Skip to main content
Media Beat

It’s SWANK, and It’s Swell!

This blog post is one of a series that highlights Media Services’ online streaming databases. More information and a full list of streaming databases is available here. Visit our department home page to discover the many ways we support teaching, research, and learning with both streaming and physical formats!

Swank is an online platform where IU students, staff, and faculty can watch feature films. Online streaming services are a modern convenience, but the St. Louis-based Swank company has actually been active since 1937. The founder, P. Ray Swank, got his start offering projection service “on demand” and on location. There were plenty of movie theaters back then, but, just like today, people also needed to show films outside the theater environment (think classrooms, churches, union halls). That’s where Swank’s service filled a gap. Back in the day, the Swank company would show up with a 16-mm projector, some film canisters, and a human being to roll film, change reels, and fix breakdowns. Today’s Swank service does a similar thing, minus the canisters and projector. Nowadays, the company works with universities, hospitals, and even cruise ships, providing a digital platform and taking care of the legal side of distribution and licensing for feature-film content.  

Indiana University Bloomington Access Page for Swank Streaming Service. 13 Mar 2019,

At IU, many different departments use feature films as teaching tools. The Media School is an obvious example. But because feature films can help shed light on practically any aspect of human experience, films are used in history and arts courses, cultural studies, gender studies, and others. Classes in the hard sciences can use Swank as well, to discuss ideas like how science is depicted in Frankenstein (1931), or the implications of artificial intelligence as shown in Ex Machina (2015).

Frankenstein. Digital Image. IU Swank. 2 March 2019.

All you need to access this resource is an internet connection. Just enter your IU login credentials at this link: There are over 200 films that you can watch from all sorts of genres and decades. As the collection expands, there is more to browse through. However, if you are looking for something in particular, Swank also has an advanced search tool, plus an option for searching by genre.

Advanced Search. Digital Image. IU Swank. 2 March 2019.

IU provides the Swank service so that instructors can require feature films in their course curricula. But you can also watch films on Swank for their sheer entertainment value! There is some crossover between the titles on Swank and other services (like Netflix), but Swank has some content not found elsewhere. If you want to use film resources to enrich a class research project, be sure to check Swank!

Mexico Remixed: Swank highlights

Throughout Spring 2019, IU continues to celebrate Mexico Remixed. There are classic and contemporary Mexican and Mexican-American films available for viewing on SWANK! Check out this sampling below, browse in IUCAT, or go directly to the Swank platform itself.

American Me

American me poster. Digital Image. 15 December 2017

IUCAT summary: Inspired by a true story, this is the story of a vicious Latino prison gang leader, doomed by his past to a life of harsh, unforgiving violence after his release from jail. He grows up in East Los Angeles, joins a street gang and is in prison while he is still of an age to be in high school. By the time he is back on the streets again, he is a skillful, educated criminal.

Frida poster. Digital Image. 8 December 2017.


IUCAT summary: The life of artist Frida Kahlo, from her humble upbringing to her worldwide fame and controversy that surrounded both her and her husband, Diego Rivera.

Bread and Roses

IUCAT summary: A group of immigrant workers takes a stand against the million dollar corporations who employ them.

Bread and Roses poster. Digital Image. 4 November 2017.

More titles:

Like Water for Chocolate

Pan’s Labyrinth

Sin Nombre

Born in East L.A.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.