Watching a bitcoin documentary is basically the opposite of Netflix and chill. You're either going to put a nocoiner to sleep, or you're going to put a bitcoin on the edge of their seat. These are definitely not date movies, but they are great, and they are worth your time to watch if you are interested in bitcoin as a technology, as a money, as a payment network, and as a tool for human freedom.
In just 13 years of existence, Bitcoin has developed a ton of history worth telling, and these are the 10 bitcoin documentaries and films I think you should invest some time into watching.
Bitcoin Films & Documentaries & Quick Summaries
1. This Machine Greens
This Machine Greens is an excellent documentary about bitcoin mining and energy use, clearing up many misconceptions about what some in the public perceive to be a “waste of energy”. The documentary covers so many important topics; listing them all here can't do it justice. One of the most impactful, however, is the history of money and why proof of work is required for any type of money. Unforgeable costliness is what makes money valuable in the first place, and without it, you end up with the distorted incentives we see in our current fiat money system. This is why bitcoin as hard money is so desirable.
Experts cover many other ideas such as bitcoin's percentage of total energy use, bitcoin's use of renewables versus other industries, the difficulty adjustment and scaling bitcoin mining, how local energy providers are partnering with bitcoin miners to create a more powerful and flexible grid, and how bitcoin mining can even help reduce environmental pollution. This film is packed with facts and data, but is still entertaining and an easy watch.
This Machine Greens is a must-see, and one of those documentaries you'll find yourself recommending to bitcoiners as well as nocoiners!
2. Bitcoin Is Generational Wealth
Bitcoin Is Generational Wealth is a short 15-minute film narrated by Tomer Strolight that hits you right in the gut with the answer to the question of, “Why do we need Bitcoin?”. The film uses loads of historical film to provide context as it takes you through atrocities and catastrophes that were caused directly, or indirectly, by central planning, authoritarianism, and fiat money printing.
Then, we're then taken forward to speculate on what would change if the world were to be on a bitcoin standard.
What would the world look like if we had hard money that wasn't able to be debased and abused by government? How might people live differently? How would companies change?
Bitcoin Is Generational Wealth is basically 15 minutes of Bitcoin Fixes This and Bitcoin is Hope. It's a great feel-good film that gives me hope for the future.
Also by Tomer is a short film called Bitcoin Is Beautiful which you can watch below:
3. The Rise And Rise of Bitcoin
The Rise And Rise of Bitcoin is a great documentary to watch just to get some perspective on how much the ecosystem has changed in just a few years. The companies and people you see in the film were a big deal back then, but half a decade later, many of the companies you see in the film no longer exist, or have pivoted to shitcoinery such as Bitpay and Mt. Gox. The same goes for the individuals in the film, including folks like Roger Ver, Mark Karpeles, and Erik Vorhees.
The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin covers a lot about the early history of bitcoin, including the rise and fall of The Silk Road, the Mt. Gox collapse, and the arrest of Charlie Shrem.
My favorite thing about this documentary was being able to look into the lives and events of early bitcoiners. It was so interesting to hear the ideas that were being discussed at the time, the things they were trying to achieve, and what they were thinking about the future of bitcoin. This was a personal favorite of mine, and I'd love to see one done like this every 5 years or so!
4. The Great Reset And The Rise Of Bitcoin
The Great Reset And The Rise of Bitcoin is a newer documentary, released in 2022, and covers a much more modern look at bitcoin, including some of the recent macro developments that have unfolded after COVID, including information about Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs). Done in a documentary style, this film covers a lot about how money works, the history of central banking, and the basics of bitcoin.
It's pretty standard fare for bitcoin education, so it would probably be most interesting to someone who's just getting started learning about these topics. It's more updated than some of these other pre-2017 “what is bitcoin” documentaries I've featured on the page, though, so I still recommend you watch it.
It's a good quality film, but you can tell it's homemade, probably by a film student working on his own resources. Some of the audio narration is mediocre quality, and I found a few of the music choices pretty odd, so it wasn't like a, “Wow, you gotta see this” type of film.”
When I saw the title, I was curious what angle the filmmaker was going to take on “The Great Reset”. Probably for the better, he ignored all the conspiracies surrounding the idea of “the great reset” (though conspiracies are fun!) and focused on the idea of a “monetary reset”, and bitcoin being the escape valve for anyone looking to exit the traditional financial system.
5. Bitcoin Fixes This
Bitcoin Fixes This is stretching the idea of “film” or “documentary” in that it's less than 5 minutes long, but it's still worth a watch, and worth fitting into this list. The video is a ton of quick hits about why bitcoin has value, including being immutable money for human rights activists, being a hedge against inflation for everyday savers in high interest environments, and making sending global payments faster and cheaper. Definitely worth a few minutes of your time!
6. Cryptopia: Bitcoin, And The Future Of The Internet
Cryptopia: Bitcoin, And The Future Of The Internet is an Australian documentary with commentary and interviews that span the globe. It's unfortunate that there's so much focus on smart contracts and blockchain in the second half of the film, but there is a good amount of pushback from bitcoin maximalists to provide some context.
This film does a good job of talking to people from all sides of the discussion, including bitcoin-only people, crypto people, and even the folks who say that it's all a scam.
Of course, it covers the basics of money, banking, and bitcoin, which can get repetitive if you watch a bunch of these and are already familiar with these topics. I guess as a new bitcoiner, it's good to review this information, but I found it a bit tedious.
This documentary takes place at a very interesting time, where we are post 2017 fork war so we had some perspective on the aftermath of BTC vs BCH. This is pretty much the only documentary in this list that explains what went down with the hard fork, and looks at both sides. Plus, this was filmed near the end of the 2018-2021 bear market, and new crypto narratives were starting to emerge around the ideas of DeFi and Web3. As I write this, it's July 2022, and well, we know how that turned out.
The quality of the film is very good. Though they did interview many of the usual suspects in these films like Roger Ver and Andreas Antonopoulos, they did manage to get some new people as well, so I think this one is worth a watch.
7. Bitcoin: Beyond The Bubble
Bitcoin: Beyond The Bubble is the pro-bitcoin documentary that you've been waiting for. No more of these “both sides” bullshit where we have to listen to uneducated nocoiners opining about volatile price movements and dumb questions like “what even backs bitcoin?” This film straight up tells us all the good shit about bitcoin and why we need it, and we even get a little bit of “Bitcoin, not blockchain” as a bonus at the end.
Bitcoin: Beyond the Bubble, spends about 5 seconds on early monetary history and then skips straight to 1971 when Nixon removed the US from the gold standard, setting the foundation of the global monetary system for the next fifty years, and the reason bitcoin exists in the first place. There are even some good dunks on Paul Krugman and Jamie Dimon included. The rest of the film is all about how bitcoin is different from our current monetary system and why it's important.
It's short, at 35 minutes, and the narrator was a little robotic, but it was all around a good film, and free to watch!
7. Magic Money: The Bitcoin Revolution
Magic Money: The Bitcoin Revolution honestly surprised me, and ended up being a really good bitcoin documentary. This film did a great job of making the case for bitcoin as an alternative payment network, which is unique among any of the bitcoin documentaries featured in this list. Most of the films on this list make the case for bitcoin the money, highlighting its limited supply and contrasting it with the inflationary dollar and other fiat currencies. This film focuses on the advantages of the network over other payment networks.
They spend a lot of time talking to businesses that accept bitcoin, and why they choose to do so. Reasons include lower fees, no chargebacks, global reach, interoperability, and faster final settlement. For example, a musician they interviewed was also happy about microtransactions for tips, which is typically not available with traditional payment networks. From a customer's perspective, there are advantages as well, such as privacy and censorship resistance.
I think this film is a great introduction to some of the lesser-known use cases for bitcoin, outside of protecting one's wealth from being debased by central banks.
8. Banking on Bitcoin
Banking on Bitcoin is a stellar documentary in terms of quality, subject matter, and storytelling. Of course, it covers a bit of the basics of how bitcoin works and why it's important, but the overall theme of the documentary, as I see it, is how bitcoin is beginning to interact with the legacy infrastructure of our society, including politics, banking, and law.
The story focuses on Charlie Shrem, the founder of BitInstant, and takes place shortly before he was scheduled to go to federal prison for money laundering. It's kind of like another film on this list that featured Charlie, The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin. Here, we follow Charlie around New York City and hear about BitInstant and the players involved with bitcoin during that time. There are a lot of interesting interviews with entrepreneurs, attorneys, and politicians, recounting past and current events in bitcoin.
The film isn't just about BitInstant and Charlie though. A lot was happening with Bitcoin in those days, including the arrest of Ross Ulbricht and The Silk Road driving the FUD narrative that bitcoin was only useful for criminals.
Actually, a lot of drama was covered in the documentary, including the fall of Mt. Gox, the Dorian Nakamoto incident, the shitty New York BitLicense, and even some speculation as to who is Satoshi Nakamoto.
