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Netflix puts 10 free docuseries and documentary films on YouTube

Our Planet, Babies and other docs are free for teachers and parents to use in remote learning, but they're also available for anyone who wants to watch.

Our Planet, a nature docuseries narrated by David Attenborough, is one of the 10 titles Netflix has made available free on YouTube. 

Netflix released 10 of its documentary films, shorts and docuseries free on YouTube on Friday for anyone to watch globally, the company said. The move is meant to give families and teachers greater access to educational programming, but the titles could appeal to anyone who likes docs -- they include Netflix's BBC-style nature docuseries Our Planet, an Oscar-nominated film from Ava DuVernay and two titles that won Oscars for best documentary short. 

"For many years, Netflix has allowed teachers to screen documentaries in their classrooms. However, this isn't possible with schools closed," Netflix said in a blog post. "So at their request, we have made a selection of our documentary features and series available on the Netflix US YouTube channel."

The new coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease known as COVID-19, has spread rapidly around the world into a pandemic. Cities, states and countries have mandated quarantines, schools and entire industries have shut down, and health care systems are struggling to cope. And how we entertain ourselves has been upended: Movie theaters are shuttered, film and television productions are on hold and big-budget films are being delayed months. That's led to a surge in streaming

As the world's dominant streaming service, with more than 167 million members, Netflix has been in high demand. YouTube has too.

The titles Netflix posted on YouTube on Friday include: 

  • 13th. Nominated for the best documentary Oscar, Ava DuVernay's film explores how America's history of slavery is linked to modern day mass incarceration and the American prison industry. 
  • Abstract: The Art of Design. The first season of this series goes into the the art, science and philosophy of design.
  • Babies. Select episodes of this series, which was just released earlier this year and stems from a project that documents the first full year of human life, from a helpless newborn to a walking, verbalizing toddler, and dives into the science behind these milestones. 
  • Chasing Coral. This documentary film follows a group of coral-obsessed filmmakers, enthusiasts and scientists as they attempt to record destructive coral "bleaching" events around the world. 
  • Explained. Select episodes of this series go deep into a range of culturally relevant topics, like the world's water crisis and pay gaps based on race and gender. Free episodes on YouTube also get into WTF is cricket (like, the sport, not the insect) and why people internally debate ending sentences with an exclamation point. 
  • Knock Down the House. The buzz of last year's Sundance Film Festival, this doc tracks four women first-time candidates, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as they run for office. 
  • Our Planet. This eight-part docuseries, made by many veterans of the BBC and narrated by David Attenborough, explores the wonders of our natural world with never-before-filmed glimpses of nature and animals. It was filmed over four years and in 50 countries across all the continents of the world, with over 600 crew members.
  • Period. End of Sentence. Winner of the Oscar for best documentary short in 2019, this film is about a rural village in India where women band together to make affordable menstrual pads and attempt to unwind a deeply rooted stigma around menstruation. 
  • The White Helmets. This film looks at three of the White Helmet rescue workers risking their lives to save civilians in Aleppo, Syria, amid the country's devastating war. It won the 2017 Oscar for best documentary short. 
  • Zion. This documentary short is a portrait of Zion Clark, a young wrestler born without legs who grew up in foster care and turned to competition against able-bodied peers. For Clark, the wrestling mat provides a therapeutic outlet and a way to create his own sense of family.

In its blog post, Netflix is also providing education materials related to these titles.