Now, a streaming service just for documentary addicts
Up until recently, documentary cinema was hard to find. Few played in cinemas. TV channels slotted them at odd hours, if at all. No one bothered with DVDs. And special screenings were few, far between and poorly advertised. Even the popular films rarely made money. Then, streaming services started adding documentaries to the mix - hilarious films about competitive chicken breeding, biographies of spies, rock bands killing it on tour, scathing takes on the headlines. Viewers, idly scrolling through options, stumbled upon the genre, and discovered that non-fiction films from around the world could be edgy, entertaining and surprisingly addictive.
For those who want more, there’s DocuBay, a streaming service dedicated to international documentary cinema. The roster covers films about nature, politics, adventure, travel, culture, science and the like. In The Backstage Of The Louvre Museum is a glimpse of what happens at the Paris museum after hours. The independent film Food Patriots follows one American family’s experiments with responsible eating. There are films about Hitler, Manipuri cinema, the politics of mainstream Hollywood, controversial dressing styles, and an urban history of greeting (featuring, prominently, the fist-bump).
The catalogue has 300 films, geared to entry-level easy-viewing. A new film is added every day. For viewers in India, that’s good news. Documentary viewership is rising worldwide, and big players are getting interested. At the Sundance Film Festival, Netflix paid $10 million for Knock Down the House, a film about four female US congressional candidates. Serial-killer biographies now use slick storytelling and crowd-sourced tips. Concert films, especially, are top grossers – the 2011 film Justin Bieber: Never Say Never raked in 73 million. DocuBay, meanwhile, has films about Madonna, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and the Harvey Weinstein scandal.