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Film Distributors: For Bibliographers

Film Distributors

Are films worth it? Please consider...

  • Instructors use video in lectures and are assigning more films more than ever, which adds to the student learning experience, promotes and enhances classroom discussion.  
  • These films come bundled with public performance rights (PPR). Members of the Penn community can show a film on campus as part of a film series or event without seeking permission or paying fees, for years to come.
  • Vendors often provide replacement DVDs at no cost, or discounts on licenses for films we already own.
  • Vendors give discounts on bulk orders.
  • The ~$300 price point supports filmmakers whose work is not usually made available by commercial streaming services. It supports filmmaking for the educational market.

About DSL / Licensing

Digital licenses are available for set time periods. There are often different price points for 5-day rentals, 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year streaming licenses. Recommendation: Consider 1yr DSL via Kanopy and Swank for elective courses. Consider 3-5yr DSL via Kanopy and Swank for regularly taught courses. Consider DSL with rights in perpetuity or "for the life of the file," if available, and you foresee ongoing demand.

Public Performance Rights (PPR)

We buy films without PPR whenever possible, as most of our collection is used by individual viewers.

Other films, particular those we purchase from distributors who attend the Video Trust Virtual Market, formerly the National Media Market (NMM), each fall, come bundled with PPR. When films are sold bundled with PPR, they can cost around $300-$400 per film.

Distributors and Streaming Platforms

Major distributors

  • Bullfrog Films - Environmental and social justice titles. DVDs include PPR
  • Cinema Guild - Long-time documentary and feature film distributor
  • Film Platform - Israeli distributor of international political and social documentaries, particular those of Israeli, Palestinian, Middle Eastern interest
  • Grasshopper Films - Short films, films on Women's Studies, Cinema, Gender, the Arts
  • Icarus Films - Leading distributor of documentary and art films, particularly international
  • Kino Lorber EDU - Social justice and human rights, humanities films; we already receive many Kino Lorber films on approval
  • New Day Films - Filmmaker collective of independent documentarians​
  • Passion River Films - Feature art house and documentary festival films
  • ro*co films educational - Documentary films
  • Women Make Movies - Documentary films by women

Streaming platforms

  • Kanopy - Major on-demand patron-driven streaming platform. List of suppliers is extensive (at right).
  • Docuseek2 - Academic streaming platform. Includes Bullfrog, Icarus, National Film Board of Canada, Collective Eye, Kartemquin.
  • Alexander Street Press - Films available as part of streaming portfolio (e.g. Academic Video Online)
  • Digitalia Film Library - Spanish-American distributor focused on films from Latin American, Europe, and history, travel, and nature documentaries.
  • Films on Demand - Films Media Group platform
  • Film Platform - Israeli distributor which offers their own films and a collection from ro*co 

Other important distributors

Video Trust limits the number of exhibiting distributors to 55. Some firms do not attend annually. A red asterisk "*" following the vendor name indicates this vendor did not attend National Media Market (NMM) 2016. 


Kanopy Partners

Many distributors have partnered with Kanopy, but others only provide selected films to Kanopy. Some distributors will not license newly acquired films to Kanopy right away, for example.

Considering a DVD purchase?  You may want to search Franklin or Kanopy to check on the film's availability first.

  • BBC
  • Breaking Glass Pictures
  • California Newsreel
  • Cinema Libre Studio
  • Cohen Film Collection
  • Collective Eye
  • Criterion Collection
  • DEFA Film Library
  • Documentary Education Resources (DER)
  • Film Ideas
  • Film Movement
  • First Run Features
  • Green Planet Films
  • Kino Lorber EDU
  • Magic Lantern Films
  • Media Education Foundation
  • Music Box Films
  • New Day Films
  • Oscilloscope Pictures
  • Pragda
  • Strand Releasing
  • The Video Project


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