The world of cinema is full of overused tropes: rom-com meet-cutes, those scenes where action heroes walk way too slowly away from a massive explosion, and, perhaps most tired of all, the idea that documentaries are only for dads and a very specific type of film student. That last one is simply not true, as anyone who’s ever held their breath for all of Free Solo, sobbed happy tears at RBG, or felt galvanized by I Am Not Your Negro can surely attest.

There’s something to be said for the goosebump-inducing power of a documentary, whether it follows a revered musician or politician throughout the most influential period of their life, illustrates the impact of a particularly noteworthy event or institution, or recreates the horrors of a prolific serial killer.

In short, documentaries are often more inspiring than the most tear-jerking “based on a true story” biopic, more informative than a period drama, and more terrifying than a fictional horror flick—because everything in them is completely real.

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