Alongside the influx of school-holiday kids movies, it’s an unusually rich time for documentaries right now.

From never-before-seen Beatles footage, to political sexting scandals and scuffles with Scientologists, the truth is way more entertaining than fiction.

The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years
It would be impossible to tell the entire story of The Beatles in one documentary, so director Ron Howard focuses on the years during which things were at their peak. In some ways, the calm before the storm.

Set between 1962 and 1966, The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years documents the band’s rise to fame and the spread of Beatlemania. Released for a limited season only, the film features rare and exclusive footage from private collections and from the band members themselves.

The Beatles Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years is screening at Cinema Nova, Hoyts and Village Cinemas.

A Beautiful Planet 3D
Short but sweet at 47 minutes, A Beautiful Planet shows our home in a way usually reserved only for a very select few. Filmed from the International Space Station by astronauts trained by cinematographer James Neihouse, the film weaves together a story of human versus habitat and shows the impact we’ve had on our planet. Narrated by Jennifer Lawrence and screened in IMAX 3D, A Beautiful Planet is a captivating and spectacular journey.

A Beautiful Planet is screening at IMAX.

Embrace
Before and after pictures usually follow a certain narrative. The “before” pic should show an unhappy woman, clearly ill at ease with her body. The “after” picture portrays her beaming, slender and probably in a bikini.

Body-image activist Taryn Brumfitt turned this idea on its head by posting an after picture of herself that bucked societal expectations and went viral. Embrace is Brumfitt’s honest exploration of how women’s bodies are viewed by society, and how the time has come for deeply held ideas to be challenged.

Embrace is showing at Cinema Nova.

Louis Theroux: My Scientology Movie
When documentary maker Louis Theroux tweeted he was looking to line up some interviews around the Church of Scientology, the response was mixed. Fans flooded him with warnings and plaudits, while the church remained staunchly silent. This divide is evident throughout this strange and endlessly entertaining film.

Faced with an uncooperative organisation, Theroux attempts to piece together a coherent narrative via interviews with former church members and colourful re-enactments – all the while fending the church off. Then it become apparent the church is making its own film – about him.

Louis Theroux: My Scientology Movie is screening at ACMI, Cinema Nova and Lido Cinemas.

Tickled
Why would a mysterious corporation pay thousands of dollars each month to fly six young men into Los Angeles for a sport called Competitive Endurance Tickling? To find out, New Zealand journalist David Farrier and his collaborator, Dylan Reeve, investigate a sinister web of lawyers, blackmail – and surprisingly few laughs.

Tickled is screening at Cinema Nova and Palace Kino.

Weiner
Former US congressman Anthony Weiner has a funny name and a proclivity for sending young women pictures of his bulging groin. Weiner follows what is meant to be a glorious resurrection of Weiner’s political career as he runs for Mayor of New York. Instead, the film captures something entirely different, and leaves audiences wondering the same thing as the cameraman – “why are you letting me film this?”

Weiner is screening at ACMI.

Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures
With a portfolio of arseholes, penises, celebrity portraits and intimate moments, late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe’s body of work is a confronting snapshot of sexuality and life in New York during the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.

His personal life and career is laid bare in this documentary by directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. Featuring interviews with Mapplethorpe’s contemporaries, lovers and friends, the film paints a picture of the complex man beneath all the gossip and scandal.

Mappelthorpe screens at ACMI from September 22.