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Wednesday, 27 September, 2000, 12:08 GMT 13:08 UK
DiCaprio launches film feast
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach
Leonardo DiCaprio: Fishing for filmmaking talent
Movie heart-throb Leonardo DiCaprio is teaming up with a film website to host an online short film festival.

The 25-year-old star of Titanic and The Beach is joining online film outfit AtomFilms to launch the festival, to be called The Savage Sideshow.

DiCaprio, acting through his production company Birken Interative Studios, originally announced an online film festival called LeoFest last year - but the project has been put on hold until now.

Open to all

"Many, many talented artists are waiting outside of the traditional entertainment industry for access to an audience," said AtomFilms' spokesperson Heather Redman.

Open to accomplished, novice or first-time filmmakers, entrants are asked to submit films which are up to 30 minutes long.

A panel of judges will shortlist the best films received each week - to be shown on the festival website - and winners will be selected from the shortlisted films in each category.

Spike Jonze
Spike Jonze: Independent director of wacky films, now with AtomFilms
The catgories are narrative, documentary, animation, and alternative ("anything experimental in nature").

There will be a judge's choice award, an award voted by festival viewers and a best of festival award.

The panel of judges will be made up of actors, agents, producers and directors, and is likely to include DiCaprio and director Spike Jonze.

Winners will receive cash prizes, equipment and meetings with industry professionals.

All profits from these ventures will go to the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, a non-profit making environmental foundation.

DiCaprio's announcement follows hot on the heels of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's online screenplay competition, Project Greenlight, which was launched last Friday.

The duo are encouraging aspiring film-makers to submit screenplays and then help choose the winner, who gets $1m from the Miramax studio to make and release the film.

Jonze joins AtomFilms

In another development, Oscar-nominated director Spike Jonze, who made the off-beat comedy Being John Malkovich, has signed a deal to make short films exclusively for AtomFilms.

Jonze, who was first noticed for his music videos and short films, is joining the advisory board of AtomFilms where he will recruit and support independent filmmakers and animators making short film projects.

"I'm excited to be working with a company that helps filmmakers show their work without having to go through traditional distribution channels.

"I like the idea of some kid being able to make something with their video camera and being able to distribute it around the world," he said.

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See also:

10 Nov 99 | Entertainment
DiCaprio plans online film fest
03 Aug 00 | Entertainment
DiCaprio adviser admits $10m fraud
06 Apr 00 | Entertainment
DiCaprio's Beach closes
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