Documentaries not to miss in 2015

This week the brand new documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? Comes to Netflix and we’re excited to get an insight into the black power icon’s world and her life of brutal honesty, musical genius and tortured melancholy.

But this is isn’t the only documentary you shouldn’t miss in 2015, here we run through the ones you need to watch this year.

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Liz Garbus’ documentary had the honour of opening the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and this week it comes to Netflix.

Garbus is back in the director’s chair for her first feature film documentary since Love, Maryilyn back in 2012 and once again she’s focusing on another icon.

What Happened, Miss Simone? makes the case that Simone was not only one of the most talented musicians of the 20th century but one of the most troubled and unlucky.

The combination of interviews and never-before-seen archive footage shows how she was always felt she had been denied her true calling; how she never achieve the success that prettier, more biddable singers enjoyed; how she invested so much of herself in the civil rights movement that she was shattered when it faltered; how she suffered physical abuse from her husband and manager Andrew Stroud and inflicted it on her daughter Lisa; how her bipolar condition was only diagnosed in the 1980s, long after her volatility had inflicted irreparable damage.

She was an outcast, and not fitting in made her great, but it also made her angry and very lonely. This is a compelling documentary that is well worth a watch, whether you’re a Simone fan or not.

The Wolfpack

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, this extraordinary documentary takes you inside the strange compelling world of the six Angulo brothers, a band of New Yorkers who spend most of their lives locked up in their downtown apartment.

They are entirely reliant on movies to show them what the world is like, the siblings watch them constantly and pass the time recreating scenes from their favourite ones, even making costumes and sets.

The fact that Crystal Moselle even met the brothers is shocking – at one point, one of the older boys reveals that they only go outside one to nine times per year; one year, they didn’t go out at all.

The documentary is a unique look at one family’s world that’s hard to imagine living.

Amy

Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse
Featureflash / Shutterstock.com

The new documentary Amy, from Senna director Aif Kapadia, explores a side of Amy Winehouse that may even shock her most committed fans.

The film, out July 3, featured never-before-seen archival footage and interviews with her closest friends, ex-lovers, and collaborators. It illuminated the Grammy winner’s early struggles with depression and bulimia en route to her evolution as an artist.

The film premiered to ecstatic reviews in May at the Cannes Film Festival and thunderous applause erupted from the audience at the Edinburgh Film Festival, it’s bound to tug at the heart strings and cause plenty of controversy, especially as her father Mitch has already questioned the portrayal of his relationship with his daughter.

It’s been described as an unflinching insight into a psyche that’s deeply personal, heartbreakingly sad and punctuated with bursts of humour. The powerful piece of work is something we expect everyone will want to see this year.

The Hunting Ground

Kirby Dick returns to the director’s chair for the first time since the powerful The Invisible War, for The Hunting Ground, an expose of rape crimes on US college campuses, their institutional cover-ups and the devastating toll they take on students and their families.

Harrowing stories are told from students who have been assulated whilst on their college campus, one student related how she was told by university authorities that the written admission of guilt she had managed to obtain from her rapist was really just ‘proof that he loved me’.

It’s a gripping expose not just of the stories behind some terrifying statistics, but of the response – or lack thereof – from the institutions themselves once the assaults were reported. The evasion, delaying tactics, victim blaming, victim shaming and general sweeping-under-the-carpet employed by university authorities are grotesque and is sure to make your  blood boil.

While it may be a difficult watch, it’s a piece that needed to be made, if just to spur activism and more vocal support from those already alert to this rage-inducing phenomenon.

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