The time when the idea of watching a documentary seemed boring are long gone. They are not just ‘talking heads’ anymore. Lately I enjoy watching documentaries more than feature films.
Two great documentaries nominated this year for the Oscars that you can now watch on Netflix are: ‘My Octopus Teacher’ and ‘Crip Camp. A Disability Revolution’. I strongly recommend them both.
‘My Octopus Teacher’ is a story about a burned out filmmaker who decides to go back to his childhood hobby — diving. He starts to understand that the underwater forest is like a giant ‘brain operating over millions of year’. He sees how everything in this micro-cosmos is interconnected. He then befriends an octopus and starts to film her everyday for almost a year.
She teaches him sensitivity and gentleness, she shows him what is the meaning of life. As he said: ‘The boundaries between her and I seemed to dissolve.’ He even realized that her life, in a strange way, mirrored his own. In the end, after her death, he sees a young octopus looking just like his ‘teacher’. She lives on in her offspring. And he goes on diving and even gets involved in protecting the kelp forest.
Another brilliant Oscar nominated documentary on Netflix is ‘Crip Camp’ about the fight for the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. And it all started with the summer Camp Jened located in the state of New York in the middle of the 1970s. It was a summer camp for disabled people ‘run by the hippies’, as one of the campers recalled it. For many of them it was the place where for the first time they felt free. They would play the music, sing, dance and sometimes even smoke weed.
That experience changed their lives. At the camp they would cooperate, listen to each other and realize that their lives could be better. Some of them later founded an organization called Disabled in Action. And they started to fight for their human rights and backing up the anti discrimination act. Following the example of other civil rights organizations, they started demonstrating and finally took over the Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) regional office in San Francisco for 25 days. It was the longest non-violent sit-in at a federal building.
The occupation of the HEW offices in San Francisco was backed up by the Black Panthers, Gay Movement and Union members among others. It was the time when America started to ‘wake up’, as one of the occupiers said, and various minorities united to fight for their rights. That has lead to the legislation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. And we are now getting to finally know how it all started.
It is an amazing story showing that when people get together and cooperate, they can achieve anything. Cooperation instead of the competition is the way forward.