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14 Most Anticipated Documentaries of 2020

January 6, 2020
9 min read

Documentaries are meant to be revealing or hard-hitting. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t also be a source of inspiration and perseverance. Many a times, they even strengthen our already cemented beliefs, or completely shatter them, prodding us to widen the horizons of our minds. Long story shot.. documentaries are great. This year looks good as some promising projects are on the horizon. Of the myriad of these, the following is the list of the upcoming new documentaries that are coming out in 2020. We hope that these new documentaries are as good as some of the recent ones.

14. The Perfect Weapon (2020)

Based on the book ‘The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage and Fear in the Cyber Age’ by David E. Sanger, this documentary focuses on the dangers of cyber attacks and how it can change society. Its description pegs it as an exploration of “the rise of cyber conflict as the primary way nations now compete and sabotage each other”. With the undeniable influence of the Internet and social media on stirring up revolutions and making and breaking the regimes, it features interviews with top officials who have first-hand experienced the effects of cyber attacks on the security of the nations.

13. The Reason I Jump (2020)

Directed by Jerry Rothwell (‘The School in the Cloud’ and ‘How to Change the World’), ‘The Reason I Jump’ is based on the book by Naoki Higashida. It chronicles the lives of nonspeaking autistic people. The documentary finds inspiration in the story of the 13-year-old Higashida and other young subjects of the book. Exploring the scenario of autism and how it affects the day-to-day lives of people who have it, it presents a heartfelt account of the author’s struggle and how he overcame it.

12. Dick Johnson is Dead (2020)

Kirsten Johnson (‘Citizenfour’) has directed this documentary that focuses on her relationship with her father. Death will come for everyone and while we can’t refute its inevitability, we do find it difficult to accept its arrival. No one wants to die, but sooner or later, it is going to happen. As Kirsten’s father inched closer to death, he wanted to be able to confront it. In order to do so, he and Kirsten devised a plan wherein they staged his death, getting creative with every new method, to help him embrace death when the time comes while having some laughs in the process.

11. Epicentro (2020)

Directed by Hubert Sauper (‘Darwin’s Nightmare’, ‘We Come as Friends’), the official synopsis of ‘Epicentro’ reads: “a film about the butterfly effect in geopolitics, the paradox of time, about the (almost) end of the world, the cinematograph, sex and sugar”. Set in Havana, it follows the events that changed the course of history and gave a defining turn to the politics of the world. One chain of events leads to another and eventually, the entire world is affected by one event that transpired in a particular part of the world.

10. Crip Camp (2020)

Directed by James Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham, ‘Crip Camp’ focuses on a revolutionary summer camp that transformed many lives. Produced under the banner of Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground, it is one of the seven projects that they had signed up for while finalising the deal with Netflix. It follows the story of the summer camp in the 70s that fuelled life into the disabilities rights movement. The documentary charts the course of the events that flamed the fire which started in a teenage camp and how the fight for equality and inclusion ultimately led to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

9. Boys State (2020)

Directed by Amanda McBaine (‘The Overnighters’, ‘Ghosts of Attica’) and Jesse Moss (‘The Family’, ‘Dirty Money’), ‘Boys State’ tells the story of how a thousand 17-year-old boys joined forces to change the government from the ground up. Through the lives and actions of four boys in the group, the documentary focuses on the reasons that led to this movement, how it has affected the state and what it means for the democratic system. It is a coming-of-age story that addresses the most relevant questions for the current society.

8. The Cost of Silence (2020)

Sexual abuse has been destroying lives since a very long time, but it wasn’t until recently that people, especially women, found their voice and started speaking up against their abusers. The Me Too movement changed the game for women, and the survivors received the support that they deserved all those years ago. However, the stigma still remains when it comes to male sexual abuse. Directed by Jeremy J. Passmore, this documentary focuses on the story of three people and through them raises the issues of child sexual abuse, and how men themselves have so conditioned themselves with the idea of masculinity that they often choose to ignore the abuse when it is inflicted on men.

