Broadly's Best Documentaries of 2015


This story is over 5 years old.


Broadly's Best Documentaries of 2015

Before the year ends, catch up with some of our favorite documentaries from 2015.

Since our launch in August, we have sent correspondents across the globe—to the German–Polish border, to Japan, to Turkey, to Kenya, to the Gathering of the Juggalos—in order to provide an in-depth look at the issues that matter most to women. Below are six of our favorite documentary videos from this year.

The Abortion Pill

The medical abortion—a non-surgical procedure that induces a miscarriage through a cocktail of pharmaceutical drugs—is both widely legal and increasingly hard to obtain. To understand the limits of what could be a breakthrough in making abortions easier to access, Broadly editor-in-chief Tracie Morrissey traveled to the German-Polish border, to Mexico, to Texas, and to Washington, D.C., meeting with anti-abortion protesters, with activists who help women access abortion pills in countries where the procedure is illegal, and with former senator Wendy Davis. What we really want to know is: Why is it so hard to get a medical abortion when so much research has shown that it's a safe, effective way to terminate a pregnancy?


Who's Afraid of Vagina Art?

In July 2014, Japanese artist Rokudenashiko was arrested on obscenity charges after building a vagina-shaped kayak and distributing 3D printing data of her vulva. Legal experts see her ongoing case as a landmark one for Japan, where strict obscenity laws forbid the depiction of genitals in all mediums—including art and pornography. Despite these harsh laws, however, traditional Japanese fertility festivals take place annually, many of which openly celebrate genitals. Broadly editor Callie Beusman traveled to Japan, visiting Rokudenashiko in her studio and attending Kawasaki's annual Festival of the Steel Phallus, in order to try and make sense of this apparent contradiction: Why is a 3D-printed vagina classified as obscene, while a penis parade is seen as family friendly?

The Power Suit and the Fashion of Authority

On the backs of everyone from Coco Chanel to Hillary Clinton, the power suit has evolved from a declaration of liberation to an assertion of dominance. In this episode of our series Style & Error, Broadly host Rachael Finley finds out what women are wearing to feel in charge today and meets the feminist civil rights attorney who perfectly personifies the power suit: Gloria Allred.

Land of No Men: Inside Kenya's Women-Only Village

25 years ago, Rebecca Lolosoli founded Umoja village as a safe haven for the region's women. Umoja, which means "unity" in Swahili, is quite literally a no man's land; the matriarchal refuge is now home to the Samburu women who no longer want to suffer abuses—like genital mutilation and forced marriages—at the hands of men. Throughout the years, it has also empowered other women in the districts surrounding Samburu to start their own men-excluding villages. Broadly correspondent Michelle de Swarte visited Umoja and the villages it inspired to meet with the women who were fed up with living in a violent patriarchy.


Inside a the Weird World of an Islamic 'Feminist' Cult

Adnan Oktar is the most notorious cult leader in Turkey. Beginning in the 1980s, the Muslim creationist introduced the world to his bizarre take on Islamic religion; he also credits himself with introducing his followers to feminism. Oktar refers to his cadre of devoted women as "kittens." At his behest, the "kittens" shirk hijabs and traditional dress. Instead, they wear designer outfits, apply heavy makeup, and undergo plastic surgery. They also happen to be wealthy socialites. Broadly host Meher Ahmad traveled to Turkey to spend three days with Oktar and his followers.

Stripping, Twerking, and Feminism at the Miss Juggalette Beauty Pageant

Three years ago, Juggalettes reclaimed the annual Miss Juggalette Beauty Pageant. Formerly hosted by porn star Ron Jeremy—who would inevitably turn the event into a nude bacchanal—the pageant has been taken over by Lette's Respect, a feminist movement within the community. While there's still nudity involved, it now rewards women of all different body types for their talents. Some girls rap, other strip, and a few sing rock songs. How have the Juggalettes built a 21st century beauty pageant within the male-dominated Juggalo culture? Broadly traveled to the pageant at the Gathering of the Juggalos to find out.