Animate Projects launches new “Engine” online platform (UK)

Engine is a new online channel for debate and discussion exploring the intersections between diverse areas of film and media art.

Founded on the notion that creativity doesn’t always fit into neatly defined categories, Engine wants to feature works of all kinds, making space for encounters with different creative and critical ideas. 

Engine will publish interviews with artists, filmmakers, producers and curators, and will also ask other prominent industry figures about their work and experiences.

The new platform went online on 10 September 2009. The current issue of Engine includes interviews with Oliver Harrison, Sarah Turner, Helen de Witt and Matt Hanson and presents works by artists Bruce LaBruce, Ben Rivers, Mandy Macintosh, Dan Edelstyn and Duncan Campbell.

URL: http://www.apengine.org

Second round for American video contest “Democracy is ….”

The US State Department is holding its second international short film competition on the topic of democracy, inviting filmmakers to submit videos that complete the sentence “Democracy is …”

The films can be up to 3 minutes long and must be uploaded via the competition channel on YouTube by 31 January 2010. Entrants must first register with YouTube in order to upload their film. YouTube, i.e. its owner, Google, is the platform partner for the competition.

The grand prize is a trip to Washington, New York and Hollywood for gala presentations of the film, with opportunities to meet film-industry and media representatives as well as politicians and citizen advocates of democracy.

The rejection of a German film at the last competition cast a questionable light on the organizers’ idea of democracy. The US Department of State told filmmaker Tino Schwanemann from the Berlin image film company Einscommanull that his film took too harsh a view of the negative sides of American democracy, adding, “Do you think the positives of the freedoms that come with democracy outweigh the negatives? (We do!)” Schwanemann’s competition entry was a professionally rotoscoped animated film with cartoon characters that has in the meantime received a host of awards, for example winning a competition called “Die Gesellschafter” sponsored by the civic initiative Aktion Mensch. A link to the film can be found under “Short film online” in the Faits Divers section.

URL des Wettbewerbs: http://www.videochallenge.america.gov/

Short film quality initiative and no-budget films at AFI Fest in Hollywood

As indieWIRE reported in late October, this year’s AFI Festival in Los Angeles took special care in selecting its short film lineup. As a quality enhancement measure, the films were at first limited in number to 9, with a new selection method chosen.

The festival’s programming director, Robert Koehler, noted that it is impossible to distinguish the absolutely best films for a festival programme. The organizers therefore decided to take into consideration only those films that reflect current trends in short film production and which furthermore represent the work of major filmmakers.

Koehler underscored this curatorial approach to programming by providing a public justification for every film chosen by the festival. The programme includes films by Balint Kenyeres, Kevin Jerome Everson and Guy Maddin. Works by Apichatpong Weerasethkul and Jean-Marie Straub will be screened outside of the competition.

A completely different course is being taken by the special programme “Lunchfilms”. These selections stem from filmmakers who took up Mike Plante, the curator, on an unusual offer: Plante treated each filmmaker to lunch and then challenged him or her to submit a film that did not cost more to make than the respective lunch tab.


Crisis report: Norway bucks the trend!

Norway is defying the world financial crisis and consequent savings measures – and not only in the business sector. The Ministry of Culture has announced that 627.5 million Norwegian kroner will be available for film promotion in 2010. This represents an increase of 50 million kroner compared to 2009 – the biggest rise in film funding ever.

More than half of the budget is earmarked for the promotion of audiovisual production. Increased funding will also be devoted to upgrading the theatre at the Oslo Film House and will also go to regional film centres. A further 3 million kroner is to be invested in the promotion of video games.

The new appreciation for film in Norway is attributed largely to the last Minister of Culture, Trond Giske, who will however now be replaced by Anniken Huitfeldt (former Minister of Children and Equality) in October 2009 due to a government reshuffle. Giske will now take charge of the Economic Ministry. In the parliamentary elections in September a centre-left coalition came to power in Norway.

Source: Filmkontakt Nord News http://fknsite.adnuvo.com/fkn-140/

Short films for the 20th anniversary of “Bref”

The editors of the French short film magazine “Bref” have invited filmmakers to submit short works to celebrate the journal’s 20th anniversary. Filmmakers associated with the magazine were asked to send in films on the topic: “What has changed in the last 20 years?”

Twenty films are now available for viewing on the “Bref” website. They include a collage from 20 years of Cinématon by Gérard Courant that features historical portraits of Jean-Luc Godard, Danièlle Huillet, Jean Rouch, Jean-Marie Straub, Joseph Morder, Wim Wenders and others.

