Some of the world's best documentaries have landed at SBS on Demand. Here are 10 highlights that you can stream anytime, for free.
By
SBS Movies

1 Jun 2017 - 1:20 PM  UPDATED 8 Jun 2017 - 10:37 AM

City of Gold

M
United States, 2016
Genre: documentary
Language: English
Director: Laura Gabbert
Starring: Jonathan Gold
What's it about?
As the unabashed cradle of Hollywood superficiality and smoggy urban sprawl, Los Angeles has long been condemned as a cultural wasteland. In the richly penetrating documentary odyssey City of Gold, Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold shows us another Los Angeles, where ethnic cooking is a kaleidoscopic portal to the mysteries of an unwieldy city and the soul of America.

Being Elmo

G
United States, 2011
Genre: Documentary
Language: English
Director: Constance Marks
Starring: Kevin Clash
What's it about?
Most parents are very much aware of Elmo, the child-like fuzzy red Muppet who has become a favourite among Sesame Street's youthful audience. Far fewer people know the name Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who breathes the life and soul into Elmo. In this documentary, discover the man behind the Muppet, and find that he is as lovable, wise and infinitely positive as his famous character.

Being Elmo: Director interview

Putuparri and the Rainmakers

M
Australia, 2015
Genre: Documentary
Language: English
Director: Nicole Ma
Starring: 
What's it about?
Tom "Putuparri" Lawford is a man caught between two worlds: his past and present in modern society, where he battles with alcoholism and domestic violence; and his future as a leader of his people, reconnecting with his ancestral lands and shouldering his responsibility to pass this knowledge on to the next generation. Director Nicole Ma spent more than a decade documenting Putuparri's journey, travelling with him and his family on numerous occasions as they fight for their native title claim over the area.

The Gatekeepers

M
France, Belgium, Germany, Israel, 2000
Genre: Documentary
Language: Hebrew
Director: Dror Moreh
Starring: Ami Ayalon
What's it about?
Since its stunning military victory in 1967, Israel has hoped to achieve a long-lasting peace. Forty-five years later, this has yet to happen. Six former heads of Israel’s Secret Service reflect on the successes and failures of the 'peace process.' 

The Gatekeepers Review

Murderball

PG
United States, 2005
Genre: Documentary
Language: English
Director: Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro
Starring: Joe Bishop, Keith Cavill, Andy Cohn, Scott Hogsett, Christopher Igoe
What's it about?
Quadriplegics, who play full-contact rugby in wheelchairs, overcome unimaginable obstacles to compete in the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece.

Murderball Review

Bowling For Columbine

M
United States, 2002
Genre: Documentary Feature
Language: English
Director: Michael Moore
Starring: Michael Moore
What's it about?
Driven by moral agitation, Michael Moore explores the culture of violence in an America traumatised by terrorism, teenage killers and economic inequality. Moore puts the hard questions to trigger-happy suburbanites and militia members, alongside the likes of National Rifle Association spokesman Charlton Heston, shock rocker Marilyn Manson, South Park co-creator Matt Stone and surviving students of the Columbine High School shootings.  

Bowling For Columbine review: A tremendously emotional and provocative piece of work.

Cutie and the Boxer

PG
United States, 2013
Genre: Documentary
Language: English
Director: Zachary Heinzerling
Starring: Ushio Shinohara, Noriko Shinohara
What's it about?
This candid New York love story explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of famed boxing painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko. Anxious to shed her role as her overbearing husband's assistant, Noriko finds an identity of her own.

Manda Bala (Send a Bullet)

M
Brazil, 2007
Genre: Documentary
Language: English
Director: Jason Kohn
Starring:
What's it about?
Manda Bala (Send a Bullet) explores the cycles of violence that plague Brazil’s upper and lower economic classes in fits of rampant corruption and violent kidnappings. The film chronicles these cycles by utilizing highly personalized stories that reflect the growing truth about Brazil’s huge economic disparities – differences that cause violence on both sides of the spectrum. The film explores the various cottage industries cropping up in response to the violence and links these stories to weave a compelling narrative about what happens in a country where the rich and powerful steal from the poor, and in turn some of the poor terrorize the rich.

Finding Fela!

M
United Kingdom, 2014
Genre: Documentary, Music
Language: English
Director: Alex Gibney
Starring: Fela Kuti, Yeni Kuti, Femi Kuti
What's it about?
Finding Fela! tells the story of Fela Kuti’s life, his music, his social and political importance. He created a new musical movement, Afrobeat, using that forum to express his revolutionary political opinions against the dictatorial Nigerian government of the 1970s and 1980s.

2014 Sydney Film Festival: Finding Fela! - Review

Born into Brothels

M
United States of America, 2004
Genre: Documentary
Language: Bengali, English
Director: Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman
Starring:
What's it about?
This Oscar-winning documentary depicts the lives of child prostitutes in the red light district of Songachi, Calcutta. Director Zana Briski went to photograph the prostitutes when she met and became friends with their children. Briski began giving photography lessons to the children and became aware that their photography might be a way for them to lead better lives.

 

Explore the entire 'Essential Documentaries' collection at SBS On Demand