Documentaries needed via YouTube
September 15, 2020 10:53 AM   Subscribe

I've seen quite a few over the years, but are there any A-class documentaries on Ytb as there are movies? Like, you have to pay for a movie these days on YouTube, and I would gladly also pay for a good documentary film. But I can't say I see many available there. Another site would be fine, I just don't know where to go. I see lotsa less professional fare there, and have viewed many. I think I'm caught up on Netflix, Hulu, etc., too. Most PBS doesn't interest me. Maybe a specialty channel somewhere? But YouTube is convenient...
posted by noelpratt2nd to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
If you are in the US and have a library card with a participating library (you can get one online in most places these days), you can subscribe to Kanopy and watch 5 movies a month for free. They have lots of documentaries along with classic and indie films.
posted by muddgirl at 11:01 AM on September 15, 2020 [5 favorites]

Also if you're not in the US you can probably still sign up for Kanopy, I just don't know what the rules are.
posted by muddgirl at 11:02 AM on September 15, 2020

Hmm. I would say that rather than searching via platform, maybe find a list of documentaries and try to find them via whichever streaming service you can get.

A few years back I found a list created by the erstwhile network "Current TV", counting down "The 50 Documentaries You Must See Before You Die". They turned it into a countdown show hosted by Morgan Spurlock, complete with commentary and some clips from each one, and I was intrigued enough to write down that list. The films where all fairly recent enough (within the past 25 years) that you should be able to find them on most streaming platforms.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:06 AM on September 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

I came to say Kanopy! My library's subscription is a bit more generous than muddgirl's (I think I get 10/month?) but, regardless, some of the materials on Kanopy are gratis and don't count against your monthly count (i.e. a lot of those "great courses" are on that gratis list).
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 11:07 AM on September 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

FWIW, Cosmos is on YouTube, and so are the Connections series.
posted by aramaic at 11:08 AM on September 15, 2020

Vimeo has a lot of documentaries. I've seen some "A-class" ones (ones that I'd read about elsewhere, or that were showing in film festivals), but it was a while ago and I don't remember any names specifically. Still, here are some links and lists.
posted by trig at 11:21 AM on September 15, 2020

Critereon's streaming service has a bunch of documentaries.
posted by Candleman at 11:37 AM on September 15, 2020

Maybe Curiosity Stream? They keep targeting ads at me, I've never tried it. But they seem to be trying to be a netflix-of-documentaries.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:58 AM on September 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

Also recommending Kanopy. I’m a big fan of documentaries and I’ve watched a ton of them via Kanopy with my library card.
posted by bookmammal at 12:01 PM on September 15, 2020

Too bad, my library doesn't do Kanopy.
posted by noelpratt2nd at 12:02 PM on September 15, 2020 has great documentaries for free. I don't know accessible it is outside of Europe.
posted by vacapinta at 12:17 PM on September 15, 2020

If you're looking for an actual documentary recommendation, Free to Play is a pretty compelling documentary on players trying to make it big in e-sports (Dota 2, specifically). This was also before e-sports was as big as it is now, so it's an interesting perspective in that respect also.

Another good one is Beijing Punk , about the underground music scene in China.
posted by thebots at 2:24 PM on September 15, 2020

There are a lot of documentaries available in full on YouTube. Before I dump a list of possibly irrelevant links, are you looking for any topics in particular?
posted by Lexica at 2:36 PM on September 15, 2020

An oldy but still quite goody: openculture, which has thousands of films of all types available free online, in addition to lecture, language courses, recordings...
posted by winesong at 2:56 PM on September 15, 2020

I've looked at some of the sites here and so far they all seem to be sorta highbrow, foreign, or PBS types. Looking form things as escapist yet compelling as Making of a Murderer, I suppose. Or dinosaurs and such.
posted by noelpratt2nd at 3:05 PM on September 15, 2020

Okay, let's shift a bit -

What are some documentaries you have liked, that make you think "more like this, please"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:43 PM on September 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

things as escapist yet compelling as Making of a Murderer, I suppose. Or dinosaurs and such.

Okay, this is a lot of guessing and inferring, but I did just find this documentary yesterday, which might be along the lines of what you're looking for, and it looks like the channel has loads more such videos. When I watched it, I thought to myself, "This is a little fascinating. But still so easy to watch!"
posted by nosila at 5:50 PM on September 15, 2020

Ooh, then there's Modern History TV, which is a weird name for a channel run by an independently wealthy tech dude who decided to try to understand what it was really like to be a knight.
posted by nosila at 5:56 PM on September 15, 2020

I think Open Culture looks to be the most my speed of these. Guess I've already seen all the serial killers I can take unless it's something award-winning like a couple of the OJ docs. I like mystery.
posted by noelpratt2nd at 9:39 PM on September 15, 2020

r/Documentaries on Reddit links to documentaries on Youtube all the time. If you have Amazon Prime, you can add extra channels like Doc Club and evidently still Fandor.
posted by Wobbuffet at 10:26 PM on September 15, 2020

As to Curiosity Stream, which someone else suggested, it might be possible you can get it for free. Select titles are free, there is a one week trial, but also Suddenlink and possibly other internet providers provide free access to the full service. It's not my favorite service, but it's hard to do better than free.
posted by Meldanthral at 7:23 AM on September 16, 2020

I don't know what your appetite is for lefty politics, but Adam Curtis's masterful Hypernormalisation is on Vimeo.
posted by zeusianfog at 2:18 PM on September 16, 2020

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