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Films for the Curious

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If you are the type of person who is curious about a variety of subjects or if you are an armchair traveler, then you may find yourself drawn to watching documentaries.

There are many choices out there and it can be overwhelming. The many ideas and point of view depicted in such films can be fascinating but also mind boggling.

Just as there are different types of movies and television shows, there are also different types of documentaries. Check out this illustrative blog post by the National Film Board of Canada to read about them and see examples.

For a more detailed overview of documentary filmmaking, check out this short video on Using your library card number and pin number, you can use this website for free from our website.  

If you are into documentaries, here are some ways to watch them for free online:

Documentary Lovers
The creators of this website wanted to provide the public with a free educational resource for anyone who loves to watch the latest documentaries on different subjects. Viewers can write reviews and provide their comments. Filmmakers can also submit their films to this site to help promote them.

The Documentary Network
Here is another site that has many free documentaries available to watch. On this site, you search for documentaries by duration, category and location with a world map feature.
The creators of this website wished to make various types of documentaries easily available to members of the public.

Kanopy is our free video streaming service, available for those 13 and older who have an active New York Public Library Card. In addition to the 30,000 feature and international films which includes the Criterion Collection, Kanopy offers an array of documentaries, The Great Courses and the Frontline series. On this page, films may be browsed by subject.  

There is a Kanopy App available that will enable you to watch films easily on your smartphone, tablets and smart TV. You will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN number first and to create an account. To get to the Kanopy page from our  NYPL homepage, first go to Then click on Research - this will bring you to our “Research” page. From there, click on Articles & Databases. Once there, type the word “Kanopy” next to where it says “Database title/description” and then click “Find.” It should be listed there. Click on the word Kanopy and then follow the instructions.

In addition to some Masterpiece Theatre shows that you may have missed on PBS, you could also watch many PBS videos online for free. Including Frontline, POV (Point of View), NOVA, Independent Lens and more.

If DVDs are your thing, you will also be able to find many Frontline, Nova, and Independent Lens and other PBS DVDs at the library. Besides that, you will also find dvds produced by the History Channel , Great Britain's Channel 4, National Geographic,  Smithsonian, Sundance TV and much more.

Are they all believable? We will leave that up to you.



Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

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