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Last week we told you about some of the exciting sports documentaries found in Showmax’s library. But sports is not the only gripping slice of reality the local streaming platform is offering. Found throughout Showmax’s catalogue of current affairs documentaries are tales of inspiring achievement, incendiary politicking, heartbreaking tragedy, and hard truths uncovered.

From revealing how a multi-billion dollar culinary industry has sugar-coated its own dangers, to digging deep into a headline-grabbing race crime in our very own backyard, and more; there’s something for everybody here. Because these are all our stories – the stories of being human in a modern world. You may not have been directly involved, but they all affect our lives in some way. And with these great documentaries, you get to see exactly how these events happened or are still happening. So here are some suggestions to get your started:

THAT SUGAR FILM (2014)

I’m starting this list with something a bit older, but it’s a documentary that changed my life. Low-fat health foods are supposed to be good for you. After all, it says it right there in the name. However, as filmmaker Damon Gameau would discover, the low-fat food industry hides a dangerous secret: Sugar. Lots and lots of sugar. From the moment I awkwardly put down my sugary soda in the cinema in guilt while watching That Sugar Film, I changed my dietary habits based on some of Gameau’s revelations. 18 months later, I was nearly 30kgs lighter. Maybe your takeaway from watching That Sugar Film may not be as dramatic as mine, but you can’t deny some of the shocking truths it uncovers.

BIRTHRIGHT: A WAR STORY (2017)

In 1973, the US Supreme Court reached a landmark decision as it legalized abortion. Four decades later though, and in hindsight, that event was not a true victory. Instead, it was merely the first stage of a protracted war that has seen anti-abortion lobbyists incrementally manoeuvre national legislature, using religious and social rhetoric, to restrict access to female reproductive healthcare to the point of virtually criminalizing pregnant women. That is the message of filmmaker Civia Tamarkin’s harrowing documentary delving into this US public health crisis.

STEALING SUNFLOWERS (2017)

In April 2017, 12-year old Mathomola Moshoeu died when he fell off a moving bakkie and broke his neck. According to farmworkers Pieter Doorewaard and Philip Schutte, the youth fell while they were transporting him to a police station after they caught him stealing a sunflower from a field in the North West Province farming town of Coligny. According to witnesses though, Moshoeu’s death was not only deliberate but also part of a much bigger tragedy, which sparked off violent protests by the community that left several houses and businesses burned to the ground.

In this documentary, News24 investigates this shocking story that is still rocking our country as the murder trial surrounding Moshoeu’s death is happening right now.

ANGELS OF DEATH (2018)

The Eastern Cape town of Ngcobo is known for its diverse population, with many Chinese, Pakistani, North African traders and more calling it home next to the amaQwathi people who first gave this region its traditional name of emaQwathini. But despite this seeming living example of the Rainbow Nation, Ngcobo became famous earlier this year for all the wrong reasons.

In March 2018, a violent shootout with police that left 7 people dead would reveal the horrifying story of the Mancoba Seven Angels Ministry, and the more than 100 girls – several of them underage mothers – who reportedly had been held against their will in ten shacks by the “church” as sex slaves. Even more shocking was that the local government officials had known about this situation for years.

KIM DOTCOM: CAUGHT IN THE WEB (2017)

One of the internet’s most infamour characters, German-Finnish entrepeneur Kim Dotcom (no, that is not his birth name) went from 1990s teenage hacker to creating popular file sharing service Megaupload. Along the way, he would become a jet-setting multi-millionaire who entertained royalty on yachts, own a small fleet of luxury cars, and even be ranked as the no.1 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 player in the world. He was living the dream. And then it all came crashing down.

Accused and convicted of fraud, copyright infringement, money laundering and more by the US Justice Department as well as several big Hollywood entities, Dotcom subsequently found himself holed up in New Zealand dodging extradition. In his typical diehard fashion though, the “most wanted man online” fought back against his pursuers in what has been dubbed “the largest copyright case ever”. Filmed over three years, this is the story of Dotcom’s almost unbelievable digital battle.

You can find all of these and more gripping documentaries in Showmax! And remember, they offer a two-week free trial and DStv Premium subscribers can use the streaming service for free while other DSTV package subscribers can get a significant discount.

Last Updated: June 29, 2018

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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