CBC News has noted a new site from Hot Docs, which it describes as “the largest documentary festival in North America.” The new Hot Docs site has well over 150 documentaries from Canadian filmmakers (along with some other content) and it’s all available online for free. The site is available at http://hotdocslibrary.ca/en/ (that’s the English, non-Flash version.)
The front page has several sets of films you can go through — films by young filmmakers, films for educators, the most popular films — but I went straight to the browse tab and started poking around. The browse page is at http://hotdocslibrary.ca/en/browse.cfm. The documentaries are listed by title though they’re also sortable by year and by director. (The oldest dated documentary in the database was from 1951.)
The first doc in alphabetical order is $4 Haircut, a 6-minute short (with a groovy oompa tuba soundtrack) about a guy who, well, gets $4 haircuts. It shows his methodology and experience and while you might not expect a short featuring mostly a guy sitting around waiting to get a haircut to be interesting, it was. The documentary is embedded in the page with the usual volume control, pop-out to full screen, etc. The page also contains a summary of information about the documentary (director, producer, editor, etc.) In this case, the documentary also had extras, specifically transcripts in English and French.
I browsed through the shorts and found a number of topics — one film was about ginsing. Another featured Geddy Lee. A third was about Thomas Edison and sound reproduction in technology. They ranged from under ten minutes to around fifteen to 32 minutes in the case of the Edison documentary.
The videos loaded really quickly, there was a wide range of content, and it was all free. If you’re at all interested in documentaries check out this site.