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: 22 May 2020
A new Note, with updated information, is available 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.
Re:Voir maintains a part of its activity during the period of confinement on their VOD-platform. Every day, they offer a title from their collection until March 31st. You can find the programme here and the films can be viewed here. Search for the film and enter the code STAYHOME to start playing.
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. The new streaming service offers classics and festival highlights. The first 17 Eyelet titles became available on the website of De Filmkrant; more films will be added in the coming days and weeks. An overview of the films can be found here.
More than 1200 films from the Light Cone distribution catalogue are available online on 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 is launching a new VOD platform, Cinemutins. The collection of films focuses on political cinema, social history and struggle, but not exclusively.
During the containment period, the Cinémathèque de Bretagne makes 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 is re-releasing the entire VDB TV: Decades series online free to the public. VDB TV: Decades, a five-part curated screening series exploring VDB's unique archive, casts a distinctive eye over the development of video as an art form, and was originally created as part of Video Data Bank's 40th anniversary celebrations. Each program in the series will be available for a period of two weeks, starting Friday, March 27th. Find it 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 CINEMATEK announces its collaboration with three Belgian videoplatforms: Universciné and Lumière from April 3, and Uncut from April 8. Every week, you can discover a new film at home. The programme starts with a major Belgian film: Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) by Chantal Akerman. Other films of the selection: 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 Manneken Pis (Frank Van Passel, 1995). More info on the Facebook-page of CINEMATEK.
More news from CINEMATEK: every Thursday at 3pm a silent film is streamed on the CINEMATEK Facebook-page with live piano. The initiative started with an early Charlie Chaplin: the short comedy Behind the Screen (1916), partly restored by CINEMATEK. If you can't watch it live at 3pm, you have the chance to watch it again until Sunday evening.
On April 8th, La Cinémathèque française launched Henri, its streaming service with a new film every evening for free. The programme started with Jean Epstein’s La chute de la maison Usher (1928). The films are available worldwide.
Filmmuseum München is presenting a Klaus Wyborny retrospective free of charge on Vimeo.
Starting Monday, May 25, the Filmmuseum München will begin a Mark Rappaport streaming retrospective online, free of charge.
MoMa had made its restoration of Herbert Danska's Right On! (1971), featuring the Last Poets, available online, free of charge.
3. Online Initatives
Le Cinéma Club is a free, curated platform that presents one film every Friday, available to watch for one week.
Arsenal - Institut für Film und Videokunst e.V. announced a free streaming programme until the reopening. More info 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.
Film historian and filmmaker Mark Cousisns, 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.
A selection of Barbara Hammer films is now available on Vimeo.
Each week , distributor MK2 and Three Couleurs offer you a selection of free films, by the name of MK2 Curiosity. Find the selection here.
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, Kino Slang Presents will continue its programmes online on the blog, with films presented weekly. 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 until April 12. 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.
30 films are available to view on the website of The Long Century. For the month of April they’ll be screening this series of works by past This Long Century contributors. All filmmakers donated their work, in return thet ask you donate to one of the charities mentioned on the website.
Although the theaters of Lincoln Center in New York are currently closed, their Virtual Cinema and Media Center remain open and accessible. You can find the programme of Film at Lincoln Center, including Pedro Costa's latest Vitalina Varela (2019) and a newly restored of Béla Tarr’s Sátántangó (1994) (coming on April 17), here.
Météorites, a French film collective organising screenings in Lyon, have set up an online initiative, Cinecure. Every day, a Météorites collaborator chooses a film, which becomes available at 8 pm. Find their selection, including Toute une nuit (Chantal Akerman, 1982) and La rabbia (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1963) here.
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.
Co-producer of numerous films in Europe and around the world, ARTE offers an online program dedicated to the Cannes Film Festival, whose 73rd edition is postponed sine die. On the programme, a selection of distinguished or award-winning features and shorts, including films by Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer and Gus Van Sant.
A new YouTube Channel, ‘Legacies of Brazilian Cinema’, aims to make Brazilian cinema more accessible by providing copies of classic films with English subtitles. Launched in February, the collection already comprises more than 100 titles.
In cooperation with Filmgalerie 451, the Goethe-Institut presents an online streaming programme called Goethe on Demand, a selection of films available free of charge on Vimeo until 30 June 2020.
