Spike Lee to preside over 'democratising' online film festival
Never one to let grass grow under his feet, Spike Lee is intent on remaking filmmaking, or at least film distribution and the very definition of what a film festival can be, or become. The industry, and filmmakers will watch this closely; time will tell whether audiences will ultimately do likewise, or if this will be yet another channel in the multi-hued universe of new cinema. Stay tuned. - MS
US filmmaker Spike Lee, who is to preside over an online film festival to be hosted by web network Babelgum, on Saturday hailed the "democratising" nature of the event.
"There's this misconstrued thinking that all talent is in Los Angeles or New York," he told a news conference announcing the festival that Babelgum, a free-to-view Internet television network, will kick off in February 2008.
"Where you live is no longer a hindrance," he said, even if "you're stuck in Bumfuck, Idaho."
Open to films screened at international film festivals between January 2007 and next February, the festival begins February 15, when the public will be able to rate the films online in six categories including short film, documentary, animation, social/environment and advertising.
A sixth category, the "Looking for Genius Award", is for "new or emerging talent who display clear and outstanding achievement."
Organisers expect thousands of entries, which can be no more than 45 minutes long, 20 minutes for short films.
Nine jurors drawn from the cinema industry will judge the leading 10 in each category, while Lee will review their top three picks in each. Winners will pocket 20,000 euros (27,000 dollars).
"When I was starting out there was no Internet, I was in the prehistoric age," said Lee, who made his 1986 hit "She's Gotta Have It" for 175,000 dollars.
"Now, if you have a film and you're talented, if someone hasn't seen it, it's your fault," Lee said. "Talent isn't a problem. There's an abundance of talent. This is an opportunity to showcase your talent."