SnagFilms, the popular free streaming website for independent cinema, has ceased operations after over 16 years in service.
Founded in 2006, SnagFilms offered ad-supported on-demand streaming of over 6,000 documentary and independent narrative films. It established itself as a key destination for fans of unique indie content.
At its peak, SnagFilms drew audiences of over 15 million viewers per month. Now the shutdown leaves thousands of loyal users without their primary source for independent films.
While the exact reasons behind SnagFilm‘s closure remain unclear, the landscape of streaming media has radically transformed since its inception. The rise of subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services like Netflix likely eroded the ad-funded business model of SnagFilms.
For fans of indie cinema, the loss of SnagFilms leaves a major void. But thankfully, many strong alternatives have emerged to pick up the torch. This guide will survey the top replacement options that provide independent films, documentaries and foreign cinema.
The Importance of Independent Film Streaming
Before reviewing the alternatives, it helps to understand the unique role services like SnagFilms play for movie fans.
Independent films offer content outside the mainstream – often touching on experimental styles, perspectives and subjects avoided by Hollywood studios. Indie streaming platforms showcase these boundary-pushing films that celebrate fresh voices.
In 2021, over 7,000 independent films were released, up from just over 6,000 the year before according to IndieWire’s State of Indie Film Report. Streaming has been crucial for many of these indie filmmakers finding an audience.
For fans, specialty streaming apps provide the best access to undiscovered gems, festival darlings, and innovative genres like mumblecore or Afrofuturism. Losing a discovery platform like SnagFilms reduces exposure for these artists.
The good news is specialized streaming services continue working to fill this niche. Here are the top platforms that directly address the indie film fanbase SnagFilms leaves behind.
Best SnagFilms Alternatives for Independent Film Streaming
Based on library breadth, pricing, and device support, we recommend these top alternatives:
1. Mubi – Best Overall SnagFilms Replacement
Founded in 2007, with over 10 million global subscribers
Over 10,000 hard-to-find independent, classic, and foreign films
New hand-picked film selections added daily
Works on Roku, Fire TV, smart TVs, smartphones, tablets
7-day free trial, then $10.99/month or discounted annual plans
Of all the specialty streamers, Mubi likely offers the closest overall experience to what SnagFilms provided. It combines breadth and depth of content with expert human curation.
The Mubi team of film experts hand select 30-40 new films each month, providing a gateway into discovering both established and emerging indie talent. The library spans essential classics, festival circuit breakouts, retrospectives, and overlooked gems.
While the catalog rotates regularly, the focus stays on a highly-curated selection versus attracting users with quantity alone. This aligns with SnagFilms‘ approach of quality over quantity when it came to independent cinema.
Mubi subscribers can stream films on most devices. The service is available across 60 countries, though content libraries vary by region. Using a VPN unlocks Mubi‘s full global catalog.
For the quality and diversity of its independent film catalog in one place, Mubi leads as the best consolidated SnagFilms alternative.
2. IndieFlix – Top Specialist for Independent Films
Founded in 2005, focused exclusively on independent content
Over 7,500 award-winning shorts, features and documentaries
Festival favorites, exclusives and original productions
Supported on Roku, Firestick, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, Android
$4.99/month or $49.99/year after free trial
True to its name, IndieFlix positions itself as a platform created by and for the independent film community. Its catalog spans over 7,500 titles focused specifically on indie shorts, features, documentaries and series.
IndieFlix makes it easy for film festival award winners and promising up-and-comers to access streaming exposure. It regularly premieres digital exclusives before wider release.
Along with established indie directors, IndieFlix fosters emerging voices through original productions, workshops, mentorships and more. This aligns with SnagFilms‘ promotion of rising filmmakers.
At just $4.99 per month, IndieFlix grants affordable access to the diversity of independent cinema often missing from mainstream services. Its singular focus on indies makes it a top SnagFilms successor.
3. Fandor – Extensive Indie Library with Film Studies Fare
Founded in 2010, boasting over 6,000 indie, foreign and documentary titles
In-depth genre sections – Coen Brothers, 1970s Sci-Fi, French Crime Flicks, more
"Masterclasses" and video essays exploring film topics
Works on Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, web
14-day free trial, then $6.99/month
While lesser known than Mubi or IndieFlix, Fandor houses an impressively deep library of independent films – notably for classics, horror and documentaries.
Alongside the extensive on-demand catalog, Fandor produces original video essays diving deep into genres, film theory, and craft. For hardcore cinephiles, this elevates the viewing experience into an engaging film studies course.
The niche film libraries and supplemental content make Fandor a SnagFilms alternative focused on enriching the understanding of indie film‘s role in cinema. At just $6.99 a month, it brings great value for independent movie buffs.
4. Kanopy – Free Independent Films with Public Library Access
Free access with public library membership, over 4,000 libraries supported
Over 30,000 acclaimed movies including award-winning indies
Strong documentary and foreign film catalog
Available on Roku, Fire TV, iOS, Android, web
Completely free with library card sign-up
Kanopy provides an excellent free alternative to access independent films, especially for documentary fans. It grants free on-demand streaming through partnerships with over 4,000 public libraries.
Library card holders can sign up through their local library‘s Kanopy portal to start streaming. No paid subscription is needed.
The catalog includes over 30,000 films spanning celebrated classic indies, international cinema, documentaries and educational content. There is also Kanopy Kids for family viewing.
For library members seeking free access to high-quality independent movies, Kanopy stands as a natural replacement to SnagFilms. Even without a paid subscription, you can stream acclaimed indie titles 24/7.
5. Amazon Prime Video and Hulu – Indie Films Included with Subscriptions
Along with dedicated specialty services, major on-demand apps like Amazon Prime Video and Hulu house quality indie film selections.
Prime Video comes included with an Amazon Prime subscription, making its indie catalog free for members. Hulu‘s base subscription plan ($7.99/month) unlocks its indie section.
Their independent film libraries may not match the depth of focused apps like Mubi, but Prime and Hulu‘s other general content make them enticing overall packages.
For Prime members or those already paying for Hulu, both platforms make useful free SnagFilms replacements thanks to their supplemental indie libraries.
Key Considerations for Finding the Best SnagFilms Alternative
With several strong indie film apps available, it helps to weigh a few key factors when deciding on replacement services:
Content Library – Depth of indie titles available, across vintage classics, festival hits, shorts, docs etc.
Curation – Is it a highly-curated catalog by experts or a bigger self-serve library?
Cost – Budget-friendly options like Kanopy vs paid services like Mubi.
Device Support – Apps for streaming boxes, smart TVs, mobiles, and web.
Free Trials – Chance to preview services. Mubi, Shudder, Fandor and more offer free trials.
Original Content – Services nurturing new indie voices through original productions or partnerships.
Prioritizing across these categories helps identify your ideal SnagFilms substitute based on budget, devices used, and indie film preferences.
The Future of Independent Film Streaming
While the loss of SnagFilms deals a blow, thankfully many other compelling services help fill the void. Specialty platforms like Mubi continue providing showcases for boundary-pushing independent cinema.
As streaming increasingly becomes the dominant film distribution channel, services catering to underrepresented voices play a key role. They empower both audiences and filmmakers in championing diverse stories.
Passionate indie communities will ensure independent film streaming continues thriving in the years ahead. Though one platform ended, there are still many ways for fans to keep discovering inspiring, innovative indie cinema.