The new book by Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine, tells us that information wants to be Free today, so why not documentary films, too? Ted Leonsis, the former vice chairman of AOL turned documentarian, created the website SnagFilms specifically to publicize the hundreds of worthwhile documentaries that will never get distribution through our celebrity-obsessed culture. Leonsis knows what he’s talking about — his documentary isn’t about Britney Spears, it’s about the Rape of Nanking (and it still won a Peabody and got shown on HBO).

Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) is a big fan of SnagFilms, and on the site you can not only watch him blowing chunks of McDonalds, but his more recent work, too, such as What Would Jesus Buy? (Spurlock produced). “Getting documentaries distributed is really difficult,” Spurlock said. “Distributors pay very nominally. Ted’s plan is to let the world see these films — like an online festival. If enough people watch, then the films can jump to TV.”

Leonsis says there are 1,000 documentaries on the year-old Snag website — at least 25 of them with environmental themes — and while their auteurs are not getting rich, they are sharing in ad revenue. And people are watching them: SnagFilms allows bloggers like me to post films in their entirety, albeit for limited times.

So today’s feature is The Entrepreneur, a documentary about the storied Malcolm Bricklin. Watch the whole thing right here:

Famous for building a gull-winged sports car and naming it after himself before John DeLorean did the same thing — and even more famous for importing the Yugo — Bricklin (pictured below) went eco, sold electric bicycles and fuel cells, then spent four years trying to become the first U.S.-based importer of fuel-efficient, affordable Chinese cars. The film documents his quixotic attempt — it ended in a lawsuit — to forge a lasting deal with Chery Automobile.


You have to hurry! The Entrepreneur, directed by Bricklin's son and part of a Summerfest showcase of films before they reach theaters, is only viewable until midnight Thursday night. So grab some popcorn and snuggle up next to your computer. I guarantee Malcolm Bricklin is worth 90 minutes of your time. “He’s a risk taker,” says Spurlock, who executive produced the film. It’s all about the art of the deal with him. If he’s not making a deal, he gets stir-crazy. If a company is functioning and providing jobs to people, including him, it’s time to move on.”

MNN homepage photo: All-Star Globe Photos

Jim Motavalli ( @jmotavalli ) writes about cars, technology and the environmental world to anyone curious enough to ask.

Watch Morgan Spurlock's new documentary for free on MNN
Film distribution turns documentary auteurs into indentured slaves, so why not create online theaters on a zillion computer screens? His new one, which you can