10 most revealing celebrity documentaries

Michael Jackson. (Getty Images)
Michael Jackson. (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Think you really know your favourite actor/athlete/singer/writer? These documentaries on Showmax, Netflix and DStv Now may just prove you wrong.

1. I Am Bolt (Showmax)

The phenomenal journey of one of the world’s greatest sprinters ever is one you don't want to miss. Bolt won the 100m, 200m and 4×100m relay at three consecutive Olympic Games. As well as being a remarkable athlete, Bolt just seems like such a nice guy. He’s honest about what it takes to become number one, the personal sacrifices that are required and how hard it is at times to keep on going.

2. Ronaldo (Showmax)

This fascinating film looks into the Real Madrid star’s life away from the field. Mansions, cars, jewellery – you name it and he can buy it. But instead, Ronaldo would rather be at home swimming with his dog and son Cristiano Jr. 

3. Katy Perry: Part of Me (Showmax)

As she starts her California Dreams tour, join pop star Katy Perry as she gives viewers a glimpse into her career, her private life and childhood in this documentary that’s as fun, uplifting, inspiring and high-energy as Katy herself.

4. Michael Jackson: Life of an Icon (Showmax)

This powerful documentary reveals fresh insights into the King of Pop’s life and his journey from the Jackson 5 to global superstar. Featuring interviews with family, friends and exclusive and often heartbreaking footage. 

5. Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight (Showmax)

When Muhammad Ali refused to join the draft for the Vietnam War, he stepped into the ring with his biggest opponent ever: the United States government. This HBO movie is coming to Showmax only for the month of December, along with 14 other HBO documentaries, comedies, action movies and dramas. I Am Ali, the documentary about the greatest fighter who ever lived that includes extracts from Ali’s own audio journals, is also on Showmax.

6. Hartstog (Showmax)

Exactly 50 years after the world’s first heart transplant was performed right here in SA by Dr Christiaan Barnard and his team, the docudrama Hartstog, about the events surrounding the groundbreaking procedure, comes to kykNET and Showmax, for subscribers at home and abroad. Catch it on kykNET on Sunday night, 3 December, and on Showmax from Monday, 4 December.

7. Gaga: Five Foot Two (Netflix)

She may be known for her outrageous outfits and inimitable voice, but there’s a lot more to Lady Gaga than the image she projects, as you’ll discover in this intriguing behind-the-scenes look at a year in the singer-songwriter’s life. The documentary focuses on the release of her fifth studio album Joanne, and her lauded performance at the Superbowl this year, giving us a glimpse into the struggles that a star as famous as Gaga copes with on a daily basis.

8. Joan Didion: The Centre Will Not Hold (Netflix)

This almost uncomfortably intimate biopic invites you into the mind of one of the world’s most recognisable literary icons, as she tells the story of her life, and shares her secrets to surviving both unbelievable tragedy and incredible success.

9. Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (Netflix)

What is the meaning of identity? What does it mean to be a famous funnyman? Is it ever possible to truly embody the spirit of another person? These are all questions that Jim Carrey explores as he narrates the story of his Golden Globe-winning performance as the late Andy Kaufman in the 1999 biopic Man on the Moon. Throughout the film’s production, Carrey refused to break character, and practically became the late, great Andy Kaufman, with even Kaufman’s surviving family members called him “Andy”. Carrey’s one regret about the making of the movie? That he refused to be in the REM music video for Great Beyond, which was on the film’s soundtrack.

10. The Hip Hop Effect (DStv Now)

This docuseries from Where Is The Beef Media in Soweto charts the effect of hip hop on South Africa, from its start on the streets to its current status as a true cultural phenomenon. You’ll hear first-hand accounts from the South Africans who shaped the hip hop scene in SA from the very beginning, and hear from the stars who had their first taste of success from being featured on this series. (If you’re into hip hop, also check out the Cassper Nyovest documentary Behind the Story on Showmax - he’s hoping to Fill Up the FNB Stadium this weekend, and the doccie gives some great background info on his rise to fame.)

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