The Big Picture, The Bigger Questions: Documentaries on Life

Documentary titles that ponder the act of being alive on this planet, either through scientific soul-searching or metaphysical musings. There are explorations of philosophy, spirituality, and humanity as well as universal notions of happiness, tolerance, and peace.

List order is from newest to oldest (by year of release), and titles are sorted alphabetically within each year.

Related lists:
Worth a Thousand Words: Non-Verbal Non-Fiction
The Green Screen: Eco Documentaries
Science Non-Fiction: Documentaries on Space
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1.
Unity (2015 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Despite the advent of science, literature, technology, philosophy, religion, and so on -- none of these... (99 mins.)
Director: Shaun Monson
 
2.
The Collective Evolution III: The Shift (2014 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
The Collective Evolution III is a powerful documentary that explores a revolutionary shift affecting every aspect of our planet... (84 mins.)
Director: Joe Martino
 
3.
Focus on Infinity (2014 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
Focus On Infinity is a cinematic journey to the places, people and machines that are involved in exploring... (79 mins.)
Director: Joerg Burger
 
4.
Kindness Is Contagious (2014 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
Interspersing the practical with the theoretical, the documentary explores the impact and infectiousness of human kindness and compassion. (75 mins.)
Director: David Gaz
 
5.
Love Is a Verb (2014 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
A video documentation of a transnational social movement of Sufi inspired Sunni Muslims that originated in Turkey and Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish Islamic preacher and an influential religious figure of the movement. (55 mins.)
 
6.
A Small Good Thing (2015 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
We've sought ease, comfort and wealth - but are people happier with more money? What is the science behind a good life? Following several people over a typical year, "A Small Good Thing" looks at the simple sources of human happiness. (71 mins.)
 
7.
Rooted in Peace (2016 Documentary)
ROOTED in PEACE challenges viewers to examine their values as Americans and human beings. Today we are at war within ourselves, with our environment, and with the world. Director and award-winning filmmaker Greg Reitman invites viewers on a film journey to take notice of the world we live in, proactively seek ways to find personal and ecological peace, and stop the cycle of violence. (97 mins.)
Director: Greg Reitman
 
8.
Awakening World (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
What fuels an AWAKENING WORLD? That's what filmmaker Sebastian Siegel sets out to uncover by exploring... (40 mins.)
 
9.
The End of Time (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
Explores our perception of time. (109 mins.)
Director: Peter Mettler
 
10.
Free the Mind (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
In 1992 Professor Richard Davidson, one of the world's leading neuroscientists, met the Dalai Lama,... (80 mins.)
Director: Phie Ambo
 
11.
Hellbound? (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
If God is our pure, all-loving creator, can he really turn his back on sinners and allow them to suffer for eternity in hell... (84 mins.)
Director: Kevin Miller
 
12.
Herd (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
What's it all about? 100 people of diverse backgrounds ages 4 to 87 answer life's most intriguing questions... (88 mins.)
Director: Steven Singer
 
13.
Inner Worlds, Outer Worlds (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
There is one vibratory field that connects all things. It has been called Akasha, Logos, the primordial OM... (122 mins.)
Director: Daniel Schmidt
 
14.
One Day on Earth (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A documentary that captures the same 24-hour period throughout every country in the world. (104 mins.)
Director: Kyle Ruddick
 
15.
People v. The State of Illusion (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A compelling docudrama that explores the science and power of perception and imagination through the most important trial you will ever witness. (80 mins.)
Director: Scott Cervine
 
16.
Reconvergence (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
Reconvergence offers an intriguing exploration of mortality, consciousness and identity in the modern... (84 mins.)
Director: Edward Tyndall
 
17.
The Thought Exchange (2012 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Thought Exchange is a simple yet profound way of looking at the world, that allows us to understand and experience the truth about who we really are, where we really live, what we really want, and how to have that all the time. (92 mins.)
Director: Usher Morgan
 
18.
The Collective Evolution II: The Human Experience (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
The Collective Evolution 2 The Human Experience is a documentary focused on showing each of the dimensions to the experience we call life... (95 mins.)
 
