Documentaries

Louis Armstrong's Black & Blues explores the legendary singer and trumpet player's life and legacy.

This Rap Documentarian's Latest Subject? Louis Armstrong

Sacha Jenkins tells the jazz musician's story through rarely-seen archival footage and letters

Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, 1942

Reexamining Edward Hopper—and the Woman Behind His Career

“Hopper: An American Love Story” highlights the artist’s relationship with his wife, Josephine Nivison

Abigail Disney beside a poster for The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales earlier this month

Abigail Disney Criticizes Labor Practices at the Company Her Family Founded

Her new documentary, "The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales," shines a light on income inequality and workers' rights

Sidney Poitier on the set of Lilies of the Field, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor

Sidney Poitier Is Back on the Big Screen

The late and great actor and director is the subject of 'Sidney,' a new documentary produced by Oprah Winfrey

Bad Bunny, a global reggaeton sensation whose latest album just topped the Billboard 200 for the 11th week, released a short documentary on Puerto Rico’s infrastructure failures and gentrification.

Bad Bunny's Latest Music Video Doubles as a Documentary on Gentrification in Puerto Rico

Amid Hurricane Fiona, the artist combines his music with an 18-minute film by reporter Bianca Graulau

Paula, Sam and Sol Messinger aboard the M.S. St. Louis in May 1939. The U.S. denied the ship entry, forcing its 937 passengers to return to Europe. More than a quarter of these refugees were later killed in the Holocaust.

Untold Stories of American History

Why Was America So Reluctant to Take Action on the Holocaust?

A new Ken Burns documentary examines the U.S.' complex, often shameful response to the rise of Nazism and the plight of Jewish refugees

The Woman King tells the story of the Agojie, an elite, all-woman army in the West African kingdom of Dahomey.

Based on a True Story

The Real Warriors Behind 'The Woman King'

A new film stars Viola Davis as the leader of the Agojie, the all-woman army of the African kingdom of Dahomey

David Bowie’s artistry is the subject of Moonage Daydream, the latest film from documentarian Brett Morgen.

David Bowie, in His Own Words

The new documentary 'Moonage Daydream' draws entirely from archival footage and recordings

Loving Highsmith aims to challenge crime author Patricia Highsmith’s reputation as a cold-hearted misanthrope.

Was Patricia Highsmith Actually a Hopeless Romantic?

The documentary 'Loving Highsmith' presents a new side of the enigmatic crime writer

Many of the children who survived Hurricane Katrina are still healing from the trauma of their experiences.

The Black Children of Hurricane Katrina Finally Tell Their Stories

A new documentary, 'Katrina Babies,' spotlights the disaster's youngest survivors

Don McLean’s 1971 hit “American Pie” is the subject of a new documentary.

Unraveling the Secrets of Don McLean's 'American Pie'

A new documentary explores the meaning of the catchy, enigmatic tune

Omari Maynard with Shamony Gibson, who died after giving birth in 2019

Stories From the Black Maternal Mortality Crisis

The new documentary 'Aftershock' follows two women who died from pregnancy-related complications

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's flag hangs on the door of a hijacked TWA Boeing 707 at Dawson's Field in Libya in September 1970.

A Brief History of Airplane Hijackings, From the Cold War to D.B. Cooper

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, hijackings occurred, on average, once every five days globally

A scene from "Light and Magic"

Art Meets Science

This Visual Effects Studio Transformed Movies Forever

A new documentary tells the story of Industrial Light and Magic, the pioneering team that brought films like "Star Wars" and "Jurassic Park" to life

The men of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops created elaborate illusions featuring inflatable tanks, jeeps and artillery.

Untold Stories of American History

How the Ghost Army of WWII Used Art to Deceive the Nazis

Unsung for decades, the U.S. Army's 23rd Headquarters Special Troops drew on visual, sonic and radio deception to misdirect the Germans

Women at Gateways with owner Ted Ware around 1953

Inside Gateways, One of the World's Longest-Surviving Lesbian Nightclubs

A new documentary tells the story of the London nightclub where lesbian women found escape and acceptance

Members of the Janes in 1972

History of Now

When Abortion Was Illegal, Chicago Women Turned to the Jane Collective

A new documentary spotlights the group that helped thousands seeking abortions in the 1960s and '70s

The U.S.S.R. sent legions of “liquidators” to clean up in the aftermath of the meltdown. 

Past and Presence

Footage Shows How Daily Life Didn't Change After Chernobyl—and the Cover-Up's Toxic Aftermath

A new documentary shows how the disaster transformed—and endangered—those who lived near the nuclear plant

To many people, Henrietta Lacks, painted by Kadir Nelson in 2017, symbolizes inequity in medicine. Lacks died from cervical cancer in 1951, but her tumor cells— used in research without her permission—would enable medical advances, including the polio vaccine.

Race in America

The Historical Roots of Racial Disparities in American Health Care

A new documentary from the Smithsonian Channel, 'The Color of Care,' produced by Oprah Winfrey, shines a light on medicine’s biases

Police sketches of the man and woman who stole Willem de Kooning's Woman-Ochre from the University of Arizona Museum of Art in November 1985

Why Would Two Ordinary People Steal a $160 Million Willem de Kooning Painting?

A new documentary tells the tale of a suburban New Mexico couple who allegedly stole the artwork just to hang it behind their bedroom door

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