In times of social distancing, cinema visits, alone or collectively, are not allowed anymore. Luckily, there’s an abundance of films to stream online, often for free. We listed up some initiatives.
Last update: 5 January 2021
This is an update of our previous Note, published on 18 March 2020.
Facets Edge is a new curated platform that allows you to access art-house and independent films. Their aim is to connect audiences to exciting, artistically significant films from the birth of cinema to the present. Many different sources are available on Facets Edge in various streaming and downloadable options and formats. Find their offer here.
On November 26, mk2 launched a new website for its platform mk2 Curiosity. It will present a new selection of films from their catalogue each week. Find more information here.
The Collectif Jeune Cinema, founded in 1971, promotes visual experimental practices including distribution of experimental cinema, regular monthly screenings and the yearly Different and Experimental Cinema Festival of Paris. CJC’s catalogue includes more than 1300 films from more than 350 filmmakers. During the COVID-19 crisis, CJC has made has made dozens of films from their distribution catalogue available to watch for free. You can access them here.
You can now enjoy three months of MUBI – entirely free.
Get a 14-day free trial of The Criterion Channel: “Classics and discoveries from around the world, thematically programmed with special features, on a streaming service brought to you by the Criterion Collection.” [only available in the U.S. and Canada]
For €6 a month you can subscribe to Tënk, a video platform showcasing independent documentaries. Subscribers have access to a permanent selection of over 60 documentaries, all available to view for 2 months, with 7 to 10 new titles added per week.
De Filmkrant started a collaboration with the online platform Eyelet last spring. The new streaming service offers classics and festival highlights. The catalogue is updated continuously. An overview of the films can be found here.
LaCinetek is a new video on demand website that started off this October. The proposed films are chosen and presented by directors from all over the world. Each director associated with LaCinetek has composed a list of his or her 50 bedside films, his or her ideal film library. It is the addition of all these lists that makes up the catalog, which grows every month thanks to new acquisitions and the list of a new associate director. Find the catalog here.
This spring, Universciné launched a new Belgian online video platform, Sooner. You can start a free trial of 14 days here.
The EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam created a new streamingservice offering access to its archives. EYE Film Player contains two large sections, one with free access, one for renting. The freely accessible section can be found here. Rentables are listed here.
BFI Player is the British Film Institute’s new video on-demand streaming service, showing critically acclaimed classic, cult and archive films at the touch of a button. Thousands of titles from the BFI archive are now also available for you to watch for free. Find it here.
More than 1200 films from the Light Cone distribution catalogue are available on their website.
Celebrating 50 years of the London Film-Makers’ Co-op (now Lux), the renowned production and distribution cooperative for artists’ moving image, a selection from the first 25 years of the LFMC have been newly digitised by LUX as part of its anniversary commemorations. The films are available on the website of BFI.
On the site of The New Yorker, Richard Brody recommends forty-six films to stream on OVID.tv, Crackle, and IFC Films Unlimited.
On June 18, the French cooperative Les mutins de pangée launched a new VOD platform, Cinemutins. The collection of films focuses on political cinema, social history and struggle, but not exclusively.
Avila is a rather new Belgian video platform, available via www.avilafilm.be. Avila offers both contemporary and classic documentary and fiction films. By presenting a selection based on editorial choices, the platform explicitly wants to avoid an overly wide offer in which separate films threatens to drown and disappear. The platform starts off with a catalogue focussinng on Belgian cinema: among others, the recently restored version of Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman (1975) and a cluster of films centered on work by choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and her dance company Rosas.
Anthology Film Archives is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a showcase of video tributes from a wide range of artists, filmmakers, and scholars, including Bette Gordon, Abel Ferrara, Nathaniel Dorsky, and Michael Snow. They've also made available a free recreation of their inaugural program from November 30, 1970, featuring films by Georges Méliès, Joseph Cornell, Jerome Hill and Harry Smith. The curators of the Museum of Modern Art and the Berlinale have teamed up to present a special series celebrating the Forum's 50th birthday. The series will stream from December 14 to 20, and will include films by Med Hondo, Chris Marker, and Sarah Maldoror. Find more information here.
During the previous containment period, the Cinémathèque de Bretagne made 6000 films available to the public to be seen free of charge on its website.
The Milan Cinematheque gives free access to more than 500 films. All you have to do is create an account here.
The National Film Board of Canada’s online Screening Room features over 3000 productions. Films on this site can be streamed free of charge, or downloaded for personal use for a small fee. NFB.ca also offers educational works on a subscription basis to schools and institutions.
The Cinémathèque française offers you a free dive into its immense library of archives. Discover them here.
Video Data Bank offers free online access to its curated programs of video and media art. VDB TV is currently screening video art exploring the hidden realities of the United States prison system. Find an overview of past and current programs here.
