Skip to main content

Streaming Video at the Library: Streaming Feature Films

Use this guide to learn more about the streaming videos in the Library's collection and how to use them, including terminology, technical requirements, platforms, packages and more.

Feature Films from Swank Digital Campus

The Simmons Library currently streams a number of feature films on the Digital Campus platform provided by Swank as well as the Criterion Collection/Janus Films Collection, First Run Features, and Music Box Films collections on Kanopy. For information about additional sources of streaming feature films, including both free and pay options, see the Finding Media guide.

The collection of streaming feature films available to the Simmons community via Swank varies by academic year. Search the Digital Campus catalog to see if a film is available to order from Swank. Then click the link below to see if the library currently has the streaming version of an individual title or contact a librarian to request the streaming version of another feature film.

Other Streaming Feature Film Platforms

Criterion Collection/Janus Films, First Run Features & Music Box Films on Kanopy

The Simmons Library provides access to classic streaming feature films, including a wide array of classic Hollywood and foreign films, from the Criterion Collection/Janus Films and First Run Features on the Kanopy Platform.

Click the Kanopy logo to be taken to its main page, or search Kanopy's collection of streaming videos directly from the box on this page.

About Feature Films

Why are streaming feature films more difficult for libraries to provide?  There are a number of factors that make streaming feature films more complicated than documentaries. Below are some of the main issues involved in streaming feature films:

  • Distributors of documentary films have been providing their products to educational institutions for a long time and have adapted their formats as technology has progressed.  That means that while there are a wide variety of streaming documentary platforms currently available, there is only one major platform for streaming most feature films, especially recent titles--Digital Campus by Swank.
  • Documentary films are often funded and distributed by nonprofit organizations, including many that receive grant funding from organizations like the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation and others.  Feature films are funded and distributed by for-profit corporations.  That means that, even when films are made available to institutions, they cost far more to obtain than documentaries.  At Simmons, as well as many other colleges and universities, the costs associated with streaming individual feature films limits the number of those films that can be made available in any given semester.
  • Streaming documentary films offer a number of options for purchase or subscription. However, streaming feature films can only be leased on a semester-by-semester or academic year basis.  Therefore, unlike purchasing a DVD that has a fixed price that is paid only once, streaming feature film leases have to be renewed every year at the same (or often higher) price, which has the same impact as re-buying the same DVD every semester.
  • The feature film industry is highly competitive and distributors don't always want to make their films available to third-party providers like Swank. That means that both Swank and Kanopy, while providing films from a fairly large number of distributors, still won't be able to provide every title we might want and may lose the rights to titles when distribution agreements expire.  For example, HBO has its own streaming platform (HBO GO), which is available to HBO subscribers only.  Content created especially for HBO is rarely available on any other streaming platform.
  • Streaming foreign-language feature films can be particularly complicated, since distribution channels are fragmented and relatively few titles are officially released in the United States.  If a title hasn't been officially released in the US, no US-based distributor can make it available to us in any format.
  • The feature film industry is extremely concerned about issues of copyright and piracy.  This concern makes it even more reluctant to provide streaming films to student populations.

This is only a brief summary of some of the issues involved in streaming feature films at the library.  If you have any other questions or want to talk more about how or what you can stream, please let us know and we'll get right back to you!