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From a real coming-of-age story about adorable guide dogs, to an intimate self-made chronicle of the lives of three skateboarders, this list of documentaries that can be streamed at home includes a variety of fascinating titles for both primary and secondary audiences.
Often placed as an alternative to the world of fiction film, documentaries are a diverse genre that can be both educational and hugely entertaining. This list of documentaries offers an array of themes to delve into - including climate change, growing up and epic quests - while also displaying the many cinematic forms this genre can take, from high-budget thrillers to more personal stories shot on handheld cameras.
Note: While most streaming platforms require a paid subscription or one-off rental fee, many offer a free trial that you can make use of. In addition, our recommendations will always include at least one title which is available on a free-to-watch platform.
Note:The information about films on streaming services is aimed at people at home only, and not for any film clubs running in schools. Licensing conditions do not permit the access of streaming platforms from a school setting. Into Film Club leaders should use our DVD service to order the films.
If you wish to find out the complete details of where any given title is available to watch or purchase, please visit FindAnyFilm.com.
There's nothing more adorable than puppies, and this uplifting documentary follows a group of Labradors from their birth through to their training as guide dogs for the blind or partially sighted. As the puppies grow, the film highlights the hard work that goes into preparing these special dogs for their future roles, as well as offering valuable information about disabilities and those working to increase accessibility for all.
Awareness of global warming and its impact on nature has increased each year, and this fascinating documentary offers insight into the lesser-discussed topic of coral bleaching. Due to rising temperatures, coral across the world has lost its vibrancy or, in some cases, has completely disappeared. A team of photographers, scientists and drivers set out on a mission to discover why, exposing the vast damage, as well as offering solutions that may inspire young people.
Documentary about the phenomenon of coral bleaching and its devastating impact around the world as a result of climate change.
Age group11+ years
This documentary short (17 mins) is filmed in Jordan, where 12-year-old Mohammed works every day shining shoes so he can take care of his family, who have moved there as refugees after the uprising in Syria. Mohammed's infectiously energetic spirit offers a hopeful look towards the future, yet reminds us of the struggle and violence he has witnessed, and the burden of responsibility he shoulders at such a young age.
Leonardo DiCaprio leads this exploration of climate change and global warming, making an impactful plea for greater, more urgent political action. Alongside interviews with high-profile figures such as President Obama, the documentary draws attention to disturbing visual evidence of what is happening to the planet. This is an accessible watch for a young audience enthusiastic about learning more on the current situation and offers tangible actions that can be taken.
This exploration of the richness of the history of the LGBTQ+ movement in the UK poses a question about where society is now. Spanning a spectrum of rare footage and interviews looking at key landmarks in the fights against homophobia and transphobia, the film also pays close attention to conversations around the racism faced by LGBTQ+ people of colour. This a great and accessible introduction to human rights and the many different forms activism can take, and why it is an integral part of changes in society.
Inspiring documentary featuring rare footage of LGBTQ+ led protests in the UK throughout the years.
Age group14+ years
Both an edge-of-your-seat thriller and an examination of human spirit, this inspirational documentary celebrates one of the most daring acts in the history of extreme sports. Alex Honnold is a free solo climber - someone that uses no ropes or safety gear - who dreams of conquering the 3,200ft high El Capitan rock in California, but whose quest faces complications after several injuries.
This harrowing and intimate documentary is pieced together with videos recorded by amateur filmmaker Bing Liu in his youth. Starting his filmmaking through capturing and editing videos of his skateboarding friends Keire and Zack, he begins to look closely at their changing lives. Candidly discussing tough topics such as domestic abuse, grief and race, the film offers space to discuss masculinity and the sometimes difficult process of becoming an adult.
Initially a profile of the privilege lives of the Siegels - property tycoon David and his wife Jackie and their eight children - the film spans how their decadent lifestyle is thrown into jeopardy by the financial crisis. Fascinating and humorous, the film chronicles the personal impact this has on the family, and how trophy wife Jackie, who grew up less than wealthy, adapts to the changes in their relationship.
As the BFI continues its Japan season with a new collection of five titles released on BFI Player, we take a look at the unique world of Japanese animation.
Reading time 9 mins
Congratulations to Georgina in Lincoln, for her creative, thoughtful and candid documentary about what it's like to be a young girl on the autism spectrum.
Viewing time 8 mins
We suggest Primary and Secondary films you can watch at home for International Friendship Day on July 30, including the streaming services you can find them on.
Reading time 5 mins
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