Kanopy Is the Jam-Packed Free Streaming Service You Can Access via Your Library Membership

Thousands of films and documentaries are available — including recent releases, old classics and everything in-between.
Sarah Ward and Samantha Teague
Published on August 02, 2021

Before lockdowns became a regular part of our lives, you probably hadn't been giving your library membership much of a workout. Obviously, over the past 18 months, there's been a few compelling reasons to start using it again. Not only do the City of Sydney libraries, City of Melbourne libraries and Brisbane City Council libraries have thousands of ebooks available to download and read for free, but some libraries around Australia also provide access to free online streaming service Kanopy.

Specialising in indie and arthouse films and documentaries, the service launched in Australia back in 2018, offering more than 30,000 films and documentaries — which are all available to watch without paying a cent. Aussie public libraries have been jumping on board since, including the aforementioned City of Sydney and City of Melbourne libraries, plus Randwick City Library and Sutherland Shire Council's eight libraries in Sydney, as well as the five located in the Yarra City Council and in the Maribyrnong City Council area in Melbourne, and the State Library of Queensland in Brisbane. If you're a student, it's worth checking if you can access the service through your uni's library.

The service was launched in Perth in 2008, before moving to San Francisco and providing its online archive to students at hundreds of universities. Lucky for us, it decided to expand — giving access to public library members across the United States and Australia.

Like the plethora of other streaming platforms vying for your eyeballs — such as of Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+ and DocPlay, just to name a few — Kanopy's movie selection is updated regularly; however you'll always find something to watch. Titles can vary per library, too, but you just might find recent standouts Shirley and Proxima, the Daniel Radcliffe-starring Guns Akimbo, documentaries The Leadership and Memory: The Origins of Alien, Bong Joon-ho's fantastic Memories of Murder, and classics such as Talking Heads concert flick Stop Making Sense and basketball doco Hoop Dreams on offer.

Other standouts that might be gracing your catalogue include the Joaquin Phoenix-starring You Were Never Really Here, recent Japanese creature feature Shin Godzilla, and international cinema highlights such as Foxtrot, BPM (Beats Per Minute), The Square, High Life and Mustang.

The Studio Ghibli co-directed The Red Turtle is also in Kanopy's range, as is the Florence Pugh-starring Lady Macbeth, cult comedy Heathers, vampire drama Only Lovers Left Alive and Aussie romance Ali's Wedding. Nicolas Cage growling his way through Mandy, the time travel trickery of Donnie Darko, the inimitable A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Colossal's take on monsters, and Taika Waititi's Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Boy are all included too, and yes, the list still goes on.

If you're not already a member of your local library, now might be a good time to sign up.

For more information about Kanopy, or to check if your local library is a member, visit the streaming platform's website.

This article was originally published in 2018. It has been updated to reflect new information. 

Published on August 02, 2021 by Sarah Ward
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