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top documentary filmsWe all know how easy it is to waste an inordinate amount of the time on the Internet, not doing much of anything productive. On the flip side, there’s a lot of interesting, useful and educational content that you can take advantage of. Rather than waste your time on social networks or online games, you could put some of your online time to good use by watching documentaries.

There are a lot of free and entirely legal sites where you can watch full-length films and documentaries for free. No matter what genre you’re interested in, what part of the world you live in, or there’s something for you in this list of 8 recommendations.

Viewster

Viewster, a site that offers users movies to watch for free online has an entire documentary section worth browsing, including the popular Zeitgeist. Viewster isn’t just limited to English documentaries, with a small selection of French, Spanish and German documentaries. If you’re browsing for a film to watch, you can browse the most recently added films, the best rated, or the most viewed.

top documentary films

Hulu (US Only)

While Hulu is best known for its huge offering of TV shows, the site does also have a pretty impressive collection of documentaries that you can watch for free – without upgrading to a paid Hulu account. There are several different ways you can browse documentaries on Hulu.

You can check out what Hulu recommends, check out the popular documentaries on Hulu, and in the wake of the Oscars, there are a couple of Academy Award-inspired categories: ‘coulda been Oscar contenders’ and ‘inspired by the 2013 Oscar documentary nominees,’ and more.

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documentary film

Looking for a recommendation on Hulu? Try Forks Over Knives, a fascinating documentary which sheds light on how much your diet can influence your health.

DocumentaryTube

DocumentaryTube doesn’t actually host the thousands of documentaries listed on the site, but rather serves as a directory for documentaries from all over the web. Because of this, it’s an invaluable resource, and a must-have for any documentary fan. If you’re not too sure where to start, the site’s Top 100 has some fascinating titles to choose from in a variety of genres.

The site also makes it easy to browse videos in over 30 categories including sports, politics, philosophy, medicine, travel, technology and more.

documentary film

YouTube

YouTube has gone from being a repository of 5-minute-and-under videos, to being a great site for watching movies and documentaries for free. While you can search for specific documentaries you want to watch, or even just do a search for the word ‘documentary‘ and see what comes up, there are also some pretty good channels to keep an eye on.

Documentary Channel and House of Documentary feature full-length documentaries of all kinds. If you’re looking for a particular genre, you can find World History, Nature, Science & Technology, and more.

documentary film

Vimeo

Like YouTube, Vimeo is another site where you can find fascinating documentaries in the midst of all other kinds of content. A simple search for ‘documentary‘ on Vimeo turns up all sorts of interesting videos, like the short documentary, Influencers, which “explores what it means to be an influencer and how trends and creativity become contagious today in music, fashion and entertainment.”

You can also check out the Vimeo documentary channel if you want a more curated experience, with almost 700 videos waiting to be watched.

list of documentary films

PBS Video (US Only)

PBS Video not only provides viewers with full-length documentary shows to watch, but most of the videos are also part of a series, meaning that if there’s a specific topic or genre that appeals to you on the PBS Video site, you’ll find a lot more where that came from.

Some of the programs available on the site include science and tech show, Nova ScienceNOW, Makers: Women Who Make America and the art-focused show, Off Book.

list of documentary films

Crackle

We recently introduced you to the Crackle app Crackle: An App For Free Movies & TV Shows (And It's Completely Legal) Crackle: An App For Free Movies & TV Shows (And It's Completely Legal) The iPhone – as small as it is – can be a great platform for watching video on the go or while out of the house. However, most videos available for the little device are... Read More , and while the site (and iOS/Android apps) predominantly offer users the chance to watch movies for free, it has a small selection of music-specific documentaries. Crackle’s offerings include behind-the-scenes looks at the musical process of bands like U2, Radiohead and Queen.

list of documentary films

Documentary Guide

Documentary Guide is similar to DocumentaryTube in that the videos are not actually hosted on the site. Instead, it acts as a search engine linking you to a huge variety of documentary sites from all over the web. You can search for certain keywords, titles, or even do a search for ‘oscar nominated’ to find documentaries that received a nod from the Academy Awards.

Like DocumentaryTube, the site is curated, so the thousands of films that are available through it were actually handpicked.

top documentary films

What are your favourite sites for watching documentaries online? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credit: Pedro

  1. Onaje Asheber
    June 26, 2013 at 2:56 am

    Big up! This is great stuff...

  2. RamaKrishna RK Veluvali
    March 22, 2013 at 11:29 am

    There is another awesome site.
    mvgroup.org

    Just checkout..!!!!

  3. David Etter
    March 19, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Always looking for good documentaries for homeschooling. Thanks!!

  4. David Etter
    March 19, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Always looking for good documentaries for homeschooling. Thanks!!

  5. Guy McDowell
    March 19, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    My family is going to hate you for this. I love documentaries!!! They don't. :(

    I'm thinking I'll have to download them to my laptop and watch them alone. I'm alright with that. Good article!

  6. Gary McDonald
    March 19, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Nice, now how about an article on News Servers!

  7. Scott M
    March 19, 2013 at 11:36 am

    There are hundreds of other sites that cater to docs as well.I enjoy Top Documentary Film Channel.I like that they send a list of new docs via Email once a week.They have a varied and high quality list of titles.

  8. Alex Miller
    March 19, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Great article. You should also check out frogo.tv, which has a custom video editor and lets you put together playlists, or watch playlists put together by others.

  9. nagelfar
    March 19, 2013 at 7:18 am

    A few more web sites with informative, intriguing,controversial documentaries:

    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/
    http://documentaryheaven.com/
    http://documentary.net/
    http://www.sprword.com/

    Worth watching.

  10. Ashwin Ramesh
    March 19, 2013 at 12:41 am

    Real nice. Was looking forward to an article on this! Thanks Nancy.

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