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‘You couldn’t make this up’ – the best non-fiction to stream on Showmax now



The Rehearsal; Tiktok, Boom.; We Met In Virtual Reality; four Emmy winners and six nominees; & much more
THE REHEARSAL S1 | Binge now, first on Showmax
The Rehearsal explores the lengths one man will go to to reduce the uncertainties of everyday life. With a construction crew, a legion of actors and seemingly unlimited resources, Nathan Fielder (2022 Emmy nominee How To With John Wilson) allows ordinary people to prepare for life’s biggest moments by “rehearsing” them in carefully crafted simulations of his own design. When a single misstep could shatter your entire world, why leave life to chance?
The Rehearsal has been a hit with fans and critics alike, with an 8.7/10 rating on IMdb and a 94% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Daily Beast hailed Fielder as “the undisputed king of cringe comedy,” calling The Rehearsal “a masterpiece of awkward chaos”, while​IndieWire praised the show as “a grand HBO experiment” that achieves “next-level entertainment” and Vanity Fair called it “as enthralling and bizarre as life itself.”
HBO recently renewed The Rehearsal for a second season.
TIKTOK, BOOM | Stream from 26 October, first on Showmax
With over three billion downloads, TikTok has shaken up the social media landscape to become the most downloaded app in the world.
Featuring influencers like Spencer X, Feroza Aziz, and Deja Fox, TikTok, Boom. is “a lively, handy TikTok primer” that explores how the Chinese-owned app “won the eyeballs of a generation” while becoming “a geopolitical hot potato,” to quote Variety.
Directed by Sundance Institute Documentary Film fellow Shalini Kantayya (Coded Bias), the feature documentary premiered at Sundance in 2022 and screened in competition at SXSW and CPH:DOX.
WE’RE HERE S2 | Binge from 23 October
Winner of 2022 Emmys for Costumes and Makeup, We’re Here follows Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara and Shangela as they continue their journey spreading love and connection through the art of drag.
The queens recruit local residents from across small-town America to participate in one-night-only drag shows, inspiring their “drag daughters” to express their genuine selves in front of their families, friends and communities.
Decider lauded the show as “nothing short of a miracle,” and “bigger, bolder, peak excellence”, saying it’s “unlike anything else on TV”, while A.V. Club called it “show stopping” and “a glammed up, emotional road trip.”
HBO has already renewed the unscripted reality series for a third season.
Directed by Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio, the two-part HBO documentary George Carlin’s American Dream was named Outstanding Documentary or Non-Fiction Special at this year’s Emmys.
Described by Stephen Colbert as “the Beatles of comedy”, Carlin’s fearless countercultural comedy spanned five decades, including 14 HBO comedy specials and more than 130 appearances on The Tonight Show, until his death in 2008. The documentary chronicles the life and work of the legendary comedian, a cultural chameleon who is remembered as one of the most influential stand-up comics of all time.
The documentary opens an intimate window into Carlin’s personal life, and includes both material from his stand-up specials and footage from his personal archive, as well as interviews with George Carlin’s family, friends, and the people he inspired – legends like Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Patton Oswalt, Bette Midler, W. Kamau Bell and Jon Stewart.
George Carlin’s American Dream holds a 100% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus calls it a “revealing retrospective on the beloved comedian’s career that ought to be mandatory viewing for standup fans.”
100 FOOT WAVE S1 | Binge now, first on Showmax
Winner of the 2022 Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography, 100 Foot Wave follows the decade-long odyssey of big-wave surfing pioneer Garrett McNamara who, after visiting a small fishing village in Portugal, helped push the sport beyond the realm of imagination.
The six-part HBO documentary series was also up for Outstanding Documentary or Non-Fiction Series and has a 100% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
LA Weekly calls the series “a wild ride… both maddening and captivating to watch.”
STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET | Stream now, first on Showmax
Winner of the Outstanding Arts and Culture Documentary Emmy for 2022, Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street explores the birth of the most impactful children’s series in TV history, which has won a record 214 Emmys, 11 Grammys, three Peabodys, and two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (for the iconic Muppet Big Bird, and legendary puppeteer Jim Henson).
Street Gang includes the iconic furry characters and the songs multiple generations have come to know by heart, as well as never-before-seen archive footage and interviews with the original gang of visionary creators who set out to change the world. Look out for appearances from Muhammad Ali, James Earl Jones, Reverend Jesse Jackson and more.
Street Gang has a 95% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus calls it “as enlightening as it is purely entertaining.” US Weekly calls it “a warm hug of a documentary.”
IN THE SAME BREATH  | Stream now on Showmax
Nominated for Emmys for both Best Documentary and Outstanding Current Affairs Documentary this year, In The Same Breath illustrates the devastating toll of widespread misinformation in the earliest days of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Directed by Nanfu Wang (One Child Nation, Mind Over Murder), who was born in China and now lives in the United States, the documentary explores the early confusion and parallel campaigns by authorities to try to contain the virus as well as shape the public narrative through misinformation, resulting in a devastating impact on citizens of both countries.
The HBO feature documentary also won the Festival Favourites Audience Awards at SXSW 2021, a 2022 Peabody Award, and the 2022 Cinema Eye Honours Award for Outstanding Achievement in Broadcast Nonfiction Filmmaking, among other accolades. As Vox says: “It’s hard to imagine any pandemic documentary being better than In the Same Breath… a chilling, truly absorbing film with big implications for the future.”
Nominated for Emmys for both Best Documentary and Outstanding Arts and Culture Documentary this year, A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks explores the enduring legacy of the legendary photographer, whose work brought the Black community’s struggle for dignity and justice to middle America on the pages of LIFE magazine from 1948 to 1972.
Directed by Emmy winner John Maggio (Mr. Saturday Night, The Perfect Weapon) and executive produced by Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean and Alicia Keys, the HBO documentary traces Parks’s impact on three contemporary photographers: Devin Allen, whose photograph “Baltimore Uprising” of the Freddie Gray protests was featured on the cover of Time; LaToya Ruby Frazier, who for five years followed the Flint, Michigan, water crisis; and Jamel Shabazz, whose photographs on the streets of New York form a visual history of the hip-hop era while simultaneously presenting affirming images for his community.
Also look out for interviews with the likes of filmmakers Spike Lee and Ava DuVernay, The New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb, actor Richard Roundtree, historian Khalil Muhammad, and the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy.
A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks has an 88% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with calling it, “Deeply moving in how it illustrates the ways in which a single life can have an eternal ripple effect throughout the generations.”
Nominated for Emmys for both Best Documentary and Outstanding Politics and Government Documentary this year, HBO’s Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union chronicles the personal and political journey of Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the USA.
Directed by seven-time Emmy winner Peter Kunhardt and executive produced by The New Yorker‘s Jelani Cobb, the three-part docuseries has a 91% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with calling it “a comprehensive and compelling analysis… Kunhardt’s film brightly illuminates how essential the discussion of Obama’s handling of race is to American culture as a whole, especially when it was no accident that every president before him was a white man.”
Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union features the likes of politician Jesse Jackson, professors Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Cornel West, political consultant David Axelrod, authors Michael Eric Dyson and Ta-Nehisi Coates, reverends Alvin Love and Jeremiah Wright, New Yorker editor David Remnick, speechwriter Jon Favreau and journalists Laura Washington and Michele Norris. Interspersed with his own speeches and news interviews, the series begins with Obama’s childhood and takes us through his perspective as the son of a white mother from Kansas and an African father, his spiritual formation by a generation of Black leaders, and his hopes for a more inclusive America.
But, as Los Angeles Times, says, “HBO’s new documentary goes places the Obama media machine might not have… It ultimately sets itself apart by taking a deeper look at the multitude of issues that surfaced after America finally chose its first Black president.”
