Five documentaries to watch this summer to understand the world we live in

Disinformation, the criminalization of the African-American population and migration between the United States and Mexico are some of the issues dealt with in these productions
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PHOTO/PIXABAY  -   TV control

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world as we knew it. However, before this pathogen came into our lives, phenomena such as misinformation, criminalization of certain sectors of the population or poverty were already present in our lives. Summer is a good time to reflect and try to understand the world around us through some of the documentaries that we can find on platforms such as Netflix, HBO, Filmin or Amazon Prime, among others. 

1.- After-truth: desinformation and the cost of fake news (HBO) 

"Why is it more difficult to recognize the truth now if our knowledge of who we are is much greater than it has ever been? What role does communication play in its cultural (re)definition? Does being more informed mean being better informed today?". With these questions, Raúl Magallón Rosa, author of the book 'Unfaking News: how to combat disinformation' tries to make us reflect on one of the most serious phenomena of the globalization era.  The documentary 'After-truth: desinformation and the cost of fake news ' follows the same line and analyzes how hoaxes or false news have the power to transform reality and even to provoke incidents such as Pizzagate, a conspiracy theory that went viral during the 2016 presidential elections and that assured that the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington was the epicenter of an alleged pedophile network linked to Hillary Clinton; information that was repeatedly denied and discredited.  This production is necessary to understand the impact this phenomenon has on our daily lives, as we have seen with the coronavirus pandemic, where hoaxes have spread as fast or faster than the pathogen itself, spreading fear and mistrust among the population. With a direct and concise language, the director of this documentary film analyzes the growing problem of false news in the United States and makes us reflect on the power of disinformation - defined by many as the weapon of the 22nd century - or conspiracy theories.

2.- Separated at the border (HBO) 

International migration is one of the great global phenomena of our age. In recent years, Mexico has been characterized as both a country of origin and a country of destination. The nation presided over by Andrés Manuel López Obrador is the main transit country for irregular migrants - mainly Central Americans - who usually travel to the United States, and at the same time, this territory is a destination for migrants. The documentary 'Separated at the Border' tells the story of two women who, after leaving their home in search of a better future for themselves and their families, are separated from their children at the border between Mexico and the United States.  Between July 2017 and October 2019, US immigration authorities have separated more than 5,000 children from their families, according to data provided by the US Government to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). This documentary distributed by HBO has been produced and directed by Ellen Goosenberg Kent explains how the immigration crisis has affected the thousands of families who try to cross this border every day. Through a unique and heartbreaking style, this documentary tells the story of a reality that has been condemned to live in the background. Ellen Goosenberg won an Oscar thanks to the production Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press which deals with the lives of several volunteers who call on U.S. military.

3.- Makala (Amazon Prime) 

"Nowhere else in the world do absolute poverty and fabulous natural resources coexist so radically as in Africa". With these words, Colonel and analyst Pedro Baños began the article 'Africa: natural resources, wars and corruption', published on the occasion of the XVI International Defence Course in April 2019. The documentary 'Makala' directed by Emmanuel Gras will take us to the African continent from the first minute and will make us think and feel the same way as the protagonist of this production, a young man who dreams of a better future for his loved ones and does everything in his power to achieve it.  The story - which focuses on the life of a worker in the Congo who lives every day with the bare minimum - highlights the difficult situation in which millions of people live today. The family, the importance of natural resources or the value of effort form the essence of this production, in which we will discover that many times, our future does not depend only on our work, but on the resources that surround us. 

4.- The great hack (Netflix) 

As the American physicist Clifford Stoll said, "data is not synonymous with information, information is not knowledge, knowledge is not understanding, and understanding is not wisdom ". In 2018, the history of information changed completely when the Cambridge Analytica scandal was discovered, in which data from thousands of Facebook users was collected without consent by this company to be used as a political weapon. The Big Hack -one of Netflix's great documentary productions- explains from the beginning how this expert company in data analysis used information that on its own is not valuable, but together it has the capacity to design an accurate profile of how people relate to the world of the Internet.  This information proved to be of great value to some companies and individuals who used our data as a commodity to pursue their ambitions. This documentary is not only about the controversial use that certain companies can make of our data, but also about the impact that this type of action has in the short term on our daily lives. 

5.- Amendment XIII (Netflix) 

"We are the product of history chosen by our ancestors if we are white. If we're black, we're a product of history that our ancestors didn't choose." With these words begins the documentary film Amendment XIII, a production in which experts, activists and politicians analyze the impact of the Amendment XIII and criticize the criminalization of the African-American population. In 160 minutes, the director of this documentary, Ava DuVernay explores the massive incarceration of African Americans in the United States and makes us reflect on such well-known concepts as race or justice. The title refers to the thirteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution which outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude except as punishment for a crime throughout the United States. "Neither slavery nor forced labor, except as a punishment for crime whereof the person guilty thereof shall be duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction thereof," this law states. This documentary - which has been awarded "best documentary" by the Alliance of Women Film Journalists in 2016, an Emmy Award and an MTV Movie & TV Award in 2017 - was released in 2016, although the racial protests in the United States following the death of African-American George Floyd at the hands of a white policeman have highlighted the need to analyze the phenomenon of violence in the United States, as well as its impact on the African-American population.