285 Free Documentaries Online

Watch over 200 free documentaries online. The documentaries cover everything from music and cinema, to literature, religion, politics and physics. They’re thought-provoking, eye-opening, and enlightening. For more great films, please visit our complete collection, 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..

  • 10 Years with Hayao MiyazakiFree – A four part documentary on the unstoppable Japanese animator directed by Kaku Arakawa. (2019)
  • 15 Films by Designers Charles & Ray EamesFree – Watch a series of short films by the iconic designers.
  • 50 Architecture DocumentariesFree – A collection of free documentaries directed by Richard Copans on famous architects and buildings. Topics include Bauhaus, Le Corbusier, Zaha Hadid & more.
  • A is for ArchitectureFree – This short documentary offers a panorama of architecture, moving from one tradition to another, illustrating how each reflects the sentiments and values of its time. (1960)
  • A Brief History of John BaldessariFree – A short film narrated by Tom Waits on the life and work of West-Coast conceptual artist John Baldessari. (2012)
  • A Communications PrimerFree – An instructional film on the basics of communication, created by Charles and Ray Eames of Eames Office for IBM. (1953)
  • A Land Without BreadFree – Ostensibly a documentary about the Las Hurdes region located in a remote corner of Spain, this Luis Buñuel’s film is in fact a lacerating parody of travel documentaries. (1933)
  • A Look Behind the Future – Free – Intriguing 1966 documentary takes you inside the making of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and the thrilling technologies then in real-life development. (1966)
  • A Man Among Men: Alberto GiacomettiFree – An hour-long documentary about Giacometti, by Jean-Marie Drot. (1963)
  • A Necessary Ruin: The Story of Buckminster Fuller and the Union Tank Car DomeFree – Tells the history of the Union Tank Car Dome, the largest clear-span structure in the world, based on the engineering principles of the visionary design scientist Buckminster Fuller. (2010)
  • A Story of Healing – Free – Won Academy Award for best Documentary Short Subject. Follows a team of volunteers in Vietnam. (1997)
  • A World of Art: The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Free – Founded in 1870, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is a three dimensional encyclopedia of art history. Filmed in 2004.
  • Albert Einstein: How I See the WorldFree – Documentary on physicist Albert Einstein which chronicles the experiences that lead him to become a great advocate for world peace. (1991)
  • AuschwitzFree – Steven Spielberg creates a short documentary, narrated by Meryl Streep, on the Nazi concentration camp where 1.1 million people, most of them European Jews, were killed during World War II. (2015)
  • Aleister Crowley: The Wickedest Man in the World – Free –  Takes you into the life of Aleister Crowley, an English occultist, ceremonial magician, poet, and mountaineer, responsible for founding the religion of Thelema.
  • Albert Camus: The Madness of SincerityFree – About the life and work of writer Albert Camus, including interviews with his former mistresses and Camus’ daughter Catherine and her twin brother Jean. (1997)
  • Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein – Free – Documentary on the two artists from 1966.
  • Alfred Stieglitz: The Eloquent Eye – Free – A revealing look at the “Father of American Photography.” Appeared in the PBS American Masters series. (1999)
  • Ansel Adams, Photographer – Free – Documentary reveals the artistic and technical approach of Ansel Adams, America’s finest photographer of natural landscapes. (1958)
  • Ansel Adams: The Incisive ArtFree – Explores the work of one of America’s most famous photographers, Ansel Adams as he goes beneath the surface to record nature and the quality of humanity. (1962)
  • Arduino: The Documentary – Free – Revisits a project launched in the Italian town of Ivrea back in 2005. The challenge? To develop cheap, easy-to-use electronics components for design students. (2010)
  • At the MuseumFree – The Museum of Modern Art (aka MoMA) creates an 8-part documentary series on what it takes to run a world-class museum. (2017)
  • Atheism: A Rough History of Disbelief – Free – A mini-series created by Jonathan Miller explores the history of atheism in the world. (2004)
  • Audio Ammunition – Free – A series of short documentaries on The Clash and five of their classic studio albums. Produced by Google. (2013)
  • Bauhaus WorldFree – To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus school, this documentary explores the history and influence of Germany’s legendary art, architecture & design movement. (2019)
  • Bob Marley ‘Come A Long Way’Free – Documentary made for NZ tv show ‘Good Day’ by Dylan Taite. (1979)
  • Beat This!: A Hip-Hop History – Free – Originally part of the Arena television series, the TV doc was among the first crop of documentaries about hip-hop and hip-hop culture. (1984)
  • Bed Peace – Free – 70 minute documentary revisits John and Yoko’s famous 1969 Bed-Ins, which amounted to a peaceful protest against the Vietnam War. (2011)
  • Beautiful EquationsFree – Artist/writer Matt Collings takes the plunge into an alien world of equations, asking top scientists to help him understand five of the most famous equations in science. (2010)
  • Benoit Mandelbrot: Father of FractalsFree – In this final interview shot by filmmaker Erol Morris, Mandelbrot shares his love for mathematics and how it led him to his wondrous discovery of fractals. (2013)
  • Black CoffeeFree – A three part look at  “the world’s most widely taken legal drug,” a beverage whose intellectually intense die-hard enthusiasts give wine’s a run for their money, from historical, political, social, and economic angles. (2007)
  • Blitzkrieg Bop Free – Hour-long TV documentary takes an old school look at CBGB during the heyday. Features The Ramones, Blondie and The Dead Boys. Mixes live performance with short interview clips. (1978)
  • Bob Geldof: The MomentFree – In a short documentary by Errol Morris, Bob Geldof talks about the greatest day in his life–stepping on the stage of Live Aid and raising money to end the famine in Africa. (2014)
  • Brian Eno: The Man Who Fell To Earth, 1971-1977 Free – Explores Eno’s life, career and music between those titular years—the period that some view as his golden age, and others as just one great era in a long and very eclectic career. (2012)
  • Buckminster Fuller: Thinking Out LoudFree – Documentary on the inventor/visionary/thinker R. Buckminster Fuller, produced and directed by four time Academy Award nominees Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon. (1996)
  • Brussels Express – Free – Directed by Sander Vandenbroucke, this 20 minute film explores the risks of cycling in modern Brussels, one of the most congested cities in today’s Europe. (2012)
  • CaravaggioFree – A documentary by Robert Hughes (circa 1975)
  • Chick Corea: Documentary of Legendary Jazz Great, Pianist and ComposerFree – Short documentary features Sting, Bobby McFerrin, Bela Fleck, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and more.
