Oscars 2013: Inocente is first Kickstarter-backed film to win prize

Still from Inocente
Image caption The documentary follows Inocente, a homeless girl in San Diego, as she prepares for her first art show

The true story of a 15-year-old homeless girl has become the first Kickstarter-funded film to win an Oscar.

Inocente was made with the help of $52,527 (£35,000) raised by 294 backers in June last year.

The documentary was awarded with the prize for best documentary short at the ceremony.

Two other crowd-funded films, Kings Point and Buzkashi Boys, were also nominated but came away empty-handed.

Speaking to Mashable, Inocente's co-director Seth Fine said of crowd-funding: "It really helped galvanise a community."

"It helped fund a bunch of the film and kept us going through post-production. It's a great outlet for films, especially for documentaries."

The win has been seen as further proof that crowd-funding has established itself as an important revenue stream for independent film-makers looking to abandon traditional routes to the screen.

Other sites such as Indiegogo and also back films.

"Crowd-funding has become a very important part of any film-maker's finance strategy," said Elliot Grove, founder of the Raindance Film Festival and British Independent Film Awards.

'Feeling pretty good'

He told the BBC about 30% of the 250 films on show at Raindance last year had been crowd-funded - a "huge increase" on the previous year.

Among them was How Do You Write A Joe Schermann Song, which won the film-of-the-festival award.

"It means that you cut out the middleman," Mr Grove told the BBC. "You go straight to the money and go straight to the audience.

"The crowd-funders will have a personal stake in this - if you put 50 or 100 bucks on an Oscar-winning film, you'll be feeling pretty good about yourself today."

In previous years, other Kickstarter-backed films have been nominated, including Incident in New Baghdad, Sun Come Up, and The Barber of Birmingham.

Image caption How Do You Write a Joe Schermann Song is another crowd-funded hit

The films have been met with considerable critical acclaim. According to website Rotten Tomatoes - which creates an aggregate score based on hundreds of film review sites - three of the 20 best-reviewed films of 2012 were Kickstarter-funded.

Backing a cause

Mr Grove said he believed that while crowd-funding allowed film-makers to circumvent traditional studios and publishers, it had not meant a drop in quality.

"The lower barrier to entry is not so much to do with crowd-funding, but to do with digital film-making.

"If anything crowd-funding means the films are better because they have to convince the audience, their funders, that what they're making is worth making."

A blog post by Kickstarter earlier this year revealed that since launching in 2009, the site has raised $85m (£56m) for independent films, funding more than 8,000 individual projects.

The majority of this money has gone towards documentary films. Mr Grove credits this to the appeal of backing not only a film, but a cause.

"Often they are about topics that are shunned by the normal funders because they might be too risky or politically incorrect - which makes what we as viewers get to see so much more interesting."

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