How to Stream Thousands of Free Movies Using Your Library Card


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Stream thousands of movies for free, including hundreds of titles from the Criterion collection? And all you need is a library card? Surely it can’t be that simple, can it?

He is. Over 200 public library systems in the United States have partnered with the streaming platform Kanopy bring some 30,000 films free of charge to library card holders. Kanopy emphasizes international documentaries and films, all of which can be streamed to your computer, through a Roku box, or apps for iOS and Android phones.

Be careful, however, not to plan a mega binge-watch yet. Each library imposes its own limit on the number of free movies a single cardholder can watch each month, from three to 20 titles per card, a spokesperson for Kanopy said. Once they register their library cards with Kanopy, viewers can track how many movies they have left in the upper right corner of the onscreen interface. The limit for New York Public Library cardholders is 10 free movies per month, while the Brooklyn Public Library allows six. Outside of New York City, the Los Angeles Public Library, for example, has a limit of 10 movies.

But where to start ? First, grab your local library card, then go online and see if your agency offers Kanopy. Browse its huge catalog and use this (admittedly limited) list as a starting guide:

Kanopy has an extensive library of classic films, from silent short films to groundbreaking international feature films. (However, it doesn’t include many options from Hollywood studios.) You can choose based on genre or country of origin, but you can also browse by collection, including Criterion, which largely offers international films; Glitter aisle, which turns to silent cinema and avant-garde films; and Screaming Plant, which features an eclectic lineup of films from the 1930s to the present day.

Pather Panchali
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Satyajit Ray’s sweet 1955 drama about the daily life of a young boy growing up in rural India (Subir Banerjee) almost feels like an observational documentary as it follows the boy and his family through difficult times. The film’s naturalistic style is reflected in its two sequels, “Aparajito” and “Apur Sansar”, which retrace the boy’s life until adulthood.

A hard day’s Night
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Before music videos became all the rage in the 1980s, artists like Elvis and the Beatles experimented with feature films that also featured performances. Unlike the Elvis-as-heartthrob films, this 1964 Beatles debut film was less about the sex appeal of the Fab Four and more about the group’s eccentric personalities. Think Monty Python instead of “Jailhouse Rock”. The Beatles happily mock their image and the celebrity craze that has sprouted around them.

The naked city
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This moody noir film might not be as stylish as some of its glamorous counterparts, like “Out of the Past” or “Gilda”, but “The Naked City” is an impressive police procedure that influenced the shows. police televisions for years. Shot on location in New York – a rarity in the studio era – the film follows two detectives as they attempt to solve the murder of a former model. Their pursuit takes them to the real grubby streets of post-war New York instead of Hollywood backdrops. As the voiceover so calmly sums it up: “There are eight million stories in the naked city. This was one of them.

You could spend hours exploring Kanopy’s Criterion Collection movie selection, which includes several hundred titles. There is also more to look at in Kino Lorber, which includes silent classics and acclaimed foreign language films.

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This documentary-fiction hybrid from Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami is a gripping drama about a director and the man accused of pretending to be him in order to impress others. Kiarostami recreates the story using the real-life impersonator and the family he duped, blurring the lines between fact and fiction.

The great beauty
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In grand style, Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino (“The Young Pope”) burst onto the international film scene in 2013 with “The Great Beauty”. Channeling the works of director Federico Fellini, Sorrentino’s film follows an older man as he wanders the midst of a beautifully rendered Rome, reflecting on a life of success and high society and questioning the meaning of it all. that.

A girl comes home alone at night
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Villains, beware: the unpretentious heroine at the center of this feminist horror flick by Ana Lily Amirpour will strike back. Shot elegantly in black and white, this 2014 film centers around a vampire on a skateboard and dressed as a chador (Sheila Vand) who preys on men who hurt the women of the town of Bad City.

Because there are so many documentaries to choose from on Kanopy, the streaming service has organized its titles so that you can choose by subject or region. His PBS the offerings alone include over 700 documentaries on topics such as science, nature and history.

I’m not your nigga
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With words from an unreleased work by James Baldwin, narration by Samuel L. Jackson, and images of police brutality past and present, this raw documentary by Raoul Peck is a timely addition to the current conversation about race and rights. civilians. Peck links Baldwin’s work to the present, giving today’s events historical context in a thought-provoking and moving way.

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Drawing primarily on animated footage and testimonials from survivors, “Tower” heart-wrenchingly recreates, minute by minute, one of the deadliest school shootings in American history – in which a sniper shot dozens of students and other passers-by from a campus tower at the University of Texas at Austin in 1966.

The switches
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In it, director Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”) portrays Chicago community organization Southside CeaseFire over the course of a year as it tries to stop the escalation of gang violence. James focuses on the experiences of three peace volunteers – former gang members known as Switches – examining the emotional and sometimes personal toll of their work. This documentary is less about the outbreak of gun violence in the city and more about an in-depth look at one of the many groups trying to stop it.

Correction: August 31, 2017
An earlier version of this article misidentified the Los Angeles area library system offering Kanopy to its members. This is the Los Angeles Public Library, not the Los Angeles County Libraries.

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