South Africa, like much of the rest of the world, loves a little true crime every so often. Not enough to make the neighbours worried, just enough to scratch that non-fiction itch. In fact, the locals tend to like documentaries in general. (Source: We’re locals and we’re related to locals). So when there’s a list of available documentaries, we can’t help ticking off the ones we’d most like to watch – something that we’ve done with Showmax’s offerings. Here are 13 of the best doccies you can watch, right now, on Showmax.
Look, climbing Everest isn’t the safest hobby ever, not least of all because you have to climb over or past the bodies of those who didn’t make it there or back. When you throw in an earthquake, like the one that struck Nepal on 25 April 2015, the mountain’s survivability goes way, way down. Nightmare on Everest is a look at the earthquake in question, a story told about those who died by those who survived.
This one, regardless of your point of view, is probably going to push a few buttons. Filmmaker Cassie Jaye sits down with proponents of Men’s Rights Activism (MRAs – the place where the term ‘red pill’ is most frequently used) as well as those that oppose them in order to take a look at the men’s rights movement currently building – in the States and around the world. The Red Pill has proved to be a controversial documentary around the world.
Hitting a little closer to home, Strike a Rock is a film around the 2012 massacre at Marikana of Lonmin’s striking workers by South African police officers. Director Aliki Saragas follows two grandmothers who lead their community in a fight against the perpetrators of the massacre and a fight to change the conditions that lead to the initial doomed protest – a fight that nobody, not even those who were fighting it, ever expected to win. See this local documentary, only on Showmax.
Another First on Showmax documentary, Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web comes by way of Hulu and tells the story of internet multi-millionaire Kim Dotcom – though you may know him better as the founder of MegaUpload. Dotcom was the subject of an American military raid in New Zealand, reportedly ordered by Hollywood, the MPAA, and the White House, and is still being prosecuted in the largest anti-piracy case on the planet. This is his story.
A South African documentary about the death of one Brett Kebble, who was found shot to death in his car in 2005. Wander down the resulting rabbit hole of conspiracy, fraud, police corruption and drugs. This examination of an already remarkable murder goes into detail with some of the players involved and speaks directly to Kebble’s murderers. The title of this film comes from Section 204 of South Africa’s Criminal Procedure Act, which grants immunity from prosecution in return for truthful testimony.
Can you have a true-crime documentary without any actual crime? This HBO film about New York police officer Gilberto Valle’s trial, conviction, and eventual acquittal (the case is ongoing) for conspiracy to kidnap, torture, cook and consume women asks that question. As far as can be determined, Valle never executed any of what he called “fantasy role-play”, which is why his conviction was eventually overturned and why Valle was released after serving less than two years in prison.
The Jinx is a documentary series concerned with Robert Durst, a wealthy and successful man who stands accused of three murders over his life – that of his wife in 1982, a friend in 2000 and a neighbour in 2001. Murders… that could possibly be linked. Several legal commentators have claimed that Durst might have avoided murder charges if not for The Jinx – he was arrested for murder the same day of the final episode’s initial broadcast.
You could be forgiven for thinking that this is that Animal Planet ‘documentary’ that claimed that mermaids are real. This documentary instead explores the mythological origins of mermaids in the Greek sirens all the way up to the present day where those who have a fascination with these creatures don tails and spend time immersed in the water. This slightly more sensible look at aquatic fiction is available first on Showmax. Once you’re done, swap over to a fictionalised exploration in the Siren series, also only on Showmax.
South Africa and England have been at war since 1906 but we haven’t been using bullets or sticks – though if some of the team are from Boksburg then there are at least a few guns on the field. (No, not that kind of gun.) War with the Roses is a local rugby documentary detailing the long history of rivalry on the field between the Boks and the Roses, from its start at the beginning of the 20th century right up until today.
So you want to HODL, do you? The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin details the rather short but eventful history of the digital currency, from its roots to its first spike and fall. How people have been reacting to bitcoin, where it came from, where it’s going, and how governments are dealing with it are all up for discussion. Don’t be too surprised if you start Googling the blockchain and specs for a mining rig once you’ve finished this one.
You know how not so long ago all those international banks made massive screwups and needed to be bailed out? Yeah, those guys are still getting paid and no one has gone to jail. Comedian and actor Russell Brand uses this documentary to try to find out why people who don’t have that much money to begin with bailed out folks who… never really stopped making money. Though, to be honest, we’d watch this one just for the chance to see Russell Brand make bankers uncomfortable.
If you’ve got a Star Wars fan in your life or you happen to be one, this documentary about the toy line that first appeared with the original trilogy of films is a stop that you have to make. Plastic Galaxy is a voyage into the history of the toys and the films that changed the science fiction and motion picture world. It might also show you just how much those figures would have been worth if you had just left them in the bloody box, Craig!
At least a few Stuff readers are old enough to remember watching the 1994 race that claimed the life of Brazilian F1 driver Ayrton Senna, one of the most exciting drivers ever to grace the sport. Senna, the documentary, doesn’t dwell on his passing but explores his life, his career, and his rapid rise to fame as well as who he was when he wasn’t sitting behind the wheel. This film has been around for some time now but if you’re a racing fan and still haven’t see it, it’s time to correct that oversight.
See the rest of Showmax’s available documentaries here. Not on Showmax yet? You can get a free trial to test out the service before paying anything. And if you have DStv Premium then you get Showmax for free. Find out more »