Audrie & Daisy
AfterImage Public Media in association with Actual Films (Netflix)
Filmmakers Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk present a heartbreaking and timely tale of how social media shaming enacts a secondary and sometimes even more impactful traumatization of teen rape victims.
The New York Times Op-Docs (NYTimes.com)
Desperate journeys undertaken by refugees risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean and find safe haven in Europe is well-documented. Daphne Matziaraki’s short film differs in its point-of-view and raw imagery of one Greek boat captain thrust into the breach.
Frontline: Confronting ISIS
Veteran correspondent Martin Smith’s deliberate reporting provides context to America’s ongoing war against Islamist extremists in this essential primer on the origins and timeline of the conflict. “Confronting ISIS” clearly articulates the political complexities behind the rise of the terrorist group, their strategies in recruitment and tactics, and America’s diplomatic missteps and heightened challenges.
An intimate take on the refugee and migrant crisis distinguished by its specificity of the people it follows. James Bluemel eschews the need to render his subjects pathetic, instead showing their humanity and their attempts to keep this humanity in the face of their journey.
Banger Films (Netflix, HBO Canada)
An entertaining, consummate history of hip-hop music told in a series of interviews with influential MCs, DJs, and moguls who were there at the beginning of the genre’s birth and through its dynamic evolution.
Independent Lens: Trapped
Trilogy Films LLC, Bigmouth Productions, Cedar Creek Productions and the Independent Television Service (ITVS) (PBS)
A timely report that examines the motivation and politics surrounding “TRAP” laws, specifically designed to restrict access to abortion. Director Dawn Porter goes behind-the-scenes to follow the people working on a daily basis to keep clinics open under challenging circumstances.
Film First and HBO Documentary Films (HBO)
More than just a biopic, this story celebrates the deep influence of Mavis Staples and the Staple Singers across music genres—from gospel to soul and rock-and-roll. Mavis! illustrates the history of social movements in America and is a powerful reminder of one woman’s impact on popular culture.
O.J.: Made in America
ESPN Films and Laylow Films (ESPN)
Ezra Edelman takes a story we all think we know—the rise and fall of Orenthal James Simpson—and adds successive layers of context and depth until ultimately it becomes a masterful examination of American culture, race, celebrity, masculinity, and criminality.
POV: Hooligan Sparrow
POV | American Documentary (PBS)
First-time filmmaker Nanfu Wang takes personal risks to follow the story of Ye Haiyan, aka “Hooligan Sparrow,” and a small group of women’s rights activists protesting the state of sexual assault crises in schools in China.
Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four
Deborah S. Esquenazi Productions, LLC (Investigation Discovery)
A modern tale of colonial-style persecution follows four Latina lesbians wrongfully accused of sexual assault in the mid-1990s. Picking up a decade after conviction, the film chronicles their struggles as homosexual women of color in their conservative Texas community and their battle for eventual exoneration.
Forward Movement LLC and Kandoo Films (Netflix)
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay deconstructs the criminalization of African-Americans—from racial slavery to convict leasing systems, from Jim Crow terror to mass incarceration—as a means of exercising social control of black populations.
Magnolia Pictures and Participant Media, in association with Showtime Documentary Films, Global Produce/Jigsaw Productions (Showtime)
Alex Gibney sheds light on the dark world of cyber warfare and its threat to global peace in this suspenseful story mapping how cybersecurity experts discovered the computer worm known as Stuxnet. The documentary is a call-to-action for countries and citizens to address the issue of cyberattacks and to start public discourse on what could happen if, and when, diplomacy fails.