The best international documentaries on Showmax right nowBrowse all series now
Be informed and entertained by our pick of the top documentaries streaming right now – from the Tiger Woods doccie to Allen v Farrow.
“Documentaries have entered an unprecedented golden age, one that is only going to get better,” wrote leading film trade website Deadline in February 2019.
It’s not just that cameras have become better, cheaper, smaller and less invasive, or that people’s lives are more documented than ever before thanks to social media, it’s also that streaming has made documentaries more accessible to audiences – and studios are now paying record amounts for them.
Not long ago, South African documentary lovers needed to wait for Encounters or the Durban International Film Festival to get their annual fix, but now the world’s best documentaries are available to stream from the comfort of your couch, anytime.
Luckily for anyone who’s missed out on documentaries crossing over into the mainstream, Showmax has put together a helpful guide to their best international documentaries, which are all available to stream now.
An HBO comedy shot in a documentary style as you see New York through the lens of John Wilson as he travels through the iconic city. Watch now »
Follow the journey of defecting members of the self-improvement group NXIVM as they struggle to overcome indoctrination and reveal the truth about founder Keith Reniere, who faces charges of sex trafficking. Watch now »
Oscar-nominated filmmakers Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan spotlight local initiatives in America’s small towns and explore how a sense of community and common language of change can help towns find a different path to the future. Watch now »
Part 1 and Part 2 of this doccie series were shot during the final season of Game of Thrones. Uncover the trials, tribulations and secrets from the stars themselves with host Conan O’Brien, featuring appearances from Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Lena Headey and Peter Dinklage. (Return to Westeros for the Iron Anniversary – binge-watch S1-8 on Showmax.)
Explore the meaning of fame and influence in the digital age through an innovative social experiment in this HBO documentary. Three people with relatively small followings are turned into influencers overnight. Watch now »
Dr Dorothy Otnow Lewis has dedicated her career to learning why people kill. She challenges the idea that murderers like Ted Bundy are made and not born. An HBO documentary from Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney. Watch now »
Go behind the headlines to uncover the private story of one of Hollywood’s most notorious scandals: the accusation of sexual abuse against Woody Allen involving Dylan and Mia Farrow in this explosive HBO documentary. Watch now »
HBO presents an intimate portrait of Tiger Woods, telling the real story of his road to riches and fame, which led him on to ruin and, finally, redemption. Watch now »
This is a haunting examination into the work of infamous Nevada fertility specialist Dr Quincy Fortier, a man who deceived countless women struggling to conceive by using his own sperm — without their knowledge or consent — to impregnate them.
Recalling a time before sperm banks, when little was understood about DNA, the film follows several of his biological children as they grapple with new information about their origins and their own identities, examining the morality of one doctor who used science and status to exploit innumerable women — and further his own genetic legacy — over nearly half a century. Watch now »
This brand-new four-part docuseries featuring Hollywood icon Samuel L Jackson looks at human trafficking from Africa to the New World, from three different perspectives. Over 400 years, over 12 million enslaved Africans were shipped to the Americas by Western European slave traders. At least two million perished during the sea voyage. Using new diving technology to locate and examine sunken slave ships off three continents, the series reveals an entirely new perspective on the history of the transatlantic slave trade. Watch now »
Nominated for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series at the 2020 Emmys, this in-depth docu-series shines a spotlight on one of the most polarising political figures of our time: Hillary Rodham Clinton. The four-part series, directed by Oscar nominee Nanette Burstein (On The Ropes), tracks Hillary’s life from childhood to the 2016 presidential campaign and beyond, drawing on thousands of hours of footage and extensive interviews with Clinton herself, as well as her family, friends, journalists and even former US President Barack Obama. Watch now »
This brand-new HBO documentary looks into the ongoing threat caused by the phenomenon of “fake news” in the US, focusing on the real-life consequences of disinformation campaigns, conspiracy theories and false news stories on the average person, with case studies from the wildfire theories around Seth Rich’s murder to the “Pizzagate” incident fuelled by disinformation about the leaked Clinton emails. Watch now »
In Kill Chain – The Cyber War On America’s Elections, Finnish hacker and cyber security expert Harri Hursti investigates the exploitable vulnerabilities in modern election technology, exposing just how unprotected America’s election systems really are. Watch now »
This 90-minute HBO documentary has a 100% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes. TIME Magazine says, “Kill Chain demands that we ask whom we’re trusting, and why.”
