Lately I've been addicted to non-fiction, books, documentaries, podcasts... the real people, the real stories, the facts and truth, the truth about people, our history and the things that motivate us to be better, to be informed, to be empathetic. Here are some documentaries that I've watched recently that I thought were really interesting:
The Beginning of Life takes a look at how we are all impacted in the first years of our lives by nurture or nature, and how these years are critical in our mental and emotional development. As a parent, my biggest take-away from this film was that basically, if we don’t experience nurture through love and engagement in the first three years of life, we never learn it, and then we become people who don’t know how to love and engage.
In Being Serena, a new documentary series chronicling the tennis icon (and amazing woman) we get to get to know her at a pivotal moment in her personal and professional life, through her pregnancy, wedding, daughter’s birth and first year of her daughter's life. I became so impressed by Serena's spirit and dedication in this five-part series, and I found that even though she is one of the world's greatest athletes, I was still able to relate to her story as a wife, new mother, and professional.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor shares the legacy of Fred Rogers, the host of the TV show "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." I remember watching the show as a child, and understanding that a key message from Mister Rogers was to love our neighbors, but I had no idea how intentional Mister Rogers was about the topics he addressed on the show; I was also not aware of how much he understood about child development or his sincere passion for mindfulness and emotional health. At one point in the documentary, he is discussing how to talk to children about sensitive topics and he says: “How do we put it to children so they will understand? We need to tell children that ‘we’ll take care of you’.” He says that we need to “struggle with the tragedy, to feel the gravity of love.” I love this approach, and this idea that we don’t need to protect our children from reality, but we need to live aside them, through it, and remind them that we are doing it, together.
Gloria Allred is passionate attorney who has been fighting for the rights of women and people from underserved communities for over 40 years. In Seeing Allred, you get an up close look at the person behind the attorney. My favorite quote from Gloria in the film was this: "The final stage of healing is using what happened to you to help other people. That is healing in itself."
I wasn't really familiar with Joan Didion before I watched Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold. This intimate documentary gives insight into Joan's role as a chronicler of America’s cultural and political tides, across more than 50 years of essays, novels, screenplays, and criticism. Similar to Gloria and Serena, Joan's life was one of focus and being true to one's self.
In all of these stories—in different ways—I was reminded of the value of living a life that is honest and sensitive to what's happening in the world around us, which, despite our differences, will ultimately allow us to love and respect one another as equals.