The Best Documentaries on Amazon Prime

From Lorena to California Dreams, here are the best documentaries to watch on Amazon Prime.

lorena bobbitt trial

Image via Getty/ Consolidated News Pictures

lorena bobbitt trial

Amazon Prime is known for much more than their fast delivery. The platform has thousands of titles to explore, rivaling streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. And with film titles like Training Day and The Boondock Saints, to TV shows including Downton Abbey, Amazon Prime Video has proven itself worthy of investment. But, if non-fiction films and TV shows aren't up your alley, Amazon has plenty of documentaries that will leave you satisfied. From true-crime documentaries, to Oscar-winning filmmaking feats, Amazon Prime has all the bases covered. For music fans, the five-part documentary Free Meek follows rapper Meek Mill's evolution from musician to the country's most famous face for criminal justice reform. Lorena is perfect for anyone looking to get their dose of true-crime and Sliders of Ghost Town is a great documentary for lovers of all things spooky. Amazon Prime has all the real-life footage you need to satiate any cravings for must-see documentaries.

Lorena (2019)

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Director: Joshua Rafe

In 1993, Lorena Bobbitt made worldwide news for cutting off her husband’s penis after years of alleged abuse. Lorena’s claims were ridiculed and her integrity was brought into question on talk shows and in newspaper headlines, lending real insight into how the world perceived victims of abuse. The sensationalized story is brought back to life in a unique Jordan Peele produced series that examines deeper details of the case that were typically glossed over or flat out ignored by the press during court proceedings. Lorena is a documentary that debunks the myths surrounding the event and allows its namesake to tell her story in full for the first time.     

Free Meek (2019)

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Director: N/A

Meek Mill made nationwide news when his 2017 probation violation led to incarceration. The popular rapper catapulted to front page headlines when FREE MEEK became a movement that focused on wrongful incarceration and a call for reform of the criminal justice system. The series takes time to show Meek’s budding career as a teenage battle rapper and his constant motivation for fame, in addition to his upbringing and the pervasive nature of law enforcement in his neighborhood. For black men in America, the narrative of trying to survive is a daily reality, and Free Meek illustrates how racism, planted evidence, and systemic corruption attempt to ruin lives every day

Ladyboys, Another Landscape (2017)

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The Black Miami (2014)

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Director: Michael Williams, Carlton Smith

Despite Miami having a rich cultural history, Black people have been virtually excluded from the popular narrative. The Black Miami contains a wealth of information about Blacks and their involvement in the flourish of Southern Florida, dating back to the 1600s. The film’s primary focus is the past, and the history of Miami is inextricably tied to current Black life. The Black Miami unravels the untold history of America’s “magic city,” and what experts say the future has in store for the dazzling city.

That Sugar Film (2015)

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Director: Damon Gameau

In an experiment reminiscent of Supersize Me, Damon Gameau illustrates how prevalent sugar is in mainstream American society. He begins with the history of sugar and describes sugar as an epidemic, venturing out to different parts of the United States to see how sugar has affected smaller communities. Through the documentary, Gameau is running a 60-day experiment where he consumes seemingly healthy foods and keeps his sugar intake at 40 teaspoons a day. That Sugar Film is addictive and stomach-churning. While the scientific evidence is damning enough, the personal accounts are the most heartbreaking, as the film adequately explains how the present day sugar rush has affected the health and quality of life of Aboriginal communities and rural midwestern towns.

Carts of Darkness (2008)

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Director: Murray Siple

Murray Siple filmed Carts of Darkness with a desire to feel the energy of extreme sports again. The filmmaker returned behind the camera after being involved in a car accident that rendered him a quadriplegic, and embarked on a journey of friendship and exhilaration with shopping cart racers in Vancouver. On its surface, the film is about homeless men who created a sport out of racing shopping carts down dangerous hills. But in a bolder sense, Carts of Darkness captures a story of men who have shunned a traditional life and embraced their own freedom.

The Creepy Line (2018)

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Director: Jordan B. Peterson, Dr. Robert Epstein

The internet plays a powerful role in our lives, but how deep does it really go? In The Creepy Line, we find out the unsettling ways Google and Facebook mine information from its users. The documentary focuses on how reliant the public is on such powerful engines, and breaks down the terrifying extent to which our data is monitored. It doesn’t end there— the film pushes the conversation further when it unpacks what happens when these companies have free reign to use the data they acquire.The jaw-dropping firsthand accounts and scientific evidence tell a manipulative tale of electronic invasiveness, and warn what could happen if it isn’t stopped.

