32 Best Documentaries on YouTube You Can Watch for Free
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In this digital age, information has become incredibly accessible. But with so much content available, it’s a challenge to sift between what is real and what is false. That’s why it’s more important than ever that we get our information from reliable sources.
Documentaries are the perfect tool.
Well-made documentaries captivate us and promote discussion on a variety of topics. They are a great resource for educating ourselves on various matters.
Watching documentaries benefits you in the following ways:
Simon Kilmurry, executive director of the International Documentary Association, sums up the social importance of documentary films as such:
“Documentary film is a form that allows us to walk in another’s shoes, to build a sense of shared humanity, that gives voice to the marginalized and scorned, that strives to hold those in power to account. In these challenging times…it is all the more important to support the ever-risky endeavor that documentary filmmaking is becoming.”
YouTube provides one of the best venues for watching documentaries for free, so we’ve chosen 32 of the best documentaries on YouTube and listed them for today’s post.
These films are selected for their ability to inspire and promote a new way of thinking. All these films help you learn something new about social issues, notable personalities, and the world we live in.
These are the films worth checking out.
What You Will Learn
- 1. The Extraordinary Genius of Albert Einstein
- 2. The Reality of Truth
- 3. The Next Black – A Film About the Future of Clothing
- 4. The Congo Dandies: Living in Poverty and Spending a Fortune to Look Like a Million Dollars
- 5. Real Life Psychopaths
- 6. Organic Food – Hype or Hope?
- 7. Four Horsemen
- 8. The Power of Meditation
- 9. Enlightenment
- 10. The Mary Magdalene Conspiracy (Secrets of the Cross Documentary)
- 11. A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity
- 12. Without Bound – Perspectives on Mobile Living
- 13. Real Value
- 14. Poor Kids of America
- 15. New Money
- 16. Modern Day Miracles
- 17. The Science of Acupuncture
- 18. The First Human
- 19. Laos Wonderland
- 20. All Is Self
- 21. The Human Brain
- 22. The Living Body
- 23. The Truth About Sugar
- 24. Food Choices
- 25. Mat Fraser: Making a Champion
- 26. SEALFIT 20X SLTC
- 27. Unbelievable Natural Disasters
- 28. The Hacker Wars
- 29. The Cola Wars
- 30. Where Dreams Go to Die
- 31. Picasso’s Last Stand
- 32. Self-Medicated: A Film About Art
1. The Extraordinary Genius of Albert Einstein
Do you want to know how geniuses arrive at breakthroughs that deepens our understanding of our world and life?
Produced by History.com, this 1.5-hour documentary centers on Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity—not for viewers to understand the theory itself, but to serve as a case study for demonstrating how humans think. The film attempts to show how the real thought processes of human beings happen outside of opinions and perceptions.
2. The Reality of Truth
This film was created by spiritual guru Deepak Chopra and entrepreneur Mike Zappolin. It introduces viewers to the ways in which people have transcended into alternate realities, such as through meditation, music, and the use of psychotropics.
The content it features makes this film somewhat controversial. Top scientists, spiritual gurus, and thought leaders discuss the common understanding of reality, as well as the methods for transcending it and reaching an alternate reality.
3. The Next Black – A Film About the Future of Clothing
Do you want to know what clothes will look like in the future?
In this film, sustainability advocates, clothing companies, and a bio firm all give their opinions and forecasts about the clothes we’ll be wearing in the future. One interesting thing to see in this documentary is the way living organisms are being made to grow wearables.
4. The Congo Dandies: Living in Poverty and Spending a Fortune to Look Like a Million Dollars
This film features members of the Congolese Le Sapeur, or the Congo Dandies.
These well-dressed men are known to spend thousands of dollars on designer clothes and accessories, despite the fact that most of them live in poverty-stricken communities in Congo, Central Africa.
5. Real Life Psychopaths
What goes on in the mind of a psychopath?
This documentary reveals evidence about psychopathic behavior that predisposes people to they cycle of crime, parole, and re-offense. In the film, leading criminal psychologist Professor Robert Hare provides insight into the thought processes of psychopaths.
The film also reports on the common tendency of paroled psychopaths to reoffend, even after attending treatment programs prior to release.
6. Organic Food – Hype or Hope?
These days, we are made to believe that eating organic food is healthier, so people are willing to pay more to get those products on their tables.
