Not long after YouTube was founded in 2005, people were already starting to download videos from the platform and present them elsewhere. This usually took place privately – for example at parties. Soon, however, YouTube DJ-ing became popular in clubs. As interest in the phenomenon of upload platforms grew in the media art world and on the film scene, there then followed curated public screenings at the cinema. These mostly took place as isolated events on special occasions.
But now the Dutch initiative Upload Cinema Foundation has seized on this idea to establish a regular cinema programme of uploaded films. Approximately every two months, Upload Cinema puts together a new programme of films from the Internet. Each programme has its own motto or theme according to which Web videos are selected. This year, for instance, there were programmes with titles such as “Bad Endings” (in cooperation with the Rotterdam Film Festival), “Remixing the City” and “Me the Media”.
The audience, in other words the public, can participate in selecting the films. To get involved, anyone can suggest his or her favourite videos on the announced theme onto the Upload Cinema platform. The public also acts as jury by putting together a shortlist. The final programme is then compiled by an editorial team at the Upload Cinema Foundation. Each programme is presented at the cinemas by a different guest curator. In this way, various methods such as crowd sourcing, rankings and audience juries are combined for programming and curation.
The programmes are screened at cultural centres and arthouse cinemas in several Dutch cities. In the meantime, a good dozen venues in the Netherlands have been joined by two cinemas in Belgium and Spain. Part of the concept envisioned by the founders is for Upload Cinema to continually expand geographically. To this end, a franchise package is available which includes a Content Management System that enables interested organizers to set up their own local upload page.
Upload Cinema can also be booked by institutions or businesses. Customized solutions are offered for special occasions. Alternatively, programmes or films shown at previous events can also be borrowed. Upload Cinema has been in operation since 2008, so its catalogue is by now quite extensive. The videos shown to date can be previewed online via a player embedded in the Upload Cinema archive pages. The programmes consist of both amateur and professional films, either old or brand new. There are films that amuse and films that provide food for thought.
With this undertaking, Upload Cinema wants to take the new way of making and sharing film, which is changing film and the industry, out of the domestic domain.The idea is to pluck films from the home environment and solitary PC screen and put them back into the space that is designed for a collective experience: the cinema.
The Upload Cinema Foundation was founded in Amsterdam by Dagan Cohen (creative director of the marketing agency Draftfcb) and Barbara de Wijn (cinema programme director and film distributor).