Top 10 Famous Short Documentary Films In 2021

Short documentaries are popular and among the most watched films, mainly because of their teachings. They also expose happenings that people would not ordinarily know and help to expose unsung heroes who are making a significant contribution in the world. If you love short documentaries, the top 10 most popular ones in 2021 that you should consider watching are:

10. The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz is a captivating short documentary that was screen written, director, and produced Brian Knappenberger. The story is about Aaron Swartz, a 26-year-old American computer-programing prodigy, who was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment. The suicide note found in his room hinted that he had killed himself. What many people could not understand was his motivation. Before his death, Aaron Swartz was an internet activist. He organized web-based campaigns meant to address the political and educational challenges the United States (US) was grappling with at the time. Because of his actions, Aaron was arrested by the Federal Government and charged for flouting Federal laws. The prosecutors of his case branded him a convicted felon and vowed to put him behind bar for 35 years. Was the ill treatment or thought of spending 35 years behind bars Aaron’s motivation for killing himself? Many of his friends, family members, and supporters believed so. In this documentary, Brian Knappenberger pieces several anecdotal interviews and raw video footage around Aaron Swartz when he was still alive; to help people appreciate the long struggle and sacrifices many noble individuals make to ease the lives of others. It ranks ninth on our top 10 famous short documentary films in 2021 review.

9. The Square

The Square

The Square is an action packed short documentary that highlights the Egyptian revolution of 2011 in detail. Jehane Noujaim, the director and producer of this documentary, highlights the happenings that fueled the revolution at Tahrir square, Egypt, the controversies, and a plethora of other details local and international media stations did not share with their audiences, while covering this chilling event. Even though the documentary is recorded mainly in Arabic, it has English subtitles to help non-natives to follow its storyline. Since its premier at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival in 2021, this short documentary has won many awards and accolades. During the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, for example, The Square won the Audience Award for World Cinema. Later on in the year, it won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. In January 17, 2021, the documentary debuted in US on Netflix and a few other exclusive locations. It has been receiving positive feedback since.

The United States of America is among many countries that are actively involved in numerous civil wars worldwide. In Dirty Wars, and investigative journalist, Jeremy Scahill, embarks on a global mission to unmask the truth behind America’s involvement in many covert wars. Jeremy Scahill travels to countries such Yemen, Afghanistan, and Somalia and investigates the ills that American soldiers did, while fighting insurgents in those countries. For instance, at the end of the 90-minute documentary, you will learn more about the collateral damage that occurred in many countries and how US soldiers covered up many civilian deaths. You will also know how the US assassinated American and foreign nationals in the name of fighting terror via interviews by army generals, Special Forces Operators, CIA agents and other high-ranking personnel. The documentary debuted on January 18 during the 2021 edition of the Sundance Film Festival in the United States and won the Cinematography Award. It has since aired in many theaters within and outside the US. Apart from the Cinematography Award, Dirty Ward was nominated for an Academy Award for the Best Documentary Feature in 2021 and an Oscar for the Best Documentary Feature in 2021.

7. Cutie and the Boxer

Cutie the boxer is a famous American documentary that was shot, produced, and directed by Zachary Heinzerling. The story behind this documentary is a bumpy 40-year marriage of a renowned boxing artist, Ushio Shinohara and his painter wife Noriko Shinohara. It features their young years at university. The documentary also highlights their rocky marriage, disappointments, sacrifices amidst their love for art. Since its debuted in 2021, it has aired in many international theaters, and won many awards and nominations including the Best Director Award, Grand Jury Prize, Academy Award for best Documentary, and an Oscar.

