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Tribeca/Amazon Screening room 2nd edition

After the successful completion of the largest short film competition ever held, Amazon.com, the Tribeca Film Festival and American Express announced the second edition which is scheduled to run from June 29 though August 17, 2005. American Express will provide again a $50.000 award to the grand prize winner and Amazon customers with active accounts will rate the films.

The first short competition started during the 2005 Tribeca Film festival on April 18. Using the Macromedia Flash video format, short film makers uploaded over a period of six weeks "more than one thousand" films from two to seven minutes in length totaling all together "over 2 million minutes in footage". Amazon.com placed them for rating in the Tribeca Screening Room on the company's website. Using a five star rating system Amazon customers ranked the shorts which were continuously displayed on a random basis on the web site. At the end of May the five finalists with the highest ranking were submitted to the amazon.com customers again for a final rating. They included FRAGILE by David Cumbo, POST TRAUMATIC by James Seale, STREET THERAPY by Jason Rice, and MISFORTUNE COOKIE by Jack Paccione Jr. and the eventual grand award winner RACHEL'S CHALLENGE by Jon Lindgren covering the "battle of good vs. evil surrounding the Columbine High School shootings". According to Amazon.com hundreds of thousands of ratings were provided by Amazon customers who apparently settled for content rather than directorial innovation. For rating the shorts, participants could win awards ranging from a trip to New York to attend the final award ceremony to DVDs.

There is no question that given its huge customer basis Amazon.com provides an important additional platform for any short film makers. Yet following their business policies, Amazon does not provide detailed information about the screening room nor any steps the company will take in the future. Important information about the number of individuals participating in the ratings is not available nor what Amazon plans to do with the best short films received. Business consideration preclude being more open and interfere with an open information policy one is accustomed to at film festivals. Amazon could package the best ten shorts as selected by Amazon.com customers and offer them for purchase, thus opening an income niche for short film makers, a win-win situation. Yet Amazon will not provide a commentary.

Claus Mueller
New York correspondent
cmueller@hunter.cuny.edu

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Chatelin Bruno
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