In a written statement on Twitter, the streaming site wrote that they did this to ‘highlight films that focus on black lives.’
On the 4th June, Criterion made a number of movies created by black filmmakers free to stream on their website Criterion Collection. This was done in response to the ‘disproportionate toll that Covid-19 has taken on communities of colour’ as well as ‘the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Tony McDade, and the casual lethal racism of the Central Park dog walker who called the cops on bird-watcher Christian Cooper.’
In the statement, the Criterion Collection emphasised the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement and wrote of their desire to help in uprooting the long-term racism seen in the United States. They also wrote that they are ‘committed to examining the role we play in the idea of canon formation’, as well the importance of elevating people’s voices and telling their stories.
On the Criterion Channel, we're highlighting films that focus on Black Lives, and have taken down the paywall on as many of these titles as we can, so even if you aren’t a subscriber you can watch them for free. https://t.co/SfE7BeIPhb pic.twitter.com/1wG2GAGO9Y
— Criterion Channel (@criterionchannl) June 5, 2020
The movies now free to watch include Charles Burnett’s My Brother’s Wedding, Cheryl Dunye’s ‘The Watermelon Woman’, and Horace Jenkins’ Cane River.
The list also includes documentaries such as Black Mother, directed by Khalik Allah, Agnès Varda’s Black Panthers, and much more.
These films have not only been removed from behind a paywall, but you also do not have to be a previous subscriber to watch these movies for free.
In addition to removing the paywall on a number of black titles, they have also established am ‘employee-guided fund with a $25,000 initial contribution and an ongoing $5,000 monthly commitment to support organisations fighting racism in America’.
All of these movies can be viewed for free here
If you wish to learn more about the social work Criterion is doing, as well as the movies they are streaming, head to their Twitter (@Criterion) and Instagram account (@Criterioncollection) for more details.