Article: COVID-19: Online independent title opportunities for FAN members

If you’re missing the opportunity to talk to and curate for your audiences, BFI FAN have some online opportunities that you can use in order to continue engaging with your audience.

Toki Allison (Inclusive Cinema) & Jo Taylor (Freelance Exhibition & Distribution Marketer) have compiled an eclectic list (the full list is available here) of online indie film recommendations, including new releases, festival programmes, archives as well as digital guides to help FAN members get started. We’ve added a £ symbol where there is a charge associated, but most of the content is available for free.

This resource will be updated fairly regularly, so do check back, and if you’ve got things you’d like to see on here, or if there’s more information that would be useful, or corrections to make, let us know.

Alternatively, Claire Vaughan has put together a list of films that are free to watch in the UK.

Indie Releases (new)

System Crasher

Dir: Nora Fingscheidt

On her wild quest for love, 9-year-old Benni’s untamed energy drives everyone around her to despair. She is small, but dangerous. Wherever Benni ends up, she is immediately expelled. The wild 9-year-old girl has already become what child protection services call a “system crasher”. Profoundly affected by childhood trauma, Benni is by turns bright, funny and charming, but can flip at any moment into terrifying violent outbursts. Curzon Home Ent, BFI Player, MUBI, Vimeo On Demand  £ 

Get in touch with foster care or youth mental health groups and invite them to lead a conversation around the themes in the film. FAN’s marketing pack has film info, ideas and links to relevant groups. 

The Perfect Candidate

Dir: Haifaa Al-Mansour

Director Haifaa Al-Mansour (‘Wadjda’, ‘Mary Shelley’) returns with this fiery and headstrong drama, Maryam is an ambitious young doctor working in a small town clinic in Saudi Arabia. Despite her qualifications, she has to earn the respect of male colleagues and acceptance from her patients every day. Curzon Home Cinema, BFI Player, Great Modern Things (closed captions and audio description available) £ 

Can you spark a discussion about feminism, and the different experiences across the world? Set a few points or provocations and let your audience respond. This title could prove an interesting follow-up to Permission.


Dir: Lorcan Finnegan

Nominated for the Critics’ Week Grand Prize at Cannes 2019. Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) are looking for a home to buy. That’s how they end up in Yonder, a suburbia in which all properties appear the same, but have yet to be occupied. It’s only when they try to leave that the couple suspect things are not what they seem. – iTunes, Amazon, Sky Store, Curzon Home Cinema, BFI Player, Virgin, Google Play, Rakuten, BT, Playstation Store & Microsoft Store  £ – release: 27 March

the Perfect Candidate - woman speaks on stage, smiling, Vivarium - a couple talk to an official man in a hallway, System Crasher - girl wears many sensors attached to her head

The Ponds

Dir: Patrick McLennan & Samuel Smith

In a world of constant flux and chaos, it’s almost a shock to discover some experiences remain natural, unhurried and unchanged. In the middle of metropolitan London lies Hampstead Heath, 320 hectares of forest, parkland, wildlife plus three swimming ponds. People swim in them all year round, whatever the weather. Curzon Home Cinema  £ – release: 30 March

Take a look at Outdoor Swimming UK and find a club local to you and ask them to host an Q&A online.

Knives Out 

Dir: Rian Johnson

Nominated for the 2020 BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay. Taking a break from helming Star Wars, director Rian Johnson convenes a ridiculous collection of stars in the drawing room for this foul-mouthed and bloody reimagining of an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery. Curzon Home Cinema, iTunes, Prime Video, TalkTalk TV, Virgin Movies, eir Vision Movies, Rakuten TV, Google Play, Sky Store, BFI Player  £ Release: 30 March

Could you set up a digital whodunnit, with clues across the internet and a set time for your audience to find the “killer”?

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am 

Dir. Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

From her childhood in the steel town of Lorain, Ohio to ‘70s-era book tours with Muhammad Ali, rom the front lines with Angela Davis to her own riverfront writing room, Toni Morrison leads an assembly of her peers, critics and colleagues on an exploration of race, America, history and the human condition as seen through the prism of her own literature. – iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Virgin Store, Sky Store and YouTube

Why not create an online session where your audience can read from their favourite Morrison works?


