Disto packages 10 documentaries as series.

Documentary DVD distributor, Docurama—employing a novel marketing strategy—released the "Docurama Film Festival I" today (June 27).

The distributor has packaged ten award-winning DVD documentaries as a series, promoting the idea of a film festival that viewers can bring to their living rooms. The DVDs, available for purchase individually or as a set, are priced $26.95 each or $229.95 for all 10.

"It isn’t a festival that’s taking place in any particular city or at any particular point in time it’s rather just a way of gathering a collective bunch of fantastic films we think should be seen by a wider audience,” said Docurama head programmer Liz Ogilvie.

Hundreds of film festivals are held across the country every year but not all film lovers are able to attend. Even more, many films create a buzz then die out shortly after the festival ends, leaving most of the titles unknown by mainstream viewers. Seeing an audience for documentaries, the “Docurama Film Festival I” will seek to make these films more accessible by distributing to a wider audience and resurrecting festival worthy films.

“(These films) haven’t become mainstream but they’re really entertaining,” Ogilvie said. “They’re controversial, they’re risky and they really merit to be seen.”

Academy award nominated director, Tom Lending has two films in the series, “Legacy” and “Omar and Pete” which were aired on PBS and screened nationally.

“Legacy” chronicles the lives of a family of women living below the poverty line. Narrated by the youngest daughter of the family, the film gives a poignant and hopeful account of their triumph against hardship.

“I wanted to achieve a real sense of intimacy with the subjects,” Lending said on recruiting daughter, Nicole, to do the narration. “I just think it’s a much more powerful experience when you’re completely drawn into the world of your subjects,” Lending said.

“Omar and Pete” was born out of “Legacy.” When filming for “Legacy” Lending noted the absence of men in the community, which were either completely out of the picture, involved with crime and drugs, or in jail. “Omar and Pete” tells the story of these men, their victories and their failures, as they struggle to reenter society after prison.

“[Pete] and Omar were like twins. I mean, they look similar, they grew up in the same neighborhood, they are the same age they were hooked on the same drugs they were in and out of prison for the same length of time and one made it and one didn’t,” Lending said.

Some of the other films in the festival series are “Aging Out”, a story of turning 18 in the foster care system, “Broken Rainbow,” which follows a tribe of Navajos forced to leave their homeland, and “The Wobblies,” which sheds light on the turbulent history of the labor union.

But Lending—while excited at the prospect of having his work seen by a wider audience—is concerned about the financial impact that DVD distribution may have on his films’ revenue.

Schools and institutions, such as prisons, which have been an especially large market for Lending, are charged institutional prices to screen films. The institutional price can be up to eight times the price of an individual DVD. Now with the DVDs being mass distributed, it will be difficult to enforce institutional charges but Lending insists that having his work seen by a larger audience is a worthy trade off.

“While I may be hurt financially, in terms of what the film should be doing and its impact socially, this is the way to go,” he said.