19.
Finding Joe (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
(80 mins.)
 
20.
The Future Is Now! (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  
In an effort to re-connect a pessimistic "Everyman" with humanity, a journalist takes him on a voyage of possibilities as seen through the eyes of leading thinkers in the arts and sciences. (92 mins.)
 
21.
Happy (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
HAPPY takes us on a journey from the swamps of Louisiana to the slums of Kolkata in search of what really makes people happy... (76 mins.)
Director: Roko Belic
 
22.
Journey of the Universe (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
The Emmy Award winning JOURNEY OF THE UNIVERSE tells an epic story of cosmic, Earth and human transformation from The Big Bang to today... (56 mins.)
 
23.
Life in a Day (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A documentary shot by film-makers all over the world that serves as a time capsule to show future generations what it was like to be alive on the twenty-fourth of July, 2010. (95 mins.)
 
24.
Opening Our Eyes (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
How many people does it take to make a difference? Mother/daughter filmmakers, circle the globe on a 99-day journey... (61 mins.)
Director: Gail Mooney
 
25.
Project Happiness (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
Happiness, I want more! From the alleys of Nigeria and the beaches of California to the mountains of India... (62 mins.)
Director: John Sorensen
 
26.
The Prophet (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A documentary essay illustrating Gibran's themes of love, life and loss. (75 mins.)
Director: Gary Tarn
 
27.
The Reality of Me (TROM) (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
From The Big Bang to The Monetary System, Religion, Human Behaviour, War or Slavery, to a new Global Social System, TROM Documentary tries to analyze the world we live in.
 
28.
Take It with You (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
In April 2009, Bryce Lemon and his sister Alyssa departed on what they hoped would be a spiritual journey around the world... (64 mins.)
Director: Bryce Lemon
 
29.
Thrive (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
An unconventional documentary that lifts the veil on what's really going on in our world by following the money upstream... (132 mins.)
 
30.
¡Vivan las antípodas! (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
What would be the shortest route between Entre Rios in Argentina and the Chinese metropolis Shanghai... (108 mins.)
 
31.
BreakThrough: A Conscious Documentary (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
What if there is more to life than what people are seeing? What if people could break through the barriers... (74 mins.)
 
32.
The Collective Evolution (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
The Collective Evolution is a documentary aimed at showing the current state of the world, why it needs to be changed... (112 mins.)
 
33.
Discover the Gift (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Within each of us, there are special Gifts simply awaiting discovery. The sense of joy, power, fulfillment... (105 mins.)
 
34.
I Am (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Director Tom Shadyac speaks with intellectual and spiritual leaders about what's wrong with our world and how we can improve both it and the way we live in it. (78 mins.)
Director: Tom Shadyac
 
35.
The Invocation (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
An exploration of the notion of 'God' and World Peace through Religion, Spirituality, History, Science, Politics and Arts. (90 mins.)
Director: Emmanuel Itier
 
36.
Love (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Dr. Gary Null and 16 of the world's leading Medical Doctors, Psychologists, Philosophers, Professors and Spiritual Experts, come together to share their insights on every aspect of Love based on questions from people around the globe. (90 mins.)
 
37.
The Nature of Existence (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Filmmaker Roger Nygard roams the globe to the source of each of the world's philosophies, religions... (94 mins.)
Director: Roger Nygard
 
38.
ReGeneration (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
ReGENERATION explores the inherent cynicism found in many of today's youth and young adults, and the... (81 mins.)
 
39.
A Simple Rhythm (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
"A Simple Rhythm" is a philosophical exploration about rhythm and synchronization. Utilizing recorded... (56 mins.)
Director: Tess Girard
 
40.
3 Magic Words (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A woman awakens with amnesia after a suicide attempt, and her quest to find the meaning of life introduces her to a great spiritual philosophy. Her self-discovery becomes a real-life primer in new age consciousness. (71 mins.)
 