THE LAST CRUISE | Stream now
Nominated for a 2022 Emmy for Outstanding Short Documentary, HBO’s The Last Cruise chronicles the first big outbreak of the novel coronavirus outside China: the Diamond Princess cruise liner.
As the uncontained outbreak on the luxury vessel at the start of the pandemic in January 2020 became a global spectacle and a faraway symbol of the new virus and its potential to upend any sense of normalcy, passengers aboard the ill-fated cruise ship were quarantined in their staterooms for weeks as the crew tended to the sick, delivered room service and slept and dined in cramped, shared quarters. Through never-before-seen footage from passengers and crew, we watch class divisions erupt as humanity misses its chance to contain Covid-19.
Directed by Hannah Olsen (Baby God), The Last Cruise has a 100% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was also nominated for Best Short Documentary at the 2021 Critics Choice Documentary Awards. The Film Stage calls it “a vital and horrifying record of a crisis that we should have quickly learned from, that captures the moment with the immediacy of Facebook Live or Snapchat.”
Nominated for a 2022 Emmy for Outstanding Social Issue Documentary, Dreamland: The Burning of Black Wall Street celebrates the Black cultural renaissance that existed in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and investigates the race massacre 100 years ago that left an indelible but hidden stain on American history.
As says, “The story of the Tulsa Massacre entered the national consciousness because of Damon Lindelof’s Watchmen and Misha Green’s Lovecraft Country. Dreamland: The Burning Of Black Wall Street… feels like the first time that the voices of the victims have finally been heard.”

Nominated for an International Emmy for Best Arts Programming and a BAFTA for Specialist Factual, Freddie Mercury: The Final Actis the story of the extraordinary final chapter of Freddie Mercury’s life and how, after his death from Aids, Queen staged one of the biggest concerts in history, the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert at Wembley Stadium, to celebrate his life and challenge the prejudices around HIV/Aids.
The film hears from those who performed at the epic gig, including Gary Cherone (Extreme), Roger Daltrey (The Who), Joe Elliott (Def Leppard), Lisa Stansfield and Paul Young, as well as the concert’s promoter, Harvey Goldsmith.
Directed by BAFTA-nominated documentary filmmaker James Rogan (Monty Python: The Meaning of Live1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything), Freddie’s story is told alongside the experiences of those who tested positive for HIV and lost loved ones during the same period, with medical practitioners, survivors and human rights campaigners, including Peter Tatchell, recounting the intensity of living through the Aids pandemic and the moral panic it brought about.
ZIWE S2 | Binge from today
Born in the US to Nigerian parents, Ziwe Fumudoh is the host of Ziwe, a riotously funny, no-holds-barred mix of musical numbers, interviews and sketches that challenge our discomfort with race, politics, and other cultural issues.
Ziwe has earned back to back 2021 and 2022 nominations from The Television Critics Association Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Variety, Talk or Sketch, as well as the Dorian Award for Best Current Affairs Program from GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, two years in a row.
Season 2 features guest appearances by the likes of multiple Emmy nominees Nicole Byer (A Black Lady Sketch Show) and Ilana Glazer (Broad City), RuPaul’s Drag Race fan favourite Katya Zamalodchikova, model, actress and author Emily Ratajkowski, and Mia Khalifa.
Vulture hails Ziwe as “iconic”; Vanity Fair says, “Ziwe perfected the art of putting people on the spot”; and calls her show “both a true star-making platform and a spoof of the same.”
WE MET IN VIRTUAL REALITY| Stream now, first on Showmax
We Met In Virtual Reality, the first feature-length documentary filmed entirely in virtual reality, tells stories of love, loss, and unexpected connection within the world of VR, where you can be who you’ve always wanted to be.
Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2022 and the NEXT: WAVE Award at CPH:Dox 2022, the HBO documentary has a 94% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Screen International praises it as “a tender, affecting documentary about love, friendship and people finding a place where they can be themselves. It just happens that those people are digitally generated aliens, horned sex demons and other outré creations (even Kermit the Frog) … At once bizarre, charming, perplexing and rich with philosophical implications.”
