The 5 Global Development Documentaries on Netflix You Should be Watching Now

Netflix is often criticized for inducing binge-watching spirals of unproductivity. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Here at FXB, we’ve picked our favorite documentaries about global development that are currently streaming on Netflix to share with you. Not only will you actually learn something about international development from each of these nuanced films, but you also won’t feel quite as guilty about spending the day on your couch.

It’s Not Over (2014)

Made by award-winning documentary filmmaker Andrew Jenks, It’s Not Over follows the story of three millennials whose lives are impacted by HIV in South Africa, India and the United States. By capturing unique perspectives and voices, Jenks humanizes the epidemic while avoiding the preachy clichés that are often associated with HIV-awareness efforts.

Girl Rising (2013)

Girl Rising tells the story of how nine girls in Asia, South America and Africa overcame social and cultural barriers through education. Narrated by celebrities such as Meryl Streep and Kerry Washington, it’s almost impossible not to feel inspired after hearing these stories of triumph. Though some have critiqued the celebrity narration factor of this documentary, the stories are ripe to be told. And as The New York Times points out, the film does a skillful job of narrating these tales “in tones that are intimate and defiant, but not pitying.”

Sewing Hope (2013)

Many people have heard of the Lost Boys of Uganda, who were forced to become child soldiers. Sewing Hope documents the untold story of the Lost Girls and one woman’s quest to empower these formerly abducted women. The film follows Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe and her work in a vocational school in Gulu, Uganda, that helps women and girls rebuild their lives.

Living on One Dollar (2013)

Labeled as a “must-watch” by Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, this award-winning film follows the story of four friends as they set out to live on a $1 a day for two months in rural Guatemala. Though the concept of the documentary does invite some skepticism, this extremely entertaining film acts as a great jumping-off point to learn more about issues associated with extreme poverty.

On the Way to School (2013)

This beautifully shot documentary follows four students in India, Morocco, Patagonia and Kenya as they make their way to school. Ultimately an inspirational tale of determination, this film is great way to introduce kids and teenagers to the education disparities our world faces.

Generation Rescue


Photo Credit: Rockhopper Productions

Though technically not a documentary you can watch on Netflix, we couldn’t complete our list without mentioning Generation Rescue. This film follows four women in Burundi who are on a journey to uplift themselves from poverty. Thanks to receiving food, health, housing resources and business training from their participation in the FXBVillage program, these women learn how to create economic stability for themselves. By telling the story of how these determined women gained independence and empowerment, this film gives the viewer insight into what is actually needed to eradicate extreme poverty. You can watch it on KCET Link on Tuesday, Aug. 11, at 9 p.m. EST and 9 p.m. PST.

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