My introduction to Spike Lee came through the commercials he shot for Nike starting in the late 80s, featuring Michael Jordan and Lee himself as Mars Blackmon, his motormouth character from She's Gotta Have It. Eventually I caught up with his other work, and over the years I have always admired his ability to switch effectively from narrative features to documentaries to short filmmaking. He's made a flock of commercials for a variety of advertisers as well as numerous music videos, and short films for MTV and Saturday Night Live.

His short Jesus Children of America was one of seven that comprised All the Invisible Children, focusing on children struggling "in the face of violence, disease and poverty," according to UNICEF, which partially funded the project. The film played at Venice, Toronto and many other film festivals in the last couple of years, though it doesn't seem to have screened much, if at all, in the US. Earlier this year Lee struck a deal with online video startup Babelgum to show Jesus Children of America exclusively on the site. He will also serve as honorary judge of the new Babelgum Online Film Festival, as announced recently during a press conference at the Venice Film Festival.

The competition is open to short films screened at international festivals between January 2007 and February 2008. While there is no entrance fee to submit films, note that Babelgum will hold exclusive online rights to all accepted films from March 2008 to March 2009. The Hollywood Reporter notes that $27,500 will be awarded in each of six categories. The Babelgum site is still marked as "beta," but you can find out more information about their plans by clicking around a bit.
categories Cinematical