Democracy’s Dozen: 12 docs to stream while waiting out COVID-19

Here are a dozen documentaries and docu-series to stream during this period of 'social distancing.'

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Needless to say, we’re all adjusting to a new normal in the era of COVID-19. And as we all take it day by day amid this ongoing public health concern, we hope you remain healthy, active, and engaged. Times like these summon us to care for one another and to step into larger roles as engaged, informed, and responsible members of our community. This is a fast-moving situation that is creating no shortage of anxiety, but we are confident that as Nebraskans, we will get through this together.

During this stretch, we thought we’d help pass the time with our latest Democracy’s Dozen – 12 documentaries and docu-series about politics, current events, and democracy that you can stream anytime. We hope you enjoy these options and look forward to your reviews. Stay healthy, friends!

1. Rigged: The Voter Suppression Playbook

“Narrated by outspoken actor Jeffrey Wright, Rigged follows the recent trajectory of voter suppression in the United States, and outlines a voter suppression playbook, which outlines at least 10 ways certain players are putting forth a concerted, well-funded effort to disenfranchise voters and maintain power— from purging voter rolls, to voter ID laws, to ‘cracking and packing’ congressional districts to consolidate power for one group or break up power for another.” – TheRoot

2. Mitt

2013 | Netflix 

“Mitt is a rare and intimate account of one man’s quest for the presidency. Given unprecedented access by Mitt Romney and his family for six years, Mitt follows the former governor’s presidential aspirations, from Christmas 2006 to his initial run to become the Republican nominee in 2008 and through his Presidential concession speech in 2012. Director Greg Whiteley travels alongside the campaign through interactions with potential voters, preparations for the debates, personal moments with his family and concluding with final presidential election night results. Whatever side you’re on, see another side.” – Netflix

3. Constitution USA with Peter Sagal

2013 | 4 episodes | Amazon Prime

“The series leaves you with a renewed appreciation of the Constitution and its language, so presciently chosen, as if the founders could somehow see that we would need a defining document that was flexible enough to be applied to school desegregation and the internet. And it gives you a new tolerance for the endless bickering over what the founders intended.” – The New York Times

4. Get Me Roger Stone

2017 |Netflix

“On the surface, this film is about Roger Stone, Trump’s former political adviser who left the campaign in 2015. But it’s about so much more — Trump’s rise to power, Washington’s political culture, and America’s pivot to a post-truth existence. Get Me Roger Stone features interviews with Stone himself, Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, and many others. It offers a stunning look at how one man’s career helped create Trump, the politician.” –Business Insider

5. The Great Hack

2019 | Netflix

“You leave with a very clear sense of how one company aided and abetted the selling of democracy down the river, not to mention having your fingernails chewed down to the quick.” – Rolling Stone

6. Nobody Speak

2018 | Netflix

“This work draws a through-line from Hulk Hogan’s privacy lawsuit against Gawker to the journalistic challenges posed by the presidency of Donald Trump, with three overarching points. The first is that the Hogan case had far-ranging implications for the media’s ability to cover public figures. The $140M judgment against Gawker sets a precedent that the movie argues could snuff out significant reporting. The second is that the lawsuit, later revealed to have been bankrolled by billionaire Peter Thiel, represented a powerful figure secretly using wealth to stifle a voice he regarded as adversarial. The third is that the presidency of  Trump, who makes a regular target of reporters, represents a threat to news organizations interested in pursuing the truth.” – The New York Times

7. Whose Streets?

2017 |Hulu

“The more current an event is, the more difficult it can be to create a complete, definitive documentary surrounding it. Whose Streets? does not have that problem. Whose Streets? paints a full, compelling, and depressing portrait of the streets of Ferguson, Missouri after unarmed teenager Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in 2014. Whose Streets? doesn’t dwell on the event itself but rather the response. What does nonviolent protest look like in the new millennium and how can it succeed in the face of an increasingly militarized police force? Whose Streets? doesn’t have the answers but it asks the right questions and tells human stories.” – Den of Geek

8. I Voted?

2016 | Amazon Prime

“Jason Grant Smith takes us on a six-year journey into the heart of American democracy – the vote. What begins as an examination of a South Carolina U.S. Senate primary soon turns into an in-depth exploration of American election integrity. How do we know our votes count? The answer is both surprising and disturbing.” – Amazon

9. 13TH

2019 | Netflix

“Powerful, infuriating and at times overwhelming, Ava DuVernay’s documentary will get your blood boiling and tear ducts leaking. It shakes you up, but it also challenges your ideas about the intersection of race, justice and mass incarceration in the United States, subject matter that could not sound less cinematic.” – The New York Times

10. What Is Democracy?

2019 | Amazon Prime

“A smart doc that’s as earnest and scattered as the viewers likely to seek it out, Astra Taylor’s What Is Democracy? looks around at the world and realizes that even those of us on the right sides of things aren’t always sure what we’re fighting for. This is no civics lesson on gerrymandering and the electoral college, but a global musing on what human beings should expect from each other. Those seeking tidy answers should look elsewhere: Most of Taylor’s interviewees are honest enough not to even claim the questions are tidy.” – The Hollywood Reporter

11. Far From the Tree

“With a strongly ingrained lesson of accepting each and every person for who they are, Far From The Tree provides an intimate look at families in which society has deemed a member to be different or not normal. It’s an important film for everyone to watch as a reminder that the things people are often defined by are the characteristics that are least exemplary of their true nature.” – Collider

12. America To Me

2018 | 10 episodes |Hulu 

America to Me, named for a line in a poem by Langston Hughes, James and his crew follow 12 Oak Park (Illinois) students, along with several administrators and teachers. The series is frank about difficulties the filmmakers encountered as they tried to capture their characters’ stories, and it’s self-aware about how race and implicit bias in particular affects the students’ educational experiences, even in a school whose population isn’t considered at-risk. The result is funny, poignant, and gripping — America in microcosm through the lens of its teenagers, who navigate personal troubles against the backdrop of their country’s own big conversations.” – Vox

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