Seaspiracy (2021, dir. Ali Tabrizi)

A documentary filmmaker investigates whaling, to uncover a global network of criminal and climate-challenging practices liked to commercial fishing. Seaspiracy doesn’t really connect the dots (there isn’t a conspiracy – it’s just plain greed) or land all of its punches, but there’s some interesting material and footage presented, even if the subject matter doesn’t fit with the film’s structure.

Here’s the trailer.

Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb (2020, dir. James Tovell)

A documentary covering a season’s dig at Saqqara outside Cairo, focusing on the tomb of Wahtye. Excellent, compassionate, and detailed overview of an archaeological dig, keen to emphasis the humanity of the participants and links between Egypt’s ancient past and its present. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.

Class Action Park (2020, dir. Seth Porges & Chris Charles Scott III)

A documentary on Action Park, a notoriously dangerous New Jersey amusement park, and on its charismatic criminal owner. A straightforward and largely enjoyable overview, though one that struggles to balance the human impact of negligence with fond and at times gung-ho 80s nostalgia.

Here’s the trailer.

Death Zone: Cleaning Everest [AKA Everest Death Zone) (2018, dir. Marina Martins)

A team of Nepalese clear Everest of detritus left by climbers, while also retrieving bodies. Slightly clumsy, but well-meaning and with a strong central message, this Patrick Stewart-narrated documentary makes clear environmental points as well as commenting on wasteful adventure tourism.

Here’s the trailer.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2019, dir. Justin Pemberton)

A history of capitalism with projections for the future, based on Thomas Piketty’s bestseller. A clear and accessible overview, engaging and brisk, documenting continuity and change in economic terms between the Industrial Revolution and now. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.

Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken! (2017, dir. Morgan Spurlock)

Thirteen years after its predecessor documentary, Morgan Spurlock re-investigates the fast food industry, this time by opening a chicken burger restaurant. Following farm-to-fork, marketing, health, and animal welfare themes, this is another sprightly overview, reinforcing multiple industrial aspects of food.

Here’s the trailer.

Friedkin Uncut (2020, dir. Francesco Zippel)

A documentary on film director William Friedkin, centred on interviews with its subject. Very pleasant overview of Friedkin’s work and perspective on filmmaking, supported by focuses on his 1970s output in particular. No huge surprises, and little criticism, but a decent watch nevertheless.

Here’s the trailer.

Haunters: The Art of the Scare (2017, dir. Jon Schnitzer)

An overview of haunts – pop-up Halloween haunted house attractions – and of those who create and act in them. A decent little crowdfunded doc that explores a horror subculture, offering insight into the needs of those who get involved, as well as some of the risks (relationship, psychological, financial, other).

Here’s the trailer.

American Murder: The Family Next Door (2020, dir. Jenny Popplewell)

An archive documentary time-lining the 2018 murder of Shannan, Celeste, and Bella Watts by Shannan’s husband Christopher, and the subsequent police investigation. Grim and compelling, and well-assembled from news coverage, social media posts, police and court interview videos, and from text conversations.

Here’s the trailer.

Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America (2016, dir. Matthew Ornstein)

A documentary portrait of US musician Daryl Davis, who has made it a personal mission to befriend and understand Klan members. An interesting biography on a personalised mission to undo the Klan. Both the strengths and flaws of Davis’s approach are explored in an even-handed manner; a fascinating case study.

Here’s the trailer.