A virtual screening room, or online film festival, isn’t exactly a novel concept.  Remember iFilm, AtomFilms, StudentFilms, MediaThatMatters?  All are at least a half-decade old; most have since expired.  All promised the exposure, on-demand community and robust interactivity that only the internet could provide.  None, however, brought the potential promotional power of YouTube. 

Screening Room is "a platform for top films from around the world to find the audiences they deserve" and is the first of what we expect to be a collection of quardened off, curated, micro-YouTubes fostered by the promotional and technological power of the internet’s biggest video player.  The sheer ubiquity of the YouTube brand means its emerging collection of niche sites and initiatives is bound to attract some interesting work, and we can already see that with Screening Room. 

Love and War isn’t exactly the quintessential YouTube video.  The meticulously-created stop-motion Opera — likely the first of its kind — is certainly not for the unrefined palette. It won Best Animated Short from the 2007 Los Angeles Film Festival, and its creator has been described as "the Orson Welles of stop-motion opera cinema with puppets." 

###Not surprisingly, the award-winning art film has seen a measly few hundred views on YouTube.  Marina the sexy philologist gets 100 times that many views by smiling.  As NewTeeVee’s Chris Albrecht notes, "People prefer farts being lit on fire to artsy short films."  Not that Marina often farts.

But YouTube is intent on “creating new business opportunities for filmmakers” — for instance viewers can click to "Buy Film" — and Screening Room’s selectivity will make appearance on the site a feather in one’s cap.  If you’re a filmmaker with an artistic masterpiece that needs an audience, this is meaningful exposure. Interested filmmakers should email  ytscreeningroom@youtube.com.

I’m interested to see how this model will be applied to other video niches, like how-to videos, cooking videos or city videos.  Building parameters around community-created media is, in itself, an interesting undertaking. 

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