41.
2012: Time for Change (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
2012: Time For Change is a documentary feature that presents ways to transform our unsustainable society into a regenerative planetary culture... (85 mins.)
Director: Joao G. Amorim
 
42.
What's in a Smile? (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Can a smile really change your day? What about your life? An intellectual query turns into a personal... (24 mins.)
Director: Andy DeJohn
 
43.
The Anatomy of Hate (2009 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Reveals the shared narratives found in individual and collective ideologies of hate, and how we as a species can overcome them... (86 mins.)
Director: Mike Ramsdell
 
44.
The Big Question (2009 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A troubled man bursts into your child's schoolhouse. Without warning, he chases out all the boys and lines the girls up... (63 mins.)
Director: Vince DiPersio
 
45.
Cognition Factor (2009 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A cyberpunk's quest for enlightenment in the digital age, during which the viewer is taken through a narrated virtual world populated by smart people in search of answers to the "Big Five" questions relating to the human experience. (63 mins.)
Director: Mike Kawitzky
 
46.
Happiness Is (2009 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
The Declaration of Independence famously grants us the right to pursue happiness. And Americans spend great amounts of time and energy chasing it... (82 mins.)
Director: Andrew Shapter
 
47.
Life Extended (2009 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Scientific and philosophical perspectives on life, and the quest for immortality. (57 mins.)
 
48.
Mythic Journeys (2009 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
An inventive fusion of documentary, story, artwork and animation. Despite the fact that myth has always existed... (93 mins.)
 
49.
Oh My God (2009 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
People from all walks of life are asked "What is God?" (93 mins.)
Director: Peter Rodger
 
50.
One Peace at a Time (2009 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Filmed in 20 countries, with the insights of Nobel Laureates: Muhammad Yunus (Nobel Peace Prize), Steve... (83 mins.)
Director: Turk Pipkin
 
51.
The Quantum Activist (2009 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
There is a revolution going on in science. A genuine paradigm shift. While mainstream science remains materialist... (78 mins.)
 
52.
Serotonin Rising (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A revolution of good deeds positively changing the planet. In a groundbreaking experiment, researchers... (60 mins.)
Director: Tony Perri
 
53.
The Shadow Effect (2009 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Director: Scott Cervine
 
54.
With One Voice (2009 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
This illuminating documentary explores the unity of humanity, featuring mystics from around the world, whose lives have been dedicated to answering the mysteries of existence. (78 mins.)
Director: Eric Temple
 
55.
Beyond Our Differences (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
With all of the problems facing the world today -- war, poverty, weapons, environmental degradation... (73 mins.)
Director: Peter Bisanz
 
56.
Bloody Mondays & Strawberry Pies (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A substantial part of life is claimed by boredom. Beauty, love, work.. sometimes it just isn't worth getting out of bed... (80 mins.)
Director: Coco Schrijber
 
57.
Crossroad (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Different forms of seeing the world. The boundaries formed between social and cultural differences. Religion, politics and behavior on the day to day basis through the eyes of political analysts and chosen individuals. (54 mins.)
 
58.
Examined Life (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Examined Life pulls philosophy out of academic journals and classrooms, and puts it back on the streets... (87 mins.)
Director: Astra Taylor
 
59.
Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Captures the exciting movement of Spiritual Activism that is exploding around the planet, and the powerful personalities who are igniting it. (90 mins.)
Director: Velcrow Ripper
 
60.
The Human Experience (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
The story of a band of brothers who travel the world in search of the answers to the burning questions: Who am I... (90 mins.)
Director: Charles Kinnane
 
61.
One Giant Leap 2: What About Me? (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
One Giant Leap have created a unique music, TV and film project. What About Me? is the culmination of...
 
62.
Wisdom (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Inspired by the idea that one of the greatest gifts one generation can give to another is the wisdom gained from experience... (59 mins.)
 
63.
In God's Name (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
In God's Name explores the complex questions of our time through the intimate thoughts and beliefs of 12 of the world's most influential spiritual leaders.
 
