Three documentaries you need to watch.

When we attended the Australian International Documentary Conference in February, the hot word(s) of the moment were, IMPACT PRODUCING. When that term is thrown around they mean, producing content that creates an impact in the world that we live. Our researcher, Ornella Mutoni, reviewed three impact documentaries that you have to watch to understand what a difference documentary came make.


Human, the only documentary to premier at the UN’s General Assembly Hall, is a simple but large scale beautiful piece of storytelling that was subtitled in several languages and available on YouTube, making it one of the most accessible social impact documentaries to reach audiences worldwide.

Film maker Yann Arthus-Bertrand really did good with this one, no thanks to an unfortunate helicopter break down in Mali and meeting locals from a village there who helped him, making him realise he had never been confronted with another person’s life and experience in this way. The result of this incident led him to impact millions. Through the documentary’s simple single-frame interviews and epic aerial shots of beautiful untouched places around the world, that teaches of humans capacity to love, forgive and perseverance through personal stories from people of all walks of life. Arthus-Bertrand consciously chooses not to disclose the background or location of each contributor making it a really beautiful educational piece of art showing our similarities as humans.

To add to it all, Yann Arthus-Bernand provided the documentary to schools for free and NGO’s by giving the rights to GoodPlanet Foundation, who aim to inspire people to protect the earth and its inhabitants. Making Human maybe one of the most beautiful educational doco’s of the joys and struggles and commonality of human experience for people to be inspired by worldwide.

Period. End of Sentence.

How many documentaries have you watched solely about periods? None? Us neither. This doco is not only powerful in speaking about a worldwide taboo but it also helps show just how much more of a taboo it is in some places, specifically looking at India and the action we can do to help the cause. It’s a wake up call to speak about periods more openly, to help break this weird silence around what happens to almost half of this planet's population. Oh and a film about menstruation went and bloody won an Oscar – impact documentaries can go a long way.

What is more incredible is that it is a high school teacher and her students who co-produced this film, whilst forming the Pad Project and teaming up with NGO Action India to do something about the lack of access women have to purchase sanitary products over there. Not only did they crowdfund the documentary themselves, they also raised enough money to purchase a pad machine that helps create a market for women to be employed in making and selling sanitary pads and benefit from the economy of their own period.

There’s a lot of talk right now about ending period tax, helping poor women and girls have free sanitary products around the world and generally ending the taboo around talking about periods. This documentary came out at an important time and we think it has already changed the conversation around periods. Let’s hope it has also got us a step closer to ending period poverty!

The Skin Deep

The Skin Deep deserved its 1st prize position for Digital Storytelling at the World Press Photo’s Awards in 2015 and still today it continues to have an impact on couples relationships. The interactive doco and now card game, shows the beautiful and dynamic complications in all types of human relationships, between mother and son, ex-convict and wife, transwoman and partner, to name a few. They excel in being able to showcase a truly diverse range of people and relationships that are often underrepresented in film with their significant others, that like Human, has an impact in opening up people's minds in the similarities humans share in the struggles and joy of human relationships. Having started in multicultural New York City, the Skin Deep team also equipped filmmakers around the world with their goal, giving platform to relationship stories from South Africa to Canada. The Skin Deep, also available on YouTube and partly crowdfunded by its viewers, teaches it’s audience to have empathy for people from all walks of life and have the ever so simple impact to have frank conversations and remind people to tell their loved ones what they mean to them (cringe, but true).

Jac Tonks