Documentaries are meant to shed light on issues we don’t want to confront or have never bothered to think about. We all have a particular niche we cling to, from serial killers’ mysterious backgrounds to the driving forces behind poverty in developing countries. A good documentary should punch you in the stomach and provoke anger, sadness, and worry, but when do they leave you with a feel-good sensation?
Exposing the world’s biggest catastrophes and goriest crimes spark in people anything but joy. But now, there’s a new wave of documentary directors choosing a different approach to storytelling, by sharing heartwarming stories that inspire you to take action and see the beauty that still thrives in this sometimes shitty world.
Dir. Roko Belic
Speaking of heartfelt documentaries that spark positive reactions in its viewers, let’s start with the one that explores happiness. This doc starts by showing us the smiles of people as they go about doing their everyday activities and enjoying the little things that make them happy. Belic takes us to the farthest and most remote corners of the globe, where we see how happiness is redefined and experienced over and over. The documentary also questions how the western world focuses so much on measuring depression and not focus on positive emotions and states of being. A documentary that will bring you a smile to your face and make you question what brings it on in the first place.
Daughters of Destiny (2017)
Dir. Vanessa Roth
This is the perfect example of how to approach a problematic issue from a positive perspective, which at the same time, motivates others to see what they are doing with what they’ve received in life. The documentary tells the story of the Shanti Bhavan school located in one of the poorest regions of India that offers education to only one member per household of the most impoverished families. The documentary, exposes the need for a comprehensive education in India, while telling the story of five smart girls who have overcome all obstacles by not letting their family’s fate, determine their future.
Footprints, the Path of Your Life (2016)
Dir. Juan Manuel Cotelo
How many times have you asked yourself what purpose you have in life? Sometimes we need a little push to see where we’re going and if the path we’ve chosen is a fulfilling one. This documentary follows ten men in their journey across the famous “Camino” pilgrimage that starts in Santiago de Compostela, Spain and ends in Southern France. It is a 500 mile walk that can take up to 30 days to complete. The believers, led by a Roman Catholic priest, cross rocky hills, beaches, and urban streets to reach the shrine of Apostle St. James the Great.
Minimalism: A Documentary About Important Things (2015)
Dir. Matt D’Avella
Speaking of happiness, what is it that makes us happy? A new car, jewelry, or just about anything money can buy? In this doc, we are taught that the most important things in life aren’t really material things. D’Avella delves into the conspicuous consumption habits we now have and tracks it back to the ideals behind the American Dream. Capitalism has driven us to consume and has taught us that material wealth is the source of happiness, when it’s in fact the opposite. A great lesson the documentary shares is through the stories of people who’ve decided to embrace a minimalist lifestyle, which allows them to lead a happier life. Definitely, a documentary worthy of your time.
Dir. Hrund Gunnsteinsdottir and Kristín Ólafsdóttir
“Innsaei” is an Icelandic concept that inspires humans to use other means to connect with nature through emotions and intuition. In this documentary, spiritualists, scientists, and thinkers explain the way we use our brain to tackle everyday problems and situations. According to the documentary, we spend so much of our time consuming chunks of needless information that we end up leaving behind our intuition, which we used to rely on to perform different and basic tasks.
Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru (2016)
Dir. Joe Berlinger
We often look up to someone’s life trying to unveil the secret to a happy life. These people are, sometimes, kind enough to provide us with a piece of advice. In this documentary, the lens of the camera is focused on Tony Robbins, a life coach who has a pretty solid fan base audience everywhere he goes. Robbins helps people with depression, and other mental health issues and he begins by reminding them how special they are. This film is a great way to lift up one’s spirits and a great reminder that there’s always a greater purpose for us out there.
Living on One Dollar (2013)
Dir. Chris Temple, Zach Ingrasci, and Sean Leonard
It is estimated that 1.1 billion of people in the world live on $1 USD a day. This drove four friends from a privileged position to leave everything behind, even their comfortable life, and experience for themselves what it would be like to live on a one-dollar budget a day. The friends move to Guatemala and they face head on the difficulties of a impoverished community. It is a challenge to watch and while heartbreaking at times, you discover the resilient power many people have coursing through their veins.
As you might have noticed, these documentaries were produced quite recently and they’re the perfect conduit for you to learn and discover your true happiness. Inspiration is sometimes difficult to grasp and it is incredibly elusive, but once you pick out that one element that makes you shine, the world is yours.
Don’t forget about checking out these other great movie articles:
6 Thought-Provoking Documentaries You Can Watch On Netflix Today
10 Disturbing Documentaries That Explore The Darkest Corners Of Humanity
4 Great Movies From Places You’ve Probably Never Heard Of