Posted on February 20, 2018

Back by popular demand (maybe not popular, but thanks to the one festival fan who requested it!), is this year's mid-winter Netflix Documentary playlist by Calgary Film Documentary Programmer Alex Rogalski.  This should see you through the last bout of winter and get you prepped for your Oscar pool - at least in one category.


There was a time when the documentary nominees for the Oscars was a total gamble for anyone wanting to predict the winner. Thanks to Netflix, 3 of this year's 5 nominees are available to stream at your convenience. (Extra points if you can name the other 2 nominees without googling it).

ICARUS - If you have questions about why the Russian athletes weren't competing under their flag in Korea during the Winter Olympics, ICARUS might have a few answers. Investigating doping in amateur cycling leads director Bryan Fogel to one of the most outspoken scientists who was involved with the state-run Russian doping program. (If this gets you hooked - follow it up with THE ARMSTRONG LIE, a previous selection of our Doc Soup Series).

LAST MAN IN ALEPPO - The first Syrian produced and directed film nominated for an Oscar and winner of Grand Prize Jury at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, LAST MAN IN ALEPPO focuses on the heart-wrenching search-and-rescue missions of the internationally recognized White Helmets. What makes the film even more harrowing is that this tragedy continues to this day. 

STRONG ISLAND - More than a decade in the making, African-American director Yance Ford examines the murder of his brother in Long Island, NY that never resulted in a charge against the white mechanic who took his life. North America's criminal justice system continues to discriminate against people of colour, and documentary's like this have become a strong advocate for raising awareness and demanding change. In addition to raising the profile of racial inequality, Director Yance Ford made history by becoming the first trans director to be nominated for an Oscar. 


MAN ON WIRE - Hollywood loves to fictionalize fantastic documentaries, and it's no wonder when they are filled with great characters and thrilling stories. But skip Gordon Joseph Levitt's  2015 THE WALK and go straight to the source with MAN ON WIRE, which revisits a covert high wire act at New York's World Trade Centre towers in 1974. Director James Marsh (who went on to direct the Oscar-nominated THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING), makes this an exhilarating story filled with wild risk takers.


CHASING CORAL - Incredible photography captures threatened coral reefs around the world, as they succumb to the effects of climate change. As a follow-up to the award-winning CHASING ICE (also on Netflix), director James Orlowski captivates audiences with his incredible camerawork, backed up by an urgent message about our impact on a rapidly changing environment.


MR GAGA - This Doc Soup Selection from December 2016 is on Netflix in case you missed it (and a great reminder to get a Doc Soup subscription if you're not already with the program). This Israeli choreographer has influenced contemporary dance worldwide, and hopefully watching it makes you jump off the couch and be inspired to move (dancing along with this film in the privacy of your living room is totally encouraged).

GAGA: FIVE FOOT TWO - Timed with the release of her 5th studio album Joanne (and subsequent tour date cancellations), this observational film spends a year behind the scenes with of one of today's biggest pop stars. No one will argue that this documentary will change the world - but documentary can have its popcorn films too.

Cheer on your favourite documentaries on March 4 at the Calgary International Film Festival's Oscar Party A Red Carpet Affair: Celebrating Hollywood's Best. Tickets are $85 and include a live broadcast of the Academy Awards, enjoy entertainment, food and drink, a silent auction, raffle, door prizes, and an Oscar ballot.

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