Monday, April 11, 2011

Confession: I'm A Documentary-a-Holic.

That's a thing, right?

The first documentary I remember watching was Super Size Me as a sophomore in college. I absolutely loved it and watched it several more times (Partly because I found it fascinating and partly to talk myself out of McDonald’s French fry cravings). I had never seen anything like it – equal parts entertaining and informative.

I was hooked on the non-fiction genre: films, books, and podcasts. I could learn  and gain new perspectives while hearing stories. Gain new perspectives while listening to individuals debate about health care reform or Planned Parenthood funding. Learn while reading about someone’s adventures in local eating. I. Love. It. (I'm well-aware this might make me a total dork, but I've embraced it.)

Since I’m always on the lookout for good documentaries, books, and podcasts, I wanted to share some documentaries that I’ve watched and enjoyed lately:

A super-popular film about food that I’m sure many of you have watched. There’s a good reason it’s so popular, though. It’s a fascinating (sometimes even damning) look at the food industry. Its tagline, “You’ll never look at dinner the same way” is accurate. Since food choices are deeply personal, this documentary is a great, albeit challenging, one.

Do you drink bottled water? Want to learn some ridiculous facts about bottled water? How few plastic water bottles are actually recycled? How bottled water is less regulated than tap water? Watch this movie. Even if you’re a tap water aficionado, you’ll learn something from this. Or at least be motivated to speak out about issues of water and ponder whether drinking water is a right or a commodity to be purchased.

A beautiful, refreshing film about an endearing 94-year-old woman who inspired me in ways I can’t even explain. She walked across America at the age of 90 to raise awareness about the influence of big money in campaigning and politics. Then she entered the political arena for the first time by running for the U.S. Senate at the age of 94. She is a feisty, remarkable woman. A 94-year-old activist: you’re never too old to stand up for what you believe in.

Sigh. I cannot say enough about how excellent this film is. It follows the story of Cory Booker as he runs for mayor of Newark, New Jersey. He is straight-laced, Oxford-Harvard-Stanford-educated vegetarian good guy who runs against a longtime mayor who’s arguably corrupt - pitting police, businesses, and all resources against Cory. It’s an inspiring, frustrating, and captivating film.

A food film that takes a look at how corn, a heavily subsidized crop, permeates almost every food we eat in America. Two rather entertaining guys plant an acre of corn in Iowa, then follow the corn as it is processed. It’s ridiculously funny and quite eye opening.

Another popular documentary, this film will probably make you a little bit mad (both in the 'angry' and 'crazy' sense). It’s about the bank bailouts, the economic fallout, and the people who got us there. It wasn’t my favorite, but it was very interesting (and maddening-slash-saddening), and won plenty of accolades, so you should probably check it out.

Let’s swap. Any documentary recommendations for me?
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