64.
A Moment on Earth (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.1/10 X  
60 international filmmakers capture the worlds' first simultaneous moment in a motion picture medium.
Director: Jereme Axelrod
 
65.
Not in God's Name: In Search of Tolerance with the Dalai Lama (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Currently religious fanaticism is on the rise worldwide. Director Paula Fouce ventures into the madrassas... (57 mins.)
Director: Paula Fouce
 
66.
Living Luminaries: On the Serious Business of Happiness (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
An actor hits the wall with ego and vices in the modern times and decides to pursue the answers to happiness. A docudrama with extraordinary interviews and insights to wisdom. (100 mins.)
Director: Larry Kurnarsky
 
67.
Quantum Mind of God (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
(55 mins.)
Director: Philip Gardiner
 
68.
Nobelity (2006 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A look at the future and how to solve global problems such as poverty and the environmental degradation through a series of interviews with Nobel Prize winners. (86 mins.)
Director: Turk Pipkin
 
69.
The Nomad Experience (2006 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
THE NOMAD EXPERIENCE is an invitation to an extraordinary journey. A travel around a world of sensations... (52 mins.)
Director: Jordi Llompart
 
70.
The Secret (2006 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
Interviews with leading authors, philosophers, scientists, with an in-depth discussion of the Law of Attraction. The audience is shown how they can learn and use 'The Secret' in their everyday lives. (90 mins.)
Director: Drew Heriot
 
71.
What the Bleep!?: Down the Rabbit Hole (2006 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Interviews with scientists and authors, animated bits, and a storyline involving a deaf photographer are used in this docudrama to illustrate the link between quantum mechanics, neurobiology, human consciousness and day-to-day reality. (156 mins.)
 
72.
One: The Movie (2005 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
In a divided post 9-11 world, first-time filmmaker Ward Powers asks life's ultimate questions of world renowned spiritual leaders and ordinary people... (79 mins.)
Director: Ward Powers
 
73.
The Peace! DVD (2005 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A tribute to the 21st Century Peace Movement featuring the thinkers, activists and leaders working to ensure a peaceful future. (124 mins.)
 
74.
The Atheism Tapes (2004 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Jonathan Miller interviews five atheists and one theologian on the subject of atheism.
Director: Richard Denton
 
75.
The Big Question (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.1/10 X  
What are the first existential queries that lead us to question the absolute and consult teachers, parents... (76 mins.)
 
76.
Monte Grande: What Is Life? (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
How is it possible for body and mind to exist as an integrated whole? the Chilean neurobiologist Francisco Varela devoted his entire life... (80 mins.)
Director: Franz Reichle
 
77.
Peace One Day (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
The story of Jeremy Gilley's attempts to persuade the global community via the United Nations to sanction officially a day without conflict; a ceasefire day; a global day of Peace. (80 mins.)
Director: Jeremy Gilley
 
78.
ScaredSacred (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
In a world teetering on the edge of self destruction, award-winning filmmaker Velcrow Ripper sets out on a unique pilgrimmage... (105 mins.)
Director: Velcrow Ripper
 
79.
What the #$*! Do We (K)now!? (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  
"WHAT THE #$*! DO WE KNOW?!" is a radical departure from convention. It demands a freedom of view and greatness of thought so far unknown... (109 mins.)
 
80.
Gambling, Gods and LSD (2002 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
A filmmaker's inquiry into transcendence becomes a three-hour trip across countries and cultures, interconnecting people... (180 mins.)
Director: Peter Mettler
 
81.
1 Giant Leap (2002 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Jamie Catto and Duncan Bridgeman travelled for 7 months through all 5 continents, and recorded in over... (155 mins.)
 
82.
The Big Bang (1989 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
Filmmaker James Toback poses basic questions in philosopny, such as why we're here and where we're going, to various celebrities and ordinary people. (81 mins.)
Director: James Toback
 
83.
Heaven (1987 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A series of interviews are conducted concerning people's beliefs towards the possibility of an afterlife... (80 mins.)
Director: Diane Keaton
 
84.
Is Everybody Happy But Me? (1981 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
(90 mins.)