People often ask me where to find great documentaries outside of Netflix. Of course they mean easily and for free. Obviously there are tons of great nonfiction films not found in the Netflix Watch Instantly library, and maybe not even in the Netflix DVD library. Many of them are best found directly through the filmmakers, like the majority of Frederick Wiseman’s films, or through distributors like Icarus Films. But people don’t want to buy discs, especially for docs they haven’t yet seen; they want to stream them online or on their iPad. Preferably at no cost. I hear mostly from documentary fans regarding how slight the streaming division of Netflix is with quality docs now. For a while, the Watch Instantly service appeared to be actually creating many of those fans by giving movie lovers a way to discover great docs very easily. Today you can still find some necessary titles on NWI, such as The Thin Blue Line, Hoop Dreams, Sherman’s March and Ken Burns’s The Civil War, and many of the best new docs hit the service at least for a little while (I’m sure I could recommend you about 50 docs to watch right now), but a ton of crap has been flooding the library of late, stuff that either is or resembles the worst of nonfiction television.