Film & video

Stream over 5,000 Free Films, Animations, and Documentaries

Explore the National Film Board of Canada's collection for thousands of free-to-stream titles from the public media producer

Many people know the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) as the creative laboratory that made history by bringing together some of the big names in animation. Names like Norman McLaren and Caroline Leaf—experimental auteurs who made history through their use of innovative techniques like optical sound, pixelation, sand animation, and freehand drawing onto the reel.

Today—while operating as a Canadian government agency working on the production of diverse animations, documentaries, and films—the National Film Board of Canada is a great place to discover Canadian and international cinema, housing a collection of thousands of works titles to stream online.

The National Film Board of Canada is dedicated to the distribution of documentaries, animations and feature films.
The National Film Board of Canada is dedicated to the distribution of documentaries, animations and feature films.

An institution built by animators

Founded in 1939 at the suggestion of British documentary filmmaker John Grierson, the National Film Board of Canada started out under the leadership of renowned Scottish-Canadian filmmaker and animator Norman McLaren, who was famous for working on cutting-edge experimental films, creating titles like Hell Unltd and Seven Till Five.

On joining the newly created Canadian public agency, McLaren began inviting animators like Evelyn Lambert, Grant Munro, Réné Jodoin, and George Dunning—the man behind the animated musical comedy Yellow Submarine—to work together on building the new public film and digital media producer.

Over the years, the NFB works have won more than five thousand awards, including twelve Oscars (from seventy-five nominations), twelve academy awards, and four Palmes d’or. You can take a look at the award-winners streaming online here.

Norman McLaren was responsible for bringing creative talent together at the National Film Board of Canada.
Norman McLaren was responsible for bringing creative talent together at the National Film Board of Canada.

Principal directors

Working with a long list of celebrated and up-and-coming technicians, animators, filmmakers, and documentary makers, the NFB has become a benchmark for anyone looking to explore the work of industry pioneers.

Among them, there's works from animators Torill Kove (The Danish Poet), Co Hoedeman (The Sand Castle), and Caroline Leaf (The Street), as well as documentary filmmakers Terre Nash (If You Love This Planet) and Cynthia Scott (Flamenco at 5:15).

Still from "The Danish Poet" by Torill Kove.
Still from "The Danish Poet" by Torill Kove.

Where to stream NFB's works for free

In addition to its ongoing work as a producer, the National Film Board of Canada offers free access to over 5,000 titles to stream via its website.

These include iconic animations and their latest productions, organized into five main categories: cinema, documentaries, animation, interactive cinema, and education. You can browse each section by title, director, or genre, as well as NFB expert-curated playlists.

Access NFB's free collection here.

You can stream more than 5,000 NFB works for free via its website.
You can stream more than 5,000 NFB works for free via its website.

Tip: While most audiences will be familiar with the first three categories (Film, Animation, and Documentaries), it's also worth exploring the Interactive section, where you’ll find a range of projects from artists that are designed to be experienced online.

The catalog includes everything from interactive museums and facilities, to virtual reality experiences and projects made specifically for online viewing.

A section on interactive cinema allows users to take part in audiovisual narratives.
A section on interactive cinema allows users to take part in audiovisual narratives.

What do you think of NFB's collection? Do you have recommendations for more platforms like NFB? Share your favorites in the comments below.

To explore the world of documentary and filmmaking in more depth, see Domestika's online film, video, and TV courses. And, if you want to discover more free stuff like this, check out the Creative Resources section of our blog.

English version by @studiogaunt.

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