From Art House to Your House: The Distribution of Quality Cinema on Home Video

Author(s): Daniel Herbert

Herbert_Canadian Film Studies


This essay argues that select home video distributors have played a critical role in shaping the historical shift of “quality cinema” from theatrical to domestic contexts. It examines Kino International, Facets Multimedia, and Zeitgeist Films in order to more fully understand the creation and circulation of notions of value and “quality” in the home video arena. Whereas Kino International provides an eclectic mix of foreign films and silent film classics, and Facets specializes in international, documentary, and children’s films, Zeitgeist focuses on documentaries and a handful of select auteurs. Despite these apparent differences, all expand, refine, and complicate “quality” home video by drawing upon and redeploying qualities of exclusivity, exoticism, intellectualism, and social activism. In formulating this argument, and referencing other new services like the streaming website Mubi, this essay asserts that “distribution” is a determinant moment where the economic and cultural value of a commodity is produced.

Publication Information:

Name of Periodical: Canadian Journal of Film Studies

Volume Number: 20

Issue Number: 2

Year of Publication: 2011

Page Numbers: 2-18