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RT Doc 5 years Anniversary: top 10 documentaries #RTD5

RT’s round the clock documentary channel RTDoc has presented hundreds of documentaries and has been recognized by many international industry awards, including the New York Festivals Awards and US International Film & Video Festival Awards, in the five years since its launch.

“The original idea was to focus on producing documentaries about Russia, but the channel has grown to cover the entire world in these five years,” says Ekaterina Yakovleva, head of RTDoc. “To-date, we have produced and aired over 500 films. Our teams find one-of-a-kind, absolutely stunning stories all over the world, and run live investigations at the sites of ongoing conflicts, often risking their lives.”

RTDoc crew’s recent trip to Syrian Kurdistan produced two eye-opening documentaries. In the Name of the Profit explores a possible connection between Turkey and the Islamic State; it has been scheduled for screening at the UN later this summer. Her War: Women vs ISIS tells the story of Kurdish women fighting against the Islamic State militants who fear dying at the hand of a woman.

A still from Her War: Women vs ISIS

Other notable RTDoc films about the military conflicts include Trauma, which is dedicated to the work of emergency response doctors in the conflict-torn Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, and Zashto? (Why?), shot 15 years after NATO’s air strikes of Yugoslavia, which documents present-day consequences of that military operation.

Several RTDoc stories captivated the international public with their unexpected and peculiar subjects. Sleepy Hollow, Kazakhtan followed reports of a Kazakh village whose many residents would occasionally fall into several-days-long sleep. The documentary piqued the interest of the Washington Post, Telegraph, Daily Mail, Week, and other outlets. Meanwhile, Agafia presented to the world a 70-year-old recluse who has lived her entire life cut off from the civilization, hundreds of kilometers deep into the thick forests of Siberia.

A still from Sleepy Hollow, Kazakhstan

RTDoc documentaries have been distinguished with many international awards including New York Festivals Awards, MediaExcellence Awards, OMNI Intermedia Awards, Broadcast Digital Awards, US International Film & Video Festival and Russian film festival Strana. Stand-out works include Blood and Honour, which investigated the story of a centuries-old tradition in the North Caucasus, Albino Africa about the hardships befalling albino children born in Tanzania, The Town of Little Angels, filmed six years after Beslan massacre, and Children of the Tundra, portraying the life of the indigenous population of Russia’s Far North.

We celebrate our five years on air by bringing to you selection of the best documentaries RT has managed to film over the years, from opium farming deep in Afghanistan mountains, to life of the hermits deep in Siberian taiga.


RT Doc film crew follows a medical team in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic as they rush between areas hit by shelling to rescue the wounded. Risking their lives daily, the doctors treat civilians, DPR fighters and Ukrainian soldiers alike – in their eyes, they're all patients in need of urgent help.

Afghan Overdose 

Afghanistan is the world’s biggest exporter of black-market opium from which heroin is made. It’s a multi-billion dollar business, responsible for around a hundred thousand deaths every year and it’s a major source of income for terrorists. RT Doc travelled to the poppy fields where death is harvested to find out why no one can put a stop to this deadly trade. 


Seventy-year-old Agafia is used to living alone, but in need of a helper. She is completely self-sufficient and an Old Believer and can be found living in one of the most remote parts of Russia.

Her War: Women vs ISIS 

The YPJ is the women’s division of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units and it’s formed to fight against ISIS, RTD correspondents were given exclusive access to spend three weeks at their training camp. The young women who train for combat there, decided not to leave their survival to fate but to fight for their lives and their future. For their enemy, being killed by a woman means going to hell. 

119 Lives Unlived 

Letters written by a young man named Flip Slier, while condemned to the Nazi’s concentration camps, were found by chance during a renovation of an old house in Amsterdam. RT correspondent and Flip’s relative, Paula Slier, goes on a personal journey to learn about his fate and those of 119 members of her family who were killed in death camps. 

Albino Africa

People fear them. They are outcasts, treated with contempt. They are frequently beaten and murdered simply because they are not like other people. Their skin is a different color. This is not a film about the African-American civil rights movement in the mid-20th century. These twenty six minutes tell the story of those with the misfortune to be born an albino in Africa today.

The Congo Dandies

The Republic of Congo is one of the poorest countries on the planet; however, men are dedicated followers of fashion and are prepared to spend huge sums of money on keeping up with the latest styles.

Fallen Angels

RT Doc visits Angeles City in the Philippines, an infamous and popular sex tourism destination.  The city is home to many children conceived by foreign holiday makers who took what they wanted and left offspring in their wake.

MH-17. A Year Without the Truth

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 has been brought down over the territory of conflict-torn Ukraine. This tragedy shocked the world and affected families in many countries. Today, debris can still be found in the area around the crash and the investigation, surrounded by secrecy, still hasn’t reached a definitive conclusion

They Don't Just Dance

In Afghanistan women are not allowed to dance or go to parties so an old tradition kicks in, “bachas” are young boys who dress as women and dance for older men. Dancing though is not the only way the boys are used as substitutes.