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The Best Documentaries About Poverty

Updated August 23, 2019 161 votes 35 voters 11.1k views38 items
There are a number of documentaries out there that detail the different aspects and behind the scenes issues about poverty, including homelessness both locally and globally, child rights within foreign countries like India, the decrease of the dollar in America, and water and food shortages as a result of a lack of financial stability in third world countries. What are the best documentaries about the poor? Poverty literally affects every country in the world in one way or another. This list includes films that focus on issues that currently influence parts of the world, as well as documentaries that take a historical approach, such as America’s Great Depression and the lasting effects it had.
 
This list discusses the best documentary films discussing poverty issues, including: It Was a Wonderful Life, American Vagabond, Gulabi Gang, and The End of Poverty? Vote up those you recommend, and please add any that we missed.
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  • Dilli1
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    Dilli

    Dilli is a 2011 documentary short history film written and directed by Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Children of Fate: Life and Death in a Sicilian Family2
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    Children of Fate: Life and Death in a Sicilian Family

    Children of Fate: Life and Death in a Sicilian Family is a 1993 documentary film about life in... more on Wikipedia
  • Waging a Living3
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    Waging a Living

    Waging a Living is a 2005 documentary film that addresses the issue of the American dream and... more on Wikipedia
  • The Price of Sugar4
    The Price of Sugar is a 2007 Uncommon Productions film directed by Bill Haney and produced by... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Down and Out in America5
    Down and Out in America is a 1986 Academy Award-winning documentary film that critiques... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Surplus: Terrorized into Being Consumers6
    Amazon_watch buy button
  • A Year Toward Tomorrow7
    A Year Toward Tomorrow is a 1966 American short documentary film about the Volunteers in... more on Wikipedia
  • On the Bowery8
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    On the Bowery

    Frank Matthews, Ray Salyer

    Released1956

    Directed byLionel Rogosin

    On the Bowery is a 1956 American docufiction film directed by Lionel Rogosin. It was nominated... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • It Was a Wonderful Life9
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    It Was a Wonderful Life

    Jodie Foster

    Released1993

    Directed byMichele Ohayon

    It Was a Wonderful Life is a 1993 documentary film about homeless women in the United States.... more on Wikipedia
  • While I Run This Race10
    While I Run This Race is a 1967 American short documentary film directed by Edmond Levy about... more on Wikipedia
  • Jenny Is a Good Thing11
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    Jenny Is a Good Thing

    Jenny Is a Good Thing is a 1969 American short documentary film about children and poverty,... more on Wikipedia
  • Recycled Life12
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    Recycled Life

    Recycled Life is a 2006 American short documentary film directed by Leslie Iwerks. It relays... more on Wikipedia
  • Far from the Trees13
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    Far from the Trees

    Far from the Trees is a documentary film by Spanish artist and director Jacinto Esteva Grew.... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • A Place to Live14
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    A Place to Live

    Bill Watts, William Kesselring

    Released1941

    Directed byIrving Lerner

    A Place to Live is a 1941 documentary film directed by Irving Lerner and produced by the... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Our Day15
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    Our Day

    Our Day is a silent documentary short directed by Wallace Kelly in 1938, about a day in the... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • To Catch a Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America16
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    To Catch a Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America

    Muhammad Yunus

    Released2010

    Directed byGayle Ferraro

    "What prevents poor people from getting ahead? Banks refuse to give credit without collateral.... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • The End of Poverty?17
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    The End of Poverty?

    Joseph Stiglitz, Susan George

    Released2008

    Directed byPhilippe Diaz

    Global poverty did not just happen. It began with military conquest, slavery and colonization... more on Wikipedia
  • Music by Prudence18
    Music by Prudence is a 2010 short documentary film directed by Roger Ross Williams. It tells... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • A Place at the Table19
    A Place at the Table is a film directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman released on March 20, 1988.
  • Food Stamped20
    Food Stamped is a 2010 documentary film by Shira Potash and Yoav Potash, about food stamps and... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Little Red Wagon21
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    Little Red Wagon

    Anna Gunn, Frances O'Connor

    Released2012

    Directed byDavid Anspaugh

    Little Red Wagon is an upcoming film directed by David Anspaugh.Amazon_watch buy button
  • Bombay Beach22
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    Bombay Beach

    Bombay Beach is a 2011 documentary film directed and produced by Israeli filmmaker Alma... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Falcão – Meninos do Tráfico23
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    Falcão – Meninos do Tráfico

    Falcão – Meninos do Tráfico is a Brazilian documentary produced by rapper MV Bill, his agent... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Poor No More24
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    Poor No More

    Poor No More is a 2010 documentary film directed by Canadian filmmakers Bert Deveaux and... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Appunti per un film sull'India25
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    Appunti per un film sull'India

    Appunti per un film sull'India is a 1968 short documentary film by Pier Paolo Pasolini where... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button