There’s currently a growing demand for factual content in Australia. Now more than ever, viewers are drawn to history, world events, and true crime documentaries. The good thing is that there are so many streaming apps in the country that cater to this need. Foxtel and Foxtel Now alone offer compelling titles that are available via its newly launched channel, FOX Docos.
Documentary-dedicated streaming apps like iwonder and DocPlay also have a deep catalogue of content that’s bound to make the heart of any true documentary fan flutter. With so many options to choose from, it could take a while before you could take your pick. After all, you want to make sure you only watch what’s good. To make it easier for you, we’ve rounded up some of the best documentaries you can stream or watch in Australia right now.
Best Documentaries 2021
TV streaming has paved the way for all types of content to reach a wider audience. Non-fiction titles, which are usually presented by using talking heads, archival footage, visual aids, interviews, and recordings now reel in viewers and awaken their interest and curiosity more than it did before. That’s why streaming services like iwonder, DocPlay, Curiosity Stream, and Docsville, all of which primarily offer docos, only contributed to documentary filmmaking getting more recognition.
In Australia, documentary streaming is also offered by major apps like Netflix, Stan, BINGE, Amazon Prime, Foxtel Now, and Disney Plus. The best part is that most of these platforms offer free trials, giving you access to free documentaries within your trial period. When it comes to the best documentaries, 2021 has given us an excellent selection of titles from around the world.
Check out some of the best docos you can instantly watch or stream in Australia and the streaming services that offer them.
Searchable Australian Streaming TV Library
The Earthshot Prize: Repairing the Earth
The Earthshot Prize: Repairing the Earth features Prince William, David Attenborough, and the rest of the Earthshot Prize Council as they discuss the challenges that the planet faces during these critical times. The documentary series also showcases the 15 Prize finalists and their innovative solutions to help repair our environment.
The Last Dance
The Last Dance centres on Michael Jordan and his basketball career. Regarded as one of the best documentaries on Netflix, it particularly highlights his last season with the Chicago Bulls. It makes for an exhilarating watch for all sport fans out there as it uses exclusive never-before seen footage from the 1997-1998 Bulls season, as well as intimate interviews with several iconic NBA figures, which include Jordan himself, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr, and Phil Jackson.
Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union
The three-part docuseries explores former president Barack Obama’s personal life, from his early upbringing in his hometown of Chicago, where he was raised by his single mother, to the challenges he faced on his journey of becoming the 44th President of the United States.
My Octopus Teacher
The award-winning Netflix Original documentary film follows filmmaker Craig Foster free-diving somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. Documenting his experiences, an octopus captures his attention. Over time, he forges a relationship with the marine animal as he follows her around for nearly a year. My Octopus Teacher was widely acclaimed upon its release, winning the Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards. It also won the Best Documentary award at the British Academy Film Awards.
Searching for Sugar Man
Though Sixto Rodriguez didn’t make it big in the US as a musician, he became an icon in South Africa until he was rumoured to have died. Two fans from Cape Town embarked on a quest to uncover the truth and find out what really happened to him. Ideal for essential viewing, Searching for Sugar Man is bound to enthrall your senses.
American Murder: The Family Next Door
American Murder: The Family Next Door tells the story of the Watts family murders which took place in 2018. The events in this doco are chronicled by using archival footage, which includes posts on social media, police recordings, texts messages, and home videos. American Murder: The Family Next Door is more than a true crime story, examining marriage, domestic abuse, and the fake lives that people lead on social media.
Untouchable is about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and the sexual harassment allegations involving him. It features interviews with women who exposed him, including Rosanna Arquette, Paz de la Huerta, and Erika Rosenbaum, to name a few.
High Score features the origin story of video games, showcasing interviews with gaming visionaries behind the development of video games in the 1980s and 1990s. High Score is definitely a must-see for every gaming fan out there.
Central Park Five
Five African Americans and Latino teenagers were arrested and convicted for the violent assault and rape of a white woman in New York City’s Central Park. The documentary series covers their arrests, interrogations, trials, and convictions. After spending between six and thirteen years in prison, a serial killer confessed to committing the gruesome crime.
Pretend It’s a City
The Netflix documentary documentary series is directed by legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese and features conversations between him and humorist Fran Lebowitz. Together, they talk about life in New York City, the arts, pop culture, and everything in between.
No Home Movie
No Home Movie follows filmmaker Chantal Akerman and her conversations with her mother, a Holocaust survivor, just months before she passed away.
Little Pyongyang follows former North Korean soldier Joong-wha Choi. Reflecting on his decision to leave his country, he shares his current life with his wife and children as a refugee in Europe. The short documentary makes for an engrossing viewing as his struggles to settle into London and integrate himself and his family into British culture are examined.
How to stream free documentaries in Australia
Many on-demand documentary streaming services in Australia offer free trials to new customers. Both iwonder and DocPlay have a 14-day trial you can take advantage of to access their impressive library of docos and shows. DocPlay even provides non-members access to their catalogue so you can search if it has what you’re looking for. Foxtel‘s FOX Docos is another source of documentaries you can stream or watch. You can access the new channel for free via Foxtel Now’s 10-day free trial.
Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Stan also showcase originals that include docos, with Amazon and Stan offering 30 days of free access. For sports-related docos, Kayo Sports has a selection of titles like 10 Years On, Great Women Stars, and 30 For 30, which you can watch with a 14-day free trial. BINGE, meanwhile, mainly offers TV shows and movies but there’s a range of docos available on the platform too, including Catch and Kill: The Podcast Tapes, Exterminate All the Brutes, and many others.
Last audited 14th of October 2021