The Sundance Channel is moving into the VOD day-and-date arena with the announcement of Sundance Selects.

Starting on August 26 with Spike Lee’s new documentary Passing Strange: The Movie, the service will offer films endorsed by Sundance Film Festival founder Robert Redford often on the same day they open in theatres.

Sundance Selects will be available on cable TV systems owned by Comcast Corp, Cox Communications and Cablevision Systems Corp, providing the gateway to a market of up to 50million viewers.

“At Sundance, increasing the size of the market for independent film has always been our mission, in addition to just giving exposure to new voices, so this allows us to electronically take that vision to a broader group,” Redford, who will be instrumental in programming, said.

Passing Strange: The Movie premiered at Sundance earlier this year and captures on film the Broadway musical of the same name that tells of a young black man finding his way in life.

The service will launch with five other titles: Sundance 2009 opener Mary And Max from Australian director Adam Elliot, Unmade Beds from Alexis Dos Santos, as well as the documentaries Complete History Of My Sexual Failures, Kassim The Dream, and Nick Nolte: No Exit.

Rainbow CEO Joshua Sapan said the number of titles would increase as the service reached more homes, adding that the focus on non-fiction and foreign-language films was designed to tap an underserved market.