- 24 Jun 09, 08:31 GMT
The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (SFJFF) is taking a leap into the digital age.
The organisers hope to act as a kind of one-stop shop for anyone interested in Jewish films and film-makers (see Four Short Films About Love and Not Another Jewish Movie), billing it the IMDb of Jewish film.
The festival's executive director Peter Stein told me:
"What we are trying to do is bring some of the essential aspects of what a film festival does in four walls to the online world. We are talking about offering not just great content, but also context and meaning and a sense of community, and migrating all of that to the online space."
This means, of course, podcasts, streaming media, educational materials and social networking opportunities - but the tool that the organisers really want to encourage people to use is the ubiquitous mobile phone. They want anyone who comes to the physical festival to keep their phone on in the theatre. Yep, I said "on".
Rather than sitting back and munching on the popcorn, the festival hopes that audience members will give instant feedback - and use VoIP technology to interview film-makers who can't be there in person.
"We want to create relationships between films and the audience over time. Relationships between people who are not in the same place at the same time," explained Mr Stein.
The project is being backed by a number of foundations, including that set up by film director Steven Speilberg, the Righteous Persons Foundation, and hopes to provide "a living archive and educational tool for Jewish history and film for future generations".
The SFJFF sees this as part of a broader trend of film festivals, film-making and educational content moving online and stakes a claim that "we are one of the first culturally-specific film festival organisations and the first Jewish organisation to do this".
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