  • Churchill’s Island – Free – WWII propaganda film chronicling the defense of Great Britain. Won the very first Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject. (1941)
  • City SymphoniesFree – Watch “city symphonies” filmed in the 1920s. These poetic, experimental documentaries present a portrait of the daily of cities like Berlin, Paris, Sao Paulo and New York.
  • Code Rush – Free – Documentary following the lives of Netscape engineers in Silicon Valley. (1998)
  • Confrontation: Paris, 1968Free – A documentary by Seymour Drescher (Professor in the Department of History at the University of Pittsburgh & former student of George Mosse), looks at the student and worker upheaval in France in May, 1968.
  • Conversations with Myself – Free – Alan Watts walks in the mountains and talks about the limitations of technology and the problem of trying to keep track of an infinite universe with a single tracked mind. (1971)
  • Creative Process: Norman McLarenFree – This feature length documentary is a journey into Norman McLaren’s process of artistic creation. (1990)
  • Cry Baby: The Pedal That Rocks the World – Free – Tells the story of the wah wah effect pedal, from its invention in 1966 to the present day. (2011)
  • Curious About Cuba: The Great Museums of Havana – Free – This film shows a side of the island nation that we seldom hear about: her art, history, and culture. (2008)
  • CyberpunkFree – Documentary introduces the culture of Cyberpunk. Features vintage footage of William Gibson & Timothy Leary (1990).
  • David Bowie: Sound and VisionFree – Takes you on a journey throug Bowie’s career. Features interviews with Bowie, Iman his wife, his musical contemporaries including Iggy Pop, Moby and Trent Reznor. (2002)
  • David Bowie: The Story of Ziggy StardustFree – Film tells the story of how Bowie arrived at one of the most iconic creations in the history of pop music. The songs, the hairstyles, the fashion, etc. (2012)
  • David Lynch on the History of Surrealist Cinema – Free – Pretty much what the title said. (1987)
  • Day of the DeadFree – Designers Charles and Ray Eames short portrait of the Mexican festival, Day of the Dead. (1957)
  • Death Mills – Free – Billy Wilder’s documentary in German showing what Allies found when they liberated Nazi extermination camps. (1945)
  • Degenerate ArtFree – Directed by David Grubin, this documentary explores the 1937 art exhibit under the Nazi regime, which featured modern art, or what the Nazis called ‘Entartete Kunst’ or ‘Degenerate Art. (1993)
  • Diane Arbus: Masters of Photography – Free – The documentary created soon after the photographer’s death is based on interviews with those who knew her best. (1972.)
  • Discovering Electronic Music: RevisedFree –  Directed by Bernard Wilets, the film explores this idea: “We live in an age of technology in which machines touch every part of our lives. It is not surprising that music has also been influenced by technology.” (1983)
  • Do Communists Have a Better Sex?Free – Documentary explores sexual habits behind the Iron Curtain. (2007)
  • Dorothea Lange Part 1: Under The TreesFree – Film explores the American documentary photographer and photojournalist, best known for her Depression-era work for the Farm Security Administration. View alternate version here. (1965)
  • Dreams Are What We Wake Up FromFree – Documentary about Raymond Carver was directed by Daisy Goodwin and includes contributions from Richard Ford and Jay McInerney. (1989)
  • Dream of Life – Free – Directed by Steven Sebring, the film offers an intimate portrait of poet, painter, musician and singer Patti Smith. (2008)
  • EarthlingsFree – Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, and with a soundtrack provided by Moby, Earthlings “is a feature-length documentary about our absolute economic dependence on animals raised as pets, food, clothing, entertainment and for scientific research.” (2005)
  • Einstein’s Brain – Free – A strange documentary that follows Japanese scholar Kenji Sugimoto’s quest to find Einstein’s brain. (1994)
  • Europe After the RainFree – Documentary on the two great art movements, Dada & Surrealism, created by the Arts Council of Great Britain. (1978)
  • Everything1017Free – A short documentary on how David Byrne and Brian Eno make music together. By the late visual artist Hillman Curtis. (2012)
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald: Winter Dreams – Free – Peabody award-winning film chronicles the life of Fitzgerald, one of America’s greatest novelists, in images and ideas as lyrical and inventive as his prose. (2002)
  • Fear and Loathing on the Road to HollywoodFree – A look at “Gonzo journalist”, Hunter S. Thompson with his collaborator, British illustrator, Ralph Steadman. (1978)
  • Fellini: A Director’s Notebook – Free – Federico Fellini introduces himself to America in experimental documentary aired on TV. (1969)
  • Filming ‘The Trial’ – Free –  An unfinished making-of film by Orson Welles, made in 1981, which focuses on the production of his 1962 film The Trial. (1981)
  • First Orbit – Free – A real time recreation of Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering first orbit, shot entirely in space from on board the International Space Station. (2011)
  • Flamenco at 5:15Free – An Oscar winning documentary takes you inside a Flamenco dance class. The film is about dance as it is about life. (1983)
  • Flâneur III – Free – An attempt at capturing the character of Paris by following the development of the city’s different forms throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, in the spirit of the German philosopher Walter Benjamin. (1998)
  • For Neda – Free – An HBO documentary on the life of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman gunned down during the crushing of Iran’s Green Revolution. (2010)
  • Founding FathersFree – Documentary narrated by Public Enemy’s Chuck D presents the true history of hip hop.