4. Film Festivals
On the website of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) you can stream hundreds of festival-selected documentary films and new media projects. Within the Netherlands there are about 300 titles available for free. Outside the Netherlands there are almost 200. See the selection here.
The film industry has seen many events postponed and cancelled. In response to this situation, a new online short film festival entitled My Darling Quarantine started on Monday 16th March. Hosted on the platform Talking Shorts, it will help raise money for those fighting against COVID-19 and those people and events that have been affected by the situation. Every week, from Monday to Sunday, the festival will present a programme of seven short films with the audience asked to vote for their favourite short of that week. Viewers will also be encouraged to donate via the; GoFundMe page set up by MDQSFF. You can find more information on the website of Talking Shorts.
SXSW has created a digital home for their short film programma. Find them here.
Dharamshala International Film Festival presents the DIFF Viewing Room: a curated selection of DIFF alumni films available to stream for free, from anywhere in the world. Access the Viewing Room here.
Abbas Fahdel has made the two parts of his film Homeland: Iraq Year Zero available for viewing for two weeks, free of charge. You have the choice between two subtitled versions: in English and in French. Subtitled version in French: first part and second part. English subtitled version: first part and second part.
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.
On March 13, 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.
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.
Like all cinemas, KASKcinema had to close its doors. In response, they set up a virtual alternative: KASKcinema Uncut: Watching Separately Together. During their usual movie moments, they compiled an alternative film programme on the Belgian streaming platform Uncut. To access the programme, you need to create an account, which is free for the first month. Once you have an account, you can find their programme via this link.
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 free film every evening at 8:30 pm. Find their selection here.
ARGOS TV brings new and old works from the ARGOS collection to your personal computer, tablet, or smartphone. Each Friday, a film will be made available on their website, up for a week, entirely free of charge. First film is Johan Grimonprez’ Double Take (2009).
Due to the corona crisis, Docville 2020 was moved to the end of September, but the festival is already organizing a mini-edition: Docville Online. Until Thursday 2 April, you can enjoy a small selection of films from Docville 2020 at home. Virtual filmtickets are 4 euro. More info here.
Cinema RITCS put together a programme on the streaming service MUBI. Students and employees of RITCS can register for the streaming platform for free. Find their selection here.
During this period of confinement, distributor Lumière release 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.
WIELS, the centre for contemporary art in Brussels, has made a couple of films accessible on their Vimeo account, including Spectres (2011) by Sven Augustijnen and Ready-mades with Interest (2017) by Rebecca Jane Arthur, from whom Sabzian published several texts.
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).
Avila, a new Belgian video platform, is from now on 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 composed of 25 Belgian films: 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.
In anticipation of the reopening, De Cinema in Antwerp has been presenting a film every week since the beginning of May that can be watched online free of charge.
The Ann Arbor Film Festival (March 24-29) has decided to live stream this year’s festival, free of charge. Offer ends Sunday, March 29 at 11:59pm EST. Find the live stream here.
DOK.fest München is putting together a digital festival. You can find more information here.
The 51st edition of Visions du Réel will take place online from 17 April to 2 May, entirely for free. The complete programme and availability of films online will be announced on 30 March.
Ultra Dogme has decided to begin a virtual film festival. The first programme to kick off the Ultra Dogme Virtual Film Festival, premiering on March 21, is titled ‘From a Distance’ and will offer a selection of “predominantly meditative experimental shorts of worlds without people”. More info on the website of Ultra Dogme.
The Danish CPH:DOX set up an online version of the festival featuring some of the best Danish and international films and live broadcasted debates and talks. Find the selection here.
EMAF will be streaming parts of the festival programme. During the festival days from 22nd to 26th April, EMAF will be showing the short films in the International Competition. You c an find more information on their website.
Images Festival, the annual independent film and media art festival is going forward with a virtual program, streaming Thursday April 16 to Wednesday April 22 at imagesfestival.com.
In association with the international film festival Cinéma du réel – of which the the 42nd edition has been cancelled – Mediapart offers you the opportunity to see thirteen films from the Première fenêtre selection, devoted to first works of young filmmakers. And to choose your favourite. Find them here.
This list will be further updated. If you notice a missing initiative, please e-mail us.