Small Screen Berkeley: Less obvious, but no less good, films to stream while sheltering

There’s a treasure trove of movies to stream at home if you know where to look — and luckily for us our film writer does!

The Animation Show of Shows. Photo: Courtesy Ron Diamond

It’s been a few weeks since last we met, and by now you’ve probably worked your way through the dense thickets of British and Korean cinema towards which I previously directed you. Is there anything else out there to help you wile away the countless hours between now and who knows when? Why, yes there is.

The Animation Show of Shows has been a regular event for decades, and producer and creator Ron Diamond has made four of the recent shows available for streaming. Having viewed one of them (the 2018 edition, to be precise) I can confirm that the shorts on offer are well made, well selected and well sequenced (the films can be viewed independently, but Mr. Diamond recommends watching them in the intended order).

Highlights from 2018’s compendium include Alain Biet’s Grands Canons, a memorable paean to common household appliances; John Kahrs’ charming and lovely to look at The Age of Sail; and Anch Chen’s Barry, a timely salute to a medical genius who happens to be a goat.

Kino Lorber is one of the nation’s foremost theatrical and home video distributors, and during our current crisis they’re offering free streaming of Carolyn Jones’ 2014 documentary The American Nurse. If you’re feeling kindly towards our doctors and nurses — and if you aren’t, what’s wrong with you? —  check out this outstanding documentary. Warning: unless your children are interested in C-sections or the proper cleaning and dressing of open wounds, you may want to watch this one alone.


If international cinema is your thing, I’ve just discovered some new streaming options (hat-tip to the excellent Movies Silently website, owned and operated by the tireless Fritzi Kramer). Henri is an affiliate of the world famous Cinematheque — Henri Langlois’s priceless contribution to the cinematic arts—- and is providing access to many of the rarities in its possession. Films change on a daily basis — as I write this, three Jean Epstein shorts are on offer — so check back frequently.

How about Finnish cinema? Yes, there’s more to it than Aki Kaurismäki, and not only does Elonet offer dozens of Finnish features from the silent era to the modern day — it offers many of them with English subtitles! The poster art accompanying each of these unfamiliar titles is especially enticing.

Himmelskibet. Photo: Courtesy Stumfilm

You won’t get (or need) any subtitles at Stumfilm, which showcases approximately 400 Danish silent films produced between 1897 and 1928. The website itself is largely in English, and I haven’t explored far enough to know whether or not the films include English inter-titles, but they’re largely unavailable elsewhere — and many are comedies that probably don’t require much in the way of translation.

Another incredible online resource is the European Film Gateway, which (to quote their ‘About’ page) “gives you quick and easy access to hundreds of thousands of film historical documents as preserved in European film archives and cinémathèques: photos, posters, programmes, periodicals, censorship documents, rare feature and documentary films, newsreels and other materials.” It’s a true treasure trove aimed more at the scholar than the dilettante, brimming over with fascinating clips, shorts, and scans. Happy streaming, and I’ll be back with more soon!