  • Fractals: The Colors of Infinity – Free – Arthur C. Clarke brings us inside the world of fractal geometry, David Gilmour provides the soundtrack. (1995)
  • Frames of ReferenceFree – “Directed by the pioneering UK documentarian Richard Leacock, Frames of Reference is a slick and surreal dive into physics fundamentals and, in particular, why everything is indeed relative.” (1960)
  • From One Second to the Next – Free – German director Werner Herzog presents a harrowing 35 minute film on the dangers of texting while driving. (2013)
  • Future Shock – Free – A short documentary based on a book written by futurist Alvin Toffler in 1970. It’s narrated by Orson Welles. (1972)
  • Gente del Po – Free – Michaelangelo Antonioni’s documentary short on the people of the Po valley. (1947)
  • George Eastman House: Picture Perfect – Free – The urban estate of George Eastman, who made photographers of us all, is a treasure trove of photographs and one of the world’s premier film archives. (2003)
  • Georges Bataille: À Perte de VuesFree – Documentary on the subversive French philosopher Georges Bataille. (1997)
  • Georgia O’Keeffe: A Life in Art Free A short documentary on the painter narrated by Gene Hackman.
  • GiacomettiFree – An intimate look at Alberto Giacometti in his studio, making his iconic sculptures (1965)
  • Glass Free – Directed by Bert Haanstra, this short documentary about the glass industry won the Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject in 1959. (1958)
  • Glenn Gould – Off the Record and Glenn Gould – On the Record- Free – Wolf Koenig and Roman Kroitor made a pair of gorgeously shot documentaries about the Canadian pianist, giving viewers insight into his life and music. (1959)
  • Great Lakes, Bad LinesFree – The story of two Michigan adventurers and their 500-mile, fossil-free journey across the Upper Peninsula along the route of Line 5 — a 63-year-old pipeline – that threatens our inland waters and Great Lakes. Brought to you by Patagonia, Founders, Moosejaw, and Cherry Republic. (2016)
  • Haruki Murakami: In Search of this Elusive Writer – Free – Alan Yentob travels through Japan, from the midnight Tokyo of After Hours to the snowed-in Hokkaido of A Wild Sheep Chase, in a quest to find artifacts of the novelist’s imaginary world.
  • Heavy Metal Parking LotFree –  Filmed in 1986 at a Maryland concert arena parking lot before a heavy metal show, this hilarious documentary is an unvarnished anthropological study of American metalheads in their mid-’80s glory.  You can also see the 2006 followup,Heavy Metal Parking Lot Alumni: Where Are They Now.(1986)
  • Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment – Free – 18-minute film features a selection of Cartier-Bresson’s iconic photographs, along with rare commentary by the photographer himself. (1973)
  • Henry Miller Asleep & Awake – Free – Tom Schiller’s 34 minute voyage into the world of Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn). (1975)
  • History of the Leica CameraFree – The film is in German, but it’s still great to watch.
  • Hofmann’s Potion – Free – A balanced look at the history of LSD by Canadian filmmaker Connie Littlefield. (2002)
  • Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film – Free – Epic, 13-part documentary chronicles the early history of cinema. (1980)
  • Home – Free – Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s film that will make you look at our planet in a new way. (2009)
  • Homemade American Music – Free – A history of rural southeastern traditional American music, as told and played by Mike Seeger and Alice Gerrard. (1980)
  • How Buildings LearnFree – Stewart Brand (creator of the iconic Whole Earth Catalog) created a 6-part series on architecture, with Brian Eno providing the music. (1997)
  • How Walt Disney Cartoons Are Made – Free – Disney’s in-house documentary walks you through the stages of Snow White‘s development. (1939)
  • Human, All Too Human – Free – A three part documentary on the life & thought of Nietzsche, Heidegger and Sartre. (1999)
  • I Signed the PetitionFree – A philosophical meditation on the decision to sign a petition asking Radiohead to boycott performing in Tel Aviv. Directed by Mahdi Fleifel. (2018)
  • Idem – Free – A short film by David Lynch on the art of making lithographs. Shot at the Idem studio in Paris. (2013)
  • If You Love This Planet – Free – Oscar-winning short film on the need for nuclear disarmament. (1982)
  • Iggy Pop and the Stooges Free – A documentary from the always good South Bank Show. (2004)
  • I’ll Find a Way – Free – Oscar-winning documentary presents Nadia, a 9-year-old girl with spina bifida. (1977)
  • Images of a Visionary World – Free – Avant-garde author Henri Michaux creates film trying to demonstrate the experience of taking hallucinogenic drugs. (1964)
  • In a Brilliant Light: Van Gogh in ArlesFree – This documentary covers Van Gogh’s stay in Arles where he completed over two hundred paintings and one hundred drawings. (1984)
  • In Search of Moebius – Free – Documentary about Frenchman Jean Giraud, one of the most influential comic strip illustrators and authors of all time.
  • In The Ocean – A Film About the Classical Avant Garde – Free – A documentary look at composers Philip Glass, Julia Wolfe, John Cage, Steve Reich, Elliott Carter and their contemporaries.
  • Inside: Dr. Strangelove – Free –  Interviews with cast members, critics, editors, producers and others associated with the picture reveal how this Cold War worst-case-scenario developed into something so very… Kubrickian.
