12 Top Spanish Documentary Recommendations

Watching Spanish documentaries has two main benefits, the first being that you get to learn about the topic that’s being explored in the film. Secondly, you get to practice your Spanish language skills, since documentaries usually feature natural, unscripted Spanish, offering a unique glimpse into how the language is really used. 

Here I’ve complied some of my best Spanish-language documentary recommendations which are informative, educational and often touching.


1. “La memoria infinita” (The Eternal Memory) (2023)

Director: Maite Alberdi
Country of origin: Chile
Where to watch: Paramount Plus, Amazon, Roku

This Chilean documentary tells the poignant love story of Augusto Góngora, a renowned cultural critic and television personality, and his wife, actress Paulina Urrutia. Their 25-year journey takes a heartbreaking turn when Augusto is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

The film navigates the complexities of their lives as Augusto’s memory gradually fades. Paulina becomes his anchor, not only providing emotional support but also meticulously documenting their experiences through video recordings and home movies. These visual keepsakes become a crucial tool for Augusto to hold onto his fading memories and for the couple to cherish their shared past.

The movie garnered critical acclaim for its intimate portrayal of the couple’s journey, winning the Grand Jury Prize at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.

2. “100 días con la Tata” (100 Days with Tata) (2021)

Director: Miguel Ángel Muñoz
Country of origin: Spain
Where to watch: Netflix

Actor Miguel Ángel Muñoz moves in with his beloved 95-year-old “Tata” (his great-grandmother’s sister) in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their tiny flat becomes a stage for unexpected moments, as Miguel documents their daily lives, cooks up meals and helps Tata adjust to the strange isolation of lockdown.

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The film is a moving portrait of their intergenerational bond, filled with hilarious anecdotes, poignant reflections on aging and mortality and the unexpected rise of Tata to social media stardom.

3. “Street Food: Latinoamerica” (2020)

Director: David Gelb, Brian McGinn
Country of origin: Various Latin American countries
Where to watch: Netflix

This docuseries, which is presented in both English and Spanish (and, in one episode, Portuguese), takes viewers on a mouthwatering journey through six diverse nations: Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Colombia and Bolivia. Each episode spotlights passionate street food vendors who weave generations-old recipes with personal flair, crafting culinary delights that reflect their rich cultural heritage.

Each story is a testament to the resilience and creativity of street food vendors, who turn simple ingredients into culinary magic in the middle of the bustling city streets. Beyond the delicious dishes, “Street Food: Latin America” celebrates the human connections forged over shared meals. 

Watching this series also gives you a quick glimpse into different Spanish accents and dialects, something that you can only get when you watch authentic videos. You can find more examples of real-world Spanish as it’s used by native speakers on FluentU.

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Plus, you can now use the new FluentU Chrome extension with this documentary and any other Netflix video that has subtitles. You can interact with words to see their definition, add them to vocabulary lists and review them with our learning engine.

4. “La casa de papel: El fenómeno” (Money Heist: The Phenomenon) (2020)

Director: Pablo Lejarreta, Luis Alfaro
Country of origin: Spain
Where to watch: Netflix

This documentary film explores the global success of the Spanish television series “La casa de papel” (known in English as “Money Heist”) through interviews with the show’s creators, cast and crew.

The film traces the origins of the series, which was originally a small-scale Spanish production, through to gaining a cult following when it was picked up by Netflix in 2019. Discover the many factors that contributed to the success of the show through this documentary, as well as the show’s impact on popular culture.

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5. “Epicentro” (Epicenter) (2020)

Director: Hubert Sauper
Country of origin: Cuba
Where to watch: Amazon Prime, Vudu

This documentary takes viewers on a journey through post-colonial Cuba. More than just a travelogue, the film delves into the island nation’s history, its relationship with the United States, and the impact of colonialism on its people and culture. The film uses the 1898 explosion of the USS Maine in Havana Bay as a starting point, an event that marked the end of Spanish rule and ushered in the era of American dominance.

Director Hubert Sauper draws parallels between this historical event and the ongoing American influence on Cuba, including the legacy of the Platt Amendment and the impact of tourism. Weaving in the voices of children, whom Sauper calls “young prophets,” the film offers a hopeful perspective on the future of Cuba.

6. “Lorena, la de pies ligeros” (Lorena, Light-footed Woman) (2019)

Director: Juan Carlos Rulfo
Country of origin: Mexico
Where to watch: Netflix

This short documentary film tells the inspiring story of Lorena Ramírez, a Tarahumara woman from the remote Copper Canyons of Mexico. Lorena belongs to a community known for their exceptional long-distance running abilities. Unlike the professional runners in fancy shoes, Lorena runs nearly barefoot, wearing only her handmade skirt and sandals.

The film follows Lorena’s journey from running through the breathtaking Copper Canyon landscapes to winning her first marathon, defying expectations and sparking international attention. The film beautifully captures the raw beauty of the Copper Canyons and the resilience of the Tarahumara people. It celebrates Lorena’s achievements while also raising questions about cultural appropriation and the impact of outside influences on their traditional way of life.

