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Streaming Video Guides

Use this guide to find streaming alternatives to Media Services DVDs.

DC Films

Titles Available as of July 2022

This is a selective list of streaming video holdings in the American University Library. Streaming guides are created by doing multiple keyword searches in the library catalog to capture as many titles on a topic as possible. For complete up-to-date streaming holdings, please refer to our streaming catalog.

Across the River: Saving America's Inner Cities

Hope is not what most Americans associate with the nation’s inner cities, but this program, with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hedrick Smith, offers a rare series of powerful and encouraging portraits of urban heroes who are reviving once-dying neighborhoods. Filmed in Washington, D.C., the program offers an almost unknown face of the inner city—one that contrasts sharply with the typical images of crime, drugs, and violence seen on the nightly news. The program features five different aspects of inner city development: a group of former drug users and criminals, who are now reaching out to juvenile offenders and fathers in prison, to show them how a life of drugs and crime is a dead-end; two school programs that use mentors and extensive job internships to achieve a graduation rate of 94% in an area where a 40% drop-out rate is the norm; a public housing project that is rehabilitating its tenants, not its buildings; a successful effort to attract the middle class back to an inner city area that was decimated during the crack epidemic of the 1980s; and an economic program that has led to the redevelopment of a shopping area, opening up new businesses, creating the services and jobs that anchor a community.

Beautiful Washington

Shows aerial views of Washington, D.C., and close-ups of the Capitol Dome, Union Station Plaza, the White House, Arlington Amphitheater, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the memorial to the Maine, Great Falls, cherry trees in bloom around Tidal Basin, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, National Airport, and the Commerce Department Building. Edward Mead, Commissioner of Reclamation, and his employees pose on the steps of the Interior Department Building. Includes views of an Army Day parade on Pennsylvania Avenue and a building under construction. 

Born to Entertain Anacostia Rollers & Friends

The Anacostia Rollers & Friends is a roller-skating group made up of seniors who have been performing for the Anacostia community and beyond for over twenty years- performing to improve community relations while showing their stuff. They are featured as part of a collaborative effort between the Anacostia Community Museum and AU's Community Voice Project to document public artists in the Anacostia community. 

Chinatown (Yi Chen, 2010)

Set in the historic Chinatown neighborhood in Washington, D.C., this observational documentary provides an insight into the impact of gentrification on the daily lives of its residents. The film intimately follows three residents over the course of a year. Their stories give voice to the community's attempt to preserve the culture and heritage they value.

Digital Stories

Seven short films by American University students from the Fall 2011 Community Documentary: Stories of Transformation class taught by Professor and Filmmaker, Nina Shapiro-Perl. 

Row the Anacostia by Bob "Coach" Day: A story by Bob "Coach" Day, a lifetime rower, his love for the Anacostia and his after school rowing program. In collaboration with River Finlay.

Sharifa by Kalin William: A story by Kalin William, her journey from a childhood in Senegal to a young adult in Anacostia, her rediscovery of nature and her life as a conservationist. In collaboration with Laura Franco Velasco.

Small Moments by Vaughn Perry: A story about Vaughn Perry and his path to becoming an environmentalist, his desire to share the environment with all people, and his quest to build bridges between different social groups. In collaboration with Robin Brown.

A Digital Story by Rodney Stotts: A story by Rodney Stotts, an ex-drug dealer, falconer and environmentalist, about the trials and tribulations involved in cleaning the dirtiest places. In collaboration with Kady Buchanan.

Connected by Design by Brenda Richardson: A story by Brenda Richardson, her life as an eco-feminist, and her link to the Anacostia. In collaboration with Erika Baumann and Allison Arlotta.

