Welcome to Documental, a monthly column keeping fans of nonfiction films and docuseries up to date on all the documentary content coming to and leaving from your favorite streaming services. Here’s a guide to all the essential documentary titles streaming in November 2021.
Let’s try this again, shall we? After a number of months off, Nonfics is back with another all-encompassing streaming guide. November brings a lot to be thankful for if you’re a fan of nonfiction, including a number of features nominated for this year’s Critics Choice Documentary Awards (winners to be announced on November 14th). They and other recommendations will be showing on such streaming services and channels as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Discovery+, PBS, and more.
Below the highlights of the month, find a comprehensive calendar listing everything new in nonfiction film and television arriving through November 2021.
Pick of the Month: All Light, Everywhere
From Theo Anthony, the director of Rat Film, comes another documentary that veers towards the direction of essay film without being too abstract or otherwise inaccessible for a general nonfiction film audience. All Light, Everywhere is indeed a kind of modern-day Man with a Movie Camera for its meta-textual approach to ways of seeing — and on the combined subjects of cinema, guns, and surveillance — yet it’s also essential for its cautionary reporting aspect. Particularly for its look at the use of body cams by the police.
All Light, Everywhere was one of our favorites at Sundance, and it’s still one of the best films of the year of any kind (never mind that it didn’t receive any Critics Choice Documentary Awards nominations!). Now it is heading to Hulu at the end of the month — specifically on the 29th — and is our documentary streaming pick of the month of November 2021.
Critics Choice Nominees!
Just in time for fans to see what the Critics Choice Association is honoring this year, a few of the Critics Choice Documentary Awards nominees are hitting various streaming services in November 2021.
First up is Alonso Ruizpalacios‘ A Cop Movie, which is nominated for Best Cinematography, recognizing the work of Emiliano Villanueva. Through dramatic “reenactment” following actors Mónica Del Carmen and Raúl Briones, the film depicts the stories of police officers in Mexico City. Watch it as soon as possible, and maybe follow it with the Mexico City ambulance doc Midnight Family (streaming on HBO Max). It’d also pair well with All Light, Everywhere later. It begins streaming on Netflix on November 5th.
Then there’s Best Political Documentary contender Mayor Pete, which arrives on Amazon Prime Video on November 12th. Directed by Jesse Moss (The Overnighters), the film follows former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg during his presidential campaign through 2019 and early 2020. It’s a rather conventional work made enjoyable by Buttigieg, who makes us understand why he was such a popular candidate and why he’s being honored at the CCDAs as one of the year’s most compelling living documentary subjects.
If you’re interested in something less traditional, there’s Best Documentary Feature nominee Procession, another film by (former Nonfics contributor) Robert Greene that stretches the boundaries of what docs can do while embracing more performative aspects. This time, Greene follows a handful of survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests. While they are interested in legal justice, this film focuses on a sort of personal, psychological justice by grouping the men together for therapeutic reenactments of their stories.
The most interesting element to the film for me is the distinction between each of the subjects and how they’ve differently been dealing with the pain up until now (I hate to call one of them a scene-stealer in this context but Mike Foreman is certainly the most memorable personality). Whether that’s problematic for my appreciation of the way they more uniformly confront their past in this particular process is something I’ll figure out after further viewings. Fortunately, it’ll be easily revisited over and over when it debuts on Netflix on November 19th.
Last but not least of this bunch is the latest from Liz Garbus (a recent Critics Choice Real TV Awards winner for I’ll Be Gone in the Dark). Becoming Cousteau is up for Best Documentary Feature, Best Director, Best Narration, Best Archival Documentary, and Best Science/Nature Documentary. The all-archival film follows a biographical narrative of iconic explorer, researcher, and nonfiction cinema icon Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Watch and learn of his many achievements and developments. Including those that were regrettable in later years, such as his part in finding oil in the Persian Gulf.
Due to the setting and evolution of Cousteau’s life and work, particularly due to changes in mind about the profession and the world, this doc makes for an excellent double feature with fellow 2021 CCDA nominee Playing with Sharks: The Valerie Taylor Story. Fortunately, both will be available in the same place with Becoming Cousteau starts streaming on Disney+ on November 24th.
A Garrett Bradley Retrospective
Speaking of the Critics Choice Documentary Awards, one of last year’s nominees is now being honored with a special curation from The Criterion Channel. Garrett Bradley, whose debut feature, Time, also received an Oscar nod this year, previously directed four documentaries with briefer running times. And you can watch them all now as part of the “Short Films by Garrett Bradley” program, which is officially scheduled for November 3rd but should be available as of the first of the month.
