10 biographical documentaries to watch on Netflix | Culture

As in literature, biographies have gained increasing prominence in cinema. Portraying life, work and sometimes even a specific moment in someone’s story, they have the power to trap the viewer within their plot. For those who like genre productions, we list 10 biographical documentaries available on Netflix, all feature films with interesting storylines.

What Happened, Miss Simone? (Image: Disclosure / Netflix)

Biographical Documentaries on Netflix

1. What Happened, Miss Simone?

Oscar nominee for best documentary 2016, What Happened, Miss Simone? is a portrait of Nina Simone, one of the greatest jazz artists and an important civil rights activist between the 50s and 70s in the USA. The film was made from unpublished and archival materials from his career, as well as interviews with friends and family.

  • Direction: Liz Garbus
  • Year: 2015
  • Cast: Nina Simone and Lisa Simone

2. El Pepe, a supreme life

10 biographical documentaries to watch on Netflix / Netflix / Disclosure

El Pepe, a supreme life (Image: Disclosure / Netflix)

Starring the former president of Uruguay (2010-2015), José Mujica, El Pepe, a supreme life was released at the Venice Film Festival. The documentary shows the personal and political trajectory of the guerrilla, bringing to light moments he spent in jail , the agendas for which he has always fought and the legacy he left in the country’s politics.

  • Direction: Emir Kusturica
  • Year: 2018
  • Cast: José Mujica and Lucía Topolansky

3. Gaga: Five Foot Two

Launched at the Toronto Film Festival, Gaga: Five Foot Two is a film that follows the footsteps of singer Lady Gaga over the course of a year of her career. In that time, the documentary shows the production of his studio album Joanne, the ups and downs of his personal life and the backstage of his performance at Super Bowl LI.

  • Direction: Chris Moukarbels
  • Year: 2017
  • Cast: Lady Gaga and Mark Ronson

4. My Story

Partly inspired by a book of the same name, My Story stars former US First Lady Michelle Obama. In addition to revisiting its history through images, videos and testimonies, the production accompanies Michelle during the tour to publicize the work and shows part of her work during the term of Barack Obama.

  • Direction: Nadira Hallgren
  • Year: 2020
  • Cast: Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey

5. Quincy

A celebration of the life and legacy of Quincy Jones, Quincy is co-directed by Rashida Jones, the musician’s daughter. The feature recalls his countless contributions to the world of music, both as a composer and as a producer, and shows intimate moments of his life in old age.

  • Direction: Alan Hicks and Rashida Jones
  • Year: 2018
  • Cast: Quincy Jones and Rashida Jones

6. The Auschwitz Accountant

10 biographical documentaries to watch on Netflix / Netflix / Disclosure

The Auschwitz Accountant (Image: Disclosure / Netflix)

Canadian documentary, The Accountant of Auschwitz revolves around the trial of former German officer Oskar Gröning. Acting in World War II, decades after the conflict he was accused of being an accomplice in the murder of thousands of Jews in the concentration camp at Auschwitz.

  • Direction: Matthew Shoychet
  • Year: 2018
  • Cast: Oskar Gröning

7. Jim and Andy

Another film released at the Venice Film Festival, Jim and Andy is a documentary that focuses on actor Jim Carrey, during his preparation to star in the film Man on the Moon. Nearly 20 years after the feature hit theaters, the documentary recounts the actor’s experience in a lengthy interview and shows behind-the-scenes footage from the 1999 film.

  • Direction: Chris Smith
  • Year: 2017
  • Cast: Jim Carrey and Miloš Forman

8. The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson

The platform’s original title, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson shows, as well as its own name says, the work in life carried out by activist Marsha P. Johnson in the pursuit of LGBTQIA + rights and the mysteries surrounding her death. Headed by a friend, the investigation seeks to bring up a different version of what would have happened.

  • Direction: David France
  • Year: 2017
  • Cast: Sylvia Rivera and Randolfe Wicker

9. Homecoming

Released together with an album with all his songs presented at Coachella 2018, Homecoming is a documentary produced and starring Beyoncé. The film follows the pop diva throughout his preparation for the presentation, showing the creative concept developed for the show and the cultural movement headed by him.

  • Direction: Beyoncé and Ed Burke
  • Year: 2019
  • Cast: Beyoncé and Solange Knowles

10. Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold

10 biographical documentaries to watch on Netflix / Netflix / Disclosure

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold (Image: Disclosure / Netflix)

Directed by his nephew, Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold is a documentary about the personal and professional life of journalist Joan Didion. Through a long and intimate interview with the writer, testimonials from friends and archival images, the title tells her story and recalls some of her main works.

  • Direction: Griffin Dunne
  • Year: 2017
  • Cast: Joan Didion and Griffin Dunne

Do you recommend other biographical documentaries on Netflix? Share your favorites with us!

The Netflix catalog was consulted on 01/05/2021.

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