In this DW documentary, viewers are taken behind the scenes of the organic food industry. The lack of consistent testing, quality control, and monitoring of organic food products makes consumers vulnerable to labeling fraud.
7. Four Horsemen
This documentary, produced by Renegade Inc. and directed by Ross Ashcroft, explains how the world works and what could be done to create a better society.
The title refers to what the film creators identify as American-led ills: financial misconduct, violence, appalling poverty, and the environmental crisis. The film hopes to inspire the audience to take action for change.
8. The Power of Meditation
If you’re not new to this blog, you’ve probably come across several articles about meditation and mindfulness. We believe that these practices have a positive effect on health and well-being.
The Power of Meditation features various meditation practices for achieving relaxation, healing, and happiness, as well as developing positive emotions. The film is a good starting point for those who want to gain a deeper understanding of meditation.
This film, produced by Anthony Chene, attempts to find answers to the question, “Who are we really?”
If you are looking for ways to develop self-awareness, this movie is a good jump-off point. The film contains insightful interviews that create modern-day interpretations of our true purpose here on earth.
10. The Mary Magdalene Conspiracy (Secrets of the Cross Documentary)
Are you up for some mystery? As a Secret of the Cross documentary, this film explores one of the fascinating stories of Christianity, one of the oldest religions and most powerful religions of the world, with more than 2 billion followers.
Mary Magdalene was identified as the first witness to the resurrection of Jesus, and yet she was rarely mentioned in succeeding texts. This film attempts to shed light on who Mary Magdalene truly was in connection to Jesus Christ.
11. A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity
More and more people are waking and finding solutions to global crises. Some of these individuals formed an off-the-grid community in Australia, living a simpler lifestyle to help save the planet.
This documentary was made by several members while they stayed in the community for a year. During that period, they built tiny houses, planted vegetable gardens, and experienced what it’s like to live in a sustainable community.
12. Without Bound – Perspectives on Mobile Living
This film features people who made the choice to trade the comforts of living in a house for the freedom of living on the road. In this documentary, you’ll get to know a group of people who live in trailers, RVs, and other vehicles of their choice to experience freedom through mobile and minimalistic living.
Without Bound attempts to answer the question, “How much do we need?” The documentary focuses on people who live in mobile homes by choice, and not on people rendered homeless by various social and economic circumstances. The subjects have significantly scaled down their possessions, living day-to-day with the most basic essentials.
13. Real Value
These days, the demand for business enterprises that give back to society is rising. This inspiring documentary explores the concept of social enterprise.
Various notable personalities are interviewed in this film, to give viewers a better understanding of what happens when businesses truly consider the welfare of people and the planet.
14. Poor Kids of America
Poverty is on the rise in the United States. Many families are affected, especially children.
This award-winning documentary shows the negative effects of a flagging economy, widespread unemployment, and poverty through the perspective of the most vulnerable members of society: the children.
15. New Money
In this documentary, former stock broker and hedge fund manager Dr. Steve Sjuggerud reveals a great money-making opportunity in a very unlikely place: China.
The documentary reveals how people’s perception of China and what is actually happening there right now are completely different. In the film, Dr. Sjuggerud shows a China that is far more sophisticated than most business districts in the US.
16. Modern Day Miracles
This documentary follows three children with correctable disabilities who were treated by CURE International medical teams in the countries of Niger, Philippines, and the Dominican Republic.
The documentary features the work of non-profit and Christian organization CURE. It is inspirational in the sense that we get to see people investing their time and efforts to reach out and help others who are in need of healing and hope.
17. The Science of Acupuncture
Produced by BBC, this documentary features the traditional Chinese treatment of acupuncture.
There are many who are skeptical about this alternative treatment, but the documentary explores how acupuncture is used to cure a host of ailments. Moreover, in the film, acupuncture is used on a patient in lieu of general anesthetic during open-heart surgery.
18. The First Human
In this evolution documentary, we travel through time to uncover a new theory about the approximate time, reason, and way human beings began walking upright.
This film presents the story of scientists’ new discovery of a fossil much older than “Lucy” (who was initially thought to be humans’ ancestor). This discovery challenges a lot of set ideas about how human beings have evolved.
19. Laos Wonderland
This documentary is about the glorious, natural wonders of Laos, a country in Southeast Asia. It shows many of the unexplored spots in the country, as well as the wildlife that flourish there.