The Scheme tells the story of college basketball insider Christian Dawkins and the FBI investigation into the biggest corruption scandal in collegiate sports history, which threatened to take down the NCAA, and landed prominent Adidas execs and assistant coaches behind bars. Watch now »
This is the incredible story of how a plan to sell more burgers became a multi-million dollar fraud that eventually involved the mafia. At the time of writing, in April 2020, McMillion$ was the highest rated true-crime series of 2020 on Rotten Tomatoes. Watch now »
Untouchable tracks the rise and fall of the disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, featuring interviews with former colleagues and accusers in the wake of the scandal that shook Hollywood and catapulted the #MeToo movement to a global phenomenon.
Rotten Tomatoes critics consensus calls it “a gut-wrenching look at horrific abuses of power,” while London Evening Standard writes, “More than a portrait of one monstrous man, it’s a polemic against the complicit silence that accompanied years of alleged sexual misconduct, abuse and bullying.”
The Independent writes, “Where Untouchable excels… is in capturing the complexities surrounding sexual assault”, and The Guardian says, “Almost every woman watching will understand. Some men will, too. If these films add to their number, maybe we can begin to change the world.”
For a year, acclaimed British filmmaker Jeanie Finlay was embedded on the set of the hit HBO series Game of Thrones, chronicling the creation of the show’s final season and delving deep into the mud and blood to reveal the tears and triumphs of bringing the fantasy world of Westeros to life in the very real studios, fields and car-parks of Northern Ireland. Made with unprecedented access, Game Of Thrones: The Last Watch is an up-close and personal report from the trenches of production, following the crew and the cast as they contend with extreme weather, punishing deadlines and an ever-excited fandom hungry for spoilers. Game of Thrones: The Last Watch was simultaneously released on both M-Net and Showmax in May 2019, just after the Season 8 finale.
Claim to fame: The Last Watch is a 2019 Emmy nominee for Best Music Composition: Documentary and has a 100% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Mashable went so far as to claim The Last Watch was “a better ending than the Game Of Thrones finale… substantially more emotional and satisfying… A really, really good documentary…”
Directed by Black Reel winner Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali tells the boxing great’s story in his own voice, painting a vivid picture of the man Sports Illustrated declared the greatest athlete of the 20th Century. All Ali’s fights are here, from The Thrilla In Manila against Joe Frazier to The Rumble In The Jungle against George Foreman – the world’s most-watched live television broadcast at the time – to his fight as a 38-year-old against his former sparring partner Larry Holmes, who wept after beating his idol on a technical knockout. But as thrilling as watching Ali float like a butterfly and sting like a bee is, the real joy of the documentary is listening to him talk: What’s My Name should be written up as not just a great sports documentary, but also a great comedy, with even more quick-witted verbal sparring contests than knockout punches. HBO’s two-part documentary on the three-time heavyweight champion of the world was released first on Showmax in June 2019, just a month after its world premiere at Tribeca Film Festival.
Claim to fame: What’s My Name has a 94% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.5/10 rating on IMDB. As critic Richard Roeper wrote in The Chicago Sun-Times, “The greatness of What’s My Name is that if you’re young and you know very little of Muhammad Ali, this would be the perfect place to start learning about him — but if you remember Ali in his prime and you’re well-versed in his history, it’s still a must-see television event.”
And we didn’t even mention the African gems…
These are just the international documentaries on Showmax and this list doesn’t include internationally acclaimed, multi-award-winning African documentaries like How to Steal a Country, Liyana and Whispering Truth To Power, so there’s never been a better time to get hooked on the true-life drama of documentaries on Showmax.