Wired has an article up about how Netflix is quietly but successfully moving into film distribution. Movies they've picked up have gone on to HBO, wider DVD release, and even theatrical runs.
Like the Miramax of old, they're advocates of the little guy, haunting festivals looking for product. Festivals too exclusive for you? There's a link on Netflix.com where you can submit your film.
Most interesting, I think, is how the Netflix recommendations engine relates here. Netflix knows a tremendous amount about its subscribers, and can tell whether you might like some little flick by an unknown filmmaker, which makes their distribution play low-risk and high-reward.
Robust affinity sorting is incredibly powerful: a good engine knows that THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY and THE PHILADELPHIA STORY are both romantic comedies, but are fundamentally different. And which one you're likely to watch-- or buy.