The Digital Story of Gabe Horchler by Gabe Horchler : A short story about Gabe commuting to work by boat, his love for the Anacostia River, and the pollution of the river. In collaboration with John Napolitano

Duke Ellington’s Washington: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of a Neighborhood

During the early 20th century, Washington, D.C., was the cultural capital of black America. Prefiguring Harlem in the 1920s, D.C.'s Uptown area nurtured dynamic figures such as Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes, Mary Church Terrell, Justice Thurgood Marshall, and Dr. Charles Drew. In this program, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hedrick Smith tells the often-overlooked story of the heyday, decline, and renewal of Uptown. 

The HistoryMakers Video Oral History with Carter Bowman

Church historian and graphic arts teacher Carter Bowman, Jr was born February 28, 1922, in Washington, D.C. Bowman earned his high school diploma at the Armstrong Technical School in 1939. He received his B.S. degree in graphic arts from the Tuskegee Institute in 1944, and his M.A. degree in education from the University of Pittsburgh in 1974. During World War II, he worked as a clerk for the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. From 1946 to 1948, he taught printing at Brown Junior High School before working for four years at Metro Printing, an African American owned publishing company. Bowman resumed his teaching career in 1952, and he taught graphic arts in the District of Colombia Public Schools until 1982. After his retirement, Bowman became an historian for Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, one of the oldest African American churches in Washington, D.C. Bowman passed away on September 16, 2014. 

Inside the American Museum of Natural History

From dinosaurs to meteorites to the origins of the human species, the American Museum of Natural History houses 32 million objects, is visited by over 4 million people annually, and has a stellar research staff that mounts over 100 expeditions every year. In this episode, we meet an American farm boy whose love for Africa changed the image of African wildlife from scary to noble. We witness the maing rituals of a 400 million year old crab species whose unique blood harbours secrets crucial to modern medicine, then crack open a dinosaur egg to uncover a clue that overturns a long held misconception about a supposedly murderous species. We run a relay race through Manhattan to investigate whether Incan knotted strings were capable of carrying encrypted messages, then blast off on a space mission to bring back comet dust that may hold the secret of how life began on Earth. And finally, we follow museum explorers as they capture animals to extract their DNA, to be preserved in the museum's sub-zero storage facility -- a blueprint of life for future generations. 

Inside the Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC

In this episode of "Museum Secrets," visit the Smithsonian Institute and learn about WWII Japanese Zero fighter planes, why Japanese squadrons ruled the skies, and how they were defeated. Meet military and civilian amputees who have been made whole by transplantation and learn about a homing pigeon who saved American lives in WWI. Witness the successful test of a rocket that could take humans to Mars, then reconstruct the bad-boy image of the Harley Davidson. And finally, meet aspiring vocalists who hope to perform the national anthem before a football game to discover why the Star Spangled Banner is so hard to sing.

Inside the White House: The Situation Room

An exclusive look inside one of the most secure spaces in the country, the White House Situation Room. 

J Street: The Art of the Possible

J Street is a term for one of Washington D.C.'s newest lobbies, a lobby in support of an Israeli two-state solution. This upstart lobby, less than five years old, sees itself as a David to the immensely powerful lobby American Jewish pro-Israel lobby. This feature length documentary tracks the J Street lobby as it attempts to change what it means to be pro-Israel in America. We watch as they struggle to influence the Obama administration towards taking an active role in negotiating a two-state solution. J Street is shot with the intimacy of cinema verite, and we feel the pulse of this grass-roots organization as they attend high-level strategy meetings and spend long, intense nights working towards their goal. J Street pulls us into this group of passionate lobbyists and their fervent efforts to persuade those in power. This documentary is at once a compelling story about the American political process at work and about the desperate need for Israel to reach a lasting peace. 

John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Produced and directed by six-time Emmy® winner Peter Kunhardt, along with Emmy® winners George Kunhardt and Teddy Kunhardt, John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls is a biographical profile of one of the most influential forces in modern American politics, Arizona Senator John McCain. The son and grandson of two Navy admirals, McCain is a former Navy pilot who was shot down in Vietnam and spent over five years in a POW camp, returning to forge a career as one of our country’s most passionate and formidable members of Congress. Now 81, the six-term Republican senator and two-time presidential candidate sat down for interviews for this film just a few weeks after being diagnosed with brain cancer in 2017, and provided unprecedented access to his daily life in Washington, D.C. and Sedona, Ariz. The film also features interviews with family, friends, colleagues and leading political figures. 

