Modern History as seen through the lens of documentary filmmakers.

The popular documentary curating website is celebrating its birthday. In order to celebrate they have very kindly hand picked a few documentaries for History and the Sock Merchant from their Modern History collection.

The Emperor's Japanese Tram Girls  Hiroshima, 1945. The Emperor’s Tram Girls were trained to drive tens of thousands of Japanese troops through the town. The drivers were young, pretty, bubbly girls who were picked for their winning personalities. They had their whole lives ahead of them. Then the bomb dropped. On August 6th, 1945 a nuclear bomb was dropped on the Hiroshima and shattered many lives. Powerful and unique archive footage takes us back to that terrible day. Survivors recount their stories but it is the dead who get the final word. A terrible time in the history of humanity; as shown through the rising careers of a group of Japanese girls.

Gandhi's Children Gandhi’s Children is not a documentary about Gandhi’s next of kin. It is a documentary about his legacy: in India. It is a documentary about where the children of India find themselves today: many decades after Gandhi’s assassination. The director takes us on his personal journey through India to document the powerless and give voice to the speechless. Gandhi’s Children is visually delicious. But, the visuals won’t feed a child’s stomach in India. India is destined to be a superpower economy by 2015, but the majority of its people still live under the poverty line. The director focuses on four stories: Earth, Fire, Wind, and Water (any Captain Planet fans catch the reference?). First, we see the terrible conditions and tragic stories, including a community that survives by eating rats three times a day. The film, however, ends on a hopeful note.
The final act has over 100,000 poor organizing to lead a non violent foot march that would make Gandhi proud. They walk three hundred and forty kilometers over nine months. Their goal: the right to own land.

The Empire State Building Shall Rise The Empire State Building should never have been built. Constructed during the Great Depression, this icon of the New York skyline stood as the tallest building in the world for over 40 years. After September 11th, 2001 it once again became the tallest building in New York. It has withstood storms, plane crashes, and King Kong. This is its story. The Empire State Building was dreamed up during the boom years of the 1920′s. However, construction began during the Great Depression: soon after the Chrysler Building earned the title of tallest building in the world. two years later, The Empire State Building grabbed the title and didn’t let go.
It was a miracle that the building was completed. Standing 102 stories tall the building was built by men without harnesses, proper training, or any fear of heights. Hundreds of construction workers lost their lives. It was the Great Depression and the men were happy to simply have a job. Death was always a misstep away. Finances ran out on multiple occasions. After it was completed the building stood half empty for years. American ambition at its grandest.

These are just three examples of a wealth of historical documentaries relating to the modern era available at