Dir: Kasi Lemmons

The extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes, whose courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history. – iTunes, Prime Video, TalkTalk TV, Virgin Movies, eir Vision Movies, Rakuten TV, Google Play, Sky Store, BFI Player  £ 

How about having a conversation about what it takes to be a hero, and how we can be modern day heroes?


Dir. Jeanie Finlay

One trans man’s pioneering quest to fulfil an age-old desire: to start his own family. This is the story of the dad who gave birth. Freddy is 30 and yearns to start a family but for him this ordinary desire comes with unique challenges. He is a gay transgender man. Vimeo on Demand £

Honey Boy

Dir. Alma Har’el

For documentarian Alma Har’el’s (Bombay Beach, LoveTrue) first fiction feature Honey Boy she collaborated with actor and performance artist Shia LaBeouf, working from his original autobiographical screenplay. Written in part as a therapeutic exercise during a stint in rehab, Honey Boy depicts LaBeouf’s intense, chaotic relationship with his father from childhood to young adulthood, lightly fictionalised with characters renamed. Amazon Prime £

The Whalebone Box 

Dir: Andrew Kötting

THE WHALEBONE BOX is a film about a whale bone box. A box made of whale bone. Entangled in a fisherman’s net and washed up on a remote beach in the Outer Hebrides. Once touched the box can change lives. – MUBI  £ 

Calm with Horses (Out on 27th April)

Dir: Nick Rowland

Cosmo Jarvis (Lady Macbeth) and BAFTA nominee Barry Keoghan (The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Dunkirk), two of the UK and Ireland’s fastest-rising stars, go head-to-head in director Nick Rowland’s gripping feature debut. In dark rural Ireland, ex-boxer Arm (Cosmo Jarvis) has become the feared enforcer for the drug-dealing Devers family, while at the same time desperate to be a good father to his autistic five-year-old son. Torn between these two families, Arm’s loyalties are tested when he is asked to kill for the first time. – iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Sky Store, Virgin Media, Talk Talk, BT TV, Curzon Home Cinema, BFI Player, Rakuten TV and Volta  £

Indie Releases (already online)

The Peanut Butter Falcon

Dir. Tyler Nilson and Michael Shwartz

Effortlessly charming buddy movie about a young man with Down’s syndrome (Zack Gottsagen) in pursuit of his dreams, with Shia LaBeouf. BFI Player, Curzon Home Ent, Amazon Prime  £

After your screening, why not reach out to your audiences and local Downs Syndrome groups to post their video reviews of the film, and share these on social media? Check out FAN’s marketing pack for copy, links and further resources to help promote your screening. 

For Sama

Dir: Waad Al-Kateab

For Sama is both an intimate and epic journey into the female experience of war. A love letter from a young mother to her daughter, the film tells the story of Waad al-Kateab’s life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria as she falls in love, gets married and gives birth to Sama, all while cataclysmic conflict rises around her.

Her camera captures incredible stories of loss, laughter and survival as Waad wrestles with an impossible choice– whether or not to flee the city to protect her daughter’s life, when leaving means abandoning the struggle for freedom for which she has already sacrificed so much. Channel 4


Dir: Nadine Labaki

In a courtroom a young boy named Zain (Zain Al Rafeea) stands before a judge. He asks to sue his own
parents for giving him life. The turn of events that have brought him to this point take us on a journey
through his poverty stricken upbringing in Beirut where he lives with his family. Forced to live by his wits in order to survive, his life reaches a turning point when his parents make an unforgiveable deal that will see his younger sister married off. Left distraught by this terrible turn of events, Zain takes to the road.

Whilst looking for work at a fairground he befriends a young woman who is working illegally as a cleaner and helps to look after her adorable one-year-old baby Jonas. Zain and Jonas form a touching double act but things are about to get much more complicated when a set of circumstances force Zain to make choices that will have huge ramifications. Curzon Home Cinema, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Player


Dir: Wanuri Kahiu

With beautiful scenes connected through shades of fuchsia and violet, reflecting the femininity of the characters, this gentle film follows the development of love between two young women. Set against the backdrop of the bustling streets of Nairobi, the two very different girls must choose between love and safety surrounded by insular gossip, local politics and burgeoning maturity. Their magnetic pull draws us into a queer Romeo and Juliet romance, as they try to hide their relationship from their politically opposing fathers.

