Streaming Video Resources for Times of Social Distancing

An image of four masks that is taken from the film Faces of Harassment by Paula Sacchetta (Brazil, 2016)

Streaming Video Resources for Times of Social Distancing

In the past few days, cinemas around the world have closed. This is a dreadful turn in this equally dreadful state of affairs. And before I move to suggestions for streaming resources, I’d like to suggest people consider buying memberships to local cinemas for when they return. I’m giving a shout out to the Edinburgh Film House and Dundee Contemporary Arts— two brilliant resources when it comes to film programming and other events. [I encourage everyone visiting here to link their local arts centre in the comments; if I receive enough, I can make a separate post for sharing.]

When it comes to streaming video, there are of course the usual suspects: Netflix (subscription), Amazon Prime (subscription and problematic but I get it, I use it too), BFI Player (rental and purchase options to members and non-members), Curzon Home Cinemas (rental options), MUBI (currently offers 3 months for £1 in my region for those not automatically members through university affiliations), UbuWeb (a resource for avant-garde materials) and Box of Broadcasts (UK terrestrial television recorded over the years and streaming- available in UK and through university affiliation). [This list is currently UK centric, but again, I encourage the adding of resources in the comments for addition up here.]

 

But there are also some really wonderful options that can afford the chance for films you would be less likely to have found in your local cinema (depending, of course) or on a maintstream streaming platform. I’ve been hearing about them, and I’m sharing them here– again with the invitation to contact me with more to add:

 

  • IDFA, Amsterdam’s International Documentary Festival offers an online collection. Almost 200 are available for free internationally, but if you’re in the Netherlands, even more awaits. And for more documentary viewing, check out:
    • National Film Board of Canada documentaries.
    • The Scottish Documentary Institute, a hub for nurturing and growing innovative documentary and creative practitioners. One can watch some short films here.
    • Field of Visions is a good free source for short documentaries.
    • Leo Hurwitz Archive has made available much of the work of this pioneering documentary filmmaker along with loads of information that provide a crucial cultural history of documentary filmmaking in America.

 

  • DocAlliance,  a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals, offers documentaries for streaming at DAFilms.com. This is a subscription service, but there appears to be an opportunity to watch at least one film for free if you share it with others on social media. (HT Frieda Gerhardt).

 

 

  • Take One Action Film Festivals has a film directoryhttps://www.takeoneaction.org.uk/film offering a curated list of hundreds of short and feature-length animation, documentary and fiction films that explore social and environmental justice under different guises. They’re working on flagging up which ones are free and available, but it’s worth a look. And if activism is your thing, you might also be interested in:
    • Brave New Films, which believes in using media to champion social justice causes.
    • Films for Action, a library of over 4500 films.
    • Culture Unplugged, a festival that seeks to foster collective global witnessing and compassion.
    • Stepsa not for profit organisation that uses film to empower, educate, and mobilise for action. [HT Eric Sasono for bringing these to my attention.]
    • The Abounadarra collective, committed to representing human rights abuses with the foregrounding of dignity, something so frequently lost in that practice, especially as it travels in a market that traffics in images of broken and vulnerable bodies.
    • The Radical Film Network has compiled a wonderful resource of activist films (most made by its members) on subjects that could be categorised as political, environmental, experimental, and community. Many are documentary but they also have fiction films in there.

 

 

  • Thank you, Alisa Lebow, for reminding me of the National Film Board of Canada‘s online collection of Indigenous Cinema. And to continue with indigenous programming:
    •  Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians),  is making his short films available to view for free! http://www.skyhopinka.com/ (Thank you, Philippa Lovatt!)
    • Sapfilm.com, a collection of Sámi films available on demand, and at a low cost, available in Norway, Sweden and Finland. This is a project of the International Sámi Film Institute. (Thank you, Scott MacKenzie!)
    • Isuma TV, a source for Inuit independent video. (Thanks again, Scott.)

 

 

 

  • Rarefilmm calls itself ‘The Cave of Forgotten Films’ and it might have one of the more expansive and intriguing collections representing multiple genres and nations across the 20th Century and into the 21st.  LINK: http://rarefilmm.com/

 

  • If you’re interested in Korean classic films, there’s a wonderful array the Korean film archive has made available on YouTube. [And if you’re looking for another subscription service, Asian Crush offers an impressive array of films from throughout Asia (and their front page offers a list of suggestions of things to watch if you loved Parasite (Bong Joon-ho, 2019)].

 

  • Viddsee offers an abundance of Southeast Asian short films, with a channel for documentaries to boot.

 

  • Continuing with the films collected into channels on YouTube, Lucy Donaldson recommends the Wu Tang Collection, quite the storehouse for martial arts films.

 

  • According to the good people of Film Quarterly dGenerate Films, a distributor of contemporary independent Chinese film, is giving us the glorious gift of free streaming for one month. Just use the Coupon Code “1MONTH” at OVID.tv for this access.) [Thanks again, Girish! And Philippa Lovatt!]

 

  • The Thai Film Archive is making a a number of classic and significant films available via YouTube on their Covid-19 Playlist. In addition to Santi Vina, which screened at St Andrews a while back, Dale Hudson says one can find ghost stories, muay thai, and transgender films.

 

  • There are reports of Yugoslav films with English subtitles being made available on https://easterneuropeanmovies.com/ but I’ve been having trouble accessing the server. I will leave this here in case it returns or in a plea for updates.

 

  • Interested in Ukrainian film? Takflix is a rental service that offers Ukrainian films with English subtitles. [Thank you, Darya Tsymbalyuk, for the tip.]

 

 

 

 

  • Cineteca Milano has just made 500 films available– mostly silent and Italian, but some in English, French, German, etc. Follow the link to the registration page. Thank you, Paddy Adamson.

 

  • The Ashkal Alwan archive (Beirut, Lebanon) is making its collection of films and performances, recordings of previous editions of Home Works Forum, Home Workspace Program lectures, and numerous seminars and talks, available. (Thank you, Minou Norouzi, for the tip!).

 

 

 

 

LINKS TO INDIVIDUAL FILMS:

 

Possibly one of my favourite documentaries ever (and one I insist my students watch) has been made available for free on Vimeo. Thank you Rea Tajiri for your gift of History and Memory: For Akiko and Takashige (1991).

 

Documentary director Penny Lane (Hail Satan?— currently on Netflix) has made a number of her documentaries available including: NUTS!Our Nixon, and Pain of Others

 

[UPDATED: NOW OVER] From March 17 to 24: Helvetica is available to stream for free. LINK: https://ohyouprettythings.com/free 

 

Filmmaker Gary Hustwit is streaming his documentaries free worldwide with each week bringing a new film for viewing

 

Pawel Pawlikowski, the UK-based Polish writer/director perhaps best known for his fiction films Ida and Cold War  has made his documentaries available for free streaming. https://vimeo.com/user20670040

 

Filmmaker Travis Wilkerson (possibly best known for his documentary, An Injury To One (2002))  has made his agit-prop noir narrative-documentary hybrid, Machine Gun or Typewriter? (2015), available for free streaming.

 

Artist/Filmmaker Vanalyne Green’s Trick or Drink is available on Vimeo.

 

Michael Chanan has made many of his films available including Cuba: Living Between Hurricanes about ecology and sustainable development in Cuba. Living Between Hurricanes can be found at https://www.livingbetweenhurricanes.org/ whilst his other films can be found at www.mchanan.com/video.

 

Richard Cohen has made Going to School- Ir a la Escuela, a 60-minute documentary on inclusion, special education and empowering children with disabilities available on his website, RichardCohenFilms.com

 

The wonderful Madeleine Olenek (Wild Nights with Emily) has made her 2013 film, The Foxy Merkins available for viewing on VIMEO.

 

FILM FESTIVALS ON LINE:  

 

Women Make Movies and their Virtual Film Festival (March 2020) are not alone. This section will update festivals as they are reported.

 

BFI Flare (20-29 March) will be making the LGBTQI shorts and features scheduled to play at their festival available for streaming and this will include five shorts streaming at no cost!

 

The 58th Annual Ann Arbor Film Festival (24-29 March) will now be presented as a FREE live-steamed event. The liveness may pose a challenge, but what a great idea.

 

The DC Environmental Film Festival (17-31 March) has moved online. They do warn that some of their third-party providers may require an account or charge for access. (HT S. Topiary Landberg)

 

Although the  23rd annual Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival has been cancelled, it appears some elements are migrating online, starting with a new media art installation entitled Radical Infiltrations.

 

The international short film community has programmed a short film festival entitled  My Darling Quarantine, hosted by the online film magazine, Talking Shorts. (HT Dumitrita Pacicovschi for this and so many other tips!)

 

Cheap Cuts Short Documentary Film Festival  is doing online screenings + Q&As on their Facebook page.  They have 6 dates scheduled for now : https://m.facebook.com/events/2272739616361263/

 

Visions du Réel 2020 will take place online from 17th April to 2nd May! They have announced this turn to digital to “ensure privileged access to its selection of audacious and singular works. Full programme & availability of films online on 30th March. Stay posted.

 

From March 20th to April 4th, 9 films from the French selection 2020 Cinema du Reel will screen on Festival Scope. The catch? There’s only 200 free tickets per film and you’ll have to create a Festival Scope free account to be able to see the films). https://festivalscope.com/all/festival/cinema-du-reel/2020

 

Festival Scope also has a selection of films to watch for free from the Mexican film festival, Festival International de Cine UNAM. LINK: https://bit.ly/2wdZ8SJ

 

Not a film festival, but the Melbourne Cinematheque has gone virtual with a double bill for every Wednesday. They say these are available anywhere with a decent internet connection, but I don’t know if that includes the region beyond Australia. Thank you, Ian Christie! LINK: https://www.acmi.net.au/events/melbourne-cinematheque/

 

More and more festivals will likely migrate online. Indiewire reports that 32 regional festivals have signed a pledge to allow digital screenings (and to promise that this release will still count as a première amongst the festivals). Geoblocking (allowing films to screen only in one region) will likely be maintained. For instance, although CPH-DOX has moved online, with 40 films made available to the public, this public is likely only a Danish-based one.

 

And they keep coming:

 

Thessaloniki Film Festival is offering a few screenings online on their YouTube channel

 

Although Tribeca Film Festival has been postponed until further notice, they’re streaming shorts from Tribeca alumni filmmakers and SXSW 2020 will also be streaming shorts. The disabilities film festival Reel Abilities (31 March-6 April) is running online, which can also offer a welcome venture into virtual screenings as a mode of access.

 

Incoming from Twitter:

 

Dr Rachel Morley plans to tweet links to one streaming Russian film per day although it’s not clear if there will be subtitles: https://twitter.com/DrRachelMorley/status/1239668111755948038

 

Thank you, @jhvdzee for noting the impressive Internet Guide produced and hosted by the University of Gronigen: https://libguides.rug.nl/avm/internet

 

Make it a collective experience:

These streaming experiences can be made collective. See the wonderful Culture Club launched by Club des Femmes as an example or a place to join in!

 

Featured image is drawn from Faces of Harassment (Paula Sachetta, Brazil, 2016) which is one of the films screening on WMM’s virtual film festival.

 

A big thank you to people leaving more resources in the comments. I’ll migrate them up here when I can, but you all are generous and fab!

51 Comments
  • The National Film Board of Canada made hundreds of films by indigenous filmmakers available online last year (or was it the year before?). It’s a great free resource: https://www.nfb.ca/indigenous-cinema/?&film_lang=en&sort=year:desc,title&year=1917..2020

    Wednesday March 18, 2020 at 10:33 am
  • Dina Iordanova
    Reply

    Amazon Prime has a number of extremely interesting international films as part of their Prime Offer. I would be happy to detail in a dedicated blog post.

    Wednesday March 18, 2020 at 10:40 am
  • Frieda Gerhardt
    Reply

    This is a charged subscription, but: DAFilms.com is a great project by the Doc Alliance festival network and hosts interesting documentaries by 7 key European documentary film festivals…

    Wednesday March 18, 2020 at 11:43 am
  • Christian Olesen
    Reply

    Stumfilm.dk is a great resource for (recently) digitized Danish silent film (classics and rare titles), and available in English as well: https://www.stumfilm.dk/en/stumfilm

    Wednesday March 18, 2020 at 12:11 pm
    • Christian Olesen
      Reply

      And free of charge!

      Wednesday March 18, 2020 at 12:12 pm
  • Vimeo.com hosts videos that can be searched by theme. Generally, Vimeo users are more professional (pro-amateur) and dedicated than youTubers to filmmaking. There is a long lists of documentaries and short film well worth the watch (including mine! But I won’t use this occasion to promote them.).
    https://vimeo.com

    Wednesday March 18, 2020 at 12:23 pm
  • Tom Poynton
    Reply

    Brazilian Films With English Subtitles: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZfgNbkYFhDmcoFazhrtdFg

    Argentinian Cinema With English Subtitles: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0e9La2F1jZ8OW2kBC6fXsw

    Wednesday March 18, 2020 at 1:04 pm
  • Philippa Lovatt
    Reply

    Sky Hopinka’s short films are now available to view for free!: http://skyhopinka.com

    Wednesday March 18, 2020 at 4:17 pm
  • Philippa Lovatt
    Reply

    Also, dGenerate (contemporary independent film from mainland China)- use the coupon code “1MONTH” at http://OVID.tv for free access for 1 month:
    http://ovid.tv/page/dgenerate

    Wednesday March 18, 2020 at 5:37 pm
    • Philippa Lovatt
      Reply

      with subtitles : )

      Wednesday March 18, 2020 at 5:38 pm
  • Kanopy is a film streaming service that offers access through public libraries and universities: https://www.kanopy.com/

    Wednesday March 18, 2020 at 7:12 pm
  • Scott MacKenzie
    Reply

    There’s a wide range of Indigenous material available for streaming (much of it from Nunavut, but other material too) at the Isuma website: http://www.isuma.tv/isuma

    Sunday March 22, 2020 at 2:34 pm
  • Scott MacKenzie
    Reply

    There is also the streaming program connected to the International Sami Film Institute: https://www.sapmifilm.com/news/3. There is a nominal fee of 59NOK (a little over 5USD) a month, but there is some great, a little seen material there too.

    Sunday March 22, 2020 at 2:40 pm
  • Dale Hudson
    Reply

    Thai Film Archive has compiled a Covid-19 playlist of classical films with ghost, muay thai, and transgender stories:
    Info and link: https://www.khaosodenglish.com/life/events/2020/03/20/classic-thai-films-available-on-youtube-for-quarantine-watching/

    Monday March 23, 2020 at 5:52 am
  • Bruce Eadie
    Reply

    Big selection of free to view Argentinian films and documentaries (many with English subtitiles) at https://www.cinemargentino.com/en
    And on the site itself you can choose between English and Spanish text.

    Monday March 23, 2020 at 2:57 pm
  • James Harvey
    Reply

    This is amazing. Thank you so much, Leshu!

    Monday March 23, 2020 at 3:56 pm
  • Emily Torricelli
    Reply

    I’m not sure about the international availability of this, but the Criterion Collection has its own subscription channel, https://www.criterionchannel.com/ Also, the Library of Congress has several playlists of historical films on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/LibraryOfCongress/playlists

    Monday March 23, 2020 at 5:15 pm
  • The Canadian Media Fund that supports commercial television and film production in Canada offers a YouTube channel called Encore+ that hosts vintage Canadian film and television in both French and English. Most of the content is at least 25 years old with it original licensing reverting to the original director who earns pennies per screening. See this link https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH9jfFz0VzO-sqfh_TLVT7A to explore the content. Encore+also offer a fair sampling of amazing contemporary Indigenous film.

    Monday March 23, 2020 at 5:30 pm
  • Jenni Olson
    Reply

    The Jewish Film Institute has an ongoing Online Short of the Month series which offers more than 90 great Jewish-themed shorts films for free on their YouTube channel (including my 2009 short about Harvey Milk, 575 Castro St.). https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL80ADAAD046DCDEAB

    Monday March 23, 2020 at 6:36 pm
  • 57 Silent FIlms from the Thanhouser archives are available here:

    https://www.thanhouser.org/videos-online.htm

    Tuesday March 24, 2020 at 9:47 am
  • Stevie Russell
    Reply

    Hello
    Thank you for this list. Reel News is a free UK source of grassroots activism videos and documentaries: Reel News: https://reelnews.co.uk/.
    Stevie

    Tuesday March 24, 2020 at 11:43 am
  • Sophie Holzberger
    Reply

    One of the most amazing cinemas in Berlin has made their newly launched online streaming free to the public and is curating an awesome film program there: https://www.arsenal-berlin.de/en/join/arsenal-3/login.html

    Tuesday March 24, 2020 at 2:42 pm
  • Liliana Melgar
    Reply

    Thank you! I also know of a streaming service of Latin American cinema called “Retina Latina” supported by different audiovisual archives and ministries of Culture in the region and by UNESCO. Not all films can be seen outside Latin America, but they are starting progressively to open some of them: https://www.retinalatina.org/.

    Tuesday March 24, 2020 at 2:54 pm
  • After we had to close our cinemas arsenal 1 + 2 in Berlin, we opened Arsenal 3 in collaboration with filmmakers and artists whose works are in our distribution. Program changes every Friday.
    https://www.facebook.com/arsenal.kino/videos/233199491205259/UzpfSTEwNjc5NzM3NDI6MTAyMTg2NjUzODk0MDAzOTU/
    https://www.arsenal-berlin.de/en/home.html

    Tuesday March 24, 2020 at 3:06 pm
  • Thank you for the great list! There is also a streaming service of Latin American cinema, not all films and documentaries are available outside Europe, but they are progressively being added. It’s supported by UNESCO and various film archives in Latin America, it’s currently the most important effort to disseminate Latin American cinema online: https://www.retinalatina.org/. One example of an open film to the world: https://www.retinalatina.org/video/sin-titulo/.

    Wednesday March 25, 2020 at 11:55 am
  • Thanks for this impressive list!
    You may want to discover 99.media, a not-for-profit video platform streaming short documentaries subtitled into 6 languages → https://www.99.media/en

    Wednesday March 25, 2020 at 4:21 pm
  • Thank you for this amazing resource. The Spanish lost classic, Life Goes On, (El mungo sigue, Fernando Fernán Gómez 1963), a melodrama/thriller influenced by Hitchcock, is available with English subtitles to stream for free until 31.1.21: http://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/modernlanguages/hispanicstudies/research/subtitlingworldcinema/

    Wednesday March 25, 2020 at 6:13 pm
  • Hi – at Documentary Educational Resources (DER) we’ve made a selection of our titles available. https://www.der.org/watch-from-home/?mc_cid=f9b3f9b7d4&mc_eid=%5BUNIQID%5D Please feel free to add it to the list.

    Thursday March 26, 2020 at 6:06 pm
  • Lucy Szemetova
    Reply

    The Hungarian National Film Institute – Film Archive has made 35 Hungarian classics available online. The list includes literary adaptions, films portraying history (both fiction and nonfiction films) and animations. All the films have English subtitles. https://filmarchiv.hu/en/news/hungarian-classics-free-to-watch.
    If you’re up for more here’s a link to 100 years old newsreels also available at the website. https://filmarchiv.hu/en/news/100-year-old-newsreels
    Happy watching!

    Wednesday April 1, 2020 at 10:36 am
  • Minou Norouzi
    Reply

    ARGOS, Belgium’s distributor of artist film and video, is making available works from the ARGOS collection. Each Friday, a film will be made available on their website, up for a week, entirely free of charge

    http://www.argosarts.org/event/argos-tv3-alexander-markov

    Friday April 3, 2020 at 12:02 pm
  • Darren Gee
    Reply

    This is an excellent and valuable resource.

    Genuine thanks to all of those who have compiled and contributed!

    Sunday April 5, 2020 at 10:25 pm
  • Watson Bell
    Reply

    This is a fantastic list! Thank you so much for sharing!

    Friday April 10, 2020 at 11:59 am
  • DUMITRITA PACICOVSCHI
    Reply

    TASKOVSKI FILMS, a London based world sales & production company that specializes in independent feature and documentary films is going to stream a couple of their docs for free starting with April 11th. Each film will be available to stream for free for 24hrs. https://www.taskovskifilms.com/?filmcategory=watch-online *Ticket code for any screening is DOCSCONNECT.

    BERTHA DOC HOUSE has doc watch parties with ZOOM Q&As afterwards (space is limited). Screenings are announced on FB each week but here is an example on how the whole thing happens: https://bit.ly/3e8pHd0

    Individual link: The Man Who Bought Mustique (2000, documentary, dir. Joseph Bullman) : https://vimeo.com/212613719

    OPEN CITY DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL has compiled a list of every film that screened at their festival for the past 10 editions and is available to stream online – VOD or for free.
    https://opencitylondon.com/news/news-open-city-documentary-festival-online-archive/

    Artekino streams a free film every month. Currently playing “Daydreams” by Caroline Deruas

    Friday April 10, 2020 at 10:01 pm
  • Vladimir Rosas
    Reply

    Thanks for this very comprehensive list!
    To expand on content not in the English language, I would suggest Universidad de Chile’s streaming platform on Chilean cinema. They hold a number of movies and documentaries from the 1960s and 1970s, as well as heritage cinema: http://cinetecavirtual.uchile.cl/

    Saturday April 18, 2020 at 8:02 pm

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