With last week's Thanksgiving almost immediately forgotten by some thanks to the consumer call of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Indiewire's latest curation of Hulu's Documentaries page takes a step back. These films spotlight the power of individuals to give of themselves and their time to make an impact on others' lives — a potent reminder of volunteerism and activism as we head into December's holiday season. Watch these docs now for free and get inspired!
A school's pen pal program has inspirational results in Dave LaMattina and Chad N Walker's "Brownstones to Red Dirt." Students from Brooklyn's Bed-Stuy area communicate with peers an ocean away in Sierra Leone, learning about the aftermath of that country's decade-long civil war, and decide to mobilize the Brooklyn local community to help.
Anne Buford's "Elevate" demonstrates the opening up of horizons made possible by outside support. The film follows four African high school boys supported in their academic and athletic dreams by the Seeds Academy, established by a Senegalese man who is the director of scouting for the Dallas Mavericks.
The subjects of Arturo Perez Torres' "Super Amigos" put themselves on the line to combat injustices around them and to help others. Donning lucha libre Mexican wrestling outfits, these five men become real-life super-heroes on the streets of Mexico City, helping their community fight a host of societal ills.
Musician Pras Michel also takes to the streets – literally – in Ross Clarke, Niva Dorell, and Marshall Tyler's "Skid Row." The former Fugees frontman calls attention to the plight of the homeless by immersing himself in their world, living incognito on downtown Los Angeles' Skid Row for over a week.
"Sister Helen," a former alcoholic turned nun, also champions awareness and assistance for the invisible members of society. Embodying the power of second chances, Rob Fruchtman and Rebecca Cammisa's film follows her efforts to serve recovering drug addicts and alcoholics from her South Bronix halfway home.
- Finally, Aron Gaudet's moving "The Way We Get By" profiles three senior citizens and their volunteer work, welcoming American troops back from combat, and seeing off those being deployed. Nearing the end of their lives, they find purpose in helping others and honoring the sacrifices they make.
EDITOR'S NOTE: "Indiewire @ Hulu Docs" is a regular column spotlighting the Iw-curated selections on Hulu's Documentaries page, a unique collaboration between the two sites. Be sure to check out the great non-fiction projects available to watch free of charge. Disclosure: Some of the selections are titles provided to Hulu by SnagFilms, the parent company of Indiewire.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Basil Tsiokos is a Programming Associate, Documentary Features for Sundance, Shorts & Panel Programmer for DOC NYC, and a consultant to documentary filmmakers and festivals. Follow him on Twitter (@1basil1) and visit his blog (what (not) to doc).