Welcome to the 3rd installment of J-Bo’s documentary challenge! I challenged myself to watch 52 documentaries this year and I’m reviewing them (kinda- i’m getting lazier and lazier) as I go along. Check out my 1st Installment and my 2nd Installment. I have them linked to their Amazon pages though many are available free on Netflix. Here are the ten documentaries I watched over the summer, in order from my favorite to my least favorite. Most of these were pretty good, so I found it difficult to rank them (except the last two). I choose a lot of my documentaries based on recommendations, so please leave some for me in your comments!

Spellbound

Spellbound

Follows eight kids as they compete in the 1999 Scripps National Spelling Bee. I was so invested in each of their stories that I spent several hours after I watched it researching where they are now.

Jesus Camp

Jesus Camp

Follows kids at Jesus camp being brainwashed indoctrinated into the fundamentalist Christian movement. Super creepy.

Talhotblond

Talhotblond

I was SO into this documentary! Super captivating. Like an episode of Catfish, but much darker: An online love triangle that leaves one person dead and another in prison. The only thing that bothered me about this documentary is that it was told through the “voice” and “perspective” of the person who died- really, really tacky.

The World Before Her

The World Before Her

Really interesting look at the lives and expectations of women in India. The documentary tells the stories of the very westernized Miss India pageant contestants, contrasted against the stories of girls being trained at a fundamentalist Hindu camp to violently resist westernization.

Under the Electric Sky

Under the Electric Sky

Takes you inside North America’s largest music festival, The Electric Daisy Carnival. Watching this documentary is the closest you will come to feeling like you are at a rave without having to actually be at a rave.

49 up

49 Up

The Up documentary series started following fourteen British children in 1964 and has put out a new documentary every seven years since catching you up on their lives. I think this is a cool concept, especially to the audience who has gotten to follow them throughout their lives/grow up with them. At the time I watched this I thought 49 Up was the most recent and didn’t realize there was a 56 Up– otherwise I would have watched that one instead. Don’t worry about jumping right in without having seen the previous ones, because each installment gives you a recap on everybody. (At least this one did- I assume the others do as well.)

Dark Girls

Dark Girls

Explores the prejudices that dark-skinned girls face compared to lighter-skinned girls, even and especially within their own race. I’m glad I watched this–I did not realize that this was a thing so afterwards I felt like an ignoramus.

One Week Job

One Week Job

A college graduate who can’t decide what to do with his life decides to work a different job each week, every week for a year. I’m not entirely sure what he or I learned from this experiment, but I still found it fun to watch. Mostly because I liked his dreadlocks.

Exit Through Gift Shop

Exit Through the Gift Shop

I know this is a highly acclaimed documentary, but it doesn’t stand out as having been particularly interesting or memorable to me. Story of an eccentric artist being eccentric and arrogant.

Summer of Family Love

Summer of (Family) Love

A family lives in their van for a summer and interviews other people with non-traditional housing to explore the concept of “home.” Overall I found this to be boring and much too long. The most interesting part was the segment on the tiny house movement, which is presented in a much more engaging way in the documentary called Tiny, which is on my list to review next time.

Leave your recommendations below!