The current issue of this one-of-a-kind (print) magazine, which is published by Agence du court métrage, is dedicated to the theme of documentary films. Subscriptions and excerpts are available online!

URL: http://www.brefmagazine.com/pages/20ans.php

Animate Projects: AnimateTV discontinued – Supporters sought

/  08/29/09

Animate Projects (London) has announced that there will be no call for submissions for the AnimateTV promotional programme in 2009. Ever since 1991, Animate TV has been commissioning several artistic animated films each year for the AnimateTV programme, but this year Channel 4 has withdrawn from the joint project.

The advertising-funded television channel, which came onto the scene 25 years ago with ambitious quality aspirations, but today also broadcasts voyeuristic shows like Big Brother and Embarrassing Bodies, suffered an 18% drop in advertising income in the first half of this year. The resulting spending cuts affected in particular arts and culture programming.

AnimateTV has been known since 1991 for the production and broadcast of high-quality animated films. The first film it commissioned was Phil Mulloy’s “Cowboys”. There followed films by artists including Kayla Parker, Run Wrake, Tim Webb, Jonathan Hodgson, Richard Wright, Paul Bush, Andrew Kötting, Matt Hulse, Sarah Cox, Osbert Parker, Lise Hansen, Semiconductor, Tal Rosner and Emily Richardson. More than a few filmmakers were “˜discovered’ by Animate Projects. The over one-hundred films that have been sponsored since the establishment of the programme are not only among the country’s best animated films, but also some of the most internationally successful.

Currently, projects from the 2008 competition by Cordelia Swann, Sarah Wood, Petra Freeman and Thomas Hicks are in production. They could be the last, though, unless another funding partner is found. Animate Projects is at present searching for a solution with the help of the Arts Council.

On the Animate Projects website there is an online survey whose responses could provide some arguments for continuing the project:

URL: http://www.animateprojects.org/news/animatetv_suspended_animation

New promotion for short films screened as supporting films in German cinemas

/  08/29/09

An amendment made at the beginning of 2009 to the guidelines for promoting German film now makes funding available for screening short films before feature films at the cinema. According to the new regulations, cinemas can apply to the German Federal Film Board (Filmförderungsanstalt – FFA) for a subsidy of up to €1,500 per year.

This subsidy is granted to cinemas planning to screen supporting films prior to their features. Apart from rental fees, other expenses, such as advertising, can also be recognized as financing costs provided applicants cover at least 20% of such costs themselves.

The grant is designed to promote the screening of short films. Since it works as an incentive for regular film rentals, it supports short-film suppliers and indirectly their producers as well.

Information and advice: vorfilm@ag-kurzfilm.de
Application forms: http://www.ffa.de/index.php?page=foerderungen_und_antraege

New sponsor found for Prix UIP tour

/  08/29/09

Following the withdrawal of the distributor UIP, the European Film Academy (EFA) has been looking since last year for a new main sponsor for its short film award, whose nominations formerly carried the name of the sponsor (Prix UIP).

Up to now independent juries awarded a local Prix UIP to a film in the competition programme of each of 14 participating European festivals. These prizes were regarded as nominations, from which the members of the European Film Academy would then choose the overall winner, announced at the end of the festival year.

Due to the considerable costs involved, including the cash prizes awarded to the nominees and the main winner, but also incurred by handling the votes of 1,800 academy members and financing two 35mm film reels that go on tour for a year following the award announcement, it was uncertain whether the programme could be continued in 2009 after the sponsor withdrew.

Now a new sponsor has been found, at least for the tour: short film distributor Shorts International Ltd. The Prix UIP 2008 winners will hence go on tour under the title “Short Matters!” and will be shown at 15 European festivals by the end of the year thanks to the support of Shorts International.

The first nominations have also been made for the European Short Film Award 2009. A total of 13 film festivals are taking part in 2009 (the Rotterdam Film Festival is no longer among them). The former “Prix UIP” now bears the straightforward and prosaic title “EFA Short Film Nominee”!

European Film Academy Short Film 2009: www.europeanfilmacademy.org/activities/short-films/
Prix-UIP tour “Short Matters!”: http://www.europeanfilmacademy.org/activities/short-matters/

Online distribution: Alliance founded for Internet release of documentaries

/  08/29/09

Four North American documentary film festivals and two industry organizations have signed an agreement with the Internet portal SnagFilms for the digital distribution of documentaries on the Internet.

SnagFilms provides its partners with their own channels for releasing their documentary films and making them available to users. The advertising-financed platform already has a repertoire of more than 800 films, which can be viewed in full length free of charge as streaming videos. A special feature of the portal is that Internet users can “snag” the films to disseminate them further on other websites with the help of so-called “widgets”.

