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When it comes to social-issue documentaries, Netflix has the market cornered. In recent years, the streaming platform’s original documentaries and docuseries have tackled everything under the sun, from business and politics to drug abuse and public-health crises.
For Netflix’s newest installment, “Recovery Boys,” Academy Award–nominated director Elaine McMillion Sheldon (“Heroin(e)”) delivers a revealing look at the opioid epidemic through the lens of four young men struggling to move on after years of addiction. Available to stream now on Netflix, the film tracks the men, newly sober, as they undergo a traumatic recovery process at a farming-based rehabilitation center and the distressing years that follow.
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Today, with all eyes on the opioid crisis, Sheldon’s documentary provides something rare and valuable: an intimate study of progress and pain that serves to humanize rather than alienate. Here are five more Netflix documentaries that take a deep dive into contemporary social issues, shining a compassionate, investigative light onto the countless social problems plaguing our modern world.
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Before “Recovery Boys,” Sheldon made a name for herself with the Oscar-nominated short documentary “Heroin(e),” another thoughtful portrait of the opioid epidemic rocking America. The film considers the crisis from a different angle than her follow-up: through the social institutions in Huntington, West Virginia striving to provide aid to a suffering city. Embedding herself in Huntington – known as the overdose capital of America – Sheldon highlights the efforts of three community women to break the city’s cycle of abuse and torment: a fire chief, a drug court judge, and the head of a local nonprofit.
Just a few minutes into the film, it becomes clear that this isn’t your standard drug documentary. Through the film, Sheldon remains dedicated to dismantling common misconceptions about the opioid epidemic – namely, that it’s a result of decaying social mores. “We, as a country, have...
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