Through an agreement with Element Pictures Distribution, Netflix has now added more than 20 Irish films to its library of content for subscribers in Ireland and the UK, bringing home-grown cinema to a wider audience.
“This is another step in Element’s commitment to make the best of Irish film available to as wide an audience as possible across Ireland and the UK,” said Karen O’Malley, head of home entertainment at Element Pictures Distribution. “Netflix is key to helping us achieve this in the online space and we are delighted to partner with them.”
The films added are a mix of the critically acclaimed, award winners and recent hits. Familiar faces crop up – like Pat Shortt in Lenny Abrahamson’s Garage, Ireland’s most successful film at the box office in 2007 – while there are also some unknowns, like the two young protagonists in Lance Daly’s Kisses.
Ken Wardrop’s award-winning His & Hers documentary also makes an appearance, as does Five Minutes of Heaven directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, who also brought us Downfall. The film stars Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt and took home both Best Director and Best Screenplay at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.
Teaming up with Freesat
Meanwhile, in the UK, Netflix has partnered with Freesat, a joint venture in satellite television owned by the BBC and ITV. Freesat set-top boxes already let users access satellite TV services for free, but the latest box will also come with Netflix streaming and will allow viewers to catch up on TV they may have missed up to eight days after the original broadcast.
The partnership represents a direct challenge to BSkyB and the pay-TV market, as more free-to-air options become available to customers.