Want a streamer that feels like a virtual film school or historical museum? Here are some alternative streaming platforms that deserve your subscription.
Today, we witness the age of the pod. Armed with our smartphones, we’re able to seek knowledge, connect with other people, inhabit a virtual space, and basically just conquer the world from the comfort of our couch. We’re becoming more and more governed by algorithms, which is evident most especially in entertainment. Here, we rely on the abundance of shows that streaming platforms like Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and Apple TV+ offer us and the power of, well, VPNs.
Speaking of streamers, more often than not, audiences get bombarded with a ton of content, some of which can be thoughtless offerings, whose goal is to just get our clicks, views, and money. There’s no problem with being satisfied with the mainstream, but sometimes, the public will reasonably long for curated entertainment that gives diverse, original, and satisfying watching experiences.
It’s a good thing that on the other side of the saturated entertainment landscape, there are alternative streaming platforms that offer this and more. From the forgotten classics to underrated arthouse and indie gems, to local and educational documentaries, here are some of the streaming platforms that you should consider next.
Related: 7 Regional Film Festivals That Spotlight Filipino Creative Voices
Formerly known as The Auteurs, Mubi was established in 2007 by Turkish entrepreneur and cinephile Efe Çakarel out of frustration for not being able to watch Wong Kar Wai’s In The Mood For Love online while in a cafe in Tokyo. What comes after is a highly-curated platform that gives you handpicked cinema everyday from around the world. Not all of us can go to prestigious film festivals like Cannes, Berlinale, or the La Biennale in Venice, so Mubi brings that festival experience to you. From your phone to your tablet, even on your PlayStation, you can enjoy and discover some rare cinematic treats anytime, anywhere with Mubi.
From filmmakers like Sean Baker and Wes Anderson to other cinematic masters like Abbas Kiarostami and our very own Lav Diaz, Mubi offers you the most exciting and original new films that most of the time will never or rarely be screened in your local multiplex. Complete with a journal called Notebook and a feedback system where you can rate, review, and discuss your recent watch, Mubi feels like that coffee shop where you can talk with your tote-wielding friends about alternative endings and whatever those symbols mean in Terrence Malick’s Tree Of Life.
Criterion Channel is a product of The Criterion Collection, Inc. (also known as Criterion), an American home-video company that has been distributing and restoring classic and contemporary films since 1984. Whatever the format is, from VHS and laserdisc to DVD, Blu-ray, 4k Ultra HD, and streaming, Criterion has never wavered in its commitment to produce state-of-the-art restorations of the greatest films from all over the world. These high-quality refreshed editions are just some of over a thousand movies that its streaming library boasts. From Hollywood classics to contemporary indie masterpieces, the Criterion Channel will surely deepen your appreciation of the art of film.
Moreover, Criterion also releases a 15-minute-a-month offering called Observations on Film Art where celebrated filmmakers like Guillermo del Toro and Barry Jenkins are featured as guest curators. Through its YouTube video series, Closet Picks, Criterion also invites artists and celebrities in their little closet that’s literally a cinephile heaven. Like in this video where award-winning actress Cate Blanchett and TÁR director Todd Field make their picks from the shelves that’s stacked with DVDs. Add to that its online magazine, Current, which offers incisive critiques and film discussions with master filmmakers like Martin Scorcese himself, then Criterion Channel feels like your own film school.
There is no better time to recommend this next genre-specific streamer than this Halloween season. Founded in 2015 by AMC Networks, Shudder is a dream come true for horror fanatics who want a dedicated space for their terror-filled fantasies. Unlike other streamers out there that are heavy on the algorithm, Shudder offers a wide selection of horror movies, series, and original content that are made and curated by horror buffs themselves. From cult classics like The Exorcist and A Nightmare On Elm Street to modern international titles like The Sadness and Revenge, Shudder has a sprawling collection that will fill your horror-hungry souls.
SHORT OF THE WEEK
There are times where you just don’t have the time to gobble up a two-hour action flick but still have the energy to watch something worth your time. Short of the Week may just be the perfect place for you. Established in 2007 by Andrew Allen and Jason Sondhi, SOTW has become the launchpad and the leading platform that supports emerging filmmakers with their innovative stories told in short film format.
With films just under five minutes like this animated film about a retired frog samurai, you can enjoy world-class storytelling with convenience and get this, it’s all for free! With millions of audiences supporting the platform and its Youtube channel, SOTW has built a network of 30,000 filmmakers and has showcased 2000 short films across different genres from different parts of the world. If you’re an aspiring filmmaker who has a short film that needs exposure, you can also submit to SOTW for a chance to be viewed by millions of subscribers.
Another alternative streaming platform that supports emerging and young filmmakers is NoBudge. Since 2011, NoBudge has been the leading curatorial voice that is focused on low-budget cinema, DIY visions, alternative comedy, film festival shorts, youth culture, student films, web series, dance/music videos among other offerings. Founded by the filmmaker Kentucker Audley, the indie platform aims to spotlight independent filmmakers and artists who work with limited resources and who usually don’t have major industry connections. From comedies, documentaries, to genre-defying experimental creations, NoBudge offers a plethora of experiences that you’ve never had before.
For Filipino audiences who want to immerse themselves in educational films that spotlight Filipino culture, heritage, and history, EdukSine is just the right streaming platform. Funded by the Department of Science and Technology, EdukSine is a recent endeavor that aims to bridge the gap between independent filmmakers and its specific markets including schools, government offices, and companies and help promote films that tackle education, peace, women empowerment, violence against women and children, LGBTQIA+ rights, indigenous culture, agriculture health, environment, and gender equality among other socially relevant themes.
EdukSine, formerly Pinoy Indie Films RoadShow, started as a vision in 2015 to screen films in alternative cinemas like the UP Cine Adarna to far-flung communities in the Philippines from Cagayan to Tawi-Tawi province, and even to Philippine embassies and communities abroad. Now, EdukSine not only offers the block in schools and government offices, it also now has a hybrid streaming platform where you can watch with convenience. Through its platform that supports passionate local independent filmmakers, EdukSine’s dream is to train the younger generation to develop critical thinking and to be morally upright and responsible Filipinos.
Another local streaming platform that spotlights Philippine cinema is JuanFlix. A project of the Film Development Council of the Philippines, JuanFlix is an over-the-top platform that seeks to offer educational entertainment for both local and international film enthusiasts and filmmakers through homegrown and international offerings that foreground Filipino cinematic excellence. Formerly known as the FDCP Channel, JuanFlix will screen classics like the 1971 film Pagdating Sa Dulo by National Artist for Film Ishmael Bernal and contemporary Filipino movies like the award-winning Gusto Kita With All My Hypothalamus by Dwein Baltazar. JuanFlix will be available online this coming November 11.
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