Five Inspirational, Short Documentaries You Can Find On Netflix
A list of inspiring documentaries, sharing stories from around the world that are available on Netflix.
*Disclaimer, some of the films listed below contain and have caused controversy, note the sole purpose of this article is to present the summary for each documentary*
Documentaries have the ability to open doors into different times, cultures, and realities. Gratefully, in this modern age and time, we have access to Netflix. Netflix offers what seems to be an endless variety of documentaries. Ranging from films exploring the popularity of Anime (Enter The Anime) to exposing the biggest scandal in sports history (Icarus). Below I have composed a list of truly touching and inspiring, short documentaries.
Little Miss Sumo (2018) Directed by, Matt Kay
Summary: Japan’s National Sport is sumo wrestling, where the wrestler who is first to exit the ring (dohyo) or touch the ground with any part of their body, besides the soles of their feet, loses.
In accordance with tradition, only men are allowed to practice sumo wrestling professionally in Japan. But sumo-wrestler, Hiyori Kon, is on a journey to fight for women’s rights in competing professionally in Japan.
Hiyori began sumo-wrestling in primary school where she recalls defeating both female and male opponents. Hiyori mentions that boys in Japan can easily see a future in sumo. On the other hand, young girls are not encouraged to be a part of the sumo-wrestling world. Hiyori has a goal and that is to be number one, which leads her to the Sumo World Championships in Taiwan.
Hiyori gives her best and all her strength to each match. There are no weight restrictions in sumo wrestling, meaning that a wrestler may easily be matched against an opponent bigger in size, as seen when Hiyori wrestles against Anna Zhigalova.
Kon is taken out of the ring by her Russian opponent, Zhigalova, and earns silver for Japan. “Even if you’ve worked so hard, for so long, you can lose in a flash”, said Kon.
Hiyori continues to fight against female discrimination in sumo and hopes that her work and story will spread the popularity of women’s sumo around the world.
The White Helmets (2016) directed by, Orlando Von Einsiedel
Summary: The White Helmets also known as the Syria Civil Defense is an organization of volunteering civilians, who work in centers across the country of Syria. This Documentary specifically shares the story of first responders (White Helmets) in Aleppo, Syria. Aleppo is a city completely marked by the destruction of war.
Despite the living conditions, people and families continue to live in the city.
Mohamed Farah, a volunteer for the White Helmets states during the film, “It is better to do humanitarian work than to be armed, better to rescue a soul than to take one.”
After every bombing shown in the film, chaos, panic, and fear is what exists amongst the children, adults, and elders of Aleppo. The White Helmets are always the first to rush and respond to the bombed sites, as it is their duty to rescue all victims from dust and rubble. Most White Helmets that volunteer, have no prior rescue experience.
As a result, the film follows some of the Aleppo city White Helmets as they travel to Southern Turkey in order to receive training courses. These first responders depend on their courage, speed, and accuracy, willing to sacrifice their souls for the sake of the people who need them.
Lorena, La De Pies Ligeros (2019) Directed by, Juan Carlos Rulfo
Summary: Lorena, Light Footed-Woman tells the story of Lorena Ramirez, a soft-spoken Indigenous woman who belongs to the Tarahumara community in Chihuahua, Mexico, and a family of runners. Ramirez lives in “El Hormiguero” mountain range with her family, where she is surrounded by cornfields, and trees. The Tarahumara community, known as the Raramuris (those with the light feet) are known for their incredible long-distance running abilities.
Ramirez herself has become a successful ultra-marathon runner. She has conquered and competed in some of the most difficult marathons in Mexico and around the world, wearing a pair of sandals and a traditional Tarahumara dress. Ramirez has been invited to compete in running events in Spain, Argentina, and Japan.
Lorena does not believe she will ever use running shoes in a race, “the people who do, are always behind me” said Ramirez, she is adored around the world by fans who refer to her as “una campeona”, a champion.
*Trailer subtitled in English available on Netflix*
Period. End of Sentence. (2018) Directed by, Rayka Zehtabchi
Summary: Menstruation is considered to be one of the biggest Taboos in India. In traditional Hindu homes and villages, girls and women rarely to never discuss their menstruation with one another.
Kathikhera is a village located in the Hapur District, 60 kilometers outside of Delhi India. Women in Kathikhera have joined together to work against the stigma of menstruation. These women previously had no access to sanitary pads, which caused them to resort to pieces of cloth.
A Sanitary Pad Machine, funded by students at Oakwood School in Los Angeles (who also funded the film), is installed in Kathikhera. The women in the village learn to manufacture and market their own pads and name the brand “Fly” accompanied by the logo of a butterfly. This logo represented the fact that the women, want each other to rise.
It is seen in this documentary that the women in this village find independence and their self-confidence flourishes. They are empowered financially and are given a new level of respect in their community by both women and men.
A Tale of Two Kitchens (2019) Directed by, Trisha Ziff
Summary: A Tale of Two Kitchens tells the story of two restaurants established by Gabriela Camara. The first being, Contramar, a seafood restaurant located in Mexico City, Mexico, and the other, Cala, an authentic Mexican food restaurant in San Francisco, California. Despite the two restaurants being located in different countries, they share the same goal to serve delicious food and give great service to their diners.
At Contramar the staff work and treat one another like family. Both, the workers and cuisine, featuring fresh seafood are equally loved by customers. Cala, on the other hand, hires staff from different backgrounds and cultures. Including, ex-convicts, who are given the opportunity to blossom as individuals.
The film not only showcases the ways in which a restaurant serves as a place of dignity and community but also gives insight into the ways Latin cuisine and chefs have influenced the culinary world in the United States.
Writer Valerie Miranda is a Class of 2020 senior at Oak Hills High School. She enjoys writing and will be majoring in English for college.