Concordia's Cinema Politica is expanding to video on demand, with an initial offering of more than a dozen political documentaries and short fiction films.

"It's a new direction expanding from bums in seats to eyeballs on screens," said Cinema Politica's co-founder, Ezra Winton.

The 13-year-old festival is putting its documentaries online to meet an increasing demand for independent, politically engaged documentaries and fiction.

"It's about expanding the experience of political cinema, supporting the filmmakers and making more political cinema available to more people," said Winton.

100 chapters worldwide

Winton launched the festival with the motto "screening truth to power" at Concordia University in 2003 with his partner, Svetla Turnin.

Since then, Cinema Politica has expanded to almost 100 chapters or locals around the world, including in Sweden and Nairobi.

The on-line content will be available internationally and will include documentaries such as Transgender Parents by Rémy Huberdeau, A Red Girl's Reasoning by Elle-Maija-Tailfeathers, Riots Reframed by Fahim Alam and The Corporation by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott.

Still from The Corporation

The documentary The Corporation by Mark Ackbar and Jennifer Abbott is one of the films available now on Cinema Politica's new video-on-demand website.

Winton said many fans and filmmakers have approached them over the years, asking why they didn't put films on line.

"We're old school," he said used to be his refrain. "We're about showing films in public spaces, in the material world where everybody can gather and interact and make it a social event." 

But he said the video-on-demand site will allow Cinema Politica to expand its offering. Its budget for theatrical screenings is limited, but some films that they can't show on the ground they can offer on line.

When people pay to watch the films, half the proceeds go to the filmmakers and half to Cinema Politica.

The political documentary film series goes live with its new offer today at vod.cinemapolitica.org.

Prices range from $3 to $10, and some material will be available free of charge.