SnagFilms: The Great Doc Distro

Brian Allen Anderson

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SnagFilms launched in beta last week, and just may be my new favorite thing/distraction. A platform for “the world’s most compelling documentaries, whether from established heavyweights or first-time filmmakers,” SnagFilms offers some 250 full-length documentary films (with new titles added daily) for immediate, hi-res streamed playback. No downloads, no low-res letdowns. Glorious.Browsing SnagFilms is a breeze, too. Viewers with an idea of what they’re looking for can search titles topically (campus, environment, health, history, etc). More adventurous types can peruse the A-Z listing. Never has finding documentary films about rejected film scripts (Dreams on Spec), the plight of the honeybee (Every Third Bite), feminist Buddhism on the India-Tibet border (Sisters of Ladakh), or an extraordinary Holocaust education project in a Tennessee middle school (Paper Clips) been so easy, entertaining, and informative.But SnagFilms doesn’t stop there. Trumpeting the motto “Find. Watch. Snag. Support.,” SnagFilms propounds a broader mission, a viewer-engagement-based aim that activates its free-flick allure. Each title is available in a widget, allowing viewers, bloggers, social-networkers and others to pull (“snag”) films to embed into their own e-spaces. By promoting such globalized e-theatres, SnagFilms “encourages users to engage with the films’ issues and supporter communities.” Says founder Ted Leonsis:There has never been a time when so many high-quality socially relevant documentary films have been made, yet even though tens of thousands of documentaries are submitted to film festivals every year, only a handful find theatrical distribution. SnagFilms was created so that anyone who has a website, publishes a blog, or participates in a social network can open an online multiplex theater, giving others an opportunity to watch one or more of the films we’ll stream, to distribute these films by snagging them for their own sites, and to support the causes promoted by these films by linking to participating nonprofits.

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