In chronological order, there’s Like, which is about “click farms” in Bangladesh, Alone, which concerns the process of marrying someone in prison, The Earth is Humming, about earthquake preparedness in Japan, and America, which is focused on Black cinema in the US. That last selection is also available on the Field of Vision website for free — along with a series of related talks and events — starting November 1st.
Peter Jackson Meets The Beatles
One of the most anticipated documentary events of the year is a three-part series from Peter Jackson. If you were impressed with his previous documentary, the World War I feature They Shall Not Grow Old, you’ll want to mark your calendar for this three-day release. The Beatles: Get Back is similarly made up entirely of archival footage, this time encompassing unseen material shot during the Fab Four’s recording of the album Let It Be and accompanying documentary film of the same name.
This version of the same events of the 1970 doc looks more positive in terms of the relationships between John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Less fighting, more creative collaboration. Maybe we’ll have a different perspective on Yoko Ono after it’s all over? The Beatles: Get Back premieres its first episode on Disney+ on November 25th, just in time for Thanksgiving, then subsequent parts debut on November 26th and November 27th.
Your Documentary Streaming Calendar for November 2021
|11/1||Hale County This Morning, This Evening (2018)||The Criterion Channel|
|Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation (2020)||The Criterion Channel|
|Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006)||Hulu|
|The Informant: Fear and Faith in the Heartland (2021)||Hulu||Hulu Original|
|60 Days In -- Season 6 (2020)||Netflix||History Channel Reality Series|
|Dave Chappelle’s Block Party (2005)||Netflix|
|The Neutral Ground||PBS||POV Episode|
|North by Current (2021)||PBS||POV Episode|
|11/2||Undercover Underage (2021)||Discovery+|
|Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis (2021)||Netflix||Netflix Original|
|The Power of the Fed (2021)||PBS||Frontline Episode|
|11/3||Alone (2017)||The Criterion Channel||Short Films by Garrett Bradley|
|America (2019)||The Criterion Channel||Short Films by Garrett Bradley|
|The Earth is Humming (2018)||The Criterion Channel||Short Films by Garrett Bradley|
|Like (2016)||The Criterion Channel||Short Films by Garrett Bradley|
|Lords of Scam (2021)||Netflix||Netflix Original|
|Berkeley in the Sixties (1990)||Ovid.tv|
|11/4||Space Titans: Musk, Bezos, Branson (2021)||Discovery+|
|Photo Ark -- Season 2||Disney+|
|Storm Rising -- Season 1||Disney+|
|Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi: Holiday Edition (2021)||Hulu||Hulu Original Series|
|Catching Killers -- Season 1||Netflix||Netflix Original Series|
|11/5||A Cop Movie (2021)||Netflix||Netflix Original|
|11/6||Please Vote for Me (2007)||The Criterion Channel|
|11/8||The Mystery of Picasso (1956)||The Criterion Channel|
|Unraveled: Experts on Trial (2021)||Discovery+|
|Ferguson Rising (2021)||PBS||Independent Lens Episode|
|11/9||Dear Rider: The Jake Burton Story (2021)||HBO Max||HBO Original|
|Swap Shop: Dash for Cash -- Season 1 (2021)||Netflix||Netflix Original Series|
|Your Life Is a Joke -- Season 1 (2021)||Netflix||Netflix Original Series|
|Sunday School with Franz Hinkelammert (2012)||Ovid.tv|
|11/10||Animal -- Season 1 (2021)||Netflix||Netflix Original Series|
|Love Never Lies / Amor Con Fianza -- Season 1 (2021)||Netflix||Netflix Original Series|
|Christmas with Chávez (2013)||Ovid.tv|
|Chums from Across the Void (2015)||Ovid.tv|
|Decision 80 (2003)||Ovid.tv|
|Dick Cheney in a Cold, Dark Cell (2009)||Ovid.tv|
|The Drunkard's Lament (2018)||Ovid.tv|
|11/11||Delphine's Prayers (2021)||Ovid.tv|
|11/12||Mayor Pete (2021)||Amazon Prime||Amazon Original|
|90 Day: The Single Life (2021)||Discovery+|
|The World According to Jeff Goldblum -- Season 2 (2021)||Disney+|
