Filmmaker Roko Belic may be most famous for his Academy Award nominated film Genghis Blues, but his 2011 documentary Happy offers an unique and valuable perspective on life. After seeing an article that ranked the United States as the 23rd happiest country in the world, Belic and producer/director Tom Shadyac set out to find out what true happiness means, as well as how and where it can be found.


There are countless terrific sports movies where a coach takes a struggling team, reinvigorates their spirits, and leads them to the championship game. Rarely, however, are stories like this captured in real-time, with a real team. In 2011's Oscar-winning documentary Undefeated, directors Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin profile coach Bill Courtney as he looks to lead the Manassas Tigers of Memphis, TN to their first winning season.

Born Into Brothels

Born into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids is a wonderful display of human compassion and our ability to learn from one another. The film follows Briski, a photographer, who travels to Calcutta originally to photograph the the red light district in Sonagachi. While there, she develops relationships with the children of the area and begins to teach them photography. The film tracks the children's growth and the doors to opportunity opened through the growing bond between them and Briski.

Searching for Sugar Man

Sometimes, truth really is stranger than fiction. Searching for Sugar Man, which took the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2013, tracks the search for American musician Sixto Rodriguez. While virtually unheard of in the United States, Rodriguez became a cultural phenomenon in South Africa. After rumors circulated regarding his mysterious death, two super-fans Stephen 'Sugar' Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom set out to discover the truth. Searching for Sugar Man is a wonderful testament to the power of music and art to inspire us all.

Hoop Dreams

Hoop Dreams is widely considered one of the greatest sports documentaries of all time. Its exlusion from the 1995 Academy Awards was so controversial that it caused Bruce Davis, Executive Director of The Academy, to further investigate and ultimately change the film selection process. Clocking in at 170 minutes, the film follows two African-American high school basketball players in pursuit of their dreams to play professionally.

Man on Wire

The 2009 Academy Award winning Documentary Man on Wire tells the story of French high-wire walker Phillippe Petit. English director James Marsh compiled footage of Petit's 1974 walk between New York City's Twin Towers, revealing the determination and dedication required to, as Petit's book is titled, "reach the clouds."

'Flags of Our Fathers'
Nominee: Best Spiritual Film of 2006 Read next feature >
More from beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad