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).
- The Public Service Broadcasting Trust of India (nurturing the documentary) has made many documentaries available on their YouTube channel. Many thanks to Harjant Gill for pointing this out.
- Take One Action Film Festivals has a film directory – https://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.
- Steps, a 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.
- I’m delighted to report that Women Make Movies has launched a Virtual Film Festival for International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. I’m excited to check it out (and am still gutted that I had to cancel a screening of one of their films, the brilliant Yours in Sisterhood (Irene Lusztig, 2018), although I will be rescheduling that along with Freedom Fields (Naziha Arebi, 2018) produced through the Scottish Documentary Institute).
- 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.)
- Many thanks to Girish Shambu for alerting me to Kate Lain’s document, Cabin Fever, a remarkable spreadsheet of experimental films and videos available for streaming.
- Aesthetica Short Film Festival (November 2020) maintains a short film library. up an online back catalogue.
- 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.]
- According to Lucy Szemtova, 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. LINK: https://filmarchiv.hu/en/news/hungarian-classics-free-to-watch. And if newsreels are your thing (as they are to many here) they have many of those, too: https://filmarchiv.hu/en/news/100-year-old-newsreels
- From Christian Olesen: Stumfilm.dk is a great resource for (recently) digitized Danish silent film (classics and rare titles). They’re available in English and free: https://www.stumfilm.dk/en/stumfilm
- Tom Poynton suggests two YouTube channels, one offers Brazilian Cinema with English Subtitles and the other offers Argentine Cinema with English Subtitles.
- 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!).
- Catherine Grant of Film Studies For Free and Herb Shellenburger made this comprehensive list in 2018.
- Minou Norouzi has compiled a list of streaming platforms for the MENA (Middle East and North African region): http://sheffieldfringe.com/list-of-streaming-platforms/
- Indiewire serves up a list of the 15 Best Short Films from Great Directors.
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).
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
FILM FESTIVALS ON LINE:
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!)
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
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:
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:
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.