Spike Lee, Babelgum launch online film festival

Last Updated: Sunday, September 2, 2007 | 11:31 AM ET
CBC Arts

U.S. director Spike Lee has teamed up with the video-streaming company Babelgum to launch an international online film festival to help filmmakers display their work no matter where they live.
“There’s this misconstrued thinking that all talent is in Los Angeles or New York,” the director said at a news conference in Venice on Saturday.
Director Spike Lee, seen here in 2006, says an online festival means that ‘where you live is no longer a hindrance’ to getting noticed as a filmmaker.Director Spike Lee, seen here in 2006, says an online festival means that ‘where you live is no longer a hindrance’ to getting noticed as a filmmaker.
(Alex Brandon/Associated Press)
“Where you live is no longer a hindrance.… Talent isn’t a problem. There’s an abundance of talent. This is an opportunity to showcase your talent.”
Lee, known for hits such as Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X and Inside Man, is attending the Venice Film Festival.
The director said there are no excuses for filmmakers these days, especially with opportunities online.
The 50-year-old director has partnered with Babelgum, an internet company that streams videos for free, and will head the jury of the festival.
Babelgum users will make the first cut, shaving down the entries in each category to 10 each. After that process, which starts in February, the jury will reduce the number to three in each division with Lee making the final selections.
The winners, who will get $20,000 US, will be announced in April.
The festival will have six categories: short films under 20 minutes, documentary, animation, advertising, social and environmental films, and best emerging talent.
Applications are limited to films that have already been screened at other festivals from January 2007 through February 2008. The films can be no longer than 45 minutes.
Filmmakers can start making submissions on Sept. 15 to the Babelgum Online Film Festival by uploading their films on the website.
Babelgum has said it will not accept offensive material, but what that will mean has not been defined. Lee said he expected nudity would be forbidden but admitted that he was unsure what the parameters were.
“What might be offensive to you might not be offensive to me, and vice versa,” Lee said. “Language, I think, is clearer than the visual stuff.”
Organizers say they expect to get 2,000 entries.

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