Posted: Jun 25, 2014 9:00 AM
Think educational films have to be boring? Today's documentaries are anything but dull.
Photo credit: JGI/Jamie Grill / Blend Images / Getty Images

A good documentary will keep viewers enthralled, while educating or informing them on the topic at hand. Here we recommend a few films that will keep you entertained, while slipping a little culture and education your way.

Jiro Dreams of SushiJiro Dreams of Sushi

Image credit: Magnolia Pictures

In a tiny sushi bar in a Tokyo subway, guests make reservations months in advance for one of the 10 coveted seats and pay top dollar to be served by 85-year-old renowned sushi chef Jiro Ono. At first glance, this 2011 documentary from Magnolia Pictures appears to be about sushi. But with Jiro’s opening words, the viewer realizes that this isn’t a film so much about sushi as it is a film about dedication, family and mastering your craft. “You have to fall in love with your work," Jiro states. "You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the key to success and the key to being regarded honorably.” 

Lost in LivingLost in Living

Image credit: Ma and Pa Films

Filmed over a seven year period, Lost in Living documents the lives of four women who struggle to balance the roles of artist and mother. Kristina, a filmmaker, and Caren, a painter, are friends who each attempt to hold onto their creativity as they experience first-time motherhood, while Marjorie, a painter, and Merrill, an author, look back at how motherhood influenced their creativity, and vice versa. Lost in Living gives an intimate look into the lives of these women and how the intersection of motherhood and creativity affects — and competes with — their lives, their ambitions and their families.

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low PriceWal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price

Image credit: Brave New Films

Fans of the gigantic discount chain will either flock to this 2005 film, or stay far, far away from it. Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price digs into the depths of the corporation’s business practices, with interviews from current and former employees and small business owners, mixed with statistics of how the retail giant has impacted the individuals and communities in which its stores have been built.

Bill Cunningham: New YorkBill Cunningham: New York

Image credit: Zeitgeist Films

At over 80 years old, photographer Bill Cunningham may not be young, but he is a fixture on the New York fashion scene. Since 1978 Bill has determined the direction of fashion in The New York Times’ “On the Street,” depicting high style as seen on Manhattan models, actors and socialites and even fashionable passers-by. But behind the camera is a man who is in love with his work, with New York and with his faith, and in his tiny one-room apartment in Carnegie Hall, Bill shows the viewer that one needs little more than that to feel rich.

The squareThe Square

Image credit: Noujaim Films

In January 2011, an uprising in Egypt’s Tahrir Square demanded the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek. Protestors from a variety of different religious and socio-economic backgrounds came together in demonstrations, marches and non-violent civil resistance, as well as violent riots that killed over 800 people. This Netflix documentary follows a group of young revolutionaries, including British-Egyptian actor Khalid Abdalla (The Kite Runner), whose father was also an Egyptian activist in the 1970s. Over a period of two years, The Square takes the viewer through the personal triumphs and tragedies of those affected by the country’s regime.

Nursery UniversityNursery University

Image credit: Elementary Films

Applications, competition and sky-high tuition aren't just for college anymore. In New York City, families must get a head start on their children's futures by getting them into the best preschool, which will lead to the best kindergarten, middle school, high school and eventually university. Filmed in 2008, the documentary explores the difficulties that applicants from various socioeconomic backgrounds face and how far some will go to secure their children's futures. Nursery University is a lighthearted film, but uncovers some disturbing societal truths.

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