Free movie streaming service soars during virtual instruction

Kanopy, a free movie-streaming platform, has seen an increase in usage and popularity since the start of virtual instruction, according to Linda Franklin, the administrative analyst specialist at the University Library. The service is provided to Cal Poly Pomona students, faculty and staff through the library.

Kanopy offers over 30,000 films, including award-winning documentaries, classics and comedies. All it takes to start streaming is a CPP log-in.

“This is a streaming service that is similar to what individuals do with Netflix,” said Pat Hawthorne, dean of the library. “This is a service that libraries are offered to provide access to various kinds of films.”

Though the library began offering the free streaming service to the campus community in May 2018, when it received $40,000 in funding accumulated from the student success fee, Kanopy’s usage among the campus community increased with the start of virtual instruction.

According to Brinna Pam Anan, metadata management librarian, there has been over 69,000 CPP visitors on Kanopy since May 2018.

“When we went to remote work, the statements that covered April and May covered 43% of our usage,” Franklin said. “So, it really exploded when we went remote.”

There are a variety of features within Kanopy. Users are able to search for any film by language, year of production, featured actors and subject.

“I really do like the fact that in Kanopy you can search by language or country,” Anan said. “That’s kind of neat for anyone who wants to do something that is more specific to a country that they are from or they’re more interested in an area that maybe the U.S. general media doesn’t pay much attention to.”

Michael Morris, a third-year architecture student, has been using Kanopy since his first year after a professor informed the class of all the free services available to students. “It is a lot more education-oriented, but you’re going to find movies that are trying to impart some idea on to the watcher,” Morris said.

Naman Pandadiya, a first-year business administration student, shared his experience using Kanopy after learning about it in his Introduction to Film and American Culture course. “It’s good to use to educate yourself. For a lot of people, police brutality or Black Lives Matter may be a little bit hard to understand, but a lot of these documentaries are perfect to understand what each topic means,” Pandadiya said.

Naman Pandadiya, a first-year business administration student, streaming “No Impact Man” through Kanopy. (Courtesy of Naman Pandadiya)

Here are the top five most-streamed films by the CPP community since May 2018:

1. Race: The Power of an Illusion

This three-part documentary, released in 2003, investigates the role of race in society and explores the historical damages created by racism. Directed by Christine Herbes-Sommers, Tracy Heather Strain and Llewellyn M. Smith, the series reveals the man-made nature of social divisions. This documentary was played 619 times as of Sept. 17.

2. Ishi’s Return

This four-part documentary series, released in 2016, follows Ishi, who is claimed to the last known Native American in California. Throughout the short series, director Chris Eyre captures the dark history of several Native American nations and their efforts to reclaim their identities. This documentary was played 372 times as of Sept. 17.

3. The Last Black Man in San Francisco

This drama film, released in 2019, tells a powerful story of a young Black man attempting to recover his childhood home in a now gentrified neighborhood in San Francisco. Directed by Joe Talbot, the film delivers an unforgettable performance with notable cast members like Danny Glover and Mike Epps. This movie was played 368 times as of Sept. 17.

4. Captain Fantastic

This comedy-drama film, released in 2016, is centered on a family who is forced to reenter society after living in isolation for over a decade. Directed by Matt Ross, the movie depicts the realistic struggles of a single parent. This film was played 340 times as of Sept. 17.

5. White Right: Meeting the Enemy

This documentary, released in 2017, is directed by the award-winning director Deeyah Khan. After receiving threats and hate mails, Khan meets with neo-Nazi groups and white supremacist leaders in an attempt to understand the reasoning behind the far-right extremism. This documentary was played 312 times as of Sept. 17.

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