There are tons of free documentaries you can watch online. Watching documentaries is a great opportunity to be inspired and learn documentary storytelling techniques.
By offering this page to you, it is in no way a suggestion that you watch pirated or illegal documentaries. As a documentary filmmaker myself (Briars in the Cotton Patch), I understand just how hard it is to make a film and it's important that filmmakers are supported so that they can continue making their films for us to watch. But often, a documentary is created and funded for the sole purpose of educating the public about an important issue. They WANT you to watch it. Or there are many other reasons why a documentary may be offered for free. For example, maybe it's an older film that's already been through the distribution process. Or maybe there is advertising next to the film.
One of the most innovative documentary distribution platforms is Vimeo. They offer a way for documentary filmmakers to showcase their films and give viewers the chance to pay a "tip". This is a win-win, where the viewer gets to watch the film and then decide later if they'd like to pay for it and support the filmmaker(s). Vimeo also offers a paid option.
Other (paid) online distribution options include Amazon and Netflix.
YouTube - You might be surprised to know that there is a huge selection of documentaries on YouTube.
PBS - One of the premiere places on the web (and on television) to watch top-of-the-line free documentaries.
Vimeo - Vimeo is one of the biggest advocates for independent filmmakers and they are constantly inventing new ways to support filmmakers and connect then with their audiences. Check out the "tip jar" option where you can watch documentaries for free and then offer a tip to the filmmaker.
SnagFilms - This is a great website that connects viewers with films and the causes they represent. The founder of SnagFilms coined the term "Filmanthropy" to capture the idea that films can be a great way to raise awareness and support for various important philanthropic causes.
Do you know of other places to watch free (legal) documentaries online? Please share below in the comment section. Thanks!
In the meantime, check out: Best Places To Watch Documentaries Online.
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