Cooperation with the festivals gives SnagFilms access to films of recognized quality and topicality without having to undertake the effort of making its own selection. For their part, the participating festivals hope that this platform will attract more attention to themselves and the films in their programmes.

The alliance includes the festivals Hot Docs (Toronto), Outfest (Los Angeles), Full Frame Documentary Film Festival (Durham, NC) and the DC Environmental Festival, (Washington) as well as the International Documentary Association (IDA) and the film competition organization CINE.

SnagFilms was founded in July 2008 by documentary film producer and Internet entrepreneur Ted Leonsis and is supported by AOL founder Steve Case and a group of philanthropic venture capitalists. SnagFilms integrated the magazine IndieWIRE in 2008.

URL: http://www.snagfilms.com

Another (European) Internet platform for documentaries: Doc Alliance Films

/  08/29/09

A European coalition of documentary film festivals is likewise cooperating in making the films available on the Internet. CPH:DOX Copenhagen, DOK Leipzig, IDFF Jihlava, Planete Doc Review (Warsaw) and Visions Du Reel (Nyon) have now formed the DOC ALLIANCE.

The DOC ALLIANCE sees itself as a marketing platform for documentary filmmakers, film dealers and producers. The group’s own online portal, www.docalliancefilms.com, is a video-on-demand platform that currently provides access to 250 documentaries selected by the participating festivals. The films can be viewed or downloaded for a fee. Prices are scaled according to the technical quality of the media (WMV stream, AVI or DVD download).

In addition to contemporary films, significant works from documentary film history are also to be made available online, so that the portal can function as an archive.

Doc Alliance Films is sponsored by the European Union’s MEDIA programme and by local partners of the founders.

URL: http://www.docalliancefilms.com

Crisis Report: AURORA Festival to end / Siena Festival cancelled

/  08/29/09

This year’s AURORA festival in Norwich (UK) is the last ever edition. As the prinicipal funder discontinues its support, the festival office has to close down on 31 December 2009. The festival organizers ask for help in finding new supporters.
Festival URL: http://www.aurora.org.uk/

The International Short Film Festival Siena (I) was cancelled, because the City of Siena will no longer allocate any funds to the Festival.
Further information: http://www.cortoitaliacinema.com/enghomefestival.htm

ShanghART Beijing devotes solo exhibition to filmmaker/artist Sun Xun

/  04/23/09

The prominent Peking gallery ShanghART is presenting a show of the work of animated film maker and artist Sun Xun from 3 April to 16 May. The exhibition is arranged as an historical review featuring all of Sun Xun’s animated works from his early days to his latest creations. History is also the thematic focus of the show. Sun Xun’s works, which combine animation and printing techniques, deal primarily with Chinese history. His most recent film, “Coal Spell” (CN 2008, 8 min), which was inspired by an old 5-yuan note, recounts the rise and fall of the former coal-mining town Fuxin, the artist’s birthplace. “Coal Spell” can be seen, among other places, in competition at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen.

Gallery URL: http://www.shanghartgallery.com
URL for Sun Xun’s blog: http://artanimation.blog.sohu.com/

Migrating Forms: Successor to New York Underground Film Festival launched

/  04/23/09

The first “Migrating Forms – Festival of Film and Video” will take place in New York from 15 to 19 April. The festival provides a platform for films and videos of all genres that, due to their content or hybrid form, might otherwise not find an audience. The idea is to foster particularly filmmakers who work within or counter to the experimental and documentary avant-garde tradition.

Migrating Forms takes place at the Anthology Film Archives and is the successor to the New York Underground Film Festival, NYUFF, which was discontinued in 2008 (see also: “New York Underground Film Festival closes its doors”|| 07.09.

URL: http://www.migratingforms.org/

Pavilion UniCredit – New art centre opens in Bucharest

/  04/23/09

The publishers of the Rumanian art magazine “Pavilion” and organizers of the Bucharest Biennial opened a museum for contemporary art in April 2009. To date, the only public exhibitions of contemporary art in Bucharest have been temporary ones. “Pavilion UniCredit”, the institution that has now been established for this purpose, sees itself not only as a museum, but also as a centre for information and discourse, comprising the departments Contemporary Art Archive, Pavilion Resource Room and Free Academy.

The organizers plan to mount three to four exhibitions every year, along with discursive conferences and a film programme. The “Pavilion UniCredit” is located centrally – directly opposite the government administration building – in the former premises of the bank after which it is named. The opening exhibition, “Statement”, curated by Lia Perjovschi, is on view until 19 April.

