Stay at home: Viewing and reading suggestions

Stay at home, please.

I have been working from home for just over a week. My place of work had announced its impending closure earlier today, but I expect to still be working from home (rather than getting through my TBR pile) for the foreseeable as many of the services that my team support are either already online or will be adapted for delivery in that format. Anyhow, as it now (finally) looks like a whole lot more of us in the UK will be indoors, I thought I’d start compiling a list of things to watch / read online for free (or minimal cost). I’m going to divide things into Viewing and Reading (I may add Listening if I have time to get into podcasts), and then add links in alphabetical order as and when I encounter them.

[Last updated: 03/04/20]


10 Years with Hayao Miyazaki – VOD. Four-part documentary about the creator of Studio Ghibli’s best-loved films. If you’ve been watching them on Netflix, time to meet the man behind the magic. Streaming on a Japanese platform for free, and appears to have subtitles in nine different languages.

The 100 Best Films Streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime – compiled on the BFI site, and looks like it will be updated regularly.

Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival – The 10th edition will take place entirely online as a free worldwide stream between 1st-3rd May. The full schedule for individual films (shorts and features) can be found here. I’ve already made a note to make sure that I’m online to catch Jonathan Perel’s Corporate Accountability.

Chili – VOD. Not a platform that I’ve heard a lot about but they have individual titles (including films recently in UK cinemas) available for digital rental, and although they don’t appear to have much in the way of World Cinema, they do have a fairly substantial documentary section.

Doc Alliance – VOD. Subscribe for 6€/month. A vast catalogue of documentaries (including shorts) from around the world (there are often multiple versions of the same film, each with subtitles in a different language). They have recently added a strand of documentaries for children, and also seem to have branched into fiction films from Eastern Europe (I can see films by Miloš Forman, Jan Němec, and Věra Chytilová, among others, in the menu).

Festival Scope – VOD. Frequently hosts the online presence for various film festivals – films can either be rented individually, in batches with a discount, or sometimes for free. It has currently (until 5th April) got a selection of documentaries from Cinéma du réel available for free, but it will be worth checking back in the future to see whether cancelled festivals attempt to put any titles online. [UPDATE: I’ll add any new festivals available on the platform separately to this list]

Fribourg International Film Festival – VOD. The festival has a selection of features and shorts from their International section available for free on Festival Scope from 30th March – 19th April.

The Globe Player – VOD. The Globe Theatre is going to make six of its previous productions available for free streaming, each for two weeks at a time. They also have other free content on their site.

Korean Film Archive YouTube Channel – VOD. Korean films put online for free by the national film archive (English subtitles are available – at least on the selection that I’ve browsed through).

Márgenes – VOD. This is the platform that hosts the Festival Márgenes every year. There are geographical restrictions on some titles (including the newly-added Hamada and La ciudad oculta – both recommended if you have access), but a lot can be rented for a couple of euros. The bulk of their catalogue is effectively independent Spanish-language cinema, including quite a few of the ‘Otro cine español’ titles that I’ve written about in the past. Explore!

The National Theatre at Home – Streaming. Every Thursday at 7pm (GMT), the National Theatre will stream one of their live productions for 7 days on YouTube for free.

Panda cam (other animals/birds can be chosen from the main navigation bar) – filmed in nature reserves, national parks, and zoos. A whole lot more relaxing than the news.

Spanish shorts – courtesy of Cinemaattic, who are intending to link to a Spanish short (with English subtitles) on their website every day for the next 90 days. Week One already includes films by Daniel Sánchez Arévalo (with his habitual cast members, Antonio de la Torre and Raul Arévalo) and Ni Dios ni Santa María by Samuel M. Delgado and Helena Girón (which I’ve previously reviewed). As I’ve said multiple times before, Spain has an excellent track record with shorts, so there are sure to be gems included.

Visions du Réel – The festival will conduct its 51st edition entirely online and for free, 17th April – 2nd May. The full programme is due to be announced on 30th March. UPDATE: The programme is here, and it looks crammed with interesting films.



The Big Issue – The homeless population (ever expanding in recent years thanks to austerity and other government policies) are especially vulnerable to the pandemic, and The Big Issue‘s vendors will not be encountering customers during lockdown. Most of the magazine’s income comes from those street sales; they are asking people to show their support by either buying a digital copy, taking out a three month subscription, or making a one-off donation, to help them cover costs (and continue to support their vendors) during the lockdown and its aftermath.

Diverted Traffic – a new newsletter from the London Review of Books that each day releases an archive article from behind their paywall.

The Pudding – a ‘digital publication that explains ideas debated in culture through visual essays’. Among their greatest hits: Rappers, sorted by the size of their vocabulary; Women’s pockets are inferior; Colorism in high fashion.

Translated Fiction Online Book Club – Six UK independent presses who specialise in translated fiction (Peirene Press, Charco Press (who have some excellent Latin American titles in their catalogue), Comma Press, Istros Books, Nordic Books, and Tilted Axis Press are starting an online book club, which will involve live discussion and interviews with authors and translators. Details of the books selected can be found here.

Virtual Book Channel – from LitHub. Interviews, book launches, and more.

Weekly Film Bulletin – sign up for a new weekly email of feature writing and VOD recommendations from Sight & Sound.