Top 100 in Wellness: Documentaries Category

These 10 storytellers are helping raise awareness for many health issues

Documentaries

Film is a powerful tool to both entertain and educate. These 10 storytellers are bringing tales of health—whether mental, physical, or emotional—into the homes of millions to both spotlight and spark discussion on a variety of different issues.

David Eagleman, PhD

David Eagleman
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Neuroscientist and best-selling author Dr. David Eagleman has been investigating the science of brain function for years. In the documentary, The Creative Brain, he takes viewers on a journey to explore and understand the mechanisms underlying some of the most innovative brains in music, film, and a range of other professions. Together with his PBS series, TED talk, books, and research, he inspires us to look beyond the comfort of what we know and reach further into our intellectual efforts.

Lisa Sanders, MD, FACP

Lisa Sanders
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Internist and Yale University faculty member, Dr. Lisa Sanders, writes the Diagnosis column in the New York Times. In doing so, she sparks curiosity in her readers by engaging them in the process of detangling illness. Her writing served as an inspiration for the popular television series “House,” and her new documentary series allows us to go along for the ride as she searches for medical answers with patients.

Rayka Zehtabchi

Rayka Zehtabchi
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Rayka Zehtabchi is a film director whose short documentary won her an Oscar in 2018—the first-ever awarded to an Iranian American woman. Her film, Period. End of Sentence, also won the applause of audiences around the world who praised her for her blunt honesty regarding the stigma of menstruation in rural India. As an inspiration to others, she is building on her triumph and using the momentum to produce new films with Iran-related themes.

Julia Ivanova

Julia Ivanova
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In her documentary, My Dads, My Moms and Me, Canadian filmmaker Julia Ivanova explores the issues facing three gay fathers and two lesbian mothers while raising five children. The film exposes daily challenges faced by queer families related to adoption, co-parenting, and surrogacy and has been celebrated for its kindness and honesty.

John Chester

John Chester
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John Chester combined his respect for the environment with his expertise as a filmmaker when he founded Apricot Lane Farms in 2011 and documented the eight-year journey in an award-winning documentary. The Biggest Little Farm shows how he and his wife created an eco-friendly sustainable farm north of Los Angeles. His farm, films, and children’s book have inspired audiences to think harder about the food they eat and the products they buy.

Heddy Honigmann

Heddy Honigmann
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Heddy Honigmann is a celebrated Dutch filmmaker whose most recent film, Buddy, is a documentary that follows the lives of six service dogs and their owners, each with a different disability. She uses respectful curiosity and an easy conversational nature to explore the deep love and sense of trust that develops between human and canine. 

Brene Brown, PhD, LMSW

Brene Brown
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Licensed therapist, speaker, and research professor Brene Brown has been helping audiences for years through her podcast, best-selling books, TED talks, and interviews. She is widely known for her writings on courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. In her latest Netflix original program, Call to Courage, she asks us to face the challenges that scare us and build a better life with meaning. 

Orlando von Einsiedel

Orlando von Einsiedel
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In his acclaimed work Evelyn, oscar winning documentary filmmaker Orlando von Einsiedel confronts an issue that is affecting increasing numbers of mothers, fathers, friends, and family members. He tackles suicide and shows the raw aftermath felt by loved ones who experience a devastating loss. Through the film, von Einsiedel tenderly illuminates the vulnerability felt by those left behind and how they can work to find peace.

Adam Cole

Adam Cole
Adam Cole

Science reporter, teacher, producer, and relentless questioner Adam Cole brilliantly engages radio and TV audiences when he tackles scientific questions about everything from astronomy to emotional breakups. In his most recent endeavor, The Mind Explained, he explores how the brain works with a deep dive into topics including dreams, anxiety, memory, and even psychedelic drugs.

Sanjay Gupta, MD

Sanjay Gupta
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Dr. Sanjay Gupta is using his platform as one of the country’s most well-known physicians to tackle stress, a country-wide epidemic. In HBO’s One Nation Under Stress, the Emmy-award winning medical correspondent and practicing neurosurgeon explores the influential factors and impact of tension in our lives. The documentary, along with his other works such as CNN’s Chasing Life, provides insight into actionable steps we can take in our homes and in our communities to live longer, fuller, more satisfying lives. 

Our Methodology

We polled the Verywell community to understand what categories in the ever-growing world of wellness actually interest them the most. After the final top 10 categories were identified, we then turned to our expert judges—comprised of leading voices in the fields of nutrition, fitness, mindfulness, and more—to nominate 10 trailblazers within each of the 10 categories who deserve to be recognized for their pioneering efforts in promoting healthy lifestyle messages. Our highly-skilled editorial team reviewed all submissions, filling in any gaps along the way. We landed on a list of 100 leaders who we believe not only epitomize what wellness is today but who are also paving the way as the definition continues to evolve.

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