All the Documentaries That Will Have You on the Edge of Your Seat This Fall

Fall Preview Docs
Netflix / HBO / A&E

From intimate looks into pop stars' lives to powerful explorations of racial injustice, there's something to satisfy everyone's non-fiction cravings.

The fall TV and film season is officially here, and so is a fresh collection of documentaries to satisfy your non-fiction cravings. 

2017 Fall Preview: ET's Complete Coverage of New Films, Music, TV and More!

From intimate looks into Lady Gaga and Demi Lovato's personal struggles and lives off stage to an Oprah Winfrey-produced look into the prison system and powerful explorations of racial injustice, there's no shortage of captivating deep dives this season. 

These are the new and upcoming documentaries you need to watch.

House of Z
Available now

Design prodigy Zac Posen's unprecedented rise to the top of the fashion world at age 21 (and falling out of favor just a few years later) becomes the focus of the documentary, which reveals an honest portrait of a designer and his “darker times” fighting to rebuild his company and his reputation. “I think it takes a level of real maturity to reflect on oneself and take responsibility for actions,” Posen told ET of the filmHouse of Z shares sometimes hidden tempestuous relationship between art and commerce, and tears back the curtain behind the glamorous mystique of the fashion industry. 

Strong Island
Now streaming

Director Yance Ford brings a new light to the shadow of racism in America through his telling of his family's personal tragedy: Ford's brother, William Jr., a black 24-year-old teacher, was unarmed when he was killed in April 1992 by Mark Reilly, a while 19-year-old mechanic, though William quickly became the prime suspect in his own murder. Decades later, Strong Island reveals how historical injustice not only affected Ford and others like him, but his family as well, whose struggle for justice will never end. 

Gaga: Five Foot Two 
Now streaming

Fans get an unparalleled look into the glamorous life of Lady Gaga in the Chris Moukarbel-directed documentary -- only to find out that her life is far less glamorous than it seems. “My biggest fear was that it would be a commercial, or it would lack in authenticity and it would feel as though I was pandering to people to love me,” Gaga told ET of her decision to give director Chris Moukarbel access to all aspects of her life -- even her “lowest lows.”

The Vietnam War 
Sept. 17 – 28

Ten years in the making, the 10-part, 18-hour documentary series chronicles one of the most controversial events in American history. The show, produced and directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, explores the Vietnam war unlike ever before, with nearly 80 witnesses from all sides, rarely-seen archival footage from sources around the globe, and secret audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations. 

The Force 
Now in theaters
Kino Lorber

After decades of public distrust, The Force chronicles the Oakland Police Department's attempt to rise to federal demands for reform as a young chief is brought in at the height of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Faced with an increasingly hostile public, young cops in the Academy and veteran officers are forced to adapt to a new era of transparency. But just as the department starts to turn things around, they're plagued by a damaging scandal.

Long Shot 
Sept. 29 

What do Larry David, the LA Dodgers and a murder case have in common? Juan Catalan, who was accused of a crime he didn't commit. Catalan's 2004 case sent his lawyer on a wild goose chase trying to confirm his alibi at a Dodgers game he wasn't supposed to attend. Though, it was a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode – “that I picked up a hooker in the carpool lane and took her to Dodger stadium,” David explains in the short -- being filmed at the stadium at the time that eventually set him free. 

Sept. 30

The first 90 days after being released from prison is the focus of the Oprah Winfrey executive-produced docuseries, which follows the challenges and harsh realities former inmates face after incarceration. “I believe redemption is possible for almost everybody,” Winfrey said at the 2017 Tribeca TV Festival while discussing the importance of the series.

Shade: Queens of NYC 
Oct. 5

As the artform continues to go mainstream on TV, New York City’s drag community takes center stage for a new 12-part docuseries, which gives an intimate look at the day-to-day lives beyond the glitz, glam and lip-syncs of performers like Brita Filter, Chelsea Piers, Holly Box-Springs, Jada Valenciaga, Jasmine Rice LaBeija, Marti Gould Cummings, “Showbiz Spitfire” Paige Turner, and Tina Burner. 

Oct. 6
The Orchard

Touted as a real-life romantic comedy, Dina follows an eccentric 49-year-old woman in suburban Philadelphia as she invites her fiancé, Scott, a Walmart door-greeter, to move in with her. Though shacking up poses new challenges, the pair's quirky and matter-of-fact relationship may just prove that true love does exist. 

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson 
Oct. 6

Self-described “street queen” Marsha P. Johnson was at the forefront of the trans-rights movement in the 1970s, but after she was found floating in the Hudson River in 1992, the NYPD ruled her death a suicide and refused to investigate further. Through the eyes of Johnson’s old friend and fellow activist, Victoria Cruz, the upcoming Netflix documentary pursues leads on the performer’s death, and tells the story of her remarkable life in the process. 

Oct. 7

Steven Spielberg steps in front of the camera in the HBO film, as the director, his family, close friends and A-list friends provide commentary on his incredible decades-long career. Producer-director Susan Lacy conducted nearly 30 hours of interviews with Spielberg for the documentary, which offers an intimate, in-depth exploration into the key behind his success. 

Wasted! The Story of Food Waste
Oct. 13
Zero Point Zero Films

Celebrity chefs Anthony Bourdain, Dan Barber, Mario Batali, Massimo Bottura and Danny Bowien take audiences on a culinary journey that aims to encourage viewers to cut down on food waste. Through peeks into how each chef makes the most of every kind of food, the documentary hopes to change the way people buy, cook and eat food. 

Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated
Oct. 17

The 25-year-old music superstar's personal life is highlighted in this intimate doc, which gives Lovato's fans a look into her road to triumph, following her experiences with substance abuse, eating disorders, and shocking breakup after her six-year relationship with Wilmer Valderrama along the way. 

Baltimore Rising 
Nov. TBA

Director and The Wire actress Sonja Sohn tells the story of a city struggling to hold it together after the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody. Baltimore Rising takes viewers on a journey with activists, police officers, community leaders and gang affiliates as they fight to create change. 

Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography 
Nov. 12 

Smart recalls her infamous 2002 abduction at 14 years old and subsequent nine months as prisoner of her kidnappers in the two-part biography special, sharing previously untold details of her case and recovery. Now 29, Smart reveals the perspective she's gained from her trauma, and how she's been able to move past it to focus on marriage, motherhood and advocating for others. Six days later, on Nov. 18, Lifetime will air an original film based on those events narrated by Smart and starring Skeet Ulrich, Deirdre Lovejoy and Alana Boden. 

Cold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders 
Nov. 18 & 19 
Sundance TV

The Clutter murders featured in Truman Capote's In Cold Blood get a four-part documentary courtesy of Sundance TV, which has also obtained the rights to the 1967 film starring Robert Blake. Producer and director Joe Berlinger revisits the brutal murder of the Clutter family in a small Kansas town in 1959, re-examining the crime and subsequent events. 


Errol Morris takes on the CIA's secret LSD experiments in a six-part series following one man's 60-year search to identify the circumstances of his father's mysterious death, exploring just how far we'll go in our search for the truth -- and exposing some of the United States' darkest secrets in the process.