Press "Enter" to skip to content

Lost reels: 15 directors pick great films you won’t find on UK streaming

Many films – even classics such as Eraserhead and Chungking Express – remain surprisingly unavailable online to UK audiences. We asked film-makers from Martin McDonagh to Charlotte Wells to pick their favourites In theory, there has never been a better time to be a movie fan. The ubiquity of streaming platforms means that films are more accessible than ever before. One click, and we can be transported to any country, genre or period. Or at least, that’s the idea. In practice, it’s not quite as simple as all that. Despite the wide choice of mainstream modern titles offered by big hitters such as Netflix, Disney+ and Prime Video; and the sterling work done by bespoke platforms such as Mubi, Curzon, BFI Player and regional specialist Klassiki, numerous films remain unavailable to be streamed by UK audiences (legally at least). And we’re not just talking about obscure arthouse titles (although my personal holy grail of missing movies, Alexei German Jr’s Paper Soldier, probably fits that description): a surprising number of high-profile pictures seem to have slipped through the streaming cracks. Jane Campion’s feature film debut, Sweetie, is currently unavailable to stream; so, remarkably, is David Lynch’s debut, Eraserhead. Why is this? In the case of older titles, restoration and digitisation are key factors. Thousands of pictures exist as film prints, stored in canisters in archives and cinematheques, but not in the digital format that would be required for inclusion on a streaming platform. Or if they have been digitised in the past, the file doesn’t meet the quality standard that is now required, something that evolves increasingly rapidly as technology advances. It is an expensive and time-consuming process. Add to that the common problem of a “rights void”: when it is unclear who holds the rights to a film, licensing or restoring it becomes unviable. Continue reading...

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: