Netflix in some regions has a hidden movie/series library; Here’s why

Netflix logos – Image: Adobe Stock

There are countless articles on the internet (including on this page) about the so-called “hidden categories” in Netflix’s catalog, and while they uncover titles buried in the Netflix library, some regions of Netflix have hidden libraries that cannot be uncovered using of codes or searches. The hidden library has caused controversy in recent weeks, so let’s take a closer look at what the hidden library is and why it is one.

Recently the Palestinian film Farha made headlines because its worldwide availability on Netflix sparked controversy in Israel and in some parts of the world because it shows a Palestinian point of view on the exodus of Palestinians in 1948 after the establishment of the state of Israel.

In France, however, the film sparked another controversy surrounding its lack of availability on Netflix in France.

And it’s true. If you are a French Netflix user, Farha is not playable and you can only add it to your list when it becomes available.

fahra availability on netflix france

Farha is unavailable on Netflix France

Some conspiracy theories arose, such as pressure from Israel, but the reason for its unavailability is much more mundane and affects how Netflix operates its service in France.

Fahra is available worldwide on Netflix, but only with Arabic and English subtitles. And if your preferred language for Netflix is ​​French, the movie will not appear in the catalog. This issue also extends across multiple languages.

On my French Netflix account, when I change the interface language to English, “Farha” appears and can be seen.

Back in July, Netflix announced that it was launching a new collection of 21 films directed by female filmmakers from the Arab world.

Arabic movies netflix

Arabic movie announcement on the Netflix blog

In France you only have access to one of these 21 movies if your service is in French and if you switch to English and you now have access to 8 movies.

Arabic movies available on netflix in France vs other regions

Because she created the collection on Netflix France vs USA

The others may be locked due to territorial rights in France, but still, there is quite a large part of the collection that is inaccessible due to a small setting in your account. Another example of that is the Netflix Original Columbian series The unbroken voice which managed to reach the number 1 spot of the most watched international series in the world last week. But that series is also not available on Netflix France unless you switch to English as your interface language.

After the outcry over Fahraprovided Netflix France with a statement Allocine (translated into English) which reads:

“We present to our subscribers our personalized recommendations based on various factors such as taste clusters, device used, viewing history… One of the important criteria is the subscriber’s preferred language. When a movie or series has no soundtrack or subtitles in the subscriber’s preferred language , the title is considered non-relevant and therefore unavailable. This is the case for “Fahra”, and all you have to do is switch your account to English and the title will be available. This is not an isolated case. In fact, several unavailable programs without French soundtrack or subtitles in the same situation”.

So it makes you wonder how deep the hidden catalog is and to be honest it’s quite impossible to know since no website has tried to list the hidden content but some movies tend to be unavailable more than others. Movies from India and the Middle East, for example, are mostly unavailable unless you change the language, movies from Poland as well and some from Latin America, but also some series from Scandinavian countries, Australia, USA and Canada like “Kim’s Convenience”.

Global streaming services take different approaches. Amazon Prime Video, for example, shows all available movies, regardless of whether they have French audio or subtitles. It creates situations where you launch an Indian movie when the only subtitles available are Hindi and you just can’t understand what you’re watching if you’re not fluent enough in that language. So it makes sense, in a way, for Netflix to hide titles that it assumes you won’t be able to understand.

However, there is a simple solution to that problem. In the settings for your account, there are two different language options you can choose:

language settings for netflix

Language settings for Netflix

The first is the display language. It is the one that unlocks the hidden directory of Netflix if your language is not set to English. The second is “Shows and Movies languages” where you can choose the language you are more comfortable with and which you prefer to choose from when watching a program. The simple solution would be to unlock the hidden directory based on your preferences in the second menu. If you choose “English” as one of the languages ​​in which you want to watch programs, the system will offer you movies and series that are only available in that language, regardless of which language you have chosen as the default language for the service.

There is one more mystery to solve. The way Netflix France explains why “Fahra” is unavailable seems to be an exception. If I switch my French Netflix account to Spanish, the movie is available even though there is no Spanish soundtrack or Spanish subtitles.

But that’s another mystery for another day.

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