6 of the best documentaries to stream

Scenes from The Red Pill. (Photo supplied: Showmax)
Scenes from The Red Pill. (Photo supplied: Showmax)

Cape Town - These recently launched non-fiction series and movies on internet TV prove that, often, truth really is stranger than fiction. Stream them this weekend to open your eyes to realities you’ll never be able to unsee.

1. The Red Pill (Showmax)

True or false - the patriarchy dooms us all, men and women. Most feminists would say “true”, but that doesn’t mean that The Red Pill won’t be a tough one to swallow for some. Feminist filmmaker Cassie Jaye interviews participants in the Men’s Rights movement, gains a whole new perspective on gender equality, and ends up questioning her own beliefs. 

The Men’s Rights Activists featured in the film concede that women get paid less for equal work, but that men die earlier and are exposed to violence and danger that women aren’t - in other words, that the discrimination and disadvantage that men face needs to be acknowledged. Propaganda? Maybe. Controversial and worth seeing for yourself? Definitely.

2. Rock and a Hard Place (Showmax)

This HBO documentary was produced by everyone’s favourite Big Guy, Dwayne The Rock Johnson, who had his own run-ins with the law as a youngster. In the movie, he follows young criminal offenders in the States who are given a second chance - to trade in their long prison sentences for a six-month boot camp. 

It may seem like an easy way out, but the Miami-Dade County Corrections & Rehabilitation Programme is anything but, with drill sergeants pushing the youngsters to their limits. Does it work? The programme has only a 9% recidivism rate, as opposed to the prison recidivism rate of around 70%. Stream the doccie to see how it achieves those results for yourself.

3. Web of Lies (DStv Now)

Who’s behind that clean-cut profile photo of the stranger you’ve just started chatting to online? This series examines real-life cases of deception, manipulation and danger against the unwitting victims of predators, creeps and criminals who found them and pinned them down on the web. 

Hear from true-crime experts, officers of the law and psychologists who examine each case and give you tips on how to prevent becoming a victim yourself in each hour-long episode. Season 4 is currently streaming on DStv Now.

4. The Bleeding Edge (Netflix)

Did you know that implanted medical devices don’t always go through any kind of formal clinical testing in the States? When it comes to things like hip replacements and birth control implants, the only thing a manufacturer needs to do to have them approved by the FDA is prove that their device is similar to another device already on the market … even if that device is being recalled. 

In this film, you’ll meet five people whose health was seriously endangered by a medical device they’d had implanted - from an orthopedic doctor whose hip implant was leaking a metal sludge into his system that led to mental health issues, to the woman who used to be a spokesperson for a birth control device but who later realised that her health had declined after the implantation.

5. I Am a Killer (Netflix)

If you’re a true-crime junkie like us, you’ll quickly become hooked on this unsettling 10-part series on Netflix, which gives you a glimpse into the mind of 10 convicted death-row inmates awaiting execution across the United States. 

Hearing these killers talk about their crimes in their own words will chill you to the bone, not least because death-row inmates are usually forbidden from being interviewed by the media. It provides insight that so many other true-crime documentaries lack - the true motive for a murder as told by the person who committed the crime. 

6. Finding Oscar (Amazon Prime)

In 1982, during the three-decade long Guatemalan civil war, the village of Dos Erres was completely eradicated, with every man, woman and child executed and their bodies tossed into the village well. But then, years later, after the 1996 peace agreement, it was discovered that on that day in Dos Erres, two boys were taken away by the soldiers who destroyed the village. 

This tearjerker of a documentary follows the search for the boys that took investigators to Florida and Massachusetts, eventually finding the man called Oscar who survived the horrific massacre as a young boy. It’s not an easy watch, but does the vital job of highlighting the nightmare of the Central American country’s recent past and touches on American President Ronald Reagan’s role in the war that led to hundreds of thousands of deaths.