  • Inside the Rhapsody – Free – A short documentary on the making of Queen’s classic song, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (2002)
  • Jackson Pollock 51 – Free – Short documentary by Hans Namuth features the abstract expressionist painter up close, painting on glass. (1951)
  • Jacques Lacan Speaks – Free – The psychoanalyst gives a packed lecture at the Catholic University of Louvain in 1972, followed by a probing interview. One of only 2 known appearances by Lacan on film. Shot by Belgian documentarian Francoise Wolff. (1972)
  • Jazz HotFree – Django Reinhardt, violinist Stéphane Grappelli and their band the Quintette du Hot Club de France perform together in a short film designed to promote a UK tour. (1938)
  • John Peel’s Record BoxFree – British documentary explores the most prized records in John Peel’s huge record collection, which he kept stored in a special box. (2005)
  • Jorge Luis Borges: The Mirror Man – Free – Documentary on Argentina’s most famous and beloved literary figure. (2000)
  • Ladies and Gentlemen… Mr. Leonard Cohen – Free  – This Canadian documentary captures Leonard Cohen just as he was poised to begin his singer-songwriter career. (1965)
  • Last Days at the FillmoreFree – Documents the final days of Bill Graham’s Fillmore West. (1972)
  • Laughing and Not Being Normal Free – A documentary about the feminist music producer, Grimes. (2016)
  • Le dinosaure et le bébé, dialogue en huit parties entre Fritz Lang et Jean-Luc Godard – Free – A 1967 TV documentary featuring two great filmmakers (Jean-Luc Godard and Fritz Lang) in conversation. (1967)
  • Le Noise – Free –  Directed by Adam Vollick, this movie features a live performance of Neil Young’s album Le Noise. It was recorded at the studios of Daniel Lanois in LA. (2010)
  • Life in a Day – Free – Film captures for future generations what it was like to be alive on the 24th of July, 2010. Executive produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Kevin Macdonald.
  • Live at PompeiiFree – David Gilmour makes his Live at Pompeii concert film free to watch online. (2016)
  • Lost Kubrick: The Unfinished Films of Stanley KubrickFree – Narrated by Malcolm McDowell, this short documentary examines the films Stanley Kubrick developed but didn’t live long enough to make. Features interviews given by Kubrick’s longtime producer Jan Harlan, Jack Nicholson, Sydney Pollack etc. (2007)
  • Lovecraft: Fear of the UnknownFree – Named the Best Documentary at the 2008 Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival, the film revisits the life and writings of H.P. Lovecraft, the father of modern horror fiction. (2008)
  • ManhattaFree – A short documentary film directed by painter Charles Sheeler and photographer Paul Strand. It’s considered America’s first avant-garde film. (1921)
  • M.C. Escher: Adventures in PerceptionFree – The first half of the film shows a lot of M.C. Escher’s work accompanied by a dissonant score by Felix Visser. About halfway through, we see shots of Escher at work. (1971)
  • Marcel Duchamp: Iconoclaste et InoxydableFree – Three- part, three-hour documentary with interviews about Marcel Duchamp, directed by Fabrice Maze. (2009)
  • Mel Blanc: The Man of a Thousand Voices – Free – Documentary focuses on voice artist extraordinaire Mel Blanc. (2008)
  • Meltdown: The Secret History of the Global Financial Collapse – Free – A 4 part look at the 2008 financial crisis by the CBC. (2011)
  • Memory of the Camps – Free – An attempt to revive a World War II film meant to document the Holocaust. Hitchcock was involved with the original project. (1985)
  • Metamorphose: M.C. Escher, 1898-1972 – Free –  Reveals the life and work of artist M.C. Escher. (1999)
  • Michel Foucault: Beyond Good and Evil – Free – Documentary explores the controversial life and work of Michel Foucault. (1993)
  • Mingus – Free – A close-up of bass player and composer Charlie Mingus as he and his five-year-old daughter await eviction by the City of New York. (1968)
  • N is a Number – Free – Documentary directed by George Paul Csicsery about the life of mathematician Paul Erdős.
