Your uNID is as Good as a Movie Ticket: Streaming Free for Staff and Students


Every service listed here requires a University of Utah login — a uNID and a password — in order to access their films. Courtesy Rawpixel.

By Abigail Bowé, Arts Writer


On top of housing, tuition and other expenses, many of us are also crunching the numbers for entertainment bills and streaming services — all of which can add up too quickly. We may occasionally have to decide between a subscription for Hulu or YouTube TV and saving up funds for family visits, summer courses or studying abroad. If you’re trapped digging through the web for inexpensive entertainment while on a Netflix fast, take a quick breather. There are some film services and collections where University of Utah students and staff can find content for free, which aren’t big player, annoyingly advertisement-run services. While they might not satisfy your craving for an original series or cable binge, these following five outlets can give you everything you need from a spooky Hitchcock night in to a “The Lord of the Rings” marathon with friends.

First off, the U is an affiliate of the San Francisco-based streaming service Kanopy, meaning that anyone with a uNID can access a large portion of its content for free. (A partial subscription is open to all staff and students.) Featuring classic cinema, independent film, animated shorts and a handful of award-winning documentaries, Kanopy has a diverse selection. While chances are that you won’t recognize most films on the partial subscription, aside from some landmark classics of cinema like “Roshomon” or “Modern Times,” don’t turn away from Kanopy. It has many hidden treasures.

Another streaming service that you can freely access with your uNID is Digitalia Film Library. While it shares a layout similar to Kanopy’s, it presents many more newly released films — though they aren’t movies that you’ve likely ever seen in the U.S. box office. Although Digitalia carries some classic movies and animated features that are in English, it’s primarily an ongoing collection of foreign language films and world cinema. Here, you can view highly rated and well-acclaimed features from several countries around the globe. Will you begin with the Brazilian film collection? Russian? French? If you’re trying to learn a language besides English, you can find a fun way to practice your listening skills with Digitalia.

If you’re looking for a different pace of entertainment, use your school login to get onto Films on Demand, an archive for documentaries. After all, sometimes a documentary is the perfect tool to wind down in the evening. Whether you’d like to wax philosophical, watch fish swim through the Great Barrier Reef or learn more about the lives of significant figures from Martin Luther King Jr. to Jane Austen, Films on Demand has documentaries about a wide variety of topics from NOVA, TEDx, History Channel, PBS, National Geographic and others.

Also providing a staggeringly high number of documentaries, Alexander Street also has movies available to stream through its Independent World Cinema archive. According to its website, Alexander Street boasts “over 400 of the most important films produced from the early 20th century to today.” The only downside to the collection is that it is difficult to browse through, partly due to the sheer amount of material. However, the size of the archive only means that you’re likely going to find at least one film which catches your interest. So despite the effort that it takes to scour, Alexander Street is worth the occasional search.

For more contemporary flicks, you’ll find luck in browsing through Swank Digital Campus, the Marriott Library’s online film collection. While the number of films that Swank offers is small compared to many streaming services, it’s easily navigable and you’ll be able to recognize nearly all of its titles. Movies that you can currently watch on Swank include “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Groundhog Day,” “A Quiet Place,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Labyrinth,” “Titanic,” the entire “The Lord of the Rings” filmography (including “The Hobbit” trilogy) and many more features. Perfect for any lazy Saturday.

Grab a roommate, put on some pajamas and get out your tube of green mud mask for an at-home facial. As July works its way here alongside incoming hotter temperatures, you’ll want an excuse to stay out of the heat and to steer clear of public spaces that are simply more crowded in the middle of summer. Lemonade and pizza taste better away from an unasked-for sweltering picnic and in the comfort of your own living room, anyways.

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