By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 19, 2012 at 1:08PM
It's no secret for film festivalgoers that the best titles tend to be documentaries. And yet they are often not released widely outside of major cities. Thus the folks at Sundance Selects have not only launched their digital sister online site SundanceNow ("a new online destination for independent film") but a VOD subscriber site for doc lovers as well. Doc Club offers subscribers eight new titles a month for $3.99, or $19.99 a year.
IFC and Sundance Selects have seen growth in the popularity of docs through their own releases of "Buck," "Tabloid" and "Cave of Forgotten Dreams." Now they are curating a series that combines new and classic, lesser-known titles.
"The important thing is curation," says Doc Club booker Thom Powers, who not only programs for the Toronto International Film Festival but IFC's DOC NYC and seven-year-old Tuesday night doc "Stranger than Fiction" at New York's IFC Center. Powers keeps hearing from cinephiles who wish that his series existed in their home town. Well, now it does: via Internet streaming.
We're all inundated with a plethora of choices. Most sites offering movies are like giant warehouses of titles. Powers calls them "the good, the bad, and the ugly." But how to choose? "The consumer doesn't have time to wade through all that stuff," Powers says. "Doc Club gives them a thoughtful selection."
Doc Club is on the right track, judging from their efforts so far. Each month they choose eight titles built around a theme. They started off in Beta mode in March with "A Spotlight on Errol Morris." Part Two is in April: not only classic "Gates of Heaven" but his entire rarely shown First Person TV series, real gems of short filmmaking. May's theme is "Art for Everyone," from recent "Bill Cunningham New York," "Ballet Russe" and Terry Gilliam doc "Lost in the LaMancha," to less well-known "L'Amour Fou" and "Waiting for Hockney."
Upcoming months feature election-year-themed "Power to the People," featuring Goran Olssen's "The Black Power Mixtape" and Sam Green's "The Weather Underground," as well as "Going to Extremes," which offers Kevin Macdonald's must-see survival story "Touching the Void" and "Cul de Sac: A Suburban War Story," from the late Garett Scott, about a crystal meth addict who stole a tank from a Navy base. That I have to see. Doc Club also provides Powers' commentaries and special extras.
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