This year has been a trying twelve months for so many, so with this in mind we’ve put together a list of alternative films for you to watch over the festive season.

Step aside Macaulay Culkin and delve into a world that’s more than A Miracle on 34th Street – these documentaries talk about everything from mass extinction to musical history, so we can go into 2017 educated and empowered to make a difference.

Documentary is a crucial aspect of filmmaking; often breaking the rules and exposing issues that mass media do not always report in it’s entirety. They offer us the chance to look at what’s really happening and take away a new found knowledge that will inspire us to change.

So whilst you’re enjoying the Christmas season take a moment to explore some of the best documentaries released this year!

Racing Extinction

Filmmaker Louie Psihoyos is joined by scientists, activists and artists to explore our role in the loss of half the world’s species.

Beautifully shot and packed full of never-before-seen images that will change the way we see our planet. Racing Extinction is a look into the side of our world that they do not want us to see.

Tackling the issues of endangered species and mass extinction Louie takes you on a journey of inspiring affirmation in an attempt to preserve life as we know it. The ultimate goal – save animals. How do we do this? Challenge your city, but start by challenging yourself.


Referring to America’s 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.”

However, Director Ava DuVernay looks at race and argues that slavery is ever-present through mass incarceration in the United States criminal justice system.

This hard-hitting documentary, that was filmed in secrecy, was announced as the opening film at the 2016 New York Film Festival, it has since won fourteen awards of twenty two nominations.


A candid look into 90s rock band Oasis, Supersonic delves into the rise and fall of one of Britain’s most iconic musical influences.

Comprised of archived footage and home video, the brothers Liam and Noel narrate off-screen recounting their experiences within the band in the limelight and their sibling rivalry behind closed doors.

The documentary is an easy watch, but one that gives weight to a poignant time in the UK’s musical and fashion history, echoing the importance and influence of entertainment in society.

O.J.: Made in America

Following the success of The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story which aired on television earlier this year, this documentary miniseries by Ezra Edelman has been extremely well received.

Exploring the life of O.J. Simpson from his football career that started at the University of Southern California to being accused of murder, this documentary explores America’s fixation with O.J. and the possible reasoning behind it.

The series of in-depth and personal accounts from interviews, even with O.J. himself, talk about race and celebrity in America as well as his conviction, and subsequent imprisonment for another crime thirteen years after his acquittal.

The documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year and has since been released in theatres in both New York and Los Angeles to critical acclaim.

The White Helmets

This particularly harrowing documentary produced by Netflix is exactly what we need right now – with the fifth anniversary of a war that has killed over 400,000 Syrians and the cry for help from the west making headlines most recently, The White Helmets takes us into the eye of the storm.

Orlando von Einsiedel follows the efforts of volunteer first responders who risk their lives to rescue victims of daily airstrikes from the rubble.

At times the footage is hard to watch – in both the content of footage and physical hand-held sense. However, at just 40 minutes the style in which this documentary has been shot is bearable and offers a clear message of hope.

About the author

Talia has a keen interest in all aspects of media; you’ll find her writing about anything from feminist issues, alternative fashion trends and the hottest films and television programmes of our time. She’s our resident vegetarian who isn’t scared to take a bite out of trending topics and get to the bones of it all. Talia loves photography, caffeine and baking, but you’ll also find her on our Semple Magazine photoshoots filming behind the scenes. And if you’re ever in need of a funny viral video to get you through your working week, she’s your girl!

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