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At a Los Angeles press conference today, Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam announced an expansion of the organization’s Artist Services Initiative that will bring independent films to digital platforms. Exclusively partnering with aggregator New Video, Sundance is offering its festival and lab films distribution opportunities on iTunes, Amazon, Hulu, Netflix and SundanceNOW. Filmmakers will retain ownership and control of their titles, will be free to publicize and market them, and Sundance will conduct its own marketing efforts as well as leverage the potency of its brand to gain the films wider audiences.

Commented Putnam, “By acting as a conduit between filmmaker and distributor, we are presenting an alternative to traditional distribution while building knowledge about online distribution strategies that will benefit the broader field of independent film. We’ve worked with these leaders in online distribution to make it easier for filmmakers to present their work to the widest audiences possible.”

Also announced as part of this initiative is a deal with Topspin Media, who will provide filmmakers with direct marketing tools and fulfillment services.

Today’s programs are part of the Artist Services Initiative, which supports filmmakers engaging in “creative distribution” as they seek new ways to finance, produce and release their films. At the festival in January Sundance announced other components of the Artist Services Initiative, including a collaboration with Kickstarter and a relationship with Facebook.

Commented Sundance Institute Founder and President Robert Redford, ““When I founded the Institute in 1981, it was at a time when a few studios ran the industry and an artist’s biggest concern was whether their film would get made. Technology has lessened that burden, but the big challenge today is how audiences can see these films. The Artist Services program is a direct response to that need. We’re not in the distribution business; we’re in the business of helping independent voices be heard.”

Today’s announcement makes a Sundance selection even more valuable. In addition to the visibility a festival berth brings, and the education and mentorship provided by the Labs, the Sundance imprimatur now means eligible Sundance filmmakers have not only a fast track into the digital distribution outlets cited above but also a valuable partner in cutting through online clutter.

Commented New Video President Susan Margolin at today’s press conference, “The filmmaker spends five to six years making their film, gets into Sundance, the fairy dust settles, and there’s no distribution. That’s unacceptable. In today’s environment there’s extremely powerful platforms that can be used to distribute these works.”

Taking advantage of these services will be two films that premiered at this year’s festival: Tiffany Shlain’s Connected, and Filmmaker 25 New Face Andrew Okpeaha Maclean’s On the Ice. Two other 25 New Face filmmakers will also release their films using the iniative’s services: Calvin Reeder, with his The Oregonian, and Adam Bowers with New Low. Other films to be released using initiative services include Jess + Moss, Lord Byron, Obselidia, Space Tourists, and The Woods.

Also announced today was the Artist Service Initiative’s website, currently in beta. It is described as “a private site for alumni to access information regarding distribution platforms, funding, marketing, and educational resources.”

Read the complete press release at the link.

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