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By 7 April 2014 | Categories: News

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The past few years have seen a resurgence in quality documentaries. Movie fundi Spling delves into some of the best ones. 

Searching for Sugar Man
2012

Rodriguez was and is a household name in South Africa, a performer whose enigmatic persona brought with it a collection of music to rival the likes of Bob Dylan. The man’s disappearing act became something of a legend, until two intrepid South Africans decided to find out what became of Sugar Man.  

This documentary is part mystery, part fairy tale and flows like a detective story. Rodriguez’s hauntingly beautiful music lights the way as we learn how one man’s musical talent inspired a nation yet somehow failed to pay the bills. It’s inspiring, deeply moving and will sink into your bones.

Why watch? It will change the way you support artists. 

Food, Inc.
2008

This documentary deals with corporate America’s control over the food industry and explains how international agribusinesses are trying to monopolise food production. The world’s food chain is subsidised by and relies heavily on cheap corn. We eat corn in many forms, it’s a primary source of food for animals and as such, many companies are trying to figure out how to manufacture it more efficiently.

Food, Inc. gives us an eye-opening and unflattering behind-the-scenes on America’s food industry, from patenting genetically engineered seed, and corrupt government officials, to the severe effects this over-reliance on corn has on our health and environment.

Why watch? It will change your perspective on food.

God Grew Tired of Us
2006

In 1987, 27 000 boys fled from Sudan to Ethiopia on foot, after their Muslim government pronounced death to all males in the Christian South. Of these, 12 000 survived to find themselves in a U.N. camp in Kakuma, Kenya in 1991. God Grew Tired of Us documents the journey of three ‘Lost Boys’, who are repatriated to the United States.

From their humble integration, we discover refreshing innocence as the young men take their first flight out of Africa and try to acclimatise to Western culture. From a seemingly desperate situation, we learn that modern society presents its own equally detrimental challenges.

Why watch? It will change the way you view modern society.

Exit through the Gift Shop
2010

Banksy is a street artist turned global phenomenon. In his documentary, Exit through the Gift Shop, we discover how the eccentric Thierry Guetta, a former shop keeper and amateur film-maker, tried to locate and befriend the infamous Banksy, before inadvertently becoming the subject of the film.

This funny, graffiti-stained documentary gives us an inside look at Invader, Shepard Fairey and Banksy in action. It embodies the cheekiness of its central character, a Frenchman whose underground graffiti quest turned him into Mr. Brainwash. It has an Andy Warhol temperament – challenging, subversive and pushing the bounds of what constitutes art and fame.

Why watch? It will change the way you think about originality, ownership and passion.

Blackfish
2013

Following The Cove’s harrowing revelation of dolphin-slaughter in Taijii, Blackfish seeks to expose a chain of marine theme parks. Tilikum is SeaWorld’s notorious Orca bull that killed three people while in captivity. Blackfish builds a case against keeping creatures in captivity for human entertainment, arguing its point through shocking footage and a series of emotional interviews.

While truly horrific, Blackfish is an important documentary from writer, director and producer, Gabriela Cowperthwaite. She spends some time showing just how emotional and intelligent Orcas are, demonstrating the sometimes devastating effects of keeping them in captivity, and exposing SeaWorld’s desperate attempts to cover this up.

Why watch? It will change your views on entertainment involving animal captivity.

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