Lionell Simpson Interview, July 27, 2019

Lifelong DC resident Lionell Simpson shares his experiences skating in Anacostia Park. He started skating at the Anacostia rink at the age of four with his stepmother, and later became a performer and volunteer rink guard. He explains why he loves skating and the hard work it takes to win a gold medal. Lionell reflects on the friendly people he's met at Anacostia Park, and expresses how he'd like to see the Park and the skating rink updated. Above all, he stresses his passion for skating: "this is my life ... it's fundamental." 

The Loving Story

On June 2, 1958, Richard Loving and his fiancee Mildred Jeter traveled from Caroline County, VA, to Washington, D.C. to be married. Later, the newlyweds were arrested, tried and convicted of the felony crime of miscegenation. Two young ACLU lawyers took on the Lovings case, fully aware of the challenges posed. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in their favor on June 12, 1967 and resulted in sixteen states being ordered to overturn their bans on interracial marriage. 

The March on Washington, 1963

his period film footage captures the mood and the magic of the civil rights march in Washington, D.C., in August 1963, through stirring scenes such as huge crowds singing, thousands of marchers carrying signs, musical performances, and speakers at the podium, including the Reverend Martin Luther King.

Minority Health

Healthy living presents special challenges for members of minorities living in lower-income neighborhoods-particularly senior citizens. This program examines those challenges, and the health problems that can result, by focusing on African-Americans and Latinos. Host Dr. Kevin Soden speaks with Dr. Terrance Fullham about difficulties faced by older African-Americans, including obesity and limitations on access to health care, highlighted by a case study of the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Then, Dr. Mark Hathaway leads the discussion on health issues facing Latinos, which are further complicated by language barriers.

Mr. Cao Goes to Washington

What happens when the naiveté of a political rookie clashes with the realities of racial politics of the American South and ultra-partisan struggles in Washington DC? MR. CAO GOES TO WASHINGTON follows the unexpected journey of Rep. Joseph Cao-the first Vietnamese American elected to the US Congress, the only non-white House Republican of the 111th Congress, and the only Republican to vote for President Obama's Health Care Reform Bill. Will Cao keep his integrity and idealism intact? 

The Music District

The video swings to the beat of four vibrant but little known African-American musical traditions, such as go-go music, flourishing within the Washington D.C. metro area.

Orphan Elephants, Leopard Seals, Anacostia River Cleanup, Green Sea Turtles - Wild Chronicles

At a wildlife sanctuary in Kenya, a team of conservationists raises orphaned elephants. The keepers must stay by the elephants' sides 24-hours a day in the hopes that they may return to the wild one day. A biologist searches for leopard seals among the Antarctic ice. Researchers deploy Crittercam to explore the lives of these relentless hunters. Join conservationists as they fight against the tide of garbage to support the cleanup effort in Washington, D.C., along the banks of the Anacostia River. Florida's Indian River Lagoon is home to endangered green sea turtles, who show increasing number of tumors. Dr. Brady Barr examines how pollution impacts this epidemic - with the hopes of rehabilitation. 

Pamela Vaughan Interview, August 24, 2019

Pamela "Pam" Vaughn, who grew up in Anacostia, reflects on her experiences skating and with Anacostia Park. She discusses how she comes to the Park almost every weekend, and loves the free events and friendly people. She remembers when the skating rink was built and skating there as a child. Some of her favorite memories of the park include potlucks with family from near and far. In the future, she wouldn't change anything about the park except for some minor updates. Pam expresses her gratitude to those who organize free events at the park: "there's always something here." 

A Personal Journey With Maya Lin, Artist and Architect

Sculptor, architect, and designer Maya Lin catapulted to prominence when, as a senior at Yale University, she was chosen to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. In this program, Bill Moyers talks with her about her upbringing and multifaceted career.

