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Baby it's cold outside, but here are the 6 hottest docs on Netflix

To get you through the cold winter months, the Calgary International Film Festival's Documentary Features Programmer Alex Rogalski lists the hottest documentaries currently available on Netflix Canada.

If you're stuck making small talk at office parties or with distant relatives during the holidays, nothing helps more than having seen a few great documentaries to give you an air of sophistication (or bore someone so they'll talk to someone else). Either way you win, because you've seen some great films.


13TH – Almost a lock to be a 2017 Oscar® nominee for Best Documentary, Ava DuVarnay (director of Oscar® nominee SELMA) focuses on race in the United States criminal justice system. Insightful, powerful and timely, DuVarnay achieves what documentary does best, and all the better than Netflix is helping these films get made.

CITIZENFOUR – If you're catching up on past Oscar® winners, CITIZENFOUR is a good place to start. Edward Snowden and his exposure of the NSA spying scandal reveals a story that's final chapter has yet to be written. And on the cusp of a Trump-led America, this might be considered essential viewing – and you might also reconsider how much of your life you spend online.

I AM BIG BIRD – If you need a feel-good pick-me-up during the holidays, nothing will make you smile more than getting to know the person behind a childhood icon (spoiler - Big Bird is actually a puppet) in this CIFF 2014 Selection. Caroll Spinney is as wonderful as the character(s) he brought to life, and his life's work helping children learn is truly inspiring. 

INTO THE INFERNO – Baby, it's cold outside. Nothing better to warm you up than watching erupting volcanoes on your big screen. And it's even better when it's a film made by one of the world's foremost documentarians, Werner Herzog. After viewing, try your hardest not to imitate Herzog's voice during casual conversation, it's hard to pull off well. And if you need to cool off from the volcanic adventure, check out his exploration of Antarctica (ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD). 

TONY ROBBINS: I AM NOT YOUR GURU – Feel like you're going to fail with your new year's resolutions? This fix of self-help should inspire you to be your best self. Go behind the scenes of one of Robbin's self-improvement seminars to get an insider view on what has made him an idol to thousands. Straddling a blurry line between snake oil salesman and tough love parent, Robbins' methods are revealed with his full participation and a little explanation on how he defined the entire field of self-improvement. Watching this documentary may save you thousands of dollars on registration fees (You're welcome. Merry Christmas). 

ATARI: GAME OVER – If your nephew has decided to hide his face behind his new Playstation VR headset and ignore everything around him, feel free to see how far gaming has developed in less than a generation. Two of pop culture's juggernauts were brought together in the early 1980's, in what became one of gaming's biggest urban legends and miserable failures. How a cross promotional idea turned into an archeological dig in a New Mexico dumpsite makes for a pretty entertaining piece of video game history.

BONUS FILMS – If you're craving some incredible sports stories, make sure to check out the CIFF Selections THE GREAT ALONE (2016) and DARK HORSE (2015). 

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