Under the Lens

Watching good documentary is  like diving into another world. It brings you so close to the story that you can imagine all of the sights and smells beyond the camera lens.


Studying documentary film making in university was a breath of fresh air. After years of covering breaking news stories and telling them in a 3-5 minute time frame, we were finally given permission to take time with one story. I loved digging beyond the headlines and basic facts for deeper meaning.

Being bed ridden with the flu last week provided me with many free nights to cuddle up with some documentaries.

Should you need a little eye opening down time, here’s my recommended round up:


Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

When I mentioned volunteering in India Magda recommended the book and film Half the Sky. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide started as a book and was then made into a four-hour television series. The book is written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn who are raising awareness of the oppression of women and girls in the developing world. The documentary takes us to 10 countries: Cambodia, Kenya, India, Sierra Leone, Somaliland, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Liberia and the U.S where we are introduced to women and girls fighting to change their fate. From women born into prostitution in India, to young girls working agaisnt the odds for an education in Vietnam, to genital mutilation in Samaliland, the series is startling and awakening, but offers realistic change and solutions. I was so inspired by this film I immediately decided to sponsor a young girl in Bangladesh through Plan: Because I Am a Girl Canada. I've been wanting to do this for a long time and this was a great reminder of how crucial it is give a young girl education and opportunity.

The World Before Her

The World Before Her is a glimpse into two very different worlds in modern India. It follows two young women with completely different lives: one trying to become Miss India, the other a fierce Hindu Nationalist prepared to kill and die for her beliefs. The film goes back and forth from the skin whitening and private bikini judging of the pageant to the training camp for girls, where this militant woman trains young Indian girls to fight against Western culture, Islam and Christianity by any means necessary including violence. The film is beautifully edited and brings light to the simalarities of these two women who are both determined to have a voice.


I am so grateful that Melissa recommended this movie. HAPPY is a beautiful documentary that sets out to uncover our favourite feeling. From the bayous of Louisiana to the deserts of Namibia, from the beaches of Brazil to the villages of Okinawa, HAPPY unlocks some of the key secrets to this emotion. It is a wonderful reminder of what truly matters.  If anyone wants to grow old with me in a big, happy community like Okinawa I’m more than game.

Happy - A Documentary Trailer from Wadi Rum Films on Vimeo.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

I finally had the chance to watch this highly talked about film. As a sushi fanatic I’m not sure what took me so long, but I finally caved and took the trip into Jiro’s world of sushi. The film goes into the basement of a Tokyo office building where 85 year old sushi master Jiro Ono creates what might be the world’s best sushi. The film is as beautifully shot as Jiro’s story is told. His quest to make the perfect sushi is inspiring and intimidating all at once.

Have you seen any good documentaries lately?