The HBO true crime docuseries Mind Over Murder chronicles the bizarre story of six individuals who were convicted for the 1985 murder of beloved 68-year-old grandmother Helen Wilson. Despite five of the individuals originally confessing to the crime, the “Beatrice Six”, as they became known, were exonerated by DNA evidence in 2009, a turn of events that divided the rural town and incensed Helen’s family.
As the filmmakers track the case, from the murder through investigation, trial, exoneration and two civil suits, shifting perspectives cloud the truth, and a stranger-than-fiction tale emerges that raises questions about the reliability of confessions and memory in criminal cases.
Mind Over Murder is directed by Nanfu Wang, who won the SXSW Audience Award for In The Same Breath, the Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Born In China, and was nominated for an Emmy for One Child Nation. The six-part series has a 100% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with Mashable hailing it as “the must-see true crime series of 2022… Mind-blowing, heartbreaking and ultimately soul-soothing.”
Legendary romance novelist Jackie Collins is the focus of the 2022 Royal Television Society Award-nominated documentary film Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story. Taking viewers on an immersive journey through the writer’s trailblazing life, the film weaves together fact and fiction to reveal the untold story of a ground-breaking author and her mission to build a one-woman literary empire.
Narrated by a cast of Jackie’s closest friends and family, the film shares the private struggles of a woman who became an icon of 1980s feminism whilst hiding her own vulnerability behind a carefully crafted, powerful, public persona. The film evolves from a celebration of Jackie’s revolutionary novels – which placed female sexuality at the heart of their storytelling – into a multi-layered deliberation on feminism, family dynamics, and the universal quest to understand how our childhood experiences and early traumas ultimately make us who we are.
With Emmy winner John Battsek (Searching for Sugarman) among its producers, the documentary has a 100% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus says, “Helmed with the same frothy glamour as its subject’s novels, Lady Boss is a joyous retrospective of Jackie Collins and a persuasive reappraisal of her literary contributions.”
RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT | Stream now, first on Showmax
One of just 17 people to have achieved the coveted EGOT (winning an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony Award), with a Peabody Award to boot, Rita Moreno is best remembered for her role as Anita in 1961’s musical blockbuster West Side Story. The role earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and delivered its second Oscar win earlier this year for Ariana DeBose in the 2021 Spielberg adaptation, which also saw Rita nominated for a 2022 Critics Choice Award and a Black Reel Award as Valentina. In a career spanning eight decades, she’s also had memorable roles in everything from Singin’ in the Rain and The King and I to the 80s classic series 9 to 5, and award-winning prison drama Oz.
Rita Moreno was named one of Cinema Eye’s Unforgettables earlier this year, with Just a Girl up for Best Documentary at the 2022 Black Reel Awards and Most Compelling Living Subject at the 2021 Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards, among other honours.
Just a Girl is executive produced by Oscar nominees Lin-Manuel Miranda (HamiltonIn the Heights) and Norman Lear (MaudeFried Green Tomatoes), who are also among the film’s guests, along with Rita’s West Side Story co-star George Chakiris, Golden Age silver screen star Mitzi Gaynor (South Pacific), Broadway legend Chita Rivera (Sweet CharityTick, Tick… Boom!), multi-Grammy-winner Gloria Estefan, Emmy nominee Eva Longoria, and Oscar winners Whoopi Goldberg and Morgan Freeman. There’s also archive footage of both Rita’s late husband, Leonard Gordon, and her former beau, Marlon Brando.
The documentary has a 96% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus says: “An affecting profile of screen legend Rita Moreno, Just a Girl is at once a sharp critique of the industry’s crushing inequities and a beautiful homage to an artist who never backed down despite the odds.”
To see everything on Showmax in October 2022, including the SXSW Cinematography Award winning local horror film Gaia and hit international series like The White Lotus S2Minx, and P-Valley S2, click here.
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