Mexico’s Film Institute Launches a (Sorta) Free Site to Stream Indies, Cult Classics & More

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Even though Netflix has become the standard carrier of post-TV digital content, its streaming catalog of films and TV shows has grown a bit stale over the years, especially for those of us who understand the term “foreign film” as a hopelessly reductive catchall for the world’s distinct local industries. Then there’s Mubi, which is tailor-made for cinephiles, but the platform’s rotating 30-day catalog takes the demand out of video on demand (VOD).

So, leave it to the Mexican Film Institute (IMCINE) to get it right. Yes, residents of the Estados Unidos Mexicanos (or anyone with an open proxy) will now be able to access a catalog of 490 Mexican and international features through IMCINE’s newly-inaugurated VOD platform, filminlatino. Currently in its beta phase, filminlatino plans on adding over 500 more titles by the end of the year, rounding out an already impressive catalog of art-house gems, cult films, and cherished classics, while the Hollywood blockbusters have seemingly been left to Netflix and Amazon Prime. What’s more, the software is user-friendly, allowing for upvotes, shares, and comments, in addition to providing a handful of curated thematic collections.

When it was first announced several years ago, IMCINE’s director Jorge Sánchez perhaps naively dreamt of an entirely free, open-access platform, but the difficult reality of global intellectual property laws seems to have trumped Sánchez’s populist fantasies. The current going rate for subscriptions is $49 MXN (roughly $3.20 USD) per month, with an additional cost of $19 MXN ($1.23 USD) for 48-hour access to films available available for rental. Unfortunately, that leaves only about 69 free titles included in the monthly subscription.

But, before you shake your head and ask yourself “why bother?,” bear in mind that Sánchez has left the pay structure open to reevaluation at the end of the year, contingent on site traffic and subscriptions. Plus, where else can you find Buñuel’s back catalog of Mexican melodramas, the short films of David Lynch, and contemporary Latin American masterpieces all in one place?

Film still from Luis Buñuel’s Simón del desierto.