Considering the times we live in, and as we anticipate businesses re-opening in our city, movie theaters have yet to open. Occasionally during the pandemic, the news cycle has been interrupted by documentaries. Air-time has been indulgent on commentary about popular stories such as Tiger King and currently, The Last Dance. These mainstream docu-series don’t particularly need to be added to your watch-list since they’re available at anytime. If we were to take a road less traveled, the scenic route for example, it would lead us to independent film.

Though the traditional format of going to the movies to watch films is not possible for now, we are lucky to have so much available to us at anytime to expand our consciousness, allow for creative thoughts and cultural awareness via virtual cinema.

Unveiling well kept secrets while still retaining elements of mystery, c’est sexy, non? It is through art that we are moved and if we want to see a snippet of what artists and scientists go through in their process, we need to tune in. Films can be a call to action as artists speak to audiences breaking the fourth wall, and they continue to do so even after the credits roll.

Where to Start

To pick a documentary film without being lost in Netflix limbo by the overwhelming amount of never-ending options, we must be responsible with our time as we must also eat, live, work and rest. Here are some tips to see documentary films virtually:

Access documentaries in micro-dosages. Know your interests and be open to the element of surprise. Regardless of what you choose, you’ll learn something 100% guaranteed from the cinematic experience of documentaries. Organization will be your BFF when it comes to what to watch. Give and receive; support local cinemas and watch a film with captivating and inspiring commentary. Check out local cinemas’ programming online. On Miami’s local cinemas’ calendars there are exceptional films worth seeing. If you are interested and have time, take advantage of the virtual medium to see independent documentaries.

If you wish to enter the world of artists, to live and create, enrich life, to be vulnerable, seek compassion, seek integrity, humility, light, then here are some docs to see:

Powerful Women

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am – Released in 2019 is Nobel prize-winning author, Toni Morrison’s testimonies. The film depicts her immense contributions to the world. The doc is on Hulu. Becoming, available to stream this month on Netflix accompanies Michelle Obama’s memoir and Best-selling book tour. She is always herself and a champion for women of all ages.

Edited from the Netflix Documentary by The New York Times

The Artist’s Process

Kusama: Infinity is a documentary on Yayoi Kusama. The film took seventeen years of research and shows a lifetime of an artist’s difficult life and struggles to become known for her original work. The 2018 doc is on Hulu. HBO Docs on the subject of creating, Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists is worth checking out. If you want to stream a docuseries, look up The Story of Film: Birth of Film from 2011 on Hulu; Abstract: The Art of Design: Season 2 includes an episode with environmentally-conscious human and artist, Olafur Eliasson available on Netflix.


Avenues New & Old

A platform for (movies) MUBI, now has thousands of documentaries and a library full of stories on film. Too many for a lifetime, but worth the attempt. From 1920s until today, every subject imaginable is online. Check out films by Agnès Varda, David Lynch, Werner Herzog, Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma and many more.

Something Eye-Opening

Have a Good Trip is out now on Netflix. If you ever wanted to know the experiences LSD had on
Deepak Chopra, Sting, Sarah Silverman, Anthony Bourdain, Carrie Fisher, Ben Stiller and more watch this film. Their perspectives and existential consciousness result in seeing life as a trip. If you wish to see reality without taking hallucinogens, go to youtube and watch Michael Moore’s latest film, Planet of The Humans.

Edited from the film poster by Relix

Local Options

As for local news, Miami Jewish Film Festival brings us a highlight from the festival, Seders & Cigars and a virtual event with the director, Barbara Rosenthal. O Cinema continues to connect audiences with cultural happenings. This weekend you can experience the film, Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy and a virtual Q&A with director Elizabeth Carroll, chef Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, The New York Times City Kitchen columnist David Tanis, two-time James Beard semifinalist Gabriela Cámara. You can check the theaters’ calendar for upcoming premieres and purchase tickets in advance. O Cinema has already announced they will be showing the humanity and leadership in the much anticipated documentary, John Lewis: Good Trouble.


International News

Film festivals that we look forward to each year have been affected by the pandemic; Tribeca Film Festival, Cannes, Izola and many more have all been postponed or canceled. The good news is that people come together in difficult times and over twenty film festivals from across the world from May 29 through June 7 will be screening films on youtube. We Are One: A Global Film Festival is organizing to raise COVID-19 relief funds.


Some More Tips

Apart from the regular streaming services, Miami movie theaters have introduced “virtual cinema”; as strange as this might be for cinephiles and movie theaters alike, it’s a way to be able to not miss out on premieres and support our local cinemas. Try to connect with your favorite cinema house and see a film from home until we are able to escape the internet and return to physically experiencing the magic of cinema. Everything has its pros and cons; once you see a documentary with virtual programming, you can research all the inquiries that may arise by seeing the film. Recommendation: to take in the film, go for a walk as you would after exiting the cinema before searching for immediate information.

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