Social & Culture Documentaries Streaming on Netflix Now

Watch Social & Cultural Docos

As a genre, social & cultural documentaries are a straight reflection of the people we are, and the society we live in. They’re a vast insight into everything we do, from what we eat and drink to how we interact with one another and even the religions we practice.

Netflix Australia has become a real flag-bearer for these topics, along with other great documentaries, over the past five years. From historical docuseries like Bobby Kennedy For President and The Testimony to titles on societal change like November 13 and First They Killed My Father, we get an open, journalistic insight into subjects that may otherwise have gone unnoticed. 

But that doesn’t mean that you should take everything presented in these documentaries as gospel. In fact, that’s the beauty of watching them. We’re able to be objective about the information being presented, either via alternative research or personal experiences, and come up with our own conclusions about the subjects we see. 

Social and Cultural docos can also come from a much more positive and creative place. Whether you fancy dabbling in a spot of yoga or reaping the benefits of meditation, well, there is a documentary about it. Want to understand the arts and learn about what makes great artists tick? There’s a doco for that too! There are even insightful social documentaries for kids on Netflix.  

So, whether you’re looking for a few ideas on how to heighten your well-being, learn about other cultures or the impact you are having on the environment, Netflix Social and Cultural documentaries are a great place to start. Here we have selected a few of our favourites available to stream on Netflix Australia right now.

1. FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened

It was only a matter of time before an extensive documentary is done about the greatest party that never happened, not to mention one of the greatest frauds every committed in this millennial-driven society. Regardless of the controversy surrounding the production of this doco — being co-produced by Jerry Media, the social media agency responsible for promoting and covering up the festival itself — Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened still garnered positive reviews on how it presents different layers on this mess and how it reveals the horrors of too much wealth and entitlement.

  • Running time: 97 mins
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Director: Chris Smith
  • Stars: N/A
  • IMDB: 7.2/10

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2. Somm

Wine lovers come together for this documentary that follows four candidates, who are attempting to pass the very difficult Master Sommelier examination. It starts off with taking a look at the personal lives of these candidates, as well as their varying motives for wanting to take and pass the test. As the date of examination nears, tensions are high and everyone is on edge as each of them take the extensive history, geography, and culture of wine to heart in hopes of making it.

  • Running time: 100 mins
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Director: Chris Smith
  • Stars: Ian Cauble, Brian McClintic, Dustin Wilson, DLynn Proctor
  • IMDB: 7.1/10

3. Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things

How might your life be better with less? This documentary explores the lives of minimalists from all walks of life — including entrepreneurs, artists, scientists, architects, and even families — and how living with less has led them to have more meaningful lives. This docu takes viewers on a more intimate look at radical minimalism, and how it can be more beneficial and less daunting than it seems.

  • Running time: 79 mins
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Director: Matt D’Avella
  • Stars: N/A
  • IMDB: 6.7/10

4. One of Us

One of Us chronicles the lives of three former members of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn, New York. Each one of these individuals details their struggles with being ostracized from their former families and community, while also revealing their own reasons for leaving in the first place. Not only do they retell their past lives, but they also recount their experience with religious doubt, as well as with both domestic and childhood sexual abuse.

  • Running time: 95 mins
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Directors: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady
  • Stars: Ari Hershkowitz, Luzer Twersky, Etty Ausch
  • IMDB: 7.1/10

5. Wild Wild Country

Wild Wild Country goes inside the controversial Rajneeshpuram community headed by Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho), as well as his one-time personal assistant Ma Anand Sheela. Located in Wasco County, Oregon, the community has been said to be involved in a number of crimes, including attempted murder, arson, wiretapping, and many more — all in the name of their radical beliefs and doctrines.

  • Details: 1 season
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Directors: Maclain Way, Chapman Way
  • Stars: Rajneesh, Ma Anand Sheela, Jane Stork
  • IMDB: 8.2/10

6. Chef’s Table

One of Netflix’s first original documentary series, Chef’s Table already now has six seasons of featuring renowned chefs from different parts of the globe. Each episode focuses on the life and career of a chef — highlighting their artistry, genius, and genuine passion for creating and cooking food. From Michelin-star chefs to those rallying behind the ethical use of nature into their foods, Chef’s Table is a treat for food-lovers and to those who simply love a good biographical story.

  • Details: 6 seasons, 30 episodes
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Directors: Brian McGinn, Clay Jeter, David Gelb, Andrew Fried, Abigail Fuller
  • Stars: N/A
  • IMDB: 8.5/10

7. Tales By Light

A joint venture between National Geographic and Canon, Tales By Light follows a number of professional photographers around the world and allows them to tell the full story behind the beautiful images they capture. Now on its third season, Tales By Light has continued to highlight the raw environment behind the camera — be it a life of poverty or the struggle to preserve and protect marine life and exotic tribes.

  • Details: 3 seasons, 12 episodes
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Creator: Abraham Joffe
  • Stars: Various
  • IMDB: 8.3/10

8. Christiane Amanpour Sex & Love Around the World

Hosted and reported by CNN’s award-winning journalist Christiane Amanpour, Sex & Love Around the World dives into how adults from six global cities celebrate love and accentuate sex in their own way, culture, and tradition. Christiane Amanpour also explores how roles for men and women in relationships are changing and evolving in relation to sex, love, marriage, family, and even divorce.

  • Details: 1 season, 6 episodes
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Director: N/A
  • Stars: Christiane Amanpour
  • IMDB: 7.4/10

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Telstra customers can add Netflix to their postpaid plans for ease and convenience. Netflix is constantly growing, so you’d probably need to devote entire weeks of your life to catch up on TV and Movie Library. Still, these 10 series are a great start. Acclaimed and addictive, they’ll keep you coming back from more. Get your binge on!

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