It was very well produced and actually entertaining. Not “funny” entertaining, but it really did keep my interest all the way through. I wasn't around in those days, so it was super interesting for me to hear some of these stories from the people who were around in the early days of bitcoin.
9. The Bitcoin Gospel
Personally, I think The Bitcoin Gospel is mostly worth a watch after you learn a good amount about bitcoin. It's a bit dated in its references, but I thought the most interesting part was to see how bitcoin FUD doesn't really change over the years. I found one financial journalist they interviewed to be particularly smug and annoying, saying nonsense stuff like “I don't want politics in my money” (all money is political), or that wealth concentration means bitcoin isn't fair (wealth doesn't equal power over the protocol). Another credentialed financial guy was complaining that he can't buy anything with bitcoin but fails to recognize that he can't buy anything with gold either.
Anyway, the documentary does provide some good rebuttals to these criticisms, and is pretty “objective”. I say that in scare quotes because I think the critiques they cite aren't very well thought of, but I guess to a normie it may appear to see both sides.
It was a little depressing to see Roger Ver in his heyday and see how far he's fallen from his hero status as Bitcoin Jesus, to someone who is now ostracized from the bitcoin community for going all-in on the Bitcoin Cash fork. It's just disappointing how he can't see that what he's doing over there at Bitcoin Cash is not working, but I guess he's used to fighting an uphill battle from his early days in bitcoin.
Same as with The Rise And Rise of Bitcoin, it was interesting to see historical moments in Bitcoin, with early miners in China, people's reaction to the $200 price, and of course, Max Keiser going nuts on stage as usual.
10. Discrete Log Contracts (DLC)
Discrete Log Contracts isn't really a traditional documentary, but it is a 20 minute YouTube video explaining the basics and the potential of a feature of Bitcoin called discrete log contracts, also known as DLC. Basically, it's a way to make bets online without a third party.
Online gambling may seem like a small thing when compared to the freedom technology of bitcoin, but gambling is a pretty universal cultural phenomenon, so whether you agree with it or not, it's going to happen. “Making bets” doesn't have to be limited to sports betting, and there are many types of simple contacts which may not be thought of as bets, but are structured similarly.
Get ready to nerd out for this one, but it's exactly the type of thing I'm looking for. As a non-technical bitcoin user, I found this short film to be extremely interesting.
These ten films were listed in 2021, and there will likely to continue to be more films made as new bitcoiners gain money and freedom to fund such projects, or current filmmakers become bitcoiners. Here's a list of upcoming films and documentaries about bitcoin, and then as these are released I'll update the top 10 list with my favorite ones.
- Come Back Country (El Salvador's Civil War, gang war, Bukele and Bitcoin)
There really isn't that much film-based content about Bitcoin out there right now, but I think there's room for more. As someone who's watched hundreds of hours of video content about bitcoin and has studied thousands of hours through audio and text, I found that a lot of the documentaries and films I watched to create this list repeated a lot of the same things: how bitcoin works, why it's important, and why the future will be better if we live in a world with bitcoin. Delivered to the right audience, in the right way, these messages can be impactful when you hear them for the first time, but for me, they got repetitive.
That's not to say that I found these films boring, but I do think my favorite films of the bunch were the ones that took a subtopic of bitcoin, a person, or a time period, and explored it thoroughly. For example, I think the best one of the bunch was This Machine Greens. It was high quality, fact-based, and delivered an interesting and compelling narrative. I also really liked Banking on Bitcoin and hearing the stories about the companies and the people involved during that time period.
The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin was another great one because while watching it, I could see how far bitcoin has come in terms of adoption.
Personally, I think it would be great to see a doc about bitcoin vs crypto to distinguish bitcoin from all the crypto gambling bullshit and scams. It would be interesting to see who are the people building bitcoin-only companies, who works there, and why they are committed to bitcoin-only services.
I'd also like to see a movie done about the blocksize war. The book was great, and I think they could probably even make a feature film about it. You know, like The Social Network, but for bitcoin.
Honestly, I'd also like to see something done maybe about open source projects and other internet freedom technologies. Maybe not even focus on bitcoin, but include bitcoin as one of many tools for digital freedom.
You know what else would be a good idea for a bitcoin documentary? Something about how bitcoin is used in developing nations, i.e. for the truly poor and unbanked. There are lots of stories from Nigeria, Afghanistan, Senegal, and of course El Salvador that could create a compelling story of freedom, fueled by Bitcoin.