Are you looking for a story that is foreign to fiction but just as fascinating? Then you will enjoy Hulu’s rich collection of documentaries to suit every inclination. Whether you are looking to uncover hidden stories, shockingly genuine criminal tales, deep dives into nature, political journeys or personal stories that are absolutely monstrous, we have you covered.
Here are the best documents about Hulu streaming now.
1. The painter and the thief
This highly acclaimed 2020 documentary has a real crime hook, but a gripping twist that reveals the bizarre heist who got an unlikely friendship. It was a sunny day in Oslo when the titular thief, Karl-Bertil Nordland, strolled into an art gallery and picked up a large painting from the wall before disappearing out the back door. He was captured, but the painting was not restored. Looking for closure, Czech artist Barbora Kysilkova wanted to get to know the man who stole her work. Quickly, this tattooed tough guy goes from a curiosity for her mouse to something far more complicated. Documentary Benjamin Ree comes close and personal with both painter and thief and explores the intricacies that make up people, art and the intoxicating mix of emotions that create relationships, valued and toxic.
How to see: The painter and the thief stream on Hulu.
2. Black fish
For millions of Americans, the killer whale Shamu was a whimsical symbol of the great wonders of the oceans. Before an arena full of dizzying human families, he swam in a cement tank, performed tricks and apparently smiled to applause. But behind the scenes, the orcas in captivity were treated horribly. Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s tireless documentary explores the depths of these atrocities by diving into the tragedy of Tilikum, an orca notorious for killing its handler. Through interviews with experts and former SeaWorld employees, Cowperthwaite reveals the dingy abdomen of whaling and how it can drive anyone (or any whale) out of their minds. With shocking footage and defiant empathy, Black fish speaks for the vicious giant who can not defend himself. The result is a 2013 documentary that is captivating, haunting and deeply informative.
How to see: Blackfish streams on Hulu.
3. Minding the Gap
One of the most acclaimed documentaries of 2018 began as outrageous video footage of a boy and his friends skateboarding in Rockford, Illinois. By pulling tricks, epic falls and sharing in both, these kids created an unbreakable bond. Everything grew up, Bing Liu debuted as a director by training his camera again on his childhood friends. Do not just do it Minding the Gap examining how skating gave them an escape from their abusive fathers also reveals how the trauma they endured from such an unstable and toxic masculinity has shaped them for better or worse. Far from saccharine or navel-gazing, Liu’s documentaries inappropriately look at poverty, domestic violence, drug abuse, and the struggle to become a better man.
How to see: Minding the Gap streamer on Hulu.
4. Three identical strangers
It’s like something out of The twilight zone. Imagine you are walking down the sidewalk and suddenly you come face to face with your exact double. Not a double, but a twin you never knew you had. Then a third comes out of the woodwork. You learn that you are one of a set of triplets, adopted into three different families, who had no idea that such a wild separation had taken place. In 1980 in New York, three young men faced this mind-blowing reality. Like it was the national news and local celebrities and even scored a cameo in Madonna’s film Desperately looking for Susan. But beyond the joy of reunion came an avalanche of life-changing revelations. Documentary Tim Wardle speaks to the brothers, their families and journalists to investigate the complex history behind the flashy headlines.
How to see: Three identical alien streams on Hulu.
5. Queen of Versailles
If you’re looking for something with a salative slathering of schadenfreude, you’ll enjoy this silly 2012 documentary about a billionaire couple breaking up. He was a timeshare magnate; she was a wonderful queen with ambitious communities. Together, David and Jackie Siegel not only built a family of eight children (and a pack of lap dogs), but also began building on “the largest house in America,” a neat Orlando mansion modeled on Versailles. Then the great recession of 2008 threatened to knock them from wealth to rags. Through interviews with the couple, their children and their overwhelmed house staff, documentary Lauren Greenfield creates an astonishing journey that follows Siegels from private jets to Walmart shopping streets and through their castle, covered with glamor, delusions and dog shit.
How to see: The Queen of Versailles streams on Hulu.
