World’s first online film festival goes live


10 Mar 2008

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Dublin-based internet television company Babelgum is launching what it claims is the world’s first online film festival, with a €20,000 prize and renowned film director Spike Lee heading up the judging panel.

As well as the €20,000 prize, the winners will receive a share in ad revenue from their film and funding for their next project. The competition has attracted more than 1,000 entries from 86 countries.

“Films have always been made outside of Hollywood. But the internet is going to be the favourite alternative means of distribution,” Spike Lee explained.

“In five years, guaranteed, major Hollywood studios are going to release a film that was shot on a phone. The Babelgum Online Film Festival is great because it’s promoting talent.”

The winner of the Babelgum Film Festival will be announced at the Cannes Film Festival and the award coincides with the release of Babelgum’s new webTV platform.

Babelgum employs 30 people at its global HQ in Dublin and plans to grow to 100 staff.

“What young artists need more than anything is encouragement and the place to show the world who they are and what they can do,” Lee continued.

“The Babelgum Online Film Festival represents a new era in film-making and puts the film-maker in control of getting their productions seen.”

The first phase of the competition is a vote by internet users on their favourite films from the festival. Users can log on to www.babelgum.com to view and rate as many of the 1,012 entries as they wish.

The top 10 films from this vote will then go forward to the jury of international experts in mid-May. The winning film will be announced by Spike Lee at the Cannes Film Festival later that month.

“The Babelgum Online Film Festival marks a new phase in the development of webTV,” explained Valerio Zingarelli, CEO of Babelgum.

“Just a couple of years ago, nobody would have thought of downloading a movie or TV show off the internet. Now, it’s commonplace. The next step is films and shows produced specifically for the internet and Babelgum is ready for that emerging market.”

Pictured is Babelgum chief executive Valerio Zingarelli with film director Spike Lee.

By John Kennedy