Directed by Wanuri Kahiu, part of a strong cohort of Kenyan female filmmakers, Rafiki was the first Kenyan film to be included in the Un Certain Regard section in Cannes and was then controversially banned from being shown in Kenya by the Kenya Film Classification Board. Curzon Home Cinema, BFI Player, Channel 4

The Big Meeting

Dir: Daniel Draper

Every second Saturday in July the city of Durham is taken over by miners, trade-unions and the public for an event known locally as ‘The Big Meeting.’ The Durham Miners’ Gala is an annual celebration of noise, colour and solidarity, of class culture, creativity and endeavour. Follow four protagonists over the course of this impressive working-class occasion. Vimeo On Demand  £

Get an artist to run an online workshop where your audience can make their own banner for their family or community. Give everyone a list of materials to gather from their regular home supplies and get creative!


Dir: Soheil Beiraghi

Afrooz is the captain of Iran’s women’s Futsal National Team. After eleven years of hard work, her dream becomes reality, she will be leading her team in the Women’s Asia Cup Final. Upon going through security at the Tehran airport, she finds that her husband, a famous television host, has banned her from exiting the country. – Vimeo On Demand  £

The Big Meeting - tapestry parade, Permission - muslim woman close-up, The Peanut Butter Falcon - man with Downs Syndrome and friend on a boat

Erase and Forget

Dir: Andrea Luka Zimmmerman

Charting ‘the deep bonds between Hollywood’s fictionalized conflicts and America’s hidden wars’, Andrea Luka Zimmerman’s ERASE AND FORGET is a new investigative documentary which charts the extraordinary life and times of Bo Gritz, one of America’s highest decorated veterans and the ‘inspiration’ for Rambo and Brando’s Colonel Kurtz. – Vimeo On Demand  £

The Host

Dir: Miranda Pennell

A filmmaker turns forensic detective as she pieces together hundreds of photographs in search of what she believes to be a buried history, only to find herself inside the story she is researching. The Host investigates the activities of British Petroleum (BP) in Iran; a tale of power, imperial hubris and catastrophe. – Vimeo On Demand  £

Could your audience put together their own photo diaries? You could bring everyone together for a chat to talk through their personal stories online. Or maybe they could tweet their albums online using #PhotoStoryTheHost

Princess Mononoke

Dir: Hayao Miyazaki

On a journey to find the cure for a Tatarigami’s curse, Ashitaka finds himself in the middle of a war between the forest gods and Tatara, a mining colony. In this quest he also meets San, the Mononoke Hime. – Netflix  £

Spirited Away

Dir: Hayao Miyazaki

During her family’s move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and spirits, and where humans are changed into beasts. – Netflix  £

Ghibli is the perfect way to get young audiences engaged in animation. Set an animation task after the film, and encourage your young people to submit their own Ghibli characters to you on Instagram.

Could you get in touch with neurodiversity champions and autism groups in your area to invite them to join online? Take a look at our guide to autism-friendly screenings and do what you can to adapt your online screening to meet the needs of autistic audiences.


Dir: Darren Aronofsky

A paranoid mathematician searches for a key number that will unlock the universal patterns found in nature. Check out this groundbreaking early Aronofsky title. – Amazon Prime  £

And Then We Danced

Dir: Levan Atkin

Merab’s world is turned upside down by the arrival of a new dancer in this impassioned Cannes-winning love story. – Peccadillo Player (Vimeo On Demand)Curzon Home CinemaBFI PlayeriTunes  £


Dir: Deniz Gamze Ergüven

In a Turkish village, five orphaned sisters are kept under strict lock and key by their aunt and uncle after an entirely innocent encounter with a group of boys. As marriages start being arranged, the sisters, driven by the same desire for freedom, rebel against the limitations imposed upon them. – MUBI  £  – until 7 April


