. In a television first, the four-part series follows 10 Australians and their families as they battle addiction, having signed up to a unique six-month treatment program. Their heart-wrenching journey from despair to hope and possible recovery is deeply compelling viewing, and shows that addiction affects almost every Australian in some way. 

Addicted Australia is streaming now at SBS On Demand. Also available with Vietnamese and simplified Chinese subtitles. 

 

The Vietnam War

Directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, this 10-part series about the divisive Vietnam conflict took 10 years to make. Featuring interviews with more than 70 people, including combatants and anti-war protesters, rarely seen archival footage, home movies, photographs and more, the series was an epic production that takes a close look at the forces that brought nations to war and how it unfolded. 

Why Ken Burns’ Vietnam War is different to the ones we’ve seen before
It’s a new perspective on the controversial conflict in Vietnam, with room to explore cause and effect.

All 10 episodes of The Vietnam War are now streaming at SBS On Demand.  

 

Untold Australia

This thought-provoking documentary series explores the life-changing milestones of everyday Australians. Season 5 tells the story of how a troupe of drag queens rescued a bowling club; visits the isolated town of Birdsville; and follows four Australians with a stutter trying to find their voices. In season 4, it shares four great stories: Can six individuals with intellectual and learning disabilities find love? What lies behind the hidden world of the funeral industry? How do family ties suffer in the battle between old and new values? Will a transgender woman succeed in her mission to stage a Mardi Gras in a country town?

Seasons 4 and 5 of Untold Australia (plus four documentaries from previous seasons) are now streaming at SBS On Demand. Many episodes are also available with subtitles in various languages.  

 

Australia Come Fly With Me

Justine Clarke investigates the turbulent history of Australians in the air, from the daredevil aviators who lifted spirits of Australians after World War I to globetrotting migrants and people with great visions, revealing bravery, social injustice and the changing face of flying. 

Australia Come Fly With Me is streaming at SBS on Demand. Episodes are also available with Arabic and Simplified Chinese subtitles. 

 

PLUS COMING SOON TO SBS VICELAND:

QAnon: The Search For Q

This three-part special series from VICE explores the origins, rise and impact of the viral movement QAnon. 

 

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