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Short films from the upcoming Sundance film festival will be released through Apple's iTunes for download. Documentary, animated and drama shorts from the 2007 Sundance Film Festival will go on sale at $1.99 each on the iTunes Store from Monday, 22 January.

Movies will be drawn from a slate of 71 short films from 19 countries screening at the independent festival. iTunes will also offer free podcasts going behind-the-scenes at Sundance and covering filmmakers' panels and live music performances.

Sundance will also stream a selection of short films online, free of charge, through its website, after they've appeared at the festival. Material will be streamed online from 18 January for three months. Digital distribution firm Mediastile is handling the technology in the virtual projector room.

The standard of work aired during the festival is variable, an observation that applies as much to shorts as to feature films.

But over the years the Sundance Film Festival Shorts Program has helped discover and nurture new talent. Directors who went on to bigger and better things including Spike Jones (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation), Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia and Punch-Drunk Love) and Nicole Holofcener (who directed three episodes of Six Feet Under).

The Festival is the main annual gig of the Sundance Institute, a nonprofit cultural organisation founded by actor Robert Redford. The main program of the festival will feature 125 feature-length films, including a number of documentaries, which are increasingly finding their way to the public through cinema screens as apposed to the more traditional route of television. ®

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