The UK-based Artificial Eye is a specialty distributor that specializes in arthouse films, and it has one hell of a catalogue that will hit pretty much any indie genre taste. Kevin Smith's Clerks and Robert Altman's Short Cuts are listed with foreign language greats like Claire Denis' Beau Travail and almost anything by Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski. In the realm of new cinema, they've got the likes of the Eros anthology from Wong Kar Wai, Steven Soderbergh and Michelangelo Antonioni, as well as Denis Dercourt's The Page Turner. (Not to mention trailers and lots of information on the films in the distributor's inventory.)

Now Variety has reported that Artificial Eye has made a 3-year deal with Arts Alliance Media to make their films available for download. The plan: Arts Alliance will get the films from Eye, digitize and encrypt them, and make them available to Lovefilm and AOL customers. The first released under the partnership is Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, which chronicles a full-length soccer game completely filmed from the perspective of French soccer star Zinedine Zidane -- and is currently available through Lovefilm's web subscription service.

Hopefully this is the first step towards getting wide access to the hard-to-find and forgotten films that have no spot on the shelves of chain rental stores or grocery store video racks. With all of the crap that gets released on DVD monthly, there's a ton of films that aren't considered cost-effective. Maybe deals like this will mean that one day we won't have to throw in an over-watched videotape while continually adjusting the tracking button, just to see a great movie that's out of print.