DIY Cinema Classics Film Festival with YouTube Movies (for FREE)

The original Russian and German movie posters for
Dziga Vertov's Man With A Movie Camera (1929). courtesy:
In the age of Internet copyright legislation and the question of fair use of media sources for the university classroom, there is a great deal of controversy over how student audiences access and view films online. Teaching a film studies course, I am well aware that the majority of my students download and circulate movies in less than purely legal ways. Let's just say that we live in a world that maintains a strong technological "don't ask, don't tell" environment. This is even more so the case with the recent mass closure of  video-store outlets around North America. I can count on one hand how many places I can rent a hard-to-find DVD in a 100km radius of where I live. At the same time, the growing popularity of computer tablets and network accessible HD television has transformed the software and hardware applications delivering film to audiences. That said, the increase of high quality streaming movies on demand (both from cable operators and media giants like Netflix and Amazon) has created a new and competitive environment in which to locate and screen classic cinema choices legally, and often for free.

Most recently, I have been directing students to YouTube Movies-- a relatively new arm of the popular video-sharing website that has entered into the movies on demand market with an easy to use and subscription-free interface. For those in Canada, YouTube Movies also offers the added bonus of not blocking content the way other streaming providers such as and Hulu do. While surfing through the catalog last summer, I was delighted to find a number of film gems offered through their Classics Category. Taking a closer look, many of the movies are made available through VISO Cinema (part of the consumer arm of BroadBandTV) and OpenFlix (films in the public domain or released to the public domain).

Here is a shortlist of links to some of the best classic films streaming in their entirety for free on YouTube Movies. Best of all, they look as fantastic on my Playbook as they do on my large screen HDTV. With the Academy Awards approaching this Sunday, it is a great time to set up a DIY Film Festival and begin exploring the world of classic cinema.

D.W. Griffith's Intolerance (1917)

Robert Wiene's Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) 

Charlie Chaplin's The Kid (1921)

Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Dziga Vertov's The Man With A Movie Camera (1929)