Re-Storying the Anacostia River

A compelling case is made that the best way to serve the continuing clean up of the Anacostia River is to change how we talk about it. The hope is that by changing the story of the Anacostia from that of a dirty, polluted mess to that of a valuable, beautiful wild place that is an asset to the community, an unconscious shift will take place resulting in the community at large taking a greater role in the protection of the river. 

Saint Elizabeth's Hospital, A Brief History

A brief documentary on the historic Washington, DC hospital, Saint Elizabeth's.

Sheila Linder Interview, July 27, 2019

Sheila Linder describes what Anacostia Park and skating means to her. She appreciates the programs and activities they provide for the kids, and remembers coming to events at the Park throughout the summer. She loves the music, skating, and entertainment at the Park and while some things have changed, she shares that most things have stayed the same. 

60 Minutes: The Capitol Dome

May 15, 2014 - The iconic skyline symbol of our democracy, the dome of the Capitol in Washington D.C., has not been refurbished in over 50 years. Scott Pelley reports on an ambitious restoration project for the 150-year-old structure.

Southwest Remembered: A Story of Urban Renewal 

Describes an urban renewal project in the Southwest section of Washington, D.C.

Toby Town, U.S.A.: A Way of Life 

A look at the life of the underprivileged Afro-Americans of Tobytown, Maryland. Discusses their problems and attempts to help improve their situation. Includes interviews with county leaders who attempt to help the Tobytown community. 

Washington, D.C.

This early documentary from the Ford Motor Company shows street scenes of Washington, DC in the early 20th Century. 

Washington D.C. City Guide : Pilot Guides 

They say that nobody's really from Washington, D.C., a town called the murder capital and the capital of espionage. In this Pilot Guides episode Justine Shapiro goes beyond the myths to learn about real Washingtonians, from the corridors of power, to the bluegrass bars, to the hot international restaurants, to the indigenous music and good-time vibe of the new U Street. As a special guest of Orrin Hatch, Republican senator from Utah, she walks right into the U.S. Capitol building and meets the Senate Majority Leader. She visits the Smithsonian's American History Museum, she joins in a step dance rehearsal on U Street, and attends a civil war re-enactment at Cedar Creek. She ends her trip at Mount Vernon, home to the founder of Washington D.C., George Washington himself. 

What Happened 2 Chocolate City

What Happened 2 Chocolate City (WH2CC) is a feature length documentary, exploring the rise and decline of one of our nation's most prominent Black communities through the narrative of three individuals. John, Mike, and Zarina, each represent a generational experience many Black Washingtonians faced over the past century. 


The Day the Earth Stood Still

"The Day the Earth Stood Still" is 20th Century Fox's contemporary reinvention of its 1951 classic. Keanu Reeves portrays Klaatu, an alien whose arrival on our planet triggers a global upheaval. As governments and scientists race to unravel the mystery behind the visitor's appearance, a woman (Jennifer Connelly) and her young stepson get caught up in his mission -- and come to understand the ramifications of his being a self-described "friend to the Earth." 


JACKIE is a searing and intimate portrait of one of the most important and tragic moments in American history, seen through the eyes of the iconic First Lady, then Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (Natalie Portman). JACKIE places us in her world during the days immediately following her husband's assassination. Known for her extraordinary dignity and poise, here we see a psychological portrait of the First Lady as she struggles to maintain her husband's legacy and the world of "Camelot" that they created and loved so well. 

Minority Report

Based on a Philip K. Dick short story, Minority Report is about a cop in the future working in a division of the police department that arrests killers before they commit the crimes courtesy of some future viewing technology. Cruise's character has the tables turned on him when he is accused of a future crime and must find out what brought it about and stop it before it can happen. 

Sherlock Holmes in Washington

Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson travel to Washington D.C. in order to prevent a secret document from falling into enemy hands.