11 documentaries to nourish your heart and mind during the pandemic

Discover hope, inspiration and compassion in these heartfelt and powerful documentaries.

LAST UPDATED: 18 June 2020

The world is rapidly changing, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to flow through every facet of society. During this time of uncertainty, it's more important than ever to focus our energy on creative and compassionate acts — and finding the inspiration to create a kinder world, for everyone.

These 11 films will deliver that inspiration, and everything you'd hope for from a great documentary: insight, heart — and powerful ideas to change the world for the better.

1. Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story

Actor/Director Ashley Bell and a team of elephant rescuers — led by world renowned Asian elephant conservationist and TIME Magazine's Hero of Asia, Lek Chailert — embark on a daring mission 480 miles across Thailand to rescue Noi Na, a 70-year old partially blind trekking elephant and bring her to freedom.

Watch Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story on iTunes.

2. The Game Changers

This film follows James Wilks — elite special forces trainer, and winner of The Ultimate Fighter — as he travels the world meeting elite athletes, scientists, icons and everyday heroes on a quest for the truth behind the dangerous myth that meat is necessary for protein, strength and health.

Watch The Game Changers on Netflix, Vimeo and iTunes.

3. Mission Blue

Having always felt a strong connection to the ocean, Dr. Sylvia Earle has dedicated her life to exploring and protecting the marine environment. In this documentary, Dr. Earle looks back upon some of her achievements as a pioneering female marine biologist, reflects on the devastating loss of marine life she has seen over the years and shares her vision for how we can change the very real and present threat to our oceans, and thus, ourselves.

Watch Mission Blue on Netflix.

4. Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story

This eye-opening (and sometimes confronting), investigative documentary explores the truth surrounding Australia's love-hate relationship with its beloved icon: the kangaroo. The kangaroo image is proudly used by top companies, sports teams and on tourist souvenirs — yet, when they hop across the vast Australian continent, some consider them to be "pests" to be shot and sold for profit. Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story goes behind-the-scenes of 'the largest wildlife slaughter anywhere in the world', and examines every facet — with stories from rescuers, shooters, politicians and marketers — of Australia's complicated relationship with kangaroos.

Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story is available on multiple streaming channels. Get the list here.

5. The Ivory Game

As elephants draw ever closer to extinction, The Ivory Game follows award-winning director Richard Ladkani and Academy Award nominated director Kief Davidson as they filmed undercover for 16 months, infiltrating and exposing the deep-rooted corruption at the heart of the global ivory trafficking crisis.

Watch The Ivory Game on Netflix.

6. Jane

Before Dr. Jane Goodall's ground-breaking research, little was known about chimpanzees in the wild. Never-before-seen footage shows how Dr. Goodall developed a unique bond with chimps, challenged the male-dominated scientific perspective of the time and changed our understanding of the natural world forever.

Watch Jane on Netflix, iTunes, Google Play and YouTube Movies.

7. 2040

Motivated by concerns about the planet his 4-year-old daughter would inherit, Director Damon Gameau embarked on a global journey to meet innovators and changemakers in the areas of economics, technology, civil society, agriculture, education and sustainability. Drawing on their expertise, he sought to identify the best solutions, available to us now, that would help improve the health of our planet and the societies that operate within it. From marine permaculture to decentralised renewable energy projects, he discovered that people all over the world are taking matters into their own hands.

Watch 2040 via YouTube Movies or Google Play.

8. Terra

This visually stunning documentary explores the relationship between humankind and the natural world. Terra shows how, over time, the demand to feed a growing population has threatened and, in some cases, destroyed entire species. But it’s not too late to change how we impact the world around us.

Watch Terra on Netflix.

9. Live and Let Live

Climate change, lifestyle diseases and ethical concerns move more and more people to reconsider eating animals and animal products. From butcher to vegan chef, from factory farmer to farm sanctuary owner, Live and Let Live tells the stories of six individuals who decided to stop consuming animal products and the impact this choice has had on their lives.

Watch Live and Let Live on Netflix.

10. Virunga

Virunga tells the story of a team of incredibly brave individuals who risk their lives every day to protect the world's last living mountain gorillas in the beautiful jungle of Congo. A unique combination of investigative journalism and nature documentary, Virunga is equally shocking and moving. You'll see a familiar name in the credits as staunch conservation activist Leonardo DiCaprio was the executive producer on this doco too.

Watch Virunga on Netflix.

11. Our Planet

'Our Planet' will take viewers on a spectacular journey of discovery showcasing the beauty and fragility of our natural world. Today we have become the greatest threat to the health of our home but there's still time for us to address the challenges we've created if we act now.David Attenborough

Our Planet is streaming now on Netflix.

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