Today marks the first day of a new streaming service, Ovid.tv, a film access platform combining the efforts of eight U.S. independent film distributors.  The new service is one effort to fill the gap left behind by the demise of FilmStruck, a favorite of cinephiles that was closed down by AT&T after acquiring Time Warner.  Initial film distributors providing content to Ovid.tv include First Run Features, Women Make Movies, Bullfrog Films, The dGenerate Films Collection, Distrib Films US, Grasshopper Film, Icarus Films, and KimStim, with more companies expected to add content to the service.  The goal of the platform is to provide North American viewers access to thousands of titles not yet available on other streaming platforms.  Initial content includes several of filmdom’s best documentaries, and on Day One more than 350 films are available for immediate streaming.

In a trial run of the platform, we immediately took in a screening of the award-winning film 56 Up, which has been called the greatest use ever for the film medium.  It’s simply one of the best dramas ever captured on-screen.  We reviewed it seven years ago here at borg, and now is a perfect time to screen the film for the first time, or to watch it again, as director/producer Michael Apted has recently wrapped the next segment in the film series, 63 Up, expected to be released later this year.  We also found The Penguin Counters streaming on Ovid.tv, a great film previously reviewed here at borg.  Social issues, auteur filmmakers, and foreign and domestic art house features fill out the initial round of content, including the works of filmmakers like Chantal Akerman, Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Patricio Guzman, Heddy Honigmann, Chris Marker, Ross McElwee, Bill Morrison, Raoul Peck, Jean Rouch, Wang Bing, and Travis Wilkerson.  Works of others are expected to be added in the coming months, from the likes of Bi Gan, Pedro Costa, Claire Denis, Bruno Dumont, Cheryl Dunye, Philippe Garrel, Nikita Mikhalkov, Eric Rohmer, Raul Ruiz, Dominga Sotomayor, and Jean-Marie Straub.

Notable fiction features available today include the independent production mystery I, Anna, starring Charlotte Rampling and Gabriel Byrne, the Japanese horror film Creepy by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, the award-winning The Widowed Witch by Cai Chengjie, and Shoehei Imamura’s 1967 film, A Man Vanishes.


According to Ovid.tv, new films will be added approximately every two weeks, with 14 fiction feature films and one 10-part documentary series scheduled for release between now and April 5 (see the Ovid.tv website here for details).  New subscribers can sign-up for a free 7-day trial period, after which the cost is $6.99 per month, or a reduced rate of $69.99 for an annual commitment.  Currently the service is only available in the U.S., but access in Canada will be added later this year.  Ovid.tv is initially only available via web browser, iOS device like iPhone or iPad, and Android device, but it will be available on Roku, Apple TV, and Fire TV within the next 90 days.  Sign up for your trial now at Ovid.tv.

According to Icarus Films president Jonathan Miller, director of the coalition of film distributors for the platform, “The time for this kind of partnership is now.  As the streaming giants focus on generating fast-turnaround new content, this coalition will offer new access to high-quality catalogs found nowhere else, featuring some of the most celebrated filmmakers and films in the canon.”

Key subjects from the service include New York Times Critics’ Picks, black and white cinema, films with notable soundtracks, film festival favorites, and focuses on nature, Africa, Asia, and women.

Ovid.tv is named for the first century B.C. Roman poet, who authored iconic poems including the memorable Metamorphoses.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg

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