The common misconception regarding documentaries being boring and watched only by geeks is being debunked by Netflix. Documentaries not only shake us to the very core with lesser-known facts and trivia, but it also serves as a potential warning for impending disasters. While some are extremely inspiring (Rooting for Roona), others might make you squeamish and light-headed(Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer).
With the global pandemic refusing to leave us alone for the holidays, we decided to kick in the Yuletide spirit by going through Netflix’s release schedule. From the beginning of December, the streaming platform has been gracious and indulgent in adding new documentaries to its already marvellous documentary collection. Consistent in its production of quality content, Netflix has redefined the meaning of ‘Netflix and Chill’ which no longer includes hours of mindless binging and cuddling up to sappy romantic comedies; instead, couples enjoy watching documentaries that push them to the brink of insanity, feeding them the facts of the unknown.
To help you sort your holiday watching, we have provided a list which includes recent entrants like the mind-boggling Alien Worlds, the riveting Room 2806 as well as the intriguing The Ripper which is arriving soon.
Here are the new documentaries that will be gracing Netflix in December 2020.
New documentaries on Netflix in December 2020
The Holiday Movies That Made Us
A spin-off to the 2019 series The Toys That Made Us, the second season of this series was added to Netflix in December. It focuses on the making of two iconic Christmas films Jon Favreau’s Elf and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.
This documentary focuses on the making of these classics, the behind the scene clips as well as insider interviews. Fun and festive, it explores the impact such Christmas classics have had during the holiday season.
Alien Worlds (Sophie Okonedo)
Using brilliant CGI techniques and blurring the lines between fact and fiction, the series speculates the kind of alien life that exists beyond Earth, with rules and laws that are applicable here. It is almost a bizarre and alien prediction of their habitat, mating, hunting and other daily activities.
While people are conflicted over whether to call it a documentary or not, due to the presence of sci-fi elements, it is experimental and entertaining. From exoplanets to space colonisation, this documentary with just four episodes is thought-provoking.
Room 2806: The Accusation (Jalil Lespert)
This gripping docu-series chronicles the sexual assault case lodged in 2011 against the highly influential politician and the president of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was contesting for the French presidency. Having lost to Nicolas Sarzosky, Kahn alleged that it was a mudslinging campaign carried out deliberately Sarzosky and his team of associates.
Controversial and gruelling, this docu-series focuses on one of the most infamous high-profile cases in France.
Andre & his Olive Tree (Josiah Ng)
This documentary provides an intimate insight into the life of Taiwan’s first Michelin-starred-chef Andre Chiang, whose exquisite culinary skills and ‘Octaphilosophy’ amazed the world. However, he shut his restaurant in 2018 on Valentines Day shocking people as it would relinquish his stars.
Shot over two years, this documentary explores the culinary philosopher’s mastery, skills, technique, unique dreams as well as the relentless pursuit of taste and curiosity. Chiang has been quoted saying, “through this film, I hope viewers will see a side of me that is on an endless pursuit of returning to ‘the beginner’s mind’ – a concept referring to reset to the original state of satisfaction in one’s mind and explore the world once again with the innocent senses.”
Emicida: AmarElo- It’s All for Yesterday (Fred Ouro Preto)
This documentary explores the creative procedure and the in-between shoot scenes while recording the recent album AmarElo by the prolific rapper Emicida. It also provides an insight into his 2019 performance at Theatro Municipal de Sao Paulo.
A celebration of the rich and luxurious Black Brazilian legacy, it reflects on the last century of the black culture in Brazil.
The Surgeon’s Cut (Lucy Blakstad, Stephen Cooter, James Newton, Sophie Robinson)
An iconic collaboration of BBC and Netflix, this behind-the-scenes show provides an insight into the incredible life-saving work of the surgeons. The wonderful and awe-inspiring surgeries include difficult ones like an organ transplant, heart and brain surgeries as well as fetal surgery.
This show is not for the faint-hearted as it features detailed surgeries which might make some squeamish and nauseous. It is a moving account of how these saviours go on with their work as well as how that affects their relationships and personal life; as James Van der Pool said, “the series reveals a triumph of the human spirit, an endless quest for knowledge and a fierce devotion to saving human life.”
Giving Voice (James D. Stern, Fernando Villena)
Every year, thousands of high-school students who aspire to perform on the Broadway enter the prestigious August Wilson monologue competition where they perform recitations from the playwright’s work. This series focuses on the six ambitious and hopeful young students who hope to make it big.
Having won at the Sundance Film Festival, the film features famed artists such as Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Jack Viertel, Gerardo Navarro, Nia Sarfo, Freedom Martin, Cody Merridith, Callie Holley and Aaron Guy. It is an electrifying documentary, a wonderful ode to the theatre.
Anitta: Made in Honorio (Pedro Waddington)
This wonderful documentary provides a close look at the resplendent Brazilian pop icon Anitta’s professional and personal life. From the time she spends with her family to her business meeting, dress rehearsals, show backstage footage, her celebrated trips as well as some of her best shows, the six episodes build up Anitta’s character like never before.
Fans will realise what an exuberant and hard-working woman Anitta is. Her Aspen trip footage will show how great she is at skiing, besides being a popstar, businesswoman and an icon. It explores Anitta’s career and family life making her inspiring and human.
Break it All: The History of Rock in Latin America (Picky Talarico)
Including a period of 50 long years, this documentary will explore the history of the popular rock ‘n’ roll as well as the youth culture in Latin America via various interviews, musical hits, footage etc. It features bands like Soda Stereo, Cafe Tacvba, Aterciopelados and more while exploring why Latin America indulges in “loud and proud” rock music via “dictators, disaster, and dissent”.
The socio-political conflicts in Latin America changed the course of music. This ‘rockumentary’ is surely an audio-visual delight for music aficionados out there.
The Ripper (Richard Warlow)
Known as the modern-day ‘Jack the Ripper’, Peter Sutcliffe or the Yorkshire Ripper terrorised the United Kingdom with thirteen gruesome murders between 1975 and 1980. This Netflix documentary, that was announced right after Sutcliffe’s death last month at the age of 74, features interviews with former investigators and witnesses.
The documentary will portray the sexism of the era where his victims were referred to as sex workers as well as the killer’s similarity in technique with the victorian Jack the Ripper. Shocking and gripping, this documentary will appease viewers’ appetite for true-crime with actual footage and archival footage of the investigation.