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Non-Fiction 'Net: Babelgum, Earth Days, Doc Alliance Films, Virtual Tribeca and Cuban Adventures

By Tamara Krinsky

Ah, the joys of the Internets! Bringin' docs and film experiences from around the globe straight to your laptop. This installment of Non-Fiction 'Net includes an eco-doc, a cultural exploration and several innovative efforts from film festivals. 

Babelgum is currently hosting the 3rd Babelgum Online Film Festival (BOFF), which includes a bevy of documentary selections. Awards will be given in four categories, and winners will screen during the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. Viewers can watch the films either on Babelgum's site or through their mobile application, and from April 5th - 18th, can cast Audience Award ballots for the best narrative, documentary, animation, or non-narrative short.

And speaking of the Tribeca Film Festival, if you can't make it to New York City for the annual fiesta, this year you can experience it from afar via the inaugural Tribeca Film Festival Virtual (TFF Virtual). From April 23rd – 30th, 2010, anyone in the US can watch eight full-length 2010 TFF films, 18 TFF 2010 short films, participate in live panels, Q&A’s and conversations with filmmakers and actors and experience all the red carpet action as it happens. The TFF Virtual Premium pass is available to the public for $45. Included on the virtual slate is Sebastian Copeland's adventure documentary Into the Cold, which chronicles his and fellow extreme adventurer Keith Heger's attempt to reach the North Pole in celebration of the centennial of Robert Peary and Matthew Henson's journey. 

If you're in a more Continental mood, hop on over to Doc Alliance Films, a selective platform for online distribution of documentary and experimental films created by Doc Alliance. It offers permanent access to outstanding documentaries selected by the Doc Alliance partners, promising the esteemed trademark of film festival programming. Doc Alliance is a partnership which emerged as a result of the co-operative effort of five key European non-fiction film festivals – CPH:DOX Copenhagen, DOK Leipzig, IDFF Jihlava, Planete Doc Review Warsaw and VISIONS DU REEL Nyon. Twenty new films are added to the portal monthly and can be either streamed or downloaded for a minimal fee.

Havana-Miami: times are changing is an original project that looks at the everyday lives of 12 young Cubans - three in Havana and three in Miami - including an amateur boxer, an aspiring ballerina and a new mom. Each week, six two-minute videos are released on the Havana-Miami website. The project began on February 22nd, 2010, and will run for three months. According to a blog post from the Center for Social Media, both production teams include training for young media makers. Barbara Abrash writes: "The US stories are shot by undergraduate honors students at the University of Miami’s School of Communication, trained by graduate students. The Havana team is led by a professional Cuban documentary filmmaker and include Cuban film school graduates."
     Havana-Miami is co-produced by Arte, the French-German cultural channel, in collaboration with Radio Television Suisse. It is co-produced with Alegria (Paris) and Tamouz media (New York), in association with the Knight Center for International Media at the University of Miami (USA) and in collaboration with Troqua Vision (Cuba). The collection of pieces will premiere as a full length documentary on ARTE and TSR2 in Autumn 2010.

Facebook Platform hosted a premiere broadcast of the PBS's American Experience film Earth Days on Sunday, April 11th. Robert Stone's documentary, which was the 2009 Sundance Film Festival closing night film, honors the origins of the first Earth Day, which took place 40 years ago. It's the first time a major broadcaster has premiered a full-length documentary on Facebook Platform ahead of its national broadcast.The Earth Days Facebook page features a variety of complementary content, including quizzes and Facebook gifts, and the comments section is currently filled with reactions to the screening. If you missed it online, you can watch the PBS broadcast on April 19, 2010, at 9pm EST.