  • NankingFree – A reminder of the heartbreaking toll war takes on the innocent, this award-winning documentary tells the story of the Japanese invasion of Nanking, China. With Woody Harrelson, Mariel Hemingway and Jurgen Prochnow. (2007)
  • Nanook of the NorthFree – The first feature length documentary. Directed by Robert J. Flaherty, the film, focusing on an Inuit family living in the Arctic Circle, was one of the first films to be selected for historical preservation by the Library of Congress. (1922)
  • Nazi VRFree – A short documentary on how a virtual reality model of Auschwitz was created to successfully prosecute a German SS guard seven decades after WWII. (2017)
  • Nico-IconFree – Focuses on Nico, renowned for her associations with artist Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground. (1995)
  • No Substitute for Victory – Free – Propaganda, Pro-Vietnam documentary hosted by John Wayne. (1970)
  • No Maps for These TerritoriesFree – Brings you on a road trip and into the mind of cyberspace visionary William Gibson. (2000)
  • November 22, 1963 – Free – In a short documentary, Errol Morris asks what we can and cannot know about the Kennedy assassination. (2013)
  • One Way Street – Free – Explores the life and work of German Jewish critic and philosopher, Walter Benjamin. (1993)
  • Operation Concrete (aka Opération béton) – Free – The first movie by Jean Luc Godard. It’s a short documentary about the building of the dam. (1955)
  • Orwell Rolls in His Grave – Free – America’s leading intellectuals discuss & examine the mix of businesses, politics & ideology that is the mainstream media. (2003)
  • Our Hobby is Depeche ModeFree – Jeremy Deller’s and Nicholas Abrahams’ documentary on Depeche Mode fans. (2007)
  • Paul Klee: The Silence of the AngelFree – A visual journey into the work of a major painter of the 20th century by Michael Gaumnitz, an award-winning documentarian of artists and sculptors. (2005)
  • Paul McCartney: Chaos & Creation at Abbey Road – Free – Sir Paul revisits the Beatles’ recording techniques and vintage instruments used by the band. (2005)
  • Pen, Brush and CameraFree – 50-minute documentary about the life and work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, the photographer considered to be the father of photojournalism. (1998)
  • Philosophy: A Guide to Happiness – Free – With Alain de Botton. A documentary series that shows how Nietzsche, Socrates and four other philosophers can change your life. (2000)
  • Philosophy and the Matrix: Return to the Source – Free –  Documentary looks at how The Matrix dealt with questions about religious revelation and authority, parapsychology, free will and determinism, and the nature of personal identity. (2004)
  • Pickin’ & Trimmin’ – Free – Award-winning short documentary features bluegrass musicians in a down-home North Carolina barbershop. (2008)
  • Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton SeaFree – Cult movie legend John Waters narrates an offbeat documentary on the accidental lake created in the desert of Southern California. (2004)
  • Plastic BagFree – Werner Herzog narrates the existential journey of a plastic bag. Directed by Ramin Bahrani. (2009)
  • Portrait of an Artist: Jackson Pollock – Free – Documentary of the abstract expressionist artist narrated by Melvyn Bragg. (1987)
  • Portrait Werner Herzog – Free – A German production directed by Herzog himself, Portrait Werner Herzog shows the director in his homeland, in Munich. (1986)
  • Powers of Ten – Free – Famous short film depicts the relative scale of the Universe in factors of ten. Made by legendary designers Ray and Charles Eames. (1977)
  • Profile of a Writer: Jorge Luis Borges – Free – Arena documentary the life and writings of Argentina’s favorite son, Jorge Luis Borges. (1983)
  • Queen of CodeFree – Direct by Gillian Jacobs, this short doc looks at the life and career of Grace Hopper, who worked on the first computer and headed the team that created the first compiler. (2015)
  • Ray Bradbury: Story of a Writer – Free – A half-hour television documentary about Ray Bradbury. (1963)
  • Red Shirley – Free – Lou Reed’s short documentary on his fascinating 100-year-old cousin. (2010)
  • Report from the Aleutians – Free – John Huston, while a member of the U.S. Army Signal Corps in 1943, creates an Academy Award winning documentary about the Armed Forces’ effort to prevent the fall of the Aleutian Islands to Japanese troops. (1943)
  • Road to the StarsFree – Directed by Pavel Klushantsev, this Soviet documentary combines elements of science education films and speculative science fiction. It was groundbreaking for its use of special effects to depict life in space. (1957)
  • Room to Dream: David Lynch and the Independent FilmmakerFree – David Lynch explains how he brings his unique vision to the screen with technologies that are now within reach for independent filmmakers. (2005)
  • Russia’s Open Book: Writing in the Age of Putin – Free – Stephen Fry hosts a documentary exploring the vital literary scene in contemporary Russia. (2014)
  • Samurai Sword: Making of a LegendFree – This story of the Katana sword provides a unique insight into the Samurai masters and the swords they use. (2008)
  • Sea of Faith – Free – In this six-part series, Don Cupitt explores the history of Christianity in the modern world, exploring the works of philosophers like Blaise Pascal, René Descartes, Kierkegaard, Jung, Freud, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein and more. (1984)
  • Scenes from Allen’s Last Three Days on Earth as a Spirit – Free – A kind of video diary of poet Allen Ginsberg’s last days. (1997)
  • Sell & Spin: A History of AdvertisingFree – Dick Cavett narrates the history of advertising, from ancient times to modern. (1999)
  • ¿Sería Buenos Aires? – Free – An award-winning documentary looking at Argentina’s response to modern crises. (2006)
  • She’s Nobody’s Baby: A History of American Women in the 20th CenturyFree – Alan Alda and Marlo Thomas trace the evolution of the roles and lives of women in the 20th century. (1982)
  • Shenzhen: The Silicon Valley of HardwareFree – From Wired comes a documentary looking at how Shenzen, the frenetic heart of China’s tech industry, is becoming a city of the future. (2016)
  • Shock of the NewFree – Art critic Robert Hughes looks at the the development of modern art since the Impressionists. (1980)
  • Sketches of Frank GehryFree – Sydney Pollack documentary explores Frank Gehry’s creative process, from sketching to making the physical and 3D models to the construction itself. (2005)
  • Soft Self Portrait of Salvador Dali – Free – French director Jean-Christophe Averty traveled to Spain in 1970 and shot a surreal biographical documentary on the artist. (1970)
  • Some Yo Yo StuffFree – A short film about Captain Beefheart by Anton Corbijn. (1993)
  • StravinskyFree – This documentary is an informal portrait of the great modern composer Igor Stravinsky. Directed by Wolf Koenig & Roman Kroitor. (1966)
