Five Unconventional documentaries you should watch

Documentaries have come a long way in capturing our attention and delivering captivating narratives that rival even fictional tales. Over the past decade, we have witnessed remarkable documentaries that delve into surreal and mind-bending stories.

Each documentary offers a unique perspective and engages viewers in an unforgettable journey.

Tabloid (2010)

Directed by Errol Morris, “Tabloid” (2010) presents the bizarre story of Joyce McKinney, a former beauty queen from the United States. McKinney’s scandalous involvement in the late 1970s, known as the “Manacled Mormon” case, forms the core of this documentary. Morris takes us on a deep dive into McKinney’s alleged abduction and sexual assault of a young male Mormon missionary in England. The subsequent media frenzy and conflicting narratives make this tale even more intriguing.

Through interviews with McKinney and other key figures, “Tabloid” examines the complexities of truth and the power of media manipulation. Morris skillfully presents a thought-provoking exploration of how tabloid journalism can shape public perception. With its captivating storytelling, this documentary challenges our understanding of reality and the influence of sensationalism.

1 (2013)

“1” (2013) takes us back to the golden era of Grand Prix Racing, immersing us in the lives of charismatic drivers who risked everything during Formula 1’s deadliest period. This documentary explores the thrilling world of Formula 1 racing and the individuals who revolutionized the sport forever.

While the documentary’s title may hinder its discoverability, the content itself is a treasure trove for both racing enthusiasts and newcomers to the sport. “1” highlights the captivating rivalry and the visionary mindset of Bernie Ecclestone, a forward-thinking businessman who transformed Formula 1 into a lucrative industry. The film provides a fascinating blend of intense competition and business strategy, delivering a riveting viewing experience.

O.J.: Made in America (2016)

“O.J.: Made in America” (2016) is a documentary series that goes beyond the surface-level coverage of the infamous O.J. Simpson murder trial. This captivating documentary explores the trial’s social and cultural implications, making it a must-watch for those seeking a comprehensive understanding of the case.

The documentary delves into O.J. Simpson’s life, career, and the racial tensions that surrounded the trial. It places the trial within the broader historical context of Los Angeles, incorporating events like the Rodney King beating and subsequent riots. By presenting multiple viewpoints and allowing viewers to form their own opinions, “O.J.: Made in America” offers a balanced and objective examination of the trial’s intricacies.

Spanning over five episodes and nearly eight hours, this documentary provides an in-depth exploration of the case, the personalities involved, and the profound impact on society. It serves as a testament to the lasting cultural significance of the trial and its implications for race relations, celebrity culture, and the criminal justice system.

Holy Hell (2016)

Released in 2016, “Holy Hell” is a gripping and insightful documentary that exposes the enigmatic Buddhafield cult. Filmmaker Will Allen, a former member of the cult, takes us on a journey into its inner workings, revealing the captivating dynamics of devotion and manipulation.

The documentary showcases the gradual shift from spiritual exploration to control within the Buddhafield. Led by charismatic teacher Michel Rostand, the cult members become entangled in a web of deception and blind faith. “Holy Hell” offers an intimate portrayal of their experiences, exploring the complex relationships formed within the group and the consequences of unquestioning devotion.

As former members come to terms with their disillusionment, the film highlights their healing process and the steps taken to rebuild their lives. “Holy Hell” raises essential questions about the power dynamics within spiritual communities, emphasizing the need for awareness and critical thinking.

Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator (2019)

“Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator” is a documentary film that exposes the dark side of the influential yoga guru Bikram Choudhury.

The film explores how Choudhury built a yoga empire and gained a devoted following on a series of lies.

The documentary follows the journey of several women who were once dedicated students of Bikram Yoga and had deep respect for Choudhury as their teacher. They share their personal accounts of the misconduct they experienced at the hands of Choudhury, revealing a pattern of abuse and manipulation.

Through interviews and archival footage, the film uncovers the rise of Choudhury, his charismatic personality, and his influence over his followers. It also examines the problematic power dynamics within the yoga community and the ways in which Choudhury exploited his position of authority.

As the survivors share their stories, the documentary exposes the culture of silence and fear that allowed Choudhury to continue his abusive behavior for years. It explores the legal battles faced by the victims as they sought justice and held Choudhury accountable for his actions. It highlights the courage and resilience of the survivors who came forward, their fight for justice, and the larger conversation around the protection of vulnerable individuals within the realm of yoga and spirituality.

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