Dir: Kleber Mendonça Filho & Juliano Dornelles

Bacurau, a settlement in rural Brazil, is shaken by its matriarch’s death. But something strange is happening, the water supply has been cut off, and the village has disappeared from satellite maps completely. Under threat from an unknown enemy, Bacurau braces itself for a brutal fight for survival. – MUBI  £  – until 18 April


Dir: Alla Kovgan

This eye-popping portrait of great American choreographer Merce Cunningham celebrates the centenary of his birth. – iTunes, Amazon, Sky Store, Curzon Home Cinema, Google Play, BFI Player and Microsoft Store £ 

Could you reach out to a local choregrapher/dancer to lead a beginners workshop over Facebook Watch / Zoom? Also check out Merce Cunningham Trust YouTube channel for rehearsal videos your audience could follow.

The Street

Dir: Zed Nelson

The working-class community of Hoxton Street face the upheavals of gentrification, austerity and the eruption of Brexit, in this portrait of a rapidly changing London. – iTunes, Prime Video, TalkTalk TV, Virgin Movies, eir Vision Movies, Rakuten TV, Google Play, Sky Store, BFI Player  £

Some great possibilities for discussions about gentrification here – could be an interesting follow-up for audiences who were interested in themes arising out of Mark Jenkins’ Bait.

Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat

Dir: Sara Driver

Filmmaker Sara Driver’s exploration of the pre-fame years of the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, offers a window into his life and the City of New York, 1978-81, illustrating how the city, the times and the people around him informed the artist he became and shaped his vision. – BFI PlayerAmazon PrimeiTunes £  

Could you reach out to a local artist to lead a Basquiat creative workshop – artistic or musical? Your audience could share their responses on social media with #Samo

Dirty God

Dir: Sacha Polak

Dirty God is a portrait of a woman with incredible resilience. Jade is no passive victim; she makes her own choices – good or bad – and deals with the consequences. Polak’s first English-language feature is controlled and subtle, without the director surrendering any of her typical intensity. Newcomer Vicky Knight, who was badly burned as a child, is a genuine revelation in a powerful lead performance. – BFI PlayerGreat Modern Things  £ 

1917: War Above The Trenches

Dir: Stephen Saunders

Reconstructing stories from the real-life letters, diaries and interviews of World War 1 veterans through stunning VFX and exclusive access to replica aircrafts, explore the incredible true story of the Royal Flying Corps’ struggle for air superiority over the Western Front like never before. – iTunes, Amazon, Google, Sky  £ 

Theatre Screenings

As well as films, a number of theatrical productions are also screening for free. If you audience enjoys the likes of the National Theatre Live, here are some upcoming releases that might interest them.

Verdi’s MacBeth

Soprano Anna Netrebko created a sensation when she made her Met role debut as Lady Macbeth in 2014, opposite baritone Željko Lučić in the title role. Now, the two stars reunite to reprise their acclaimed portrayals in Verdi’s gripping Shakespeare adaptation. Marco Armiliato conducts a standout cast that also features tenor Matthew Polenzani as Macduff and bass Ildar Abdrazakov as Banquo, in Adrian Noble’s evocative production. Watch here. £

Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake

This ballet tells the story of Prince Siegfried and the spellbound Princess Odette, who is trapped in the figure of a swan. In the staging by Staatsballett Berlin the famous swan scenes are retained with their archaic impact, but the constellation of characters around the unhappy prince is slightly modified to allow a psychological turn. Prince Siegfried’s mother, whose love for her son in slightly unhinged, holds his fate entirely in her hands. Siegfried’s jealous friend Benno and the character of the influential Prime Minister Rotbart are set into a new light. Watch here.

Read the full list of upcoming productions here.

Festival & Competition Programmes


DepicT! is Watershed’s international short film competition that, since its creation by Brief Encounters in 1998, has been challenging filmmakers to create 90 second ultra-short masterpieces. The focus is on uncovering emerging international filmmaking talent, which shows originality, imagination and the ability to engage in just a minute and a half. – Stream here

You could ask your audience to make their own 90 second short using their iPhones at home – ask them to be as inventive as they can with props, storytelling and different characters.

