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Chinese Online Video Giant Youku's Short Film Project Racks up 10 Million Views

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Youku founder Victor Koo

"Walker," the breakout hit from 2012's Original Masters' Project, makes waves overseas with an L.A. film festival honor.

The second annual Youku Original Masters' Short Film Project, organized by China's leading video website, has seen its 25-minute "micro movies" rack up 10 million views within the first month, and 15,000 comments.

And the breakout hit from last year's inaugural project, the Tsai Ming-Liang-directed Walker, picked up the Best Narrative Short Film Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival and qualified for Oscar competition, the company said in a statement.

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Youku invited established directors Lu Yue, Mabel Cheung and Alex Law, Wu Nien-chen and Kiyoshi Kurosawa to take part in the project, with the brief of bringing to life "different eras, regions and cultural backgrounds to capture not only life as it is now, but as it exists in people's hopes for tomorrow."

"Youku Original's strategic vision has helped micro-film grow beyond its image as a grassroots, amateur outlet and become known as a true art form," said Frank Ming Wei, president of Youku.com.

"The success of last year's Masters' Project proved that audiences turn to our powerful platform for this type of high-quality, highbrow content, and we make it a strategic priority to continue delivering this type of cutting-edge content," he said.

The project is a key part of Youku's hybrid content strategy, which features licensed professional content, in-house production and user-generated content. Youku, founded by CEO Victor Koo, is a unit of parent company Youku Tudou, which formed in August of 2012 when Youku acquired its principle streaming video competitor, Tudou Holdings, in a landmark deal. 

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Walker examines the past, present and future of Hong Kong through an elderly monk's silent, slow walk through the city's bustling streets.

The movie attracted national attention to the project, and since then it and other films in the scheme have been selected for more than 40 international festivals, including Cannes, Vancouver, Shanghai and Busan.

Last year's Masters' Project saw Youku Original and the Hong Kong International Film Festival invite directors Gu Changwei, the aforementioned Tsai Ming-liang, Ann Hui and Kim Tae-yong to direct "micro movies" for a yearlong Youku Original campaign.

Audiences watched the four films nearly 20 million times, left more than 63,000 comments and forwarded them more than 520,000 times.

The Youku Original movies and television serial dramas have attracted sponsorship from brands such as General Motors, Philips, Hyundai and Sony.

Confirmed directors for next year's Masters' Short Films Project include Shunji Iwai of Japan and mainland Chinese director Zhang Yuan.