There are dozens of streaming services out there. Some of them are worth the few dollars a month because they offer something unique to potential consumers, or present themselves as such. As a person who blogs about movies, I never thought I’d get access to such services. But here I am with access to OVID, a streaming service that small distributors created for documentary and indie film lovers.
Nobody paid me or told me to write this, I’m only doing this because I like snooping. What specifically caught my eye was their spotlight on specific countries. They have documentaries from your usual countries like China and France. But they also have a section that they dedicated to three documentaries from the Democratic Republic of Congo. That section reminded me that I need to see more movies from Central Africa. So does OVID have movies from that region?
Yes they do, but they also have narrative films that seem mainstream by comparison. This service is one of a few where you can watch Ida, Pavel Pawlikowski’s film that film lovers still discuss. I, when it first came out, thought it was about cultural self-erasure, but a re-watch might change minds. The titular heroine’s (Agata Trzebuchwska) actions might seem different in a new perspective.
Speaking of re-watching, OVID is the place where indie films can get a second life. The service teamed up with film festivals and podcasts who submitted their list of essential films. One of those podcasts is her Head in Films. That podcast’s host Caitlin picked movies like Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy, a poetic look at a penniless drifter (Michelle Williams).
OVID also teamed up with the New York Times, and the critics from that paper know a thing or two about movies. One of their selections is Rosine Mftego Mbakam’s The Two Faces of a Bamileke Woman. The service also put that documentary under the African Film Festival and SUNU Journal collections. So there’s gotta be something about Mbakam’s exploration of motherhood and immigration that they appreciated.
There was a part of me that wanted to watch something popular that OVID had to offer. I wished to watch something that was on my bucket list, but I also wanted to go for something short and bittersweet. The service’s Directors spotlight has a section on Madeline Anderson. Anderson worked for PBS and Sesame Street, but she sneaked away to make short documentaries.
In doing so, Anderson became the first Black female documentary filmmaker. She released Integration Report 1 and I Am Somebody a decade apart. However, watching this in 2020 shows much much progress we need to fight for. She shows ‘both sides’ of the Civil Rights struggle. She seamlessly incorporates news footage with her own personal narration, sharing the idea that small victories add up.
Try OVID for 14 days and get legal access to 600+ movies. They launched this in 2019 and I hope they’ll be around for long.