Criteria for Moving Documentaries
Movies have the power to captivate our attention, draw us into another person’s dilemma, and inspire us to greater things. Documentaries do so by telling true stories. We are always impressed by impactful stories, impressive cinematography, and fascinating information. Here are four documentaries that we believe meet these qualifications and inspire our hearts to act.
This historical documentary mixes reenactments with interviews to tell the heroic story of Nicholas Winton. During the tumultuous days before WWII broke out, Winton saw a need that most of the world ignored. It moved him to save hundreds of lives. While I would have made a couple different production choices, a ton of work was put into producing this film and they did an excellent job communicating this impactful story. More than a mere history lesson, I walked away asking myself what I would do if similar circumstances arose. Nicky’s Family will not only leave you with appreciation, but inspiration to do “impossible” things to better our world.
Antarctica: A Year on the Ice
I have always been fascinated by Antarctica. A Year on the Ice is the closest depiction I’ve seen of experiencing life in that remote land. Over a span of ten years, Anthony Powell captured the majestic beauty of Antarctica and the daily lives of resident workers. As stunning cinematography and inhabitant’s stories take us through the seasons, the viewer is able to gain a deeper appreciation of the untamed land and the struggles winter brings. In spite of hardships and isolation, the beauty of nature and strong community draw this special breed of people every year. After watching A Year on the Ice, I’m not sure I’m cut out to cope with perpetual winter. But that did not stop me from immediately searching job opportunities online! Unfortunately, my skills weren’t really needed…
Director Brian Ivie started this project merely thinking he had an award-winning story. He did not realize just how impactful The Dropbox would end up being. Through the camera we journey to a small South Korean home where Pastor Lee Jong-rak installed a drop-box into the front of his house to receive some of the most precious treasures: abandoned children. By following the story of Lee Jong-rak, the heart-breaking issue of infant abandonment is explored and addressed. The run-and-gun style enables the viewer to feel present in the daily struggles and successes of the caretakers and needy children. Through love, they show that every life is valuable.
30 for 30: The Four Falls of Buffalo
At first glance, this might appear to be yet another sports documentary. Though it is about the Buffalo Bills’ unprecedented four straight appearances in the Super Bowl, it’s much more than a “football” story. In spite of being one of the top two teams for four consecutive years, they came up short every time! The themes I found intriguing included: how we define being a “winner,” how we deal with success and failure, perseverance, and loyalty. The documentary did an excellent job of telling the story through the players, coaches, media, and fans to the extent that I actually “felt” their jubilation and pain. If sports truly are a microcosm of life, then this story is a fascinating example of dealing with the crazy ups and downs we encounter on our journey.
There you have it; four of our top documentary picks that connected with our hearts through story, cinematography, and knowledge — which leads to actively creating a better world. We hope you too are inspired to love life and do greater things.