Thanks to a recent arrangement between the Sundance Institute, which operates the festival, and the Manhattan distributor New Video, six Web homes — Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, iTunes, YouTube and SundanceNOW — are making... any... eligible Sundance film, available for streaming online. The option is open to every film ever shown at the festival, or brought to a Sundance lab, or given a Sundance grant. Filmmakers don’t surrender their rights. They (17 so far, with thousands of potential participants) can opt to go with any or all of the half-dozen sites. They have, in essence, a guaranteed means of distribution.
Well, well... as stated, virtually thousands of films are eligible for this, with those that never received (or never will receive) any form of distribution, or that were (or will be) buried/lost/shelved/etc for whatever reasons, in a position to gain the most from the initiative.
Obviously, it's not all so easily embraced, as there are rights issues involved, specifically with those older films already owned by distribution companies, whether or not the companies released the films, or just didn't do a good enough job getting them in front of audiences, and the films have long been forgotten.
But, as noted, every film with the Sundance stamp of approval (and not only those that get into the festival, as noted in the indented portion above), no matter what, is eligible for the distribution program; so for those films that get into the festivals every year but leave without being acquired, and are never picked up, or face difficulties in attracting traditional distribution, it's good to know that this will be available to you; you'll know that, at worst, you film is guaranteed to be available to audiences (widely so) on Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, and others.
Something to keep an eye on going forward; curious to see how it's received by filmmakers, and how it'll affect the choices they make if/when in a position to take advantage of it.
Read the full New York Times piece HERE.