Feeding Your Brain Over the Holidays


Shae Garofalo '25, Writer

I’ll be the first to admit that if I’m not hanging out with friends and going snowboarding during Christmas break, I can be found re-watching season three of Gilmore girls for the trillionth time. Most people don’t have time to watch tv during the school week, so like many others, I try to fit all of my mindless screen time into those precious ten days. However, I usually come out of my Gilmore comatose feeling like my life has wasted away. In an attempt to combat this inevitable purge this holiday season, I am inviting you to join me on binge-watching, but with an intent to learn at least one new thing and take a step outside of your comfort zone. That being said, here are some great documentaries to watch over the holidays.

Inhabitat – A Permaculture Perspective in a documentary released in 2015 directed by Costa Boutsikaris and produced by Emmett Brennan explores how the ecological design process known as “permaculture” can aid in humanity’s fight to save our already dying environment. I would recommend this documentary to anyone interested in environmental activism, especially those part of the Y.C.A.C here at Austin Prep. 

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 was released in 2011 and produced by Annika Rogell, as well as shot by Swedish journalists who traveled to the U.S after becoming interested in the political unrest that had recently been sweeping the nation. The documentary explores the black power movement within the years 1967-1975 and includes candid interviews with some of the movement’s leading faces including Angela Davis, Bobby Seale, and Eldridge Cleaver. 

Framing Britney Spears was released just this year in 2021, produced by  Samantha Stark, Liz Hodes, Sam Dolnick, and directed by Samantha Stark. This is the perfect documentary for those who are entertained by the drama that comes with the lives of the ultra-rich L.A. stars but want to gain something valuable from their television time. This movie elaborates on how systemic abuse within Hollywood has ruined the lives of so many of Hollywood’s brightest stars. 

Manufacturing Consent was released in 1992 and was produced and directed by  Mark Achbar, Peter Wintonick, and Adam Symansky. This is essentially the virtual version of Noam Chomsky’s 1988 book “Manufacturing Consent” that argues, in simplest terms, that mass media works against the best interests of democracy. Instead of reading Chomsky’s dense book, this documentary provides live interactions with the author but also the inspiring minds behind his work, including Micheal Foucault. 

Disclosure was released in 2020 and directed by Sam Feder. The documentary examines Hollywood’s representation of transgender people both on and off-screen and how that affects the overall cultural mindset of who and what is expected of transgender people. The documentary explores these concepts through an actual storyline, which not only makes it informational but entertaining as well. 

The docu-series (Un)Well was released in the summer of 2020 and is split up into an episode-by-episode basis which investigates the “wellness” industry that has become ever so more popularized in the decades following the hippie movement of the ’60s. From essential oils to bee sting therapy, each episode gives an in-depth look into the interesting approaches some use to be “healthy”. 

The documentary Icarus came out in 2017 and was made by filmmaker Bryan Fogel. Fogel originally intends to try and uncover the truth behind doping in sports and manages to uncover one of the biggest scandals in sports history. The best part about this documentary is that the viewer sees everything happening in real-time, including the revelations that the problem extends far beyond what everyone first imagined.