For all those who are curious about or unaware of the wealth of world cinema history and what’s accessible easily online, there are 1000s of hidden gems from various international film studios and archives that are only a few clicks away and free of charge. Below are introductions to three sources and we'll add more here over the next few weeks.


The oldest and largest Russian film studio, Mosfilm's output has included the films of Andrei Tarkovsky and Sergei Eisenstein, Red Westerns, Akira Kurosawa's Dersu Uzala, and Sergei Bondarchuk's War and Peace. The Mosfilm YouTube channel includes a changing selection of films, free to stream, many with English subtitles. One of the most interesting titles streaming right now is Vladimir Motyl’s White Sun of the Desert from 1970, part of the Red Westerns season at LIFF 2003 and one of the most popular films of all time in Russia. It’s a lively comedy thriller about a demobbed soldier caught up in a desert fight between a Red Army cavalry unit and Basmachi guerrillas on the Eastern shores of the Caspian Sea. It was regularly watched for good luck by cosmonauts preparing for space launches.

Korean Film Archive

We’d also recommend the Korean Film Archive's YouTube channel, full of high quality, English-subtitled films to stream for free from the lesser known period of Korean film history leading up to the new wave of the 1990s when the films started to be shown more often internationally. After the runaway success of Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite, it’s interesting to explore his generation’s influences including Bong’s own favourite, Kim Ki Young, many of whose films are on the channel, from moving Second World War drama The Sea Knows (1961) to tight psychological thriller Woman of Fire (1971). Other key twentieth century filmmakers represented include Im Kwon Taek, his 1981 masterpiece Mandala is available, a thoughtful drama about an encounter between two very different Buddhist monks. Kim Soo Young is another great director and his bittersweet romantic drama Mist from 1967 is another Korean classic streaming now.

National Film Board of Canada

There are also over 4000 films available to stream for free on the website of National Film Board of Canada or on their apps for tablets or smartphones. Canadian cinema is particularly strong for documentaries and animation, many of which have been selected in previous editions of LIFF. Check out Qallunaat! Why White People Are Funny from LIFF’s Arctic Encounters season in 2015, an irreverent Inuit film, turning the tables on the white anthropologists. 2008 film Carts of Darkness is also an entertaining challenge to conventions, following a group of homeless people who invent a new extreme sport, racing shopping carts down the steep streets of North Vancouver. For animation, try the existential stop motion night train journey in Madame Tutli-Putli from 2007.

Film images clockwise from top left: White Sun of the Desert, Woman of Fire, Carts of Darkness, Madame Tutli-Putli.