Online documentaries, non-US-only, no politics?
June 29, 2010 8:56 AM   Subscribe

In bed, need some good documentaries that're available on-line. Not that interested in politics or nature. Must be viewable in Canada. Suggestions?

I'm in bed with bursitis (hips v. painful) for the nonce and I'm trying to find some decent distractions. Googling around is getting me lists of sites rather than specific recommendations, and I am having a hard time separating out the chaff, and keep running into "This video is not available in your country." Plus I am a bit drugged and my Google-fu/concentration is lousy right now. Please hope me

Eliminating politics and nature eliminates a wide swath. Stuff I've liked has involved interesting subcultures, social problems/issues. I have found the PBS "Frontline" series and enjoyed a number of those.

I have a <3yo -- helpful if you can tell me "NSFW" (NSFW stuff totally welcome; I'll just save it for naptime).
posted by kmennie to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Can you get Netflix streaming? I don't know how long it would take to set up the service, but it's the absolute best.
posted by Madamina at 8:59 AM on June 29, 2010

When he was in Montreal and we wanted to watch documentaries together, my boyfriend and I loaded up movies from here:

They have a lot of categories, and we found some really awesome things.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 9:02 AM on June 29, 2010

Signe Chanel is a documentary/series about the behind the scenes work leading up to a fashion show at the House of Chanel. It's fascinating because it's not just about the designer Lagerfield, but more about the seamstresses, shoemakers, lace weavers, etc. that actually construct the clothes. It's on YouTube in its entirety (which you can see in Canada, right?). Here's the link to the first part of the first episode.
posted by bluefly at 9:04 AM on June 29, 2010

Sign up at the NFB: " is a website where you can watch films produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Our mission is to make these films accessible to all Canadians."

They've placed over 700 full-length films, trailers and clips online, free for personal use (and on a subscription basis for schools and institutions.)
Our collection includes animation, documentaries, experimental films and alternative dramas. We showcase films that take a stand on issues of global importance that matter to Canadians – stories about the environment, human rights, international conflict, the arts and more. Works that push the boundaries, give a voice to the underrepresented, and build bridges between cultures.
Enjoy! :) And feel better!!!!
posted by zarq at 9:11 AM on June 29, 2010

Not documentaries, but TED lectures are fun, and usually about 20 minutes.
posted by annsunny at 9:14 AM on June 29, 2010

One more thing, can you see Vimeo in Canada? They have a documentary film channel that may interest you.
posted by bluefly at 9:15 AM on June 29, 2010

I'm in the UK, and I can access American PBS/NOVA documentaries that have been uploaded to youtube by their copyright holders (so they're not in 10-minute chunks). For example, The Great Robot Race.
posted by Mike1024 at 9:21 AM on June 29, 2010

sorry, I have no way of knowing what you will or will not be able to view in Canada, but here's a list of sites we use:
FactualTV (subject quality is very hit-and-miss)
big think
TopDocumentaryFilms (as mentioned above)
I suppose National Geographic is out for Canadians, but perhaps not.
posted by desjardins at 10:00 AM on June 29, 2010

No one knows about persian cats
posted by pyro979 at 10:03 AM on June 29, 2010

Adam Curtis of the BBC is a lot of fun - take his documentaries with a pinch of salt but he is a master of making documentaries about social and political history provocative, dramatic, exciting, inspiring, engaging and blow-your-mindy.

a lot of his films are available in full for free on the web:

My favourite is The Trap series which has 3 episodes

His most famous is probably The Power of Nightmares series (3 episodes)

Century of the Self (4 episodes) is also fun

I was disappointed by his recent experiment, It Felt Like A Kiss though.
posted by Bwithh at 10:08 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh I just saw your preference for no politics... give Adam Curtis a try anyway and marvel how he makes political-cultural history exciting documentary fare!

I mean just check out this favourite Adam Curtis sequence (2 mins) of mine!
posted by Bwithh at 10:16 AM on June 29, 2010

Seconding Century of the Self and adding Nigel Turner's fascinating The Men Who Killed Kennedy.
posted by zoomorphic at 10:19 AM on June 29, 2010

Welcome to the Hot Docs Doc Library, celebrating Canada's rich documentary filmmaking heritage.
posted by at the crossroads at 11:04 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

VBS.TV, a "network" whose content is provided by Vice, "airs" documentaries that tend to focus on the fringe of culture.

Their travel series, in particular, is fascinating.
posted by aflores at 11:38 AM on June 29, 2010

Anvil. The Story of Anvil. A must
posted by A189Nut at 12:31 PM on June 29, 2010

Ah. But not online. Sorry.
posted by A189Nut at 12:31 PM on June 29, 2010

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