Of the 120 or so feature films that play at the Sundance Film Festival every year, only about half wind up being released in U.S. theaters. Another couple dozen premiere on cable, and a few more go straight to DVD -- though of course no one ever hears about them, since they were under-the-radar indies that didn't play theatrically. Such is life.
There's often a certain fairness to this, as it's often the mediocre or bad films that get swept into oblivion. But sometimes good movies get this treatment, too, worthy flicks that just couldn't attract a theatrical distributor but did manage to make it to DVD. I've been keeping track of these titles over the years, and here are seven of them. They never played on the silver screen outside of film festivals, but you can find them all on small silver discs through Amazon and Netflix.
Run Ronnie Run! (Sundance 2002). This hilariously offensive satire was spun off from HBO's Mr. Show, featuring an oft-arrested white trash dunce named Ronnie Dobbs (David Cross) who becomes famous after he gets his own Cops-like reality show. The behind-the-scenes skirmishes are already known to hardcore Mr. Show fans -- creators David Cross and Bob Odenkirk clashed with the director, Troy Miller, and eventually disavowed the film -- but the movie is nearly as funny as the sketch show that spawned it.
Devil's Playground (Sundance 2002). To outsiders, one of the most fascinating aspects of the Amish community is rumspringa, wherein Amish teens are let loose to explore the world and get a taste of earthly pleasures before committing themselves forevermore to the simple life. This documentary by Lucy Walker follows the paths of several such teens as they sow their wild oats, providing a glimpse into a world most of us have no contact with, and telling a compelling story in the process.