7. The Earth is Blue as an Orange (2020)

Political unrest has gripped almost every part of the world. In the past decade, almost every country has seen a massive shift in their government and the ideologies, which has pushed the people to take to the streets against the regimes that overlook the well-being of the public in favour of their own ambitions. The 2014 Ukrainian revolution falls under the same category; however, it also sheds light on the aftermath of the revolution. ‘The Earth is Blue as an Orange’ follows the life of a family that has to live in Donbas, the city which had to bear the worst brunt of the aftermath. With their homes destroyed and their lives upended, what hope do these people have for their future?

6. Red Heaven (2020)

Since time immemorial, humans have looked at the sky and wondered about their place in the stars. In the 20th century, we finally broke barriers and pushed ourselves, first into space and then to Moon. The next stop is Mars and space agencies like NASA have been preparing for it. However, travelling to the Red Planet comes with its own set of challenges. ‘Red Heaven’ documents one year in the lives of six people who have been isolated from the rest of the world and live under simulation that recreates the environment of Mars. The film focuses on the thrill of setting foot on another planet, while also showcasing the struggles that one has to put up with.

5. Assassins (2020)

Ryan White is known for his work on projects like ‘Ask Dr Ruth’, ‘The Keepers’, and ‘Good Ol’ Freda’. In his next documentary feature, he has turned towards one of the most hostile countries in the world. The subject of the documentary is the assassination of Kim Jong-un’s half-brother, Kim Jong-nam. His assassination in February 2017 shook the North Korean regime and two women were convicted of the crime. The trial took a lot of twists and turns, and ‘Assassins’ follows it every step of the way. It focuses on the story of the women, and tries to get to the root of whether they really did assassinate him or were they set up?

4. Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen (2020)

As much as Hollywood has become the centre-stage for raising issues regarding the LGBTQ+ community, it is also responsible for creating the stereotypes for this community which furthered the bias and fear against them. ‘Disclosure’ takes a look at the ways in which trans people have been portrayed on the screen. Starting from the earlier depictions that used trans identity as a trope for comedy to the representation of trans characters without the involvement of trans people, the documentary focuses on the role that cinema plays in moulding the perception of trans community.

3. The Dissident (2020)

Academy Award-winning filmmaker, Bryan Fogel, who is known for his work on ‘Icarus’ and ‘Jewtopia’ has directed and co-written, with Mark Monroe, ‘The Dissident’. The documentary focuses on the death of The Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi. He had been assassinated in 2018 by the Saudi government, an act which they had previously denied, but then accepted owing to the increasing international pressure. In ‘The Dissident’, Fogel looks at the whole case, how it was almost covered up, and how the truth was brought to light by the resilience of Khashoggi’s fiancée and his followers around the world.

2. Vivos (2020)

Weiwei Ai, known for his work on ‘Human Flow’, ‘The Rest’ and ‘Beijing: The Third Ring’, has directed this documentary which focuses on a critical crisis in Mexico. It is centred on the 2014 case of the disappearance of a convoy of students. Focusing on the day-to-day struggles of the families of the victims and their clash with the officials and the people in authority who go as far as to mislead them with false information to hide their own incompetence and, perhaps even indulgence, in the case. Using this case as the primary factor for the story, the documentary aims to turn the attention of the audience towards the staggering number of people who go missing in Mexico all the time.

1. Welcome to Chechnya (June 2020)

While the fight for equality has changed some things for the LGBTQ+ community in some parts of the world, there are still some countries that have obscene laws and regulations against them. Chechnya is one of those places where living freely with your sexual identity is not encouraged. This, in turn, has turned it into a hotspot for the activists who are willing to do whatever it takes to change the situation. Directed by Academy Award-nominated director, David France, ‘Welcome to Chechnya’ focuses on their fight for freedom and equality, how they are saving people from persecution and at what cost.

Read More: Upcoming Netflix Shows in 2020

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