The International Federation of Film Archives has put together a list of the wide range of possibilities to stream or download digitized films from the collections of FIAF affiliates. The list provided concentrates exclusively on those outlets and platforms that offer free access to the holdings of FIAF affiliates online and are run or to a great extent maintained by the archives themselves. Many of the collections featured in the list have been carefully selected and contextualised (e.g. by providing extensive curatorial notes or including the films alongside other film-related documents and media). In some cases, optional English subtitles are available for films in other languages. Find the list here.
The Belgian filmarchive makes films available for online streaming through CINEMATEK @HOME, a collaboration with three Belgian videoplatforms: Lumière, Avila and Sooner. The programme started with a major Belgian film in the first lockdown period: Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) by Chantal Akerman. Other films of the selection include: Any Way the Wind Blows (Tom Barman, 2003), Vivement ce soir (Patrick Van Antwerpen, 1985), The Boys from Fengkuei (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1983), Daens (Stijn Coninx, 1992), Déjà s’envole la fleur maigre (Paul Meyer, 1960) and Wedding in Galilee (Michel Khleifi, 1987). More info on the Facebook-page of CINEMATEK.
La Cinémathèque française launched its streaming service Henri this year, with a new film appearing every evening. The programme started with Jean Epstein’s La chute de la maison Usher (1928) and currently shows films by Raoul Ruiz and Otar Iosseliani. The films are available worldwide.
Filmmuseum München are offering a trove of rare early works by Werner Schroeter, free and in high definition. Keep an eye on their Vimeo page.
3. Online Initiatives
Media City Film Festival's 25th anniversary had to be postponed to 2021 but a new online cinema space called Thousandsuns Cinema was launched with support of the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre. You can now stream more than 60 films, worldwide with no restrictions and for free. Filmmakers include Mati Diop, Michael Snow, Barbara Hammer, Ephraim Asili, Joyce Wieland, Ben Rivers, Christopher Harris, Nazlı Dinçel, Ana Vaz, and many more. Find it here.
In response to theater closures Screen Slate has pivoted to Stream Slate mode while continuing to publish its daily email dispatches including essays and recommendations based around streaming culture and online events. You can sign up for their recommendations here. The programme of online screenings can be found here.
KASKcinema takes a stand after being forced to close their venue for the second time this year. KASKcinema Strikes Back selects a new film each thursday. This week's selection is a collaboration with Sabzian, showing Bruxelles-transit (Samy Szlingerbaum, 1980). Keep an eye on their Facebook-page for future screenings.
Le Cinéma Club is a free, curated platform that presents one film every Friday, available to watch for one week.
The House of European History invites you to a series of online screenings linked to our temporary exhibition Fake For Real – A History of forgery and falsification. Each film will be contextualised and commented on by film curator Anke Brouwers, who will highlight the significance of the film in cinematographic history and connect it to the exhibition. Each screening has limited places, more information on the selection and ways to inscribe can be found here.
Film historian and filmmaker Mark Cousins, whom you may known as the man behind the 2011 documentary film survey The Story of Film: An Odyssey, has put together 40 Days to Learn Film, a massive undertaking at even just under two and a half hours. More a visual-essay style, poetic lecture than a typical film course, 40 Days to Learn Film has been made available free on Vimeo.
Kino Slang Presents is a regular series of cinema screenings programmed by Andy Rector at the Echo Park Film Center in Los Angeles. “It continues the cinematographic and historical excavations, proceedings by montage and association, silent alarms and naked dawns of the eleven-year-old blog, Kino Slang.” During the worldwide quarantine the inaugural program brought the world premiere of a new film by Jean-Marie Straub: La france contre les robots (2020). The film is still available on the blog. Keep an eye on the Kino Slang blog for future “screenings”.
A whole bunch of Georgian directors are sharing their work online for free. Parachute Films has put together a comprehensive list of the available works on their website.
Ilya Khrzhanovsky’s DAU, a multidisciplinary project at the intersection of cinema, art, and anthropology, is now available online. DAU deals with the life of the Nobel Prize-winning Soviet scientist Lev Landau. The premiere in Paris on 25 January 2019 was in the form of a dozen feature films screened inside an extensive around-the-clock immersive installation. The film is one of Russia's largest and most controversial cinematic projects. An eventual conventional cinematic release of a single feature film is also planned, as are documentaries and a television series.
The website Internazionale has compiled a non-exhaustive list of independent Arabic films that are currently available online free of charge, subtitled in English.
In cooperation with Filmgalerie 451, the Goethe-Institut presents an online streaming programme called Goethe on Demand, their selection of films is available on Vimeo.
Le Forum des images reboots its virtual cinema Le Fil which started out in June this year. The Parisian institute offers master classes, courses on cinema and other special encounters next to a number of filmscreenings. Find the programme for the upcoming months here.
