Festive Season by Hena Sharma

The Ultimate Documentary Guide for the Holiday Season

Wherever you are in the world, sit back and let us transport you from mountain terrains to mapping underground cultural scenes.

We’ve curated a list of our favourite travel and culture documentaries for you to watch over this festive period. Follow skiers and snowboarders as they move through three extraordinary forest landscapes across Japan, British Columbia and Nevada, exploring the connection between humans and our oldest living companions or transport yourself back to the spirit of the 80’s rave and acid house in the UK - we’ve got something for every mood. This is your ultimate guide to documentaries for the holiday season.

14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible

This documentary follows the story of Nepalese mountaineer Nimsdai Purja and his quest to summit 14 of the world’s 8000-meter peaks in seven months. The documentary is breathtaking, highlighting Nimsadai’s journey climbing all of the world’s ‘eight-thousanders’ located between the Himalayas and Karakoram mountain ranges, with drone shots throughout.

The documentary captures the power of perseverance and the deep significance of high-altitude mountaineering to Nepalese culture. It follows Nimsdai and his crew of sherpas, giving a voice to those whose voices are often unheard.

Watch on Netflix

A Day in Paradise (Trippin)

Trippin’s debut short film “A Day In Paradise,” directed by Will Reid intimately explores Zihuatanejo, Mexico through the lens of its local inhabitants and the people that call it their home. Though lesser known than other Mexican cities like Oaxaca and Guadalajara, Zihuatanejo is a vibrant coastal paradise, lined with beaches and palm trees.

Enjoy this visually stunning short during the cold winter months and immerse yourself into the laid-back lifestyle of Zihuatanejo. Soak in the magic of the area and its people through a screen for now, but after watching, Zihuatenjo may be one to add to your ‘22 travel list.

Watch below

The Dawn Wall

Mountaineering documentary, ‘The Dawn Wall’ captures the personal and touching story of Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson completing their 19-day climb of the 915 metre-tall Dawn Wall in California’s Yosemite National Park in 2015. Not just focusing on the momentous climb, the film also touches upon Tommy’s life and his experiences of adversity – from being taken hostage on a climbing expedition in Kyrgyzstan to losing a finger. The documentary shows all that gave him strength and motivation to tackle his hardest climb yet and is a compelling watch.

Watch on Netflix

Summer of Soul

The perfect documentary for music lovers. Summer of Soul directed by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson showcases some of the unseen moments and performances from the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival and deep dives into the history of the six week festival that saw performances from musical greats like Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson and more.

The festival was largely forgotten about despite its significance for African American music and its hand in establishing Black pride. Much of the footage from this ‘69 festival had been sitting in a basement for half a century until recovered by Ahmir. Watch Summer of Soul and see the epic event that celebrated Black music, life and culture in 1969.

Watch on Hulu / Disney+

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

This cult documentary showcases the work of Jiro, revered as the world’s greatest sushi chef. Considered a national treasure in Japan, the documentary chronicles his life’s work, the art of perfectionism and the runnings of the 10-seat sushi restaurant he owns with his son.

Watch on Amazon Prime

Vol Spécial

Filmmaker Fernand Melgar examines the plight of undocumented immigrants at a detention centre in Geneva. This hard-hitting documentary covers the thousands of men and women in Geneva’s detention centres where they could be imprisoned for up to 2 years and are kept in inhumane conditions.

Everybody in the Place

This music history documentary re-evaluates acid house as we know it, re-contextualising it and highlighting the origins of the genre. The doc gives us the background to acid-house and showcases the social and political landscape of 1980s Britain in its origins.

Watch below

Treeline by Patagonia

Treeline by outdoor clothing and gear company, Patagonia, pays homage to our world's oldest living organisms – trees. The film “celebrates the forests on which our species have always depended—and around which some skiers and snowboarders etch their entire lives.”

Watch below

High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America

High on the Hog sheds light on the elements of American cuisine that stem from African American culture and traditions. Classics like Mac n Cheese have deep rooted links to the South and Black, enslaved chefs like James Hemings. Host Stephen Satterfield also talks to the new cultural change makers from the African American community that want to continue pushing and developing the cuisine for generations to come.

Watch on Netflix

Fantastic Fungi

Delve into the magical world of fungi, from mushrooms that clear oil spills to underground fungal networks that help trees communicate with the documentary Fantastic Fungi. The documentary brings us in on the complex underground mycelium networks that exist around the world and are vital to the biodiversity of soils and soil fertility. Fungi and mycelium in recent years has garnered a lot of attention for its medicinal and healing properties and the documentary urges for a paradigm shift in our use and trust in fungi.

Watch on Netflix

ASCEND by The North Face

This video documents the story and experience of Indian-American skier and skateboarder Vasu Sojitra who is motivated to break down barriers for ‘dis’abled athletes and mountaineers. In the short film, Vasu and two of his friends are followed on their journey to ski Mt. Moran in Wyoming – a moving film that captures Vasu’s hard work to advocate for better outdoor representation of differently abled people.

Watch below

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