The Parking Lot Movie (2010)

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Director: Meghan Eckman

Every parking lot attendant has undoubtedly seen some of the worst aspects of the human condition. The Parking Lot Movie interviews parking attendants as they identify the hierarchies of parking lot workers and the class disparities between attendants and drivers. In this documentary, the parking lot attendants express how they hold the key to deeper enlightenment and personal freedom because of the literal and symbolic nature of their occupation. The narrative of the parking lot worker is one that is rarely even considered, and the comedic value of this film is bar none. The Parking Lot Movie will give perspective to a rarely thought about position and alter the way you think about the attendants.

Bingo Confidential (2009)

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Director: Susan Noel Benfatto

Bingo Confidential is a comedy-documentary that follows different bingo playing enthusiasts as they describe how they became enthralled with the game of chance. The six players tell their bingo origin stories as they prepare to compete in The Ethel Bell Memorial Bingo Game, which has a one million dollar reward for a lucky winner. As we learn more about each of the players, the fun of bingo turns into an apparent obsession as some players turn to extreme methods in order to ensure winning the cash prize.

California Dreams (2018)

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Director: Mike Ott

California Dreams records various unsuccessful actors as they go through excruciatingly awkward and hilarious auditions in Southern California, proving the dream of acting in Hollywood is far from dead. In this mesmerizing film, Mike Ott chronicles the actors’ daily struggles of trying to pursue acting. The film is broken up into a series of vignettes, where each person tells when their dream started, what their acceptance award speech would be, and truthfully, how chasing this dream has ruined part of their life.

Sunshine Hotel (2002)

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Director: Michael Dominic

For decades, New York City’s Sunshine Hotel offered low-income lodging to those who have fallen on hard times. Michael Dominic’s documentary of the lives of different men who found a place to lay their heads is a testament to what he describes as “the old New York”. The hotel’s location was formerly one of the country’s most notorious skid rows, but over the years has been gentrified, leaving the homeless largely ignored. The building struggled to keep its doors open for years after the documentary, gradually being bought piece by piece in favor of restaurants and art galleries. Sunshine Hotel is a brutal look at how the homelessness are dehumanized and rendered invisible, and who suffers in attempts to erase aspects of New York’s culture.

Sliders of Ghost Town (2017)

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Director: Braedon Freeland

When Knott’s Berry Farm began Halloween Haunt in 1973, they had no idea the landscape of haunted houses would change forever. For the visitor, haunted houses are a temporary enjoyment during the Halloween season, but for the workers, it’s a lifestyle. When Halloween Haunt workers created the idea of “sliding”, a method of gliding across asphalt at the park to startle customers, a new genre of fear began. Sliders of Ghost Town is an oral history of the art of scaring that has evolved largely because of Knott’s Scary Farm, and how the workers elevate scary costumes into high-level artistry, complete with character development and dedication to their craft.

At the Drive In (2019)

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Director: Alexander Monelli

At the Drive In is a passionate documentary about the camaraderie that brewed in a Pennsylvania town when a local drive-in was in danger of closing. The local landmark only shows movies in 35mm, a style that is antiquated for some, but cherished by film aficionados across movie genres. As the drive-in is threatened with permanent closure, local residents volunteer their time to revamp the location and volunteer their time in exchange for seeing free movies. The film is quirky and sweet, brimming with a contagious nostalgia from everyone involved.

PEZheads: The Movie (2007)

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Director: Christopher Marshall

The candy industry is constantly changing. New sweet treats with different wow factors are introduced nearly every time we blink, dazzling consumers with mouth-watering ingredients. Through this, PEZ remains beloved far and wide, especially by collectors. PEZheads unveils the underground world of PEZ aficionados who hunt down rare PEZ dispensers. At one point, the cartoon character and celebrity-themed candy dispensers were easier for collectors to come across, and many PEZ fans used to find the rare toys at flea markets. As the internet grows, PEZ collectors take to buying the dispensers on ebay or from Pez dealers at PEZ conventions, spending upward of hundreds of dollars to complete their sets.

The Hollywood Complex (2011)

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Director: Dylan Nelson, Dan Sturman

Children from all over the country vye for a spot at the Oakwood, an apartment complex that serves as a pseudo-bootcamp for fame-hungry children and their families. The families move into the Oakwood for approximately three months, and the kids train with management, learning how to compete at casting calls and auditions. The aspiring showbiz kids are rarely shown playing, and rather spend their time being homeschooled or posing for headshots. The six families learn how to navigate the entertainment world in The Hollywood Complex, a feel-good film about determination, tinged with moments of honest heartbreak.

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