As the most compelling cinematic experience we can have, documentaries offer a chance to understand and connect with other people’s views of the world. While we’re stuck at home, why not stream one of these well-timed documentaries, and be transported to the world of Paris haute couture, New York’s 90s rap scene, Vienna’s turn-of-the-century art society and more.
He is one of the most lauded designers on the planet and is no stranger to rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous, but Balmain Creative Director Olivier Rousteing’s origins are far less glamorous. Wonder Boy follows Rousteing’s journey to find his birth parents, and in the process is an exploration of identity and how different people emerge from an unconventional start to life. Available on Netflix
This documentary is an intimate look at Val Kilmer, who is more creative than we all probably knew. While he is a famous actor, he has also been a life-long filmmaker himself and Val is put together from hand-held camera clips filmed by Kilmer and his friends and family throughout his life. Kilmer was recently diagnosed with throat cancer and is still recovering, finding it difficult to talk, so his son Jack Kilmer narrates this moving film that gives us insight into someone who is truly an artist at heart. Available on Amazon Prime
Klimt & Schiele: Eros and Psyche
Creativity loves restraint, and at the turn-of-the-century the golden age of the Vienna art world was coming to an end as legendary painters Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele fundamentally changed the feeling of art. Shown across five stunning exhibitions, with never-before-seen access, Klimt & Schiele: Eros and Psyche recounts another extraordinary moment in history — when art portrayed humanity’s restlessness, fears and desires with a new intensity. Available at Academy On Demand
Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal
If you were aware of this drama when it happened in 2019, you undoubtedly watched it unfold with a hefty dose of schadenfreude — it involved over 50 people (including a couple of famous actors) who were charged with a range of crimes from bribery to document forgery, all in the name of getting a group of privileged kids into elite colleges. This documentary investigates the mastermind behind the scam, a man called Rick Singer, through a series of incredibly realistic reenactments using real recorded conversations from the FBI. Available on Netflix
The Taste of Desire
Although it may not feel like the world is our oyster at the moment, this cinematic exploration of the oyster reveals the complexity of our desires. Following six very different people who prise it open, from Michelin-star chefs to a burlesque dancer, the sensual and at-time surreal film shares the lengths we will go to find satisfaction. Available as part of the Doc Edge Festival’s Virtual Bubble
Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell
While we all know how this story unfortunately ends, Biggie: I Got a Story to Tell explores the origins of someone who, even 25 years after his death, is still considered one of the world’s greatest rappers. It features intimate interviews with Christopher ‘Notorious B.I.G’ Wallace’s mother Voletta, label boss and friend Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs and more, and focuses on the incredible rise to fame of this legendary talent. Available on Netflix
New Zealand’s award-winning documentary initiative Loading Docs has returned with a new season of short stories. Despite its twists and turns, the Tūmanako collection provides a hopeful viewpoint from our land and sea. Our pick is The Scam — a true crime adventure where an elderly Greymouth beekeeper inadvertently becomes a Brazilian cocaine mule, and comes close to catastrophe. Available at Loading Docs.
Fight for the Wild
Journey, virtually, into the wild heart of Aotearoa in Fight for the Wild. The film and podcast series explores the notion of a Predator Free 2050 and asks whether this ambitious conservation initiative is achievable and if so, how? Really, it offers a chance to see up-close the unique native species that also call New Zealand home. Available at NZ On Air Watch & Listen