If you’re a fan of documentaries, there are many sites where you can watch them for free. The following is a list of sites we found, some of which allow you add comments about the films and even allow you to download the films.
Top Documentary Films
Top Documentary Films offers full documentaries and information on documentaries by quoting reviews from trusted sources. The documentaries are classified in categories, making it easy to find films about your favorite topics. You can also add comments about documentaries you’ve watched, providing opinions other viewers can read about the films to see if they want to watch them.
If you find documentary films you really like, you can decide to buy them from the Top Documentary Films store.
Freedocumentaries.org streams full-length, thought-provoking, educational, and entertaining documentary films for free, with no registration required. They have searched the web for well-produced videos and gather them onto one site. For some films, you can even watch trailers or download the film. Some films on the site have widespread distribution, but others are created by independent filmmakers, who depend on sites like Freedocumentaries.org to get their information out to the public.
Documentary Heaven offers a vast collection of documentaries spanning across many genres. They continuously update the site daily to provide the very best in documentary films.
DocumentaryWIRE offers a large collection of free, interesting, and educational documentaries for you to watch online. The films cover many genres. Watch what catches your interest and share your thoughts.
Open Documentaries maintains a documentary database with a lot of documentaries for you to view for free in a lot of categories. There are no costs involved and you don’t need to register. However, you can register if you want to create your own playlist and receive email updates when new documentaries are added. There is also an option for automatically adding new documentaries to your playlist.
Documentary.net offers a large catalog of full length, free documentaries on a wide range of topics, such as nature, politics, science, and history. You can browse by category, sort by top films, by length (short, mid, and long, which are less than 10, 11-30, and 30+ minutes, respectively), and even watch mini-documentaries about the making of the documentaries themselves. The documentaries are available worldwide, without any territory restrictions.
DocumentaryStorm offers free, full-length documentaries gathered from around the web. Their main goal is to share knowledge, spread ideas, and have fun. DocumentaryStorm adds a new documentary to their site every day.
Documentary24.com collects the best documentary films available on the web. Watch quality documentaries streaming directly in the browser without having to register.
Full Documentaries offers some of the most informative, free documentaries available online, organized into categories. You can also post comments about the films and rate them.
Documentary-Log.com was founded by fans of documentaries who gather the very best films from around the web. They focus on science documentaries, because this seemed to the most underrepresented genre on the web, but they also offer films covering other genres. Feel free to add comments about films you watch on their site and to rate the films, as well.
Documentary Tube offers a wide variety of full-length documentaries covering twenty-two categories, such as art, health, science, travel, and history. You can search by subject or name of documentary to see if it’s available on the site.
Documentary Tube also features the top 100 documentaries being viewed each week. There is also a section of the site that allows you to submit documentaries you produce and make yourself. These submissions are reviewed by the website’s editors to see if they would be appropriate for the site.
You can easily register for free on Documentary Tube to stay updated about new releases featured on the website. Another option is to have new documentaries sent to your feed reader via RSS feeds. You can choose to sign up for weekly email alerts, informing you weekly of new releases available on Documentary Tube. New release information is also available by liking Documentary Tube on Facebook or by following the site on Twitter. There’s also a giveaway each month for registered members.
Documentaries you’ve watched on Documentary Tube are automatically added to a playlist, so you can easily go back and watch them again, or find out what subjects and titles you have already watched. There’s also a section of the site containing articles that review some of the current documentaries, providing more information about the films. This list of articles is updated weekly.
Do you love scientific documentaries? The Science Documentaries website offers a collection of the best scientific documentaries available on the web. They focus on quality, rather than quantity. You will not find documentaries “filled with metaphysical ideas, UFOs, bio energies and other meta-sciences.” What you will find are informative, revealing, interesting, and mind-boggling scientific documentaries and lectures about such subjects as astronomy, biology, mathematics, physics, IT, and technology.
YouTube Free Documentaries
As you know, there are many videos available on YouTube, including free documentaries. These may be found on some of the other sites that collect documentaries, as well, or you can access them directly on YouTube.
IndieMovies Online is dedicated to the free, legal distribution of independent films. In addition to watching quality independent films, IndieMovies Online also encourages you to write for them, by submitting a copy of your piece (no more than 700 words and nothing offensive). The piece will be reviewed, and, if it adheres to the basic guidelines and criteria, it will be posted in the guest writers’ section of the site. This promotes meaningful, articulate, and informed discussions about film.
They also plan to support independent film at its roots by showcasing the work of film students around the world. They have been inviting film students from all schools to submit their work to be shared on IndieMovies Online.
Documentary Guide is one of the few curated search engines on the internet and offers access to the widest collection of documentary films. They’ve researched and indexed thousands of films, hundreds of websites, and many databases from around the world. The films have been organized and tagged and sifted through for education and awareness.
Internet Archive – Moving Image Archive
Yet still another place to find documentaries is the Moving Image Archive on the Internet Archive website. This site contains thousands of digital movies uploaded by Archive users. There are probably some documentary films among the collection that might peak your interest.
Hopefully, this list helps you find free, educational, and entertaining documentary films that interest and inspire you. If you know of other good sites for finding free and legally distributed documentaries, let us know in the comments.
Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.
- Published 07/14/12