7. “Andes mágicos” (Magical Andes) (2019)

Director:Luis Ara, Alexandra Hardorf
Country of origin: South America
Where to watch: Netflix

This six-part documentary series shows off the breathtaking landscapes and diverse cultures of the Andean region, spanning across six South American countries: Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.

Each episode focuses on a specific theme related to the Andes, exploring its history, its people’s traditions and way of life and the unique challenges and beauty of living in this mountainous region. The series goes beyond just captivating scenery to offer a deeper understanding of the Andean world, its history, challenges and enduring magic. By weaving together stunning visuals, personal stories and historical context, the series celebrates the unique spirit of the Andes and its people.

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8. “Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles” (2018)

Director: Salvador Simó Busom
Country of origin: Spain
Where to watch: Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube

Produced in French and Spanish, this animation is a unique take on a documentary—focusing on the creative process of the making of a documentary. The film takes us back to 1930s Paris, where surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel is grappling with creative and financial struggles after the controversy surrounding his film “L’Âge d’Or.” His friend, sculptor Ramón Acín, throws him a lifeline by winning the lottery and promising to fund Buñuel’s next project.

Buñuel sets his sights on making a documentary about Las Hurdes, a poverty-stricken region in Spain. With Ramón in tow, he embarks on a challenging journey to capture the harsh realities of life there. However, Buñuel’s artistic vision clashes with the documentary’s intended purpose of raising awareness and prompting social change. Beyond the documentary-within-a-film storyline, “Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles” explores themes of friendship, artistic integrity and the power of cinema.

9. “Perú: Tesoro escondido” (Peru: Hidden Treasure) (2017)

Director: Luis Ara
Country of origin: Peru
Where to watch: Netflix

Imagine surfing alongside sun-kissed waves, then soaring over the Nazca desert’s enigmatic geoglyphs etched into the earth. Witness ancient Chachapoya ruins nestled high in the Andes and be captivated by the bustling energy of Lima’s streets.

The film seamlessly blends breathtaking landscapes with glimpses into Peru’s culinary artistry, from fresh ceviche to steaming Pachamanca feasts. It’s a vibrant love letter to the beauty and culture of Peru, guided by filmmaker Luis Ara’s passion for his homeland.

10. “Chavela” (2017)

Director: Catherine Gund, Daresha Kyi
Country of origin: Costa Rica, Mexico
Where to watch: Tubi, Plex, Amazon Prime

In “Chavela,” we dive into the vibrant and turbulent life of legendary Mexican ranchera singer, Chavela Vargas. The film charts her journey from her humble beginnings in Costa Rica to becoming a Mexican music icon, defying gender norms and societal expectations along the way.

Through interviews with friends, colleagues and even Chavela herself, the documentary paints a multifaceted portrait. We witness her rise to fame with hits like “Macaria” and “La Llorona,” captivating audiences with her powerful voice and raw emotional performances. However, the film also delves into her struggles with alcohol, her unconventional romantic relationships and the prejudice she faced as a woman in a male-dominated industry. Despite the hardships, “Chavela” ultimately celebrates the singer’s unwavering spirit. 

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11. “Messi” (2014)

Director: Álex de la Iglesia
Country of origin: Argentina
Where to watch: Peacock TV 

“Messi” is a cinematic exploration of Lionel Messi’s rise from a small boy battling growth hormone deficiency in Rosario to becoming one of the world’s greatest footballers. Director Álex de la Iglesia, known for his dark and quirky films, injects his unique style into the narrative: Think interviews interspersed with re-enactments and fantastical imagery, highlighting Messi’s challenges and triumphs beyond the football pitch.

“Messi” transcends the boundaries of a biographical documentary. It’s a journey through dreams, struggles and the beautiful game itself. It celebrates not just Messi’s individual talent, but the collective passion and teamwork that fueled his success. The film leaves you with a deeper understanding of the man behind the magic, appreciating not only his skills but also the human story behind the iconic number 10.

12. “Cinco de mayo: La batalla” (May Fifth: The Battle) (2013)

Director: Rafa Lara
Country of origin: Mexico
Where to watch: Amazon Prime, Roku

The legendary clash between a ragtag Mexican force and the mighty French army in 1862 is brought to life in this film. The movie throws you into the heart of the battle of Puebla, a pivotal moment in Mexican history that solidified its national identity.

Beyond the roar of cannons and clash of swords, the film delves into the human stories behind the battle. We meet General Ignacio Zaragoza, a brilliant strategist leading a vastly outnumbered and poorly equipped army. We see the everyday soldiers, fueled by fierce patriotism and a desperate determination to defend their homeland. And we encounter a young couple drawn together amidst the chaos, their budding love story offering a poignant counterpoint to the brutality of war.

The movie masterfully blends historical accuracy with cinematic action, capturing the grit and desperation of the battle while also portraying the resilience and bravery of the Mexican people. The film culminates in a heart-stopping finale, leaving you with a powerful understanding of the significance of Cinco de Mayo and the enduring spirit of Mexican independence.


Get the popcorn and your language learning notebook, because you’re about to get a double-whammy of a study session thanks to all these Spanish documentaries! 

And One More Thing…

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