  • Stress, Portrait of a KillerFree – Scientific discoveries in the field and in the lab prove that stress is not just a state of mind, but something measurable and dangerous. Features Stanford neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky. (2008)
  • Sun Ra: A Joyful NoiseFree – Experimental jazz visionary Sun Ra was filmed on location in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. between 1978 and 1980 by director Robert Mugge. Includes public and private performances, poetry readings, interviews and extensive improvisations with Sun Ra and his Arkestra. (1980)
  • Symphony in Black: A Rhapsody of Negro Life – Free – A musical short that features Duke Ellington’s early extended piece, “A Rhapsody of Negro Life.” Stars 19-year-old Billie Holiday. (1935)
  • Ten Days That Shook the World – Free – Originally called Oktyabr, Sergei Eisenstein’s film documents the Russian Revolution of 1917. A masterpiece by a pioneering filmmaker. (1928)
  • The ABCs of DadaFree – Explores the origins of and contributors to the Dada movement. (2012)
  • The American West of John Ford – Free  A documentary encapsulating the career and Western films of director John Ford, featuring interviews with John Wayne, James Stewart and Henry Fonda. (1971)
  • The Artist Formerly Known as Captain BeefheartFree – Elaine Shepherd’s classic BBC documentary, introduced and narrated by John Peel. (1997)
  • The BatmobileFree – Directed by Roko Belic, this documentary explores the evolution of the Batmobile. (2012)
  • The Battle of Midway – Free – Directed by John Ford. Narrated by Henry Fonda. On June 4-6, 1942, Japanese forces attempted to capture Midway Island in the North Pacific, but were defeated by U.S. forces. On hand was a crew of naval photographers directed by John Ford. (1942)
  • The Battle of San Pietro – Free – John Huston’s war time documentary. (1945)
  • The Charles Bukowski Tapes – Free – A collection of 52 short interviews conducted by French filmmaker Barbet Schroeder, who directed the Bukowski-penned Barfly. (1987)
  • The Church Of Saint ColtraneFree –  Directed by Gayle Gilman and Jeff Swimmer, this film looks at The Church of Saint Coltrane in San Francisco, which has canonized John Coltrane as their patron saint and on Sundays holds five-hour jam sessions interspersed with liturgy and fellowship. (1996)
  • The Complete Star Wars FilmumentariesFree – Jamie Benning has created a trilogy of documentary-commentaries on the Star Wars trilogy. Features deleted scenes, alternate takes and different angles, bloopers, original on set audio recordings and a huge amount of commentary from cast and crew.
  • The Confessions of Robert Crumb – Free – A portrait of the artist scripted by the underground comics legend himself (1987)
  • The Crazy Never DieFree – 30 minute shot-on-video documentary that looks into the more publicly wild and performative side of Hunter S. Thompson’s personality. (1988)
  • The Cry of Jazz – Free – Controversial film by Ed Bland explores issues around African-Americans and jazz in the United States. Includes interviews with artists and intellectuals and performances by Sun Ra and John Gilmore. In 2010, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. (1958)
  • The Distortion of SoundFree – A documentary about the decline of sound quality and how technology has changed the way we listen to music. Features numerous musicians. (2014)
  • The Einstein Theory of RelativityFree – Einstein’s theory of relativity explained in one of the earliest science films ever made. (1923)
  • The Fighting Lady – Free – Directed by William Wyler, this film provides a portrait of life on a World War II aircraft carrier (1944)
  • The Four HorsemenFree – Directed by Ross Ashcroft, the indie documentary is a “jeremiad against the folly of Neo-classical economics and the threats it represents to all we should hold dear.” (2012)
  • The Genius of Charles Darwin – Free – A three part series presented by Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins. (2008)
  • The God DelusionFree – Oxford evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins argues that the world would be better off without religion. The film accompanied a book by the same title. (2006)
  • The Godmother of Rock N Roll: Sister Rosetta TharpeFree – The life, music & influence of African-American gospel singer and guitar virtuoso Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Directed by Mick Csaky. Find film at bottom of linked page. (2014)
  • The Grateful Dead MovieFree – The film documents “a tour-ending five night stand at the Winterland Ballroom in October 1974. These were their last shows with the Wall of Sound.” (1977)
  • The Henry Miller Odyssey – Free – Robert Snyder’s documentary, almost entirely narrated by Miller, follows the author through his early years, from his childhood in Brooklyn to his blissful exile in Paris. See more in the original review by The Harvard Crimson. (1969)
  • The History of the Typewriter Recited by Michael WinslowFree – Sound effects genius Michael Winslow performs the sounds of 32 typewriters made between 1898-1983. (2010)
  • The HitchFree – Kristoffer Seland Hellesmark created an 80-minute documentary about the iconoclastic journalist Christopher Hitchens, lovingly entitled The Hitch, which features clips from his speeches and interviews. (2014)
  • The House I Live In – Free – A ten-minute short film starring Frank Sinatra made to oppose anti-Semitism and racial prejudice at the end of World War II. (1945)
  • The Joy of StatsFree – Hans Rosling says there’s nothing boring about stats, and then proves it in an one-hour long documentary. (2010)
  • The Land Where the Blues Began – Free – Alan Lomax takes you into the Mississippi Delta, into to the heart of the Blues. (1978)
  • The Last 48 Hours of Kurt CobainFree – British documentary takes a look the final days of Kurt Cobain, the Nirvana frontman who committed suicide in 1994. (2007)
  • The James Dean Story – Free – Documentary on the life and times of James Dean made by the great filmmaker Robert Altman — MASH, The Player, Gosford Park, etc. (1957)
  • The Japanese Sword as the Soul of the SamuraiFree – Obscure documentary on the making of Japanese swords, narrated by George Takei, offers a fascinating look at the exhaustive process of forging samurai swords. (1969)
  • The Love for WoodFree – A documentary about well known Dutch chess players, featuring Jan Timman, Hans Ree, Piet Hein Donner, Max Euwe and others. It’s a beautiful document of the period and the state of chess at that time. English subtitles. (1979)
  • The Magic SunFree – Artist Phil Niblock captures a brief moment of an interstellar communication by Sun Ra and his Solar Arkestra in their prime. (1968)
  • The Making of Almost BlueFree South Bank Show follows Elvis Costello to Nashville for the making of his album “Almost Blue.” (1981)
  • The Making of Dark Side of the MoonFree – A look inside the creation of a famous Pink Floyd album. (2003)
  • The Making of Koyaanisqatsi – Free – Director Godfrey Reggio gives you the backstory behind his 1982 film, Koyaanisqatsi.