International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)

Explore all films and interactive documentaries that have been shown at IDFA over the years. Many are available to watch online (by using the filter ‘Watch online’), some for free! They’re working hard to keep the selection as broad and accessible as possible, but unfortunately, some titles are available to stream within The Netherlands only. – Stream here

Why not assemble a playlist of documentaries around a theme and bring everyone together for a chat online?

Visions du Réel Online Edition (17 April – 2 May)

Visions du Réel is one of the only Swiss film festivals to present a majority of its films as world or international premieres. Alongside a very varied programme, the Festival also offers masterclasses, debates with film directors, meetings with professionals and many cultural mediation activities, which will also be made available online through its industry strand. The 51st edition of the Festival will take place online, entirely for free. – Stream here

International Ocean Film Festival – Home Edition

While we may not be able to get to the ocean right now, IOFF wanted to bring the ocean to you. The IOFF team has personally curated a list of highlights and award winning International Ocean Film Festival films for you to enjoy at home. They are excited to be able to continue to stay connected through love of the Ocean. – Stream here

From the Archives & Collections

Fatima’s Letter

Dir: Alia Syed

A personal documentary around journeys, memories and watching: a woman remembers her past by faces she sees while travelling on the London Underground. She begins to believe that these people, like her, have all taken part in the same event. – BFI Player

How about running a discussion online looking at the cultural experiences highlighted in the film, exploring class, race and gender?

Omega Rising

Dir: Elmina Davis

Rastafarian women talk about their relationship to the movement’s development. This film by Ceddo Film and Video Collective explores the history of the religious group, looking first at its roots in Jamaica, and then its then present day manifestation in late 1980s Britain. – BFI Player £


Want to escape our troubled times? Immerse yourself in the emotional, life-enhancing pleasures of the musical. Following on from last year’s major season, bring the joy of musicals to the small screen. – BFI Player

Could you get in touch with care homes or older people in your audience and reach out to them to watch a musical online together? Before or after, you could run a reminiscence session using BBC Remarc to look at musical images and discuss memories. Consider how you could adapt some of the best practice in our dementia-friendly screenings guide.

Thought Maybe

Thought Maybe is an online library of films focused on topics challenging modern society, industrial civilisation, globalisation and dominant culture. It’s an independent and autonomous resource to inform, inspire and provoke action on radical social and political change. – Stream here

Lists, Recommendations, Criticism

Culture Club

by Club de Femmes

Each week, during this period of social distancing, Club des Femmes will announce one object of culture ­– a book they’re reading, an album they’re listening to, a film they’re watching, an artwork that’s inspiring them. They’ll tell you a little about why they find this object exciting as an invitation for you to join in, to read along, listen along, watch along with them each week. Sign up here.

Queer Films List

by Leeds Queer Film Festival

Here’s a doc with links to FREE online LGBTQ+ films. 100s of films; shorts, features, docs, drama, experimental, animation…

Film Studies for Free

by Catherine Grant

A pluralist, pro bono, and purely positive web-archive of examples of, links to, and comment on, online, Open Access, film and audiovisual media studies resources of note.

Founded in 2008, FSFF is lovingly tended (in a personal capacity) by Catherine Grant, Professor of Digital Media and Screen Studies at Birkbeck, University of London. Take a look here.

Films in the Time of Coronavirus

by Tara Judah

Twenty-ish films you can watch online that aren’t crap and most of them don’t involve rental fees.

Screen Slate

Screen Slate has published 365 days a year for the last nine years as a daily aggregate of NYC alternative screening listings accompanied by a short essay about something showing that day. In addition to their online listings and publishing platform, many of their readers have received these as a daily email newsletter.

In response to theater closures caused by COVID-19, they have pivoted to “Stream Slate” mode and are continuing to publish daily dispatches to their email list. Sign up here.

How-to Guides

Thanks to Rosie Greatorex @LexiCinema, Maddy Probst @Watershed, Yasmin Begum, Yvonne Connikie @CinemaGolau, Holly Tarquini @FilmBath for recommendations, and to all the contributors referenced above.

All information is subject to change – please check directly with platforms for up to the minute information

Impact Areas

Focus Areas