This year is already shaping up to be a crazy one. Obviously the president is bonkers, but there are a number of other issues that are also of great consequence to society. That is why I've compiled a list of the most important documentaries to watch in 2017. Now, while some of these documentaries are being released in 2017, the majority of them have been released in prior years. And that's because these issues didn't just pop up overnight, they have been building for some time. So what kinds of issues am I talking about?
Well, there are a lot of them. Social justice, especially racial injustice, is certainly a major theme in 2017. A number of flashpoints around the world, most notably Syria and Ukraine, will continue to threaten world peace in 2017. Then there's climate change, the single biggest threat to the planet, which is becoming more frightening by the day. And of course, there is a documentary about Donald Trump in here. But it's not all doom and gloom. I've mixed in a few docs that are optimistic or inspiring, just so you don't completely abandon all hope this year. So take a look below at the 44 most important documentaries to watch this year.
If you want a snapshot of race relations in 2017, and why things are the way they are, start here.
2 'Audrie & Daisy'
Online bullying and rape culture are major issues today.
3 'Food, Inc.'
A major overhaul is needed when it comes to the way Americans obtain and consume food.
4 'The Ivory Game'
Elephants are likely to go extinct in our lifetime. That can not happen.
5 'Welcome To Leith'
A quiet town in North Dakota sees an attempted takeover by white supremacists. I would not be surprised to see towns like this pop up all over the country this year.
Fracking is super harmful to both the environment and humans, as this doc shows, but the political climate of 2017 will likely see it used more frequently.
7 'The Hunting Ground'
Rape culture is rampant on college campuses, and it's a subject that deserves more attention.
8 'An Inconvenient Sequel'
Due out later this year, the sequel to Al Gore's 2006 climate change documentary will show how things have only gotten worse.
Ashton Kutcher is doing his part, but more people need to be aware of the modern slavery epidemic.
10 'Lo And Behold: The Reveries Of The Connected World'
From Warner Herzog, a look at how the Internet shapes life today — and how it will change it even more in the future.
The secret to happiness will never not be relevant.
12 'Miss Representation'
The representation of women in the media has a profound effect on what women can accomplish in society, and if you don't think that's a relevant topic today then I would direct your attention to the phrase "Trump that bitch."
13 'Race To Nowhere'
The education system in America is in serious trouble, and it's looking like it's only going to get worse.
14 'Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things'
Is modern life too much for you? There is another way to live.
15 'Requiem For The American Dream'
Noam Chomsky, possibly the greatest thinker of our time, talks about the crisis of wealth inequality in America — and how it's not sustainable.
16 '(Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies'
With truth under assault in 2017, what better time to learn about the science behind lies?
17 'Chasing Ice'
Glaciers are disappearing due to climate change, and that's going to affect everyone.
18 'Chasing Coral'
The sequel to Chasing Ice, this new doc focuses on the disappearing coral reefs of the world — and the surprising effect their absence has on the environment.
19 'Whose Streets?'
The story of the people involved in the Ferguson protests, and what it means for the country of a whole.
20 'Racing Extinction'
21 'This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous'
Transgender rights have roared into the public's consciousness in recent years, and they're going to continue to be a major civil rights battle.
22 'Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman'
Narrated by Tom Brokaw and set to air later this year on Discovery, this film takes a look at conservation efforts in America's heartland pursued by those who rely on it for their livelihood.
This 2017 doc looks at the stray cat population of Istanbul, and gives a surprising look at human kindness in the process. It's a funny and uplifting break from the depression of these other docs.
24 'The New Radical'
This new doc examines the new type of political disruptor active in 2017: Those who ply their trade online.
25 'The Mars Generation'
This upcoming film follows teens at space camp who are optimistic that they will be the first generation of humans to set foot on Mars.
26 'Planet Earth II'
The sequel to the most stunning nature documentary series ever, this is absolutely a must watch if you appreciate life and beauty.
27 'The Best Of Enemies'
If you think the culture wars of the 1960s aren't relevant today, just check out the debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley and try not to hear the voices of today's pundits.
28 'I Am Not Your Negro'
A poignant look at how little the U.S. has accomplished when it comes to civil rights over the past half-century.
You're going to hear a lot about net neutrality in 2017, and you need to understand what it is — and why it's under attack.
With President Trump promising to root out the leakers in his government for providing the public with critical information, the story of Edward Snowden seems more timely than ever.
31 'Cartel Land'
The battles between citizens and drug cartels in Mexico is a serious one that's still raging.
32 'Winter On Fire: Ukraine’s Fight For Freedom'
If you want to understand why Ukraine is such a hot topic in 2017, this is a good place to start.
33 'Inside Job'
The 2008 economic collapse may seem like history, but with the current administration's plans to roll back the regulations that were imposed because of it, it could very well happen again.
34 'The Vaccine War'
With a vaccine truther in the White House, the future of scientifically-backed childhood vaccinations could be in trouble.
35 'The White Helmets'
The Oscar-winner this year in the short documentary section, this film shines a light on the brave rescue workers in Syria.
36 'Fire At Sea'
The refugee crisis is one of the biggest issues of 2017, and this Oscar nominee shows its real toll on humanity.
37 'Cries From Syria'
The war in Syria is the biggest and most horrible conflict currently taking place in the world, and this upcoming HBO documentary (due out March 13) does a great job of explaining it.
38 'Jesus Camp'
Ever wonder who this sizable "Evangelical" voting block is in the middle of the country? Wonder no more.
39 'The Smartest Guys In The Room'
Another Enron could easily happen in 2017, as big business continues to run amok.
40 'More Than Honey'
Bees are disappearing, and the effect of their dwindling numbers is more far-reaching than you could possibly imagine.
41 'Inequality For All'
With the exception of climate change, wealth inequality is the single biggest issue threatening the U.S.
42 'The Fence'
Trump wants to build a wall on the Mexican border, but there is already a fence across much of it. And guess what? It's useless and expensive.
43 'Trump: What’s The Deal?'
This 1991 documentary about the president, which has just now been released due to lawsuits, shows that Trump has always been a con artist, a narcissist, and a fraud.
44 'Putin’s Way'
Might as well get to know the real President of the United States in 2017.