Quick Look: (UPDATE: Films are still free and ad-supported, but you also have the option to rent each film for 99 cents and watch it ad-free.) Vanguard Cinema is an independent "release studio". According to its website, Vanguard represents "the best films of independent filmmakers from the US and around the world, films with exemplary creative talent and skills, with critical acclaim and festival awards, featuring up and coming stars and directors." Several dozen of Vanguard's independent films are available for free viewing on the Vanguard Cinema Roku channel.
Vanguard's Roku channel offers only a fraction of their full library of nearly 500 films, but I've found plenty of good titles to make this channel a good addition to my Roku lineup. Following are some selections in each category that I've either watched or have previewed and plan to finish.
- Romance - Nature (2007): "An erotic suspense drama about a young couple on a quest to rediscover their sexual fervor."
- Action & Thriller - Green River (2008): "Haunted by her sister's mysterious disappearance many years ago, Charisma Kavanagh (Danielle Franke) searches for closure to this disturbing part of her life by revisiting the family cabin along with her friend Allison Chase (Kristina Hughes)."
- Comedy - 1st Bite (2006): "Set on a tropical island in Thailand, the strange plight of a beleaguered chef who, while romancing a mysterious woman, discovers the diabolical Zen of cooking. "
- Drama - After Freedom (2002): "A unique portrait of immigrants, feeling like outsiders, struggling to survive in America."
- Horror - Colour From the Dark (2008): "One day, while drawing water from the well, Pietro and Alice accidentally free something from Earth's womb. A strange and alien color flashes underwater, at the well's bottom, then disappears. From that moment on, inexplicable events start happening all around the farm, and by night the surrounding vegetation glitters with a sinister glow. The color soon takes hold of the whole farm, and dwelling inside Pietro and his family's minds, it brings them into its sick world of pain, blood and death."
- Sci-Fi & Fantasy - The Pagan Queen (2009): "A controversial film about the end of the old pagan world in central Europe, The Pagan Queen is based on the Czech legend of Libuse, the Slavic queen of 8th century Bohemia."
- Documentary - American Cannibal: The Road to Reality (2006): "Turns reality TV on its head as it chronicles the struggle of two writer/producers to get their pitch for a brutal, all or nothing TV show produced."
This channel is free, but it is ad-supported. The films I watched started with two commercials, and there was a minute-long commercial interruption every 10 minutes throughout the films. The commercial breaks sometimes extended somewhat longer as the AdRise ad server sometimes stalled for a minute or two. All in all, I found the commercials to be less of an intrusion than when watching some over-the-air stations.
Aside from the occasional AdRise delays, the films loaded quickly for me, and pauses for buffering were rare. Video quality is generally good, but not HD-quality, as pixelation is some pixelation is often noticible.
The channel is also fairly basic. There isn't any queue management, but you can resume playing movies mid-film even after fully exiting the channel. I don't know if this channel will receive regular updates, as there isn't a "new" category, but even if the collection is static, there are plenty of movies here to keep me entertained for quite some time.
Developer's Channel Description: Watch the best films of independent filmmakers from the US and around world for free.
CHANNEL STORE CATEGORY: Movies & TV