|Under The Helmet: The Legacy Of Boba Fett (2021)||Disney+|
|11/13||Anni: The Honeymoon Murder (2021)||Discovery+|
|Carole Baskin’s Cage Fight (2021)||Discovery+|
|The World’s Biggest Druglord (2021)||Discovery+|
|11/15||The Exiles (1961)||The Criterion Channel|
|America’s Next Top Model (2003-2018)||Netflix||CBS Reality Series|
|Survivor -- Season 16 (2008)||Netflix||CBS Reality Series|
|Storm Lake (2021)||PBS||Independent Lens Episode|
|11/16||Well Done with Sebastian Maniscalco (2021)||Discovery+|
|Evolution of Organic (2017)||Ovid.tv|
|11/17||Kendra Sells Hollywood (2021)||Discovery+|
|The Mighty Underdogs (2021)||Discovery+|
|Disney’s Magic Bake-Off (2021)||Disney+|
|Life Below Zero: Next Generation -- Season 3 (2021)||Disney+|
|Tiger King -- Season 2 (2021)||Netflix||Netflix Original Series|
|Our Blood is Wine (2017)||Ovid.tv|
|11/18||The Curse of Von Dutch (2021)||Hulu||Hulu Original Series|
|Eat This New York (2006)||Ovid.tv|
|The Last Season (2014)||Ovid.tv|
|11/19||Candy Coated Christmas (2021)||Discovery+|
|From the Source (2021)||Discovery+|
|Good with Wood (2021)||Discovery+|
|Home Town: Ben's Holiday Workshop (2021)||Discovery+|
|Adventure Thru The Walt Disney Archives (2021)||Disney+|
|The Pixar Story (2007)||Disney+|
|Procession (2021)||Netflix||Netflix Original|
|The Mind, Explained -- Season 2 (2021)||Netflix||Netflix Original Series|
|The Goddessses of Food (2018)||Ovid.tv|
|The Raw and the Cooked (2012)||Ovid.tv|
|Soul of a Banquet (2014)||Ovid.tv|
|11/20||The Baby Killer Conspiracy (2021)||Discovery+|
|The Great Soul Food Cook Off (2021)||Discovery+|
|New World -- Season 1 (2021)||Netflix||Netflix Original Series|
|11/22||Stations of the Elevated (1981)||The Criterion Channel|
|Chasing Ghislaine (2021)||Discovery+|
|Wife Swap Australia (2021)||Discovery+|
|Bree Wayy: Promise Witness Remembrance (2021)||Paramount+|
|Coded: The Hidden Love of J.C. Leyendecker (2021)||Paramount+|
|Lynching Postcards: ‘Token of a Great Day' (2021)||Paramount+|
|R.I.P. T-Shirts (2021)||Paramount+|
|Another Hayride (2021)||PBS||POV Shorts|
|Duty Free (2020)||PBS||Independent Lens Episode|
|To the Future, With Love (2021)||PBS||POV Shorts|
|11/23||Open City Mixtape: Short Films by A. V. Rockwell||The Criterion Channel||Open City Mixtape: Short Films by A. V. Rockwell|
|Reasonable Doubt: A Tale of Two Kidnappings (2021)||Netflix||Netflix Original|
|Home From School: The Children of Carlisle (2021)||PBS||Independent Lens Episode|
|11/24||Keep Sweet (2021)||Discovery+|
|Becoming Cousteau (2021)||Disney+|
|Port Protection Alaska -- Season 4 (2021)||Disney+|
|Secrets Of The Zoo: Tampa -- Season 2 (2021)||Disney+|
|Selling Sunset -- Season 4 (2021)||Netflix||Netflix Original Series|
|11/25||The Beatles: Get Back -- Episode 1 (2021)||Disney+||Disney+ Original|
|11/26||Cozy Holiday Kitchens (2021)||Discovery+|
|Festive Fireplaces of the World (2021)||Discovery+|
|Shock Docs: Demon in the White House (2021)||Discovery+|
|Surfing Santa (2021)||Discovery+|
|The Beatles: Get Back -- Episode 2 (2021)||Disney+||Disney+ Original|
|Dig Deeper: The Disappearance of Birgit Meier (2021)||Netflix||Netflix Original|
|School of Chocolate -- Season 1 (2021)||Netflix||Netflix Original Series|
|11/27||Meet Your Makers Showdown (2021)||Discovery+|
|The Beatles: Get Back -- Episode 3 (2021)||Disney+||Disney+ Original|
|11/28||Real Housewives of New Jersey -- Season 11||Hulu|
|11/29||300 Nassau (2016)||The Criterion Channel|
|Álvaro (2015)||The Criterion Channel|
|Division Avenue (2015)||The Criterion Channel|
|The Last Bread (2013)||The Criterion Channel|
|Los Sures (1984)||The Criterion Channel|
|Third Shift (2014)||The Criterion Channel|
|All Light, Everywhere (2021)||Hulu|
|14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible (2021)||Netflix||Netflix Original|
|I'm Free, Now You Are Free (2020)||PBS||POV Shorts|
|Seahorse (2020)||PBS||POV Shorts|
|11/30||Little Potato (2017)||The Criterion Channel|