A cinematic gold rush is in full swing among boutique home-video distributors. Thanks to labels such as the Criterion Collection, it’s never been easier for movie fans to access rare film treasures. One of the best companies mining the past is the little-known Fun City Editions, which focuses on Blu-ray disk reissues of “maverick repertory cinema.” After just a couple of years in business, founder Jonathan Hertzberg has re-released enough under-discussed deep cuts to capture the approval of even the most well-versed cinephiles, such as Quentin Tarantino.

Director David Greene on the set of I Start Counting!, from 1970.

Two of F.C.E.’s early offerings—David Greene’s genre-defying “I Start Counting!” (1970) and Arthur Barron’s tender Jeremy (1973)—caught the attention of the Pulp Fiction writer-director, who hailed them as some of his favorite discoveries. It was an endorsement that immediately elevated F.C.E. to blue-chip status among cinéastes.

“That was really a shock,” says Hertzberg, of Tarantino’s seal of approval. “It got some more people to pay attention to those films. It felt very flattering and very fortunate to have something like that happen so early on in our existence.”

Jenny Agutter in I Start Counting!

Hertzberg’s strategy for choosing films is simple in some ways, he says.

“I like to find films that feel a little left-field, that are a little hard to pin down, which somehow did not fit neatly into the marketplace at the time of their initial release.”

“That was really a shock,” says Hertzberg, of Tarantino’s seal of approval. “It got some more people to pay attention to those films.”

Named after the ironic name for the notoriously seedy New York City of the bankrupt 70s, Fun City Editions began its vault-digging, posterity-driven mission to restore and release forgotten gems in the early days of the pandemic, when revival houses were shuttered. For the 43-year-old Hertzberg, the idea was especially personal.

“I’ve been captivated by and fixated on films since I was five years old,” says Hertzberg. “I knew early on that I wanted to do something in film when I grew up.”

Utilizing contacts and abilities he developed while working in theatrical sales first at IFC Films and then Kino Lorber, Hertzberg has become a tenacious detective when it comes to the tangled process of tracking down rights and negotiating deals in order to acquire the out-of-circulation movies he’s zeroed in on for his fledgling collection. As a result, F.C.E. has grown its library of pristinely presented “outside of their time” titles, releasing everything from Primetime Panic—a boxed set containing an unusually good trio of 80s made-for-TV movies—to Frank Perry’s overlooked Rancho Deluxe (1975), starring Jeff Bridges in a terrific proto-Dude turn and featuring an original soundtrack by Jimmy Buffett.

Robby Benson and Glynnis O’Connor in Jeremy, from 1973.

“If I can find some crucial ways in which [Fun City Editions selections] connect with more current films, that’s the sweet spot,” says Hertzberg. Hitting that bull’s-eye is his upcoming release of Ivan Passer’s Born to Win (1971)—starring the late George Segal, and featuring a young Robert De Niro—which surely has had a strong influence on the fringe-dwelling Manhattan mania of the Safdie brothers.

Curators such as Hertzberg remind one of Martin Scorsese’s Harper’s essay from last year, in which he condemned the content-ification of film and made the impassioned plea: “Those of us who know the cinema and its history have to share our love and our knowledge with as many people as possible. And we have to make it crystal clear to the current legal owners of these films that they amount to much, much more than mere property to be exploited and then locked away.”

Thankfully we have Fun City Editions, reverently doing its part.

Spike Carter is a writer and filmmaker. His next project is a documentary about Eric Roberts