The film also features some festivals and traditions observed in Laos, which are strongly tied to the surroundings where they are celebrated. This film is a treat for those who are interested in world cultures.
20. All Is Self
This documentary shows us that we are one with all of creation. It proposes that the state of our thoughts and emotions is reflected in the state of our society. The film explains the concept of the unity of all creation through different belief systems all over the world.
21. The Human Brain
If you’re interested in learning about the human brain, this documentary can supply you with the information you need. The creators of this film show viewers the physical features and structure of our brains. It explores the different areas of the brain, and identifies the functions of each.
22. The Living Body
Do you wonder how the human body works? Or what happens to our bodies as we age? Through the use of high-definition, mini-endoscopic cameras and stunning visual effects, this documentary allows you to get a truly up-close view of our organs, and insight into the everyday functioning of the human body.
This documentary has won numerous awards, including an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design and Artistic Direction.
23. The Truth About Sugar
Thinking about quitting sugar?
Many nations are suffering from obesity crises. In this documentary, BBC pinpoints sugar as a major culprit. The film also reveals the amount of sugar in our meals and drinks, and reports on the reasons for our sugar addiction.
24. Food Choices
This film by Michal Siewierski is an exposé on the impact of our food choices on our health, our planet, and the lives of other species.
The documentary was three years in the making, and features interviews with 28 of the world’s leading experts in various fields. Misconceptions about diets and food are also discussed in the film.
25. Mat Fraser: Making a Champion
Ever wondered how top athletes go about their days?
In this documentary, Mat Fraser—winner of the CrossFit Games in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019—shares a day in the life of a CrossFit champ. He also shares his personal backstory. This serves as an inspiration for those who aspire for greatness in the realm of sports.
26. SEALFIT 20X SLTC
SEALFIT 20X is a documentary about the challenges that members of the Southeast Lineman Training Center encountered when they volunteered for the 20X program of SEALFIT. The goal of the program is to train apprentice lineworkers to become better qualified (physically) for the job.
The film shows the grit and determination of these lineworkers as they struggled to overcome the challenges of grueling training to become the best at what they do.
27. Unbelievable Natural Disasters
This documentary features the most terrifying natural disasters of all time. The film helps you understand the impact of tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes on people’s lives, the economy, and the environment.
28. The Hacker Wars
This film features the US government’s targeting of hacktivists and several journalists who are critical of the country’s administrative body. The story revolves around three hacktivists who battled against the government over the control of information in the age of the Internet.
29. The Cola Wars
This film showcases the intense marketing campaigns of the two leading soft drink companies, PepsiCo and The Coca-Cola Company. The competition between these two companies reached a peak during the late 1970s to the mid-1980s, a period that was dubbed the “Cola Wars.” Today, the rivalry between the two companies is still strong, with no sign of letting up, as consumers are still almost equally divided in their soft drink preference.
30. Where Dreams Go to Die
People say that this is a magnificent running documentary.
This inspirational documentary is about Canadian ultrarunner Gary Robbins and his attempt to complete the Barkley Marathons. The Barkley Marathons has a full course of a hundred miles, and is considered one of the toughest ultramarathon races in the world.
Learn about the sacrifices Robbins made to participate in this grueling test of strength, stamina, and spirit.
31. Picasso’s Last Stand
Do you love art? This documentary features one of the greatest artists of all time.
The film reveals the life of Picasso a decade before his death. At that time, he was faced with criticism for his output and his lifestyle. However, in the midst of this turmoil, he found impetus to bring forth his wittiest, most profound work.
32. Self-Medicated: A Film About Art
While we’re on the topic of art, here is another documentary featuring art and artists.
In 2000, several artists who got fed up of being excluded from the fine art scene formed a movement in defiance to this exclusivity. They called themselves The Antagonists, and they preferred to express their art through physical media—specifically walls and the outdoors. The movement has now spread throughout the globe.
This documentary tracks several Antagonists. We get to know them through their stories (often of loneliness and depression), and see how art helps them cope.
Are you ready to binge-watch these films?
Self-education can be enhanced by watching quality documentaries. As your knowledge about topics that interest you increases, so does your potential for personal success.
Can’t get enough of learning new things? You might want to visit this post featuring 21 fun tools for learning something new every day.