  • The March – Free – James Blues’s “visually stunning, moving, and arresting documentary of the hope, determination, and camaraderie” embodied by The Great March on Washington. (1964)
  • The Men Who Made the Movies: Hitchcock – Free – A look at Alfred Hitchcock’s films. The Master of Suspense himself, who is interviewed extensively here, shares stories about filmmaking. (1973)
  • The Mystery of PicassoFree – Pablo Picasso’s art emerges in front of our eyes in this remarkable film by the French master of suspense, Henri-Georges Clouzot. (1956)
  • The New CinemaFree – Never-aired TV documentary takes a look at the new Hollywood scene emerging in 1967. Features footage of Dustin Hoffman, Roman Polanski, Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas. (1968)
  • The Nomi SongFree – Andrew Horn’s doc about the life of singer Klaus Nomi. Debuted at the Berlin International Film Festival and won a Teddy Award for “Best Documentary Film. (2004)
  • The Outsider: The Story of Harry PartchFree – A documentary about the avant-garde composer Harry Partch. (2002)
  • The Penultimate Truth About Philip K. Dick – Free – Documentary about the mystical experiences of sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick. (2007)
  • The Photographer – Free – Reveals the philosophy, techniques & artistry of Edward Weston (1948)
  • The Power of NightmaresFree – A three-part history of how radical Islamism in many ways paralleled the rise of Neo-Conservatism. Though critically acclaimed, it never aired in America. (2004)
  • The Real Bruce LeeFree – This martial arts documentary begins with a brief biography of Bruce Lee, and shows scenes from four of his childhood films, Bad Boy, Orphan Sam, Kid Cheung, and The Carnival, each sepia-toned and dubbed to English. (1979)
  • The Queen of TreesFree – The remarkable story of an African fig tree and the special relationship it has with the animals who depend on it. A Peabody award-winning natural history documentary. (2005)
  • The Responsive Eye – Free – Brian DePalma’s short film documenting the opening night of an OP ART exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1966.
  • The Secret Life of Adolf Hitler – Free – 1950’s television documentary that includes interviews with Hitler’s sister Paula Wolf and footage from Eva Braun’s rare home movies.
  • The Simulation HypothesisFree – Are we living in a virtual reality? And if so, could we ever tell? Features Appearances by Max Tegmark, Neil degrasse Tyson, Paul Davies and James Gates (2015).
  • The Story of FascismFree – In an eye-opening documentary, Rick travels back a century to learn how fascism rose and then fell in Europe — taking millions of people with it. (2018)
  • The Space Shuttle – Free – History of the US Space Shuttle program narrated by William Shatner. (2011)
  • The Spanish Earth – Free – A Spanish Civil War propaganda film written and narrated by Ernest Hemingway. (1937)
  • The Strange Case of the Cosmic RaysFree – Puppets of Dostoevsky, Dickens and Poe star in an educational science film created by Frank Capra. (1957)
  • The Story of the Guitar – Free – A three part documentary reveals how the guitar came to “dominate the soundtrack of our lives.” (2008)
  • The Story of Wish You Were Here – Free – Takes you inside the making of Pink Floyd’s 1975 album. (2012)
  • The Tibetan Book of the Dead – Free – Narrated by Leonard Cohen and featuring the Dalai Lama, the film explores an essential teaching in the Buddhist cultures of the Himalayas. (1994)
  • The Unchained GoddessFree – After winning three Oscars for best director, Frank Capra produced a science education film on the weather that made one of the first arguments for taking action against climate change. (1958)
  • The World of Buckminster FullerFree – Directed by Robert Snyder, this documentary transports you into Fuller’s mind and soul. It’s told entirely in his own words. (1974)
  • Triumph of the Will – Free – (1935) The major Nazi propaganda work by Leni Riefenstahl. With subtitles.
  • The Ten-Year Lunch – Free – Oscar-winning film about the writers who sat at the Algonquin Round Table in New York during the 1920s. (1986)
  • The True Glory – Free – War time propaganda documentary directed by Carol Reed, with General Dwight D. Eisenhower and General George S. Patton. (1945)
  • The Universal Mind of Bill Evans – Free – 1966 documentary takes you inside the creative process/world of jazz pianist Bill Evans.
  • The Velvet Underground: A Symphony of Sound – Free – Produced by Andy Warhol, the film shows VU performing a 67-minute instrumental improvisation. (1966)
  • The Way of the FleshFree – Directed by Adam Curtis this documentary on Henrietta Lacks won the Best Science and Nature Documentary at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Find an alternate version on Archive.org. (1998)
  • The World At WarFree – Acclaimed 26-episode WWII documentary “The World at War” was produced by Thames Television and aired in 1973-1974.
