I’ve previously written about Criterion’s innovative try-before-you-buy work, and the company continues to impress. According to Film Comment, they teamed up in November 2008 with The Auteurs, a fresh-faced startup out of Palo Alto which combines social networking with online film distribution. The emphasis is on under-the-radar cinema presented in high-quality streams. You can then join rate and review (like Amazon or IMDB), and naturally discover more films. As their site puts it: “Our film library is brimming with visionary films that wouldn’t fill a single cinema in Australia for a week – not even a day… but say you searched the world (all of it), you might just find an audience of a thousand for this rare cinematic treat.”
This is exactly the kind of globalized niche publishing people like Mike Shatzkin have been professing for a while. The first publisher/distributor to crack this market — willing to approach a kind of territy-agnoticism, too — will truly own publishing online.
(What to start with? I recommend Antonioni’s masterpiece L’Avventura.)