7 Social-Action Documentaries Available Now on Netflix

These films will inspire you to make a difference.

Netflix Logo. Photo by Bago Games CC 2.0

Netflix Logo. Photo by Bago Games CC 2.0

Netflix is known for their new original television series, as well as old favorites. But Netflix also has an excellent collection of documentaries. Here are seven documentaries featured on Netflix that will inspire you to do more good. 

  1. Dirty Money 

This six, one-hour-long episode series exposes con-artists, cheaters, and schemers who are motivated by greed. Episodes focus on topics from Donald Trump’s shady business empire to a car company who cheats on emissions tests to save money. Through firsthand accounts with perpetrators and the victims, the he docu-series aims to expose the corruption in our economy. 

2. Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things

Minimalism sheds light on the way our society rapidly consumes, and how this consumption is dangerous to our mental health and our environment. This documentary delves into the lives of people who have gotten rid of their excess belongings, and committed to a life of minimalism. 

3. What the Health 

What the Health exposes the corruption in the healthcare industry as a result of the government and big business. The film wants us to ask why healthcare costs so much and is so inaccessible, costing people their lives. 

4. Rotten 

This six part documentary series aims to make the public aware of the crisis in the global food industry. The film encourages people to pay more attention to the source of the food they buy as they might have been frozen multiple times, or contain many additives. Since food has become treated like a commodity, fraud has increased and farming has decreased. 

5. Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons 

Investigative journalists voluntarily become inmates the worlds’ brutalist prisons in order to expose the poor conditions that prisoners face. One of the journalists served years in prison for a crime that he did not commit, so the docuseries is even more emotionally charged.

6. The White Helmets

The White Helmets follows the first responders who rescue people from the rubble after bombings in Syria. The Academy Award nominated documentary short shows real life heroes, who are guided by their motto that “To save a life is to save all of humanity.” 

7. Period. End of Sentence.  

This Academy Award winning documentary short about how women in India achieve financial independence, and counter stigma about menstruation, by creating low-costs sanitary napkins on a machine in their village. 

These documentaries and documentary series come in all lengths, and span a range of topics. They are guaranteed to educate and inspire you on your next Netflix binge!

ELIANA DOFT loves to write, travel, and volunteer. She is especially excited by opportunities to combine these three passions through writing about social action travel experiences. She is an avid reader, a licensed scuba diver, and a self-proclaimed cold brew connoisseur. 


Parallax Pakistan

Pakistan is an extremely adventurous destination to travel to. It used to be a popular place for hippies to travel around in the 80s but due to the effect of 9/11, the country have yet recovered from the blow and only recently opening up. The videographer travelled to Lahore, Islamabad and travel through the Karakoram Highway on my own. Along the way, he hiked the Fairy Meadows to see Nanga Parbat, the 8th tallest mountain in the world, hiked up the see Minapin Glacier and the Rakaposhi mountain, and made my way to the border of China, completing my traversal of the Karakoram Highway.

Mirage of Persia

Csaba Labancz filmed this video compilation when he spent three weeks in Iran visiting most of the major cities and some unknown villages up in the Elburz mountains as well as some of the most remote places in the desert. This film is an essence of a country of ancient traditions, breathtaking landscapes, truly helpful and kind people and countless historical places.

Shadows of Bangkok

The city of Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and is known for its busy streets and ornate shrines. The videographer, Jiajie Yu, described his intentions for making this film as “wanting to portray Bangkok in a cinematographic way, create a hypnotic, immersive and suggestive experience of the city through its faces, alleys, sound and music.”


Tim Kellner recorded this video to display his experience traveling in Alaska. In regard to his experience, Tim states “When I was a kid I would stare up at the giant stuffed grizzly bear in the Buffalo Science Museum and imagine seeing it alive and in the wild. That dream finally came true. I can't even begin to describe with words my experiences in Alaska so hopefully this video will capture just a small piece.” The music in the video is also by Tim.

Nomads of Mongolia

Life in Western Mongolia is an adventure. Training eagles to hunt, herding yaks, and racing camels are just a few of the daily activities of the nomadic Kazakh people. Brandon Li spent a few weeks living with them and experiencing one of the most unique cultures in the world.

Dominican Republic

This video depicts shots of the Dominican Republic, a Caribbean nation that is known for its beaches, resorts and golfing. The video includes shots of the rainforest-covered karst mountains at Los Haitises National Park, one of the most stunning protected areas of the Caribbean. Additionally, Dominican cities and daily life are portrayed, such as cities like Santon Domingo and Santiago de los Caballeros.

Solar Mamas — Why Poverty?

Are women better at getting out of poverty than men? The Barefoot College in India is a six-month program that brings together uneducated middle-aged women from poor communities all over the world, and trains them to become solar engineers. In this documentary from WHY POVERTY? meet Rafea, the second wife of a Bedouin husband from Jordan and watch her learn about electrical components and soldering without being able to read, write or understand English. Full documentary airs this Sunday 9 pm GMT in UK on BBC.


NORWAY: North of the Sun

Norwegians Inge Wegge, 25, and Jørn Ranum, 22, spent nine months of cold, Norwegian winter in the isolated and uninhabited bay of a remote, arctic island by the coast of Northern-Norway, facing nothing but the vast Atlantic Ocean. There they built a cabin out of driftwood and other cast-off materials that washed up on shore, and ate expired food the stores would otherwise have thrown away. But they brought with them two items of utmost importance: surfboards—their motivation for the Arctic adventure.


The Fourth World

The award winning film Fourth World takes you inside slums on three continents to meet individuals caught up in the largest people migration in the history of the world. Understanding 'a billion people' is almost impossible, but meeting a handful of slum dwellers strips away the statistic and begins the process of building understanding. Journey with the filmmakers to Guatemala, Kenya and the Philippines to meet slum dwellers. Listen to published experts--leaders in their fields from three more continents--as they bring understanding to the 'why' of slums, and foreshadow what's going to happen if the world ignores this social powder keg much longer.