URL: http://www.pavilionunicredit.ro/

Venice Biennale 2009 announces participants

/  04/23/09

La Biennale di Venezia and its artistic director, Daniel Birnbaum, announced in late March the participants in the 53rd International Art Exhibition. Featured in this year’s line-up, under the motto “Fare Mondi/Making Worlds” are over 90 artists from 77 countries – more than ever before.
Many of them work either in or with the mediums of film and video, for example Rosa Barba (I/D), Thomas Bayrle (D), Ulla von Brandenburg (D/F), André Cadere (PL/F), Paul Chan (H.K./USA), Tony Conrad (USA), Keren Cytter (Israel/D), Nathalie Djurberg (S/D), Öyvind Fahlström (BR/S), Tamara Grcic (A/D), Joan Jonas (USA), Miranda July (USA), Gordon Matta-Clark (USA), Att Poomtangon (THAI), Cerith Wyn Evans (UK), Xu Tan (China).
Receiving the Golden Lion for their life’s work at this year’s Biennale will be Yoko Ono and John Baldessari.

URL: http://www.labiennale.org/it/arte/

pro2film: Web 2.0 services for festivals, film markets and film sales

/  04/23/09

In January 2009 the European Union’s MEDIA programme approved a 235,000-euro grant for reelport GmbH for the project “pro2film”. pro2film is a cooperation between the Cannes Marché du Film/cinando, DataKal and reelport. The aim of the project is to create uniform media data sets out of information collected by film festivals and film markets and make them accessible to others.

In addition, Web 2.0 tools are to be adapted to the specific needs of the professional film business, as has long been common on consumer platforms, and then installed by project partners. In this way, all of the working steps undertaken by the festivals and film vendors (e.g. the online mailing of films) can be digitized and mapped online.

Cinando (Paris) already has an online database used by festival film markets in Toronto, Berlin, Cannes and elsewhere. DataKal (Prague) specializes in software programming, offering applications that are already in use at 30 international festivals. Reelport (Cologne) is a submission platform for short film that makes not only metadata, but also the films themselves available online.

URL: http://www.cinando.com
URL: http://www.datakal.cz
URL: www.reelport.com/

Online Preview – A new service from AG Kurzfilm and German Films / 26 March 2009

/  04/23/09

As a new service for German and international film viewers, AG Kurzfilm and German Films now offer them the possibility to watch an online preview of selected films. Over 100 German short films are already available for online viewing.
A catalogue of “German Short Films” has been published annually since 2004, with information on 100 titles each year. An online version will be added in March 2009 with the launch of the Online Preview section on the AG Kurzfilm website at www.ag-kurzfilm.de. 103 films from the catalogue years 2007 to 2009 are already available for viewing, with offerings to be expanded on an ongoing basis.

For several years AG Kurzfilm – Bundesverband Deutscher Kurzfilm (Federal Association of German Short Film), as a representative of nationwide interests, has been working closely with German Films to support various organizers worldwide, including Goethe Institutes, museums and festivals, as well as short film sales agents and buyers. The password-protected Online Preview provides organizers with information designed to help with their programming plans.

The Online Preview is based on streaming technology generously provided by the Shortstream short film portal.

On the website www.ag-kurzfilm.de those in the industry can apply for temporary free access to the Online Preview.

URL: http://www.ag-kurzfilm.de/index2.php?m1=7&m2=101&l=de

The year in review: Future Shorts celebrates its triumphs

/  01/29/09

For the British short film organization Future Shorts, 2008 was the most successful year yet. More than 150,000 spectators attended the live events and over 20 million viewers watched Future Shorts on the Internet.

Future Shorts began putting on short film events in the form of parties in London five years ago, soon expanding its activities to the entire UK. The concept of showing entertaining films in popular clubs and watering holes – usually in connection with shows and performances by bands or DJs – proved so successful beyond national borders as well that Future Shorts is now active in 20 different countries. In 2008 events were added in Kazakhstan, Finland and Rumania.

Further events are scheduled for 2009 in Turkey, Spain and Japan. And Future Shorts has plans for online expansion – with its own Future Shorts TV.

URL: http://www.futureshorts.com

Jordan’s government fails to award a national short film prize for 2008

/  01/29/09

At this year’s annual gala, held in late 2008, during which the kingdom usually recognizes outstanding achievements by Jordanian citizens, the prize for best short film was not awarded. The reason given was that the films submitted did not meet the quality requirements for the award.

