Babelgum, Spike Lee renew digital film fest

Site will also finance productions

Digital film site Babelgum has launched a second edition of its film festival, with Spike Lee again heading the jury.

Lee and Babelgum users will both vote on the awards, with prizes coming in four categories, including shorts, animation, documentary and a "Mini Masterpiece" prize for surprising and provocative stories. The site is currently soliciting films and will announce winners in 2009.

Babelgum, a free platform for all manner of video content, also will be financing productions. At the Toronto international Film Festival the site showed footage from its first original production, an environmental documentary called "Downstream."

The company has also pacted with sales and digital distribution company Cinetic to release twelve movies digitally over the next year, including Toronto Film Festival selection and Independent Spirit Award nominee "Bunny." One new pic will debut each month.

In an interview, Lee said the site and digital venues in general were an increasingly important tool for the next generation of film makers.
"As I always tell my students (at NYU), the goal is to get as many people as possible to see your film," he said.

With theatrical exhibition becoming more competitive and expensive, digital platforms are seen as an increasingly important outlet for independent films, both as a creative wellspring and as a distribution venue.