6. Facing Fear

Facing fear is a 23-minute documentary produced and directed by Jason Cohen. This documentary highlights an inspirational story of Matthew Boger, a 13-year-old gay who was discriminated because of his sexual orientation. Hopeless and distraught, Matthew opted to live on the streets of New York, where he was beaten and left for dead by neo-Nazi skinheads. Miraculously, Matthew survived and lived to meet one of the neo-Nazi attackers, Tim Zaal, 25 years later. Instead of reprimanding Zaal or hating him for their cowardly action, Mathew and Zaal embark on a journey of reconciliation and forgiveness and ultimately, a life-long friendship. This short documentary debuted in 2021 and has since won many nominations and awards. Key one are: the 2021 Academy nomination, 2021 Oscar nomination, and Best Short Subject Documentary Award nomination in 2021.

5. Cavedigger

Jeffrey Karoff’s 23-minute documentary, The Cavedigger, was among the most watched in 2021, and currently one of the most famous worldwide. Released in January 12, 2021, the documentary highlights the story of Ra Paulette and his cathedral-like caves in the sandstone cliffs in New Mexico. Although his projects are ambitious and take him years to complete, Ra does not charge commissions for touring his works and is now working on an ambitious 10-year projects that he says will be the mother of all his creations. The documentary was nominated for the Best Short Subject Documentary Academy Award and an Oscar in 2021. It ranks fifth on our review of top 10 most famous short documentary films in 2021.

4. Song from the Forest

The Song from the Forest is an epic documentary by Michael Obert, adapted from a book by Louis Sarno. The documentary has an interesting storyline shot in two locations, the African Rainforest and New York City. After listening to an inspiring African Song on radio, Sarno, who is the main character in this documentary, embarks on a long journey to Africa. His main goal was to identify the source of the music he had heard, find, and then learn about the local tribe behind the inspiring sound. After traveling for hours, he scoured the rainforest and finally found the source of his inspiration, the Bayaka, a tribe of hunting and gathering pygmies. Smitten by the stature, rich history, and the way of life of the Bayaka; Sarno spent 25 years with them recording over 1000 hours of their inspiring music using his audio recorder. He also learnt about their culture and became a recognized member of the Bayaka society. During his stay in the forest, Sarno sired a child, a boy, who he called Samedi. One day, Samedi fell ill. Sarno promised to take him back to his country of origin if he got well. He did, and Sarno honored his promise. Born and bred in the forest, Samedi was smitten by glass and skyscrapers in New York. He had to learn and adapt to his new way of life from scratch. Song from the Forest has won international acclaim and featured in cinemas in countries worldwide since 2021. It debuted in the US in 2021. Since its release, it has won many awards, three of the most notable ones being the VPRO IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary in 2021, the Official Selection of SXSW in 2021, and Official Selection of the Thessaloniki Doc Festival in 2021. It ranks fourth on our top 10 review of the most famous documentaries in 2021.

3. Twenty Feet from Stardom

Twenty Feet from Stardom is short documentary highlighting the backup singers behind some of the most famous musicians of the twenty first century. In this documentary, Morgan Neville highlights how less-known backup singers gave contributed to the success of many musical legends such as Merry Clayton, Tata Vega, Jude Hill, and Jo Lawry among many others. This documentary premiered in January 17, 2021 at the Sundance Film Festival and to the rest of America on June 14, 2021. It has since featured on many theaters and won numerous nominations and awards.

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2. The Act of Killing

The act of killing is a thrilling documentary shot in Indonesia. It highlights how residents of the country consider death squad leaders to be heroes and how they encourage them to perpetrate real-life mass killings mimicking the scenes they have watched in movies. Although this documentary by Joe Oppenheimer premiered in 2012, it continues to feature in many cinema halls to date. It has also won many awards key among then being the 2021 Best Documentary BAFTA Awards. It is also the second most popular in 2021.

1. The Lady in Number 6

The Lady in Number 6 is a captivating true story and an Oscar Award winner in the 2021 edition of the event. In this documentary, Malcolm Clarke highlighted the story of the world’s oldest holocaust survivor then, the late Alice Herz-Summer (1903-2021). Throughout the documentary, Alice discusses her life’s up and down and teaches how you can use laughter, music, and other positive things in life to improve your optimism and better your life.

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