6. MLK / FBI
Many Americans may remember Martin Luther King, Jr. as the peaceful leader of the civil rights movement. Yet there was much more to this monumental black icon than his “I have a dream” speech. He told for racial equality as well as greater economic reform, he was an inspiration to millions. But to J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, King was a threat. This heralded 2020 film explores the surveillance and harassment that King endured from the FBI, which threatened to expose his private shortcomings to a judicial public. Sam Pollard, the Oscar-nominated documentary behind 4 little girls, conducts interviews with historians and lawyers, visits archive footage and dives into a wealth of recently declassified FBI documents to create a more detailed portrait of King and his historic struggle against white supremacy in America.
How to see: MLK / FBI streams on Hulu.
7. Tribute to Satan?
In the wake of the 1980s satanic panic, many Americans developed a distorted view of what Satanists really are. The revered documentary Penny Lane aims to enlighten by training its sharp gaze on the modern Satanic temple in this challenging 2019 film that follows the group’s political struggles. Far from the violent villains painted by Christian propaganda, these satanists are ill-suited, free thinkers, philosophers, provocateurs and activists who deliberately provoke to push back against a government that obscures the line between church and state. While the stakes are high, Lane’s approach is playful, reflecting the devil-may-care attitude of her fascinating – and often damn funny – interviewees. Whether it reveals rituals, captures protests or conducts interviews, Lane maps this difficult terrain with a dry wit that makes this exploration even more entertaining than it is daring and informative.
How to see: Tribute to Satan? streamer on Hulu.
8. The final member
The setup of this critically anticipated document may sound like a dirty joke. Yet documentaries Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math travel a surprisingly stimulating narrative of a history-forming moment for the Icelandic Phallological Museum. It begins as a hobby document that reveals the museum’s founder, Sigurður Hjartarson, collection of mammalian penises. For over 40 years he has been collecting penises from guinea pigs, bulls and whales (oh my!). All he lacked was a human member. Finding volunteers shows the least of his problems when two eccentric men fight for the honor. This race to the showcase is filled with wild turns as well as surprisingly vulnerable moments about mortality, masculinity and heritage. But be warned that this funny but heartfelt doctor is not for that fate: Full frontal nudity, fermented flesh, and divided – uh – members are everywhere.
Celebrated by critics in 2020, Night rejects traditional speaking head interviews, guiding voiceover, or such means to a cozy context. Instead, Oscar-nominated director Gianfranco Rosi introduces a title card that thinly explains how the Middle East has been plagued by foreign intervention, tyranny, and war. He then introduces a wealth of footage shot over three years around the borders between Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria and Lebanon. There are scenes of soldiers patrolling, women in mourning, children in therapy discussing an ISIS attack, and a fisherman walking around in his wear while explosions burn in the distance. But that’s not all. His patient camera captures moments between loved ones in swimming and a happy theater group in play rehearsals. These scenes – and many, many more – create meditative narratives that require attention. Rosi is our silent, yet insightful travel guide, revealing a wealth in the Middle East all too often obscured by headline-grabbing news reports.
How to see: Notturno streams on Hulu.
10. Summer of Soul (… Or when the revolution could not be sent)
Hip-hop star Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson debuts as a director with a 2021 documentary that will make you light up and dance. Weaving footage that has been forgotten for 50 years, he heralds the audience back to the summer of 1969, when the Harlem Cultural Festival for six weekends exploded with song and excitement. Dedicated to celebrating black pride, unity and music, this incredible event attracted large crowds and major acts including Gladys Knight, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder and Sly and the Family Stone. Critics have cheered the immersive film of the never-before-seen footage that draws you on stage and into the mix. But Questlove does more than invite us to the party. By interviewing those who were there, he unfolds the festival’s hidden history and sings of people’s power.
How to see: Summer of Soul streams on Hulu.
11. American animals
Documentary Bart Layton first exclaimed film critics with Deceiver, which revealed a twisted tale of a French swindler posing as a missing American child. His fascinating follow-up obscures the boundaries between documentary and docudrama to reveal the disturbing case of the Transylvania University library robbery. The more alien than fiction details involve an obsession with the film Reservoir Dogs, a plot to fence off a rare art book, and the old man disguises. Still, Layton takes things to a new bending level. Not only does he cast famous artists like Evan Peters and Barry Keoghan to play the young thieves, but he also weaves their real colleagues in sequences with them. Picked into a film set, the convicted villains reflect and quarrel over various details with their film doppelgängers as they run through to a disastrous plan. The result is a film that encourages audiences to experience the speed of a heist flick, so its anguish that came in over its head and lived to regret it.
How to see: American animals stream on Hulu.