Seeking more film festival vibes and inspiring visions in your ordinary life? If you can’t attend festivals as much as you would like to or you don’t have the luxury of small distribution in your town, some streaming websites could be a surprising and affordable solution. You just need to know where to look! The following list is for cinephiles trying to catch up movies screened at worldwide film festivals and up to dive in brave, experimental or arthouse movies, maybe obscure and underrated, directly from their couch. If you are a filmmaker considering a streaming service to spread your work, some of these websites are openly calling for entries to their growing catalogue.
I didn’t include in the list some platforms not available in the UK, as well as already well-known giants such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. They are actually offering good opportunities to independent filmmakers by giving them visibility to a broader audience (thanks to the popularity of the service itself). However, they often hide some gems in the depth of their huge libraries. Even if they have quality indie films, including some from Raindance’s past editions, these websites don’t always offer the easiest way to discover them.
What is great about the following websites, instead, has not so much to do with the quantity, but with the quality of the movies. They carefully select and highlight their contents, sometimes also through a blog or an online magazine, so they can inspire your visions and guide you inside their libraries. Let’s begin!
Scrolling MUBI‘s library feels almost like reading through a festival programme. Only 30 hand-picked arthouse films are available at once: every midnight the oldest one is removed, leaving space for a new entry. With your subscription you can rent films from their library at a discounted price, and in the UK and Ireland your MUBI subscription also includes a free cinema ticket for a hand-picked film every week with MUBI Go. What is great about MUBI is that your choice is limited by a highly curated selection, with some exclusive contents and many gradually released ‘Specials’ on directors, countries, movements and themes, that allow you to discover pure gems from all over the world. You can share lists, comment and rate movies, read their magazine and become part of a film buffs community. This month, between a series of ethnographic fictions, a focus on a couple of film festivals and a retrospective on the South Korean director Hong Sang-soo, you can also spot the striking and BIFA-winning Tyrannosaur by Paddy Considine.
Festival Scope Pro, a streaming service dedicated to film professionals, recently created a great platform for everybody to stream films from the festival circuit, some of them during their premiere by purchasing tickets, and some others from curated ‘Collections’ of past editions even for free. You have just to register and book your virtual place. The catalogue is short and very changeable, since it depends on the programme of festivals and, if you are not quick enough, the films can get sold out. This website is gold for film lovers who want to tour the world in search of undistributed films screened both at prestigious and small film festivals. You can enjoy from a distance tasty bites of Cannes, Venice, Locarno, Fribourg, Montreal and be helped in your choice by information about authors, premieres and awards.
Shudder is a platform is for horror, thriller and suspense fans, who are looking for underground, provocative and niche chilling films and TV series, both recently released and cult ones. The interface looks pretty much like Netflix, but with more gore, monsters and psychopaths in the covers. It features dozens of thematic collections, pretty specific and inspiring, such as ‘A Woman’s touch’, ‘Comedy of Terrors’, ‘Nordic Night’, ‘Diabolical Documentaries’, ‘Weird Science’, ‘Eco-Terror and Animal Attacks’, plus a few hand-picked selections by Guest Curators, currently including UK director and Raindance ex-juror Alice Lowe. In her picks there is the BIFA nominee Let the Right One In (one of our Must-watch Indie Horror Films).
For the documentary addicted, Docsville could be a little heaven. It includes independent documentaries from all over the world, roughly divided according to the subject, with a spotlight on ‘Merely remarkable’ and ‘Most popular’. First-hand perspectives from Africa, Asia and South America enrich the more expected American and British works. It could be challenging to choose a film, because, unlike other streaming services, this one briefly presents the movies, without particularly categorising them or highlighting their quality or recognitions. If you look closely on the covers, you can spot laurels and pick acclaimed documentaries premiered in film festivals, but you also may try totally undiscovered films about attractive topics and let be guided by your instinct and your curiosity.
IndiePix is an independent film distribution and streaming service which offers a remarkable collection of award-winning films from the festival circuit around the world. Key words are ‘visionary, universal and daring’: in these highly-curated selection you can find many gems with a stress on global issues, such as ‘Women’s Empowerment’, ‘African/Diaspora’ and ‘Eye-opening Docs’, or feature films that celebrate diversity and provide distinctive stories. If you could be interested in a post-apocalyptic, Surrealist science-fiction romance from Ethiopia, this is the place for you. A brilliant experimental psychological thriller premiered at Raindance, Exhibit A. by Dom Rotheroe, is currently in the library. Pay attention, filmmakers: IndiePix is looking for top-quality films and it openly calls to submit your own movie.
Great global cinema on demand is available on the BFI Player, which allows you to rent, purchase a subscription or explore its archive for free, including some alluring collections. The quality of films is unquestionable, they are generally acclaimed classical movies with a distribution already, but also independent titles or collections, such as ‘Classic American Indie’, which includes some great directorial debuts and powerful, political, provocative or eccentric films, such as the electrifyig drama Heaven Kows What by Joshua Safdie or the daring look at the anatomy of America war-making of Why We Fight by Eugene Jarecki.
SnagFilms is a totally free streaming service with some ads, but, most importantly, a suprisingly good offer of movies, with a wide selection of documentaries and nicely organised collections, such as ‘Celebrating Pride’, ‘Before they were stars’, ‘Festival Favourites’, ‘Politics’, plus a ‘Global Lens’ on many different countries. Lots of gems from Sundance Film Festival, such as the controversial indie drama L.I.E., by Michael Cuesta and Kinyarwanda by Alrick Brown on the Rwandan genocide, or the the BIFA-winning Broken, by Rufus Norris.
Proudly striking the accent on “independent thinking”, as its tagline states, IndieFlix is the Netflix for brave explorers of obscure independent cinema. Less selective than other similar services, it has a huge library and the quality could not always be guaranteed, but the offer is very rich and you can consider the featured staff picks or read their blog if you do not know where to start. Every genre is well represented and there is a collection called ‘Social Impact’ for committed documentaries. If you are thinking to spread your work on a streaming platform, IndieFlix could be a nice option.