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10 Best Documentaries to Watch to Understand Business, Startups, Success, Failure, Perseverance and More

Oct 28, 2019 6:23 AM 4 min read

In a world where there is "no time to stand and stare", documentaries can be a great way to gather days or months-worth of knowledge in under a few couple of hours. You could enjoy one with your family and friends too!


Here’s a list of 10 top-rated business documentaries (in no particular order) that can help you learn much about business, startups, entrepreneurs, perseverance, success and more.


Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Director: David Gelb

This 2011 documentary tells the story of 90 year-old Jiro Ono, considered by many to be the world's greatest sushi chef, and the owner and head chef of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seater, sushi-only restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station.


Despite its modest appearances, it is the first restaurant of its kind to be awarded the prestigious 3 star Michelin review. A meal of 21 courses at Sukiyabashi Jiro costs about $380 per person and lasts less than 19 minutes. That’s $20 per person per minute, but as per many, totally worth it! Sushi lovers from across the globe, willing to shell out the cost, call months in advance for a coveted seat at Jiro's sushi bar. 


“Jiro Dreams of Sushi" examines Jiro’s pure dedication and quest for perfection in his craft. At the heart of this story is Jiro's relationship with his eldest son Yoshikazu, the worthy heir to Jiro's legacy, who is unable to live up to his full potential in his father's shadow.


Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

Directed By: Alex Gibney

Based on the best-selling 2003 book by the same name, authored by Fortune reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, Enron examines one of the largest business scandals in American history - that of  Enron Corporation


The film features interviews with McLean and Elkind, as well as former Enron executives and employees, stock analysts, reporters and the former Governor of California Gray Davis.


Enron won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature and Best Documentary Screenplay from the Writers Guild of America. It was also nominated for the Best Documentary Feature at the 78th Academy Awards in 2006.



Directed By: Morgan Spurlock, Alex Gibney, Seth Gordon, Heidi Ewing, Eugene Jarecki, Rachel Grady

This one is a documentary film adaptation of the phenomenally bestselling book by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner about incentives-based thinking.


The documentary examines human behaviour through consistently provocative and often hilarious case studies. A fascinating watch, the documentary covers topics such as discovering cheating as applied to teachers and sumo wrestlers, the economics of drug dealing, the socio-economic patterns of naming children and more.


Beer Wars

Directed By: Anat Baron

Director Anat Baron, former General Manager of Mike's Hard Lemonade takes an insider's look at America's highly competitive beer industry - a no holds barred exploration that reveals the truth behind the label of your favourite beer.


The story gets under way as innovative, independent brewers begin challenging the corporate monoliths for a greater share of the thriving American beer market.


Is it possible for independent brewers to maintain their integrity while resisting the temptation to sell out? "Beer Wars" looks at the lobbying machine of the distributors, the strong-arming tactics of the corporate brewers, and why craft brewers are afraid to speak out.


Generation Startup

Directed By: Cheryl Houser, Cynthia Wade


Generation Startup captures the struggles and triumphs of six recent college graduates who put everything on the line to build startups in Detroit. Shot over 17 months, it’s an honest, in-the-trenches look at what it takes to launch a startup. 


Inside Job

Directed By: Charles Ferguson


This 2010 American documentary film exposes the corruption in US banking that led to the 2008 crash. In five parts, the documentary explores the systemic corruption of the United States by the financial services industry and its dire consequences. 


It screened at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival in May and won the 2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.


Print the Legend

Directed By: J. Clay Tweel, Luis Lopez


The documentary follows the major players in the 3D printing industry - the ingenious and highly competitive products they’ve turned out, and the controversy they’ve stirred up vis-a-vis the gun-control debate. 


Steve Jobs: One Last Thing

Directed By: Mimi O'Connor, Sarah Fanthorpe


This 60-minute PBS video in brief chapters titled "Misfit," "Whiz Kid," "Innovator," "Buddhist," "Tyrant," "Savior," and "Genius," attempts to capture the genius that Steve Jobs was, revealing the many different sides of the rather complicated genius. 


The documentary takes a walk down memory lane with his close childhood friend Bill Fernandez and meet Steve Wozniak, who designed the first Apple computer under Jobs' supervision.


Something Ventured

Directed By: Dan Geller, Dayna Goldfine


Apple, Intel and Atari were able to move ahead with new technology because they found investors who believed in the potential of their ideas and were willing to put their money where their mouths were. 


"Something Ventured" introduces viewers to some of the men who first bankrolled some of the leading advances in computer technology. 


Burtz's Buzz

Directed By: Jody Shapiro


Humorous, compelling and fascinating, "Burtz's Buzz" is a journey into the remarkable life of Burt Shavitz - an idiosyncratic and reclusive bee-keeper who went on from being a photographer to a bee-keeper to one of the world’s most recognizable brand identities.


Moving from his privileged childhood in Long Island to his early career as a photo-journalist in counter-culture Greenwich Village, Burt left his past behind to pursue an almost monastic existence as a bee-keeper in upstate Maine. Between these extremes is the story of a man who chose his own path and accidentally spawned a billion dollar natural product line.


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