This transpired despite the fact that Jordanian short films enjoyed considerable success abroad in 2008. Examples include “Al-Mash’hd (The View)” by Hazim Bitar and Rifqi Assaf, about an Israeli sniper in Palestine, which received the 75,000-dollar Black Pearl Award at the Middle East Festival in Abu Dhabi. Bitar is the founder of the Amman Filmmakers Cooperative and director of the Jordan Short Film Festival. He had already complained earlier that the achievements of the Amman Filmmakers Cooperative are systematically ignored in its home country.

Amman Filmmakers Cooperative: http://www.alif.com/afc/dec-05-08-nogoodshorts.htm

Jordanian Indie Films: http://jordnianfilms.blogspot.com/2008_06_01_archive.html

Sundance Institute’s Art House Project

/  01/29/09

To mark the 25th anniversary of its festival, the Sundance Institute launched four years ago a cinema initiative called Art House Project. The idea was to bring international independent productions of the kind that can be seen at the festival – and often only at the festival – to the cinema as well. A nationwide network evolved which today includes 14 art house cinemas and is still growing. Since the establishment of the Art House Project the festival has been offering participating theatres a touring programme of documentaries and short films.

This year is no exception, with cinemas able to choose from a roster of short films screened at the Sundance Festival 2008 including: “MAN” (Myna Joseph), “FCU: Fact Checkers Unit” (Dan Beers), “Sikumi” (Andrew Okpeaha MacLean), “I Love Sarah Jane” (Spencer Susser), “W.” (The Vikings), “Spider” (Nash Edgerton), “Yours Truly” (Osbert Parker), “Dennis” (Mads Matthiesen) and “My Olympic Summer” (Daniel Robin).

With its initiative the festival aims to increase the market for film exhibition by expanding the number and effectiveness of community-based theatres across the country that are committed to culturally demanding film.

Representatives of the theatres taking part in the project were invited to meet at the Art House Convergence taking place a few days before the festival begins, from 13 to 15 January 2009 in Salt Lake City. The agenda for the conference includes themes such as “How to use the not-for-profit business model to grow audiences for Art House films”, “Develop new audiences through visual literacy education” and “Emerging new distribution players”.

Further information: arthouseproject.org


Start-up: Artists’ Film and Video Association

/  01/29/09

The Artists’ Film and Video Association (afava) is a group of artists and filmmakers that was founded in 2008 by Yael Bartana, Guy Ben-Ner, Köken Ergun, Laura Horelli, Norman Richter, Hito Steyerl, Maya Switzerland, and Clemens von Wedemeyer. They aim to create a platform for discussions, to distribute films and videos, and to highlight the processes and contexts from which the films have evolved. The main focus is on works that document, analyse or attempt to change conditions in society.

The group’s inaugural event took place on 15 January in Berlin, where videos by Yael Bartana, Maya Switzerland and Clemens von Wedemeyer were shown and discussed. Next up is “talk & video” at the Beursschouwburg in Brussels on 19 March.

Further information: http://www.afava.org/

G.R.E.C. looking for partners for “Young Screen Europe” promotion programme

/  01/29/09

The French organization G.R.E.C. is looking for European partners to participate in the programme “Young Screen Europe”. The project is designed to provide young filmmakers with the opportunity to shoot a short film during 2010 while benefiting from expert advice and guidance, from the initial screenplay to directing. The EU’s MEDIA programme has agreed to cover 50% of the costs of “Young Screen Europe”.

G.R.E.C. is thus now looking for partner organizations that would like to conduct the project in their own country and would be prepared to finance the remaining amount. The goal is to provide production funding in the amount of 16,000 euros per film. The extent of each project and the conditions involved can be negotiated with those interested in participating.

G.R.E.C. (Groupe de recherches et d’essais cinématographiques) is a non-profit organization founded in 1969 by film professionals and the Centre National de la Cinématographie to support filmmakers in making their first short film. In addition to production funding, the promotion programme offers screenplay workshops, directing workshops and school courses.

Contact: Joanna Sitkowska, jsitkowska (at) grec-info.com
URL: www.grec-info.com

Norwave – floating film festival

/  01/29/09

Norwave is the name of a new festival designed to attract the international film industry to Norway’s coast. The floating festival will be held on a ship of the Hurtigruten line – which used to run the mail ships – between Trondheim and Honningsví¥g. The Kosmorama Film Festival in Trondheim initiated this new event. Basic funding is provided by the Norwegian Ministry of Cultural Affairs and the Toscana region.
Norwave will be organized as an independent event held by the film festivals in Tromsí¸, Trondheim and Capalbio. The first festival is set to weight anchor in September 2009 – with a spotlight on Italian film due to this year’s partner organization. In the future new partners will be brought on board and the regional focus will vary accordingly.

Source: Rushprint/Filmens Hus, Oslo


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