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Film Festival Bows DVD Line

28 Sep, 2005 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Fifteen-year-old independent film festival Cinequest has launched a DVD label and partnership with online rental pioneer Netflix.

Under the deal, San Jose, Calif.-based Cinequest is giving Netflix rental rights to six films previously shown at the festival. The titles also are available for sale on DVD at Cinequest Online and Amazon.com.

Titles include the documentary Awful Normal ($9.98), about a woman who confronts her molester; Cry Funny ($14.99), in which a group of friends meet to celebrate a 30th birthday and discover a lot more about each other; the documentary Fandom, which explores one man's obsession with actress Natalie Portman; Rock & Roll Superhero, which showcases a suburban indie-rock band; the thriller Seizing Me; and the comedy Terrorists, an unbridled look at homeland security.

Company spokesperson Jens Michael Hussey said Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings suggested a DVD label to the owners of Cinequest to help differentiate the film festival from the competition.

“We are only one of two film festivals that has its own DVD label, the other being Sundance,” Hussey said. “We don't accept outside acquisitions. The films either premiered at the festival or online on our site. If the film premiered at another show, it won't be on our site.”

With 40,000 registered subscribers, the company's Web site (www.cinequest.com) offers free legal downloads of thousands of shorts and feature films. The idea is to afford filmmakers a place to showcase product and build a virtual audience.“It bypasses the Hollywood business model,” Hussey said. “We are a film festival that offers a less-expensive marketing tool that directly reaches out to a specific audience that is buying this particular product. It is an audience that is very underserved.”

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