4. Film Festivals
Le Festival Premiers Plans joins forces with Forum des Images and LaCinetek to bring hommage to Chantal Akerman from January 27 to 31. Invited guests are Claire Atherton, Aurore Clément, Sylvie Testud, Christophe Honoré, Stanislas Merhar, Alice Leroy, and many others. Parallel with this event LaCinetek offers an additional programmation of Akerman's films. Follow the latest news on the festival on their Facebook-page.
Launched in 2016 by ARTE and Festival Scope, with the backing of Creative Europe and with the aim of showcasing and aiding the circulation of arthouse films by young Europeans, the ArteKino Festival is making its return with a 5th edition, unspooling 1 to 31 December. On the agenda are 10 feature films (coming courtesy of six women directors and five male directors) - of which five are debut works - which will all be made available online, free of charge, for up to 50,000 viewers (an average of 5,000 viewers per film), via their website and the ArteKino app. The programme will be accessible across 45 countries and in 10 languages (French, German, English, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Hungarian, Dutch).
On the website of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) you can stream hundreds of festival-selected documentary films and new media projects. In their online collection are hundreds of titles available for free. See the selection here.
SXSW has created a digital home for their short film programma. Find them here.
Cinema Tropical has compiled a list of the best Latin American Films of the decade (2010-2019), based on a poll of 97 international film festival and cinemathèque programmers. For the first 25 they also made list with the streaming platforms where they are available (please note most platforms are only available in the U.S. and Canada). Find the top 25 here and the full list here.
In March, filmmaker Kate Laine started “CABIN FEVER: Coping with COVID-19 playlist of online experimental films & videos”, an editable Google Sheet to gather experimental films that can be watched online. Google has a cap of hundred people using the document at a time, and traffic is so high that people are either not able to access the document or are getting kicked out when others try to use it. To try to minimize traffic, Kate Lain makes updated downloads of the list available on her website. You can access the editable Google Sheet here.
Open Culture lists 1150 films available to be watched online for free. The list includes a variety of films, from film noirs to comedies, from classic westerns to silent films, from films by Andrei Tarkovsky to Charlie Chaplin. Find the list here.
Many of American experimental filmmaker Ken Jacobs's films, including Little Stabs at Happiness (1960), are available to rent on his Vimeo-page.
Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski makes his documentaries available free of charge on Vimeo. Find them here.
All In This Together is a cinema-on-demand (COD) platform that offers an alternative online movie-going experience than the usual ‘browse and press-play’, common in video-on-demand (VOD) services. By not only programming the films, but also the environment in which we watch them, they explore alternatives for (film)makers who’s work exist in-between contemporary art and cinema.
In 1968, a group of French filmmakers including Jean-Luc Godard and Chris Marker crafted short, quickly made cinematic responses to the political and social upheaval that shook Paris in May of that year. Inspired in part by this project, called Cinétracts, the Wexner Center for the Arts commissioned 20 short films by filmmakers from around the world. These filmmakers include Charles Burnett, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Su Friedrich, Sky Hopinka, Rosine Mbakam and Želimir Žilnik, among others. See a complete list here, as well as interviews and essays illuminating their work.
In collaboration with UniversCine, Film Fest Gent offers a special selection of (festival) titles that you can view online. The selection is updated each month with films within a certain theme. Find the selection here.
In their Cinema Corona, Filmhuis Mechelen presents a selection of freely available films. Find it here.
ARGOS TV brings new and old works from the ARGOS collection to your personal computer, tablet, or smartphone. A film will be made available on their website regularly entirely free of charge. Check their website for the updated programme.
During this period of confinement, distributor Lumière releases new films online. More info here.
CINEMA TICK TACK in Antwerp offers screenings that you can watch and listen to from the sidewalk. Find the programme here.
Studio Skoop joins forces with Lumière to offer the films online that should have been shown in the cinemas. By watching these films on the Studio Skoop website, you support Studio Skoop to get through this difficult period.
GSARA offers a series of their (co)production in free access on their website, including Comme des lions (Françoise Davisse, 2016) and Rien ne nous est donné (Benjamin Durand, 2018).
Météorites, a French film collective organising screenings in Lyon, set up an online initiative called Cinecure in the previous lockdown period. Find their selection of freely accessible films, including Toute une nuit (Chantal Akerman, 1982) here.
The Cinematheque at the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research offers free view-at-home screenings with a program of short films entitled Film as a Subversive Art: Amos Vogel at Oberhausen. This collection of short films from the 1960s reflect the personal and eclectic tastes of NYFF founder Amos Vogel. Find the selection here.
Femspectives At Home is a feminist film club you can join from your living room. Each week, a film is choosen to watch and afterwards they meet online to discuss it in a “post-screening discussion” on Zoom. More info here.
For the Christmas holidays the city of Hasselt initiated Ciné Solidair, an online filmfestival hosted together with Z33 and Cinema ZED. Find the selection of films here.
This list will be further updated. If you notice a missing initiative, please e-mail us.