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Live from TIFF 08: Spike Lee chews on 2nd edition of Babelgum

Still in the nascent stages, the online content providers of the www. are still trying to find the proper balance between identity, audiences, providers and a revenue stream.

Still in the nascent stages, the online content providers of the www. are still trying to find the proper balance between identity, audiences, providers and a revenue stream. I started off my TIFF 2008, with a stop over at the press conference for one of the better online orgs in short film-viewing experiences.

As we all know, the eye-hungry generations of X, Y and hipsters are spending their time on a concoction of sites beginning with Youtube and its dozen of spawned look-alikes, the funnyordies and net porn, movie and television studios partnering with individual enterprises on VOD type deals or creating their own (hulu.com), start-ups with international audiences in mind with donwloading capabilities (Jaman.com) and then we have something like Babelgum – an online film festival that focuses more on quality, rather than quantity.

Last year, film professionals and student filmmakers submitted approximately over 1000 short films, but Spike Lee the hope is to double those numbers for the just announced 2nd edition. Sporting an Obama for Prez pin, the socially conscious filmmaker seems like the perfect spokesperson for such a project (I’m still making people aware of his 4 hour Katrina-storm HBO documentary) and little did I know, Lee has been a two-decade old NYU professor.

Babelgum TIFF

In town to promote his WWII set in Italy pic Miracle at St.Anna, Lee will once again take the honorary judge title and be part of a jury which also includes Michel Gondry. How prize winners in all four categories are decided is by way of the more popular rated shorts as decided by the public then get extracted for judging via a certain criteria that is unique for whatever category the video belongs to. There is a cash prize but the idea is that the filmmaker receives the kind of attention that you can’t buy.   

With twelve months under their belt, yesterday’s announcements also included some success stories and a commitment to support projects by taking shorts and making them into feature length projects – e.g: An oil sands documentary filmed in Canada discussing how Canadians companies are willing to pollute the environment for the hungry for oil neighbors down south. 

If you haven’t checked out the site yet, click here for more details on the upcoming film fest best viewed on your PC/Mac.

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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