YouTube announced today that it has partnered with the Sundance Film Festival to make life a little easier on independent filmmakers. Between the dates of January 22 (this Friday) and Sunday, January 31, the video sharing site will offer five popular films from the 2010 and 2009 festivals.

Additionally, a small collection of rental videos from other US partners will also be made available in the weeks ahead, and YouTube is calling for more upcoming filmmakers to join the rental program as part of its "Filmmakers Wanted" campaign at the festival.

YouTube acknowledges that it's increasingly difficult to be a small-time filmmaker. Advances in technology have made it easier and cheaper than ever to produce films, and that translates to more competition for viewership, which often means that a boatload of marketing cash is needed – something the little guy doesn't have.

Content owners can decide how much the videos will cost to rent, and how long they'll be available. Google Checkout will handle the payments to boot, and there is no mention of a price on the first round of videos, but I assume they'll be a bargain.