  • There is No Authority But YourselfFree – Feature documentary about seminal anarcho-punk band Crass, directed by Dutch filmmaker Alexander Oey. (2006)
  • This is Marshall McLuhan: The Medium is the MessageFree – “Marshall McLuhan discusses his controversial communications theories in this experimental documentary produced by Oscar-winner Ernest Pintoff and Guy Fraumeni.” Came out the same year as his book: The Medium is the Massage. (1967)
  • This is SkaFree – Filmed on location in Kingston, Jamaica, this documentary features performances by a who’s who of up-and-coming ska artists, including Prince Buster, Jimmy Cliff and The Maytals. (1964)
  • Thomas Pynchon: A Journey Into the Mind of P. – Free – A documentary, written & directed by Donatello Dubini & Fosco Dubini, on the reclusive novelist. (2008)
  • To Hear Your Banjo Play – Free – 16-minute introduction to American folk music, written & narrated by Alan Lomax and featuring rare performances by Woody Guthrie, Baldwin Hawes, Sonny Terry. (1946)
  • Tokyo GirlsFree – A candid journey into the world of 4 young Canadian women who work as well-paid hostesses in exclusive Japanese nightclubs. These modern-day geisha find themselves caught up in the mizu shobai – the complex “floating water world” of Tokyo clubs and bars. (2000)
  • Tolstoy Remembered – Free –  Documentary features Tolstoy’s daughter. Directed by Michael Rabiger. (1970)
  • Tom Waits: A Day in Vienna – Free – Tom Waits sings and tells stories in film that originally aired on Austrian TV. (1979)
  • Toute la mémoire du monde (All the World’s Memories) – Free – Alain Resnais’s short documentary looks at the inner workings of the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. It’s “a meditative piece about the fragility of human memory and the ways in which we try to shore it up.” (1956)
  • Trapped: Andy Warhol’s Amiga ExperimentsFree – Short film documents how Carnegie Mellon experts recovered lost paintings that Andy Warhol made on the Commodore Amiga computer during the 1980s.
  • Tunisian Victory – Free – World War II documentary directed by Frank Capra and narrated by Burgess Meredith. (1944)
  • UFOs: It Has Begun – Free – Documentary narrated by Rod Serling explores the existence of UFOs and extra-terrestrial beings. (1979)
  • UniverseFree – A 1960 documentary that inspired the visual Effects of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and gave the HAL 9000 computer its voice (1960)
  • Unguided Tour AKA Letter from Venice – Free – Susan Sontag adapted the Italian-language feature from her story of the same name, originally published in 1977 in the New Yorker. (1983)
  • Urban Struggle: The Battle Of The Cuckoos NestFree – Documents the hardcore punk scene at the Cuckoo’s Nest nightclub. Features performances by T.S.O.L., Circle Jerks and Black Flag, and shows early slam dancing. (1981)
  • Van Gogh: Painted with WordsFree – Written and directed by Andrew Hutton, this drama-documentary about Vincent Van Gogh features Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role. (2010)
  • Vegetarian WorldFree – “William Shatner walks us through the history, benefits, and misconceptions of adhering to a vegetarian diet.” (1982)
  • Velvet Underground: Under ReviewFree – 75 minute film reviewing the music and career of one of rock music’s most influential collectives; a band which esteemed music journalist Lester Bangs claims ‘started modern music’. (2006)
  • Vermeer: Master of LightFree – Explores Vermeer’s compositional methods and techniques. Narrated by Meryl Streep. (2001)
  • Victory at SeaFree –  Award-winning, 26 episode TV series chronicling naval warfare during WWII. (1953)
  • Vietnam! Vietnam! – Free – The last film produced by the legendary John Ford was a work of propaganda commissioned by the United States government in support of the Vietnam War. (1971)
  • Virginia Woolf: A Novelist Free – Draws on old maps, contemporary drawings and paintings, portraits and other archive material to present an outline of Virginia Woolf’s life and to convey a picture of the social and historical background to her writing.
  • Visit to Picasso – Free Part 1Free Part 2 – Belgian filmmaker Paul Haesaerts captures Picasso’s creative process. (1949)
  • Viva Joe Strummer – Free – A documentary look at the great frontman of The Clash. (2005)
  • Waiting for Beckett – Free – Rare feature-length documentary on the Nobel Prize-winning writer Samuel Beckett. (1993)
  • Warhol’s Cinema – A Mirror for the Sixties – Free -This 64 minute documentary from 1989 examines Andy Warhol’s films from the 1960s. (You can view several of these films — EatSleep, and Kiss — here.)
    (1989)
  • Watching My Name Go ByFree – A short documentary about the early days of graffiti culture in New York City. (1976)
  • WattstaxFree – Documents the “Black Woodstock” concert held 7 years after the Watts Riots. (1973)
  • Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe – Free – Herzog loses a bet to Errol Morris and eats a shoe with the help of chef Alice Waters. (1980)
  • Who’s Out There?Free – Orson Welles narrates a documentary asking whether there’s extraterrestrial life in the Universe. (1975)
  • Who is Afraid of Ai Weiwei?Free – A short PBS Frontline documentary on the dissident Chinese artist. (2011)
  • Who’s Afraid Of MachiavelliFree – This documentary asks how relevant Machiavelli’s book, The Prince, is 500 years after its publication. (2013)
  • Why We Fight – Free – A seven part series of WWII propaganda films directed by Frank Capra. (1943)
  • What the Future Sounded Like?Free – From Dr Who to The Dark Side of the Moon, “the pioneering members of the Electronic Music Studios radically changed the sound-scape of the 20th Century. What the Future Sounded Like tells this fascinating story of British electronic music.” (2007)
  • William S. Burroughs: 100 YearsFree – A short feature on the life of writer William S. Burroughs by the LA Review of Books. (2014)
  • William S. Burroughs & LawrenceFree – William S. Burroughs and his years in Lawrence, Kansas. He lived in Lawrence longer than in any other place and chose to spend the last several years of his life here. (2014)
  • WikiRebels – Free – Documentary by Swedish public television chronicles history of Wikileaks. (2010)
  • Wittgenstein: A Wonderful LifeFree – About the remarkable life of the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. (1989)
  • Woody Guthrie Free – Covers the life of Woody Guthrie, America’s great travelling singer-songwriter. (1988)
  • You Don’t Know Jack – Free – Morgan Spurlock’s short documentary on the 15-year-old who invented a new way to detect early stage pancreatic cancer. (2013)

For a full lineup of great movies, please visit our complete collection of Free Movies Online.

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