Make a video, win $20,000 and be seen in Times Square!

My friend Ali Hossaini recently produced the Metropolis Art Competition for Babelgum Networks. It’s part of an ongoing arts programming initiative, and he promises interesting new work later in the year. The artist retains rights to all work and there is no fee for an entry. Length is limited to 5 minutes.  I know plenty of struggling artists/filmmakers, so here’s their chance!

When developing the competition he thought Isabella Rossellini would be the perfect juror because she’s completed a string of artistic productions over the past few years. Her collaborations with Guy Maddin include: ‘The Saddest Music in the World’ and her own homage to her father, the Director Roberto Rossellini, in ‘My Dad is 100 Years Old’.

If you haven’t yet seen her wildly popular Green Porno series that appeared on the Sundance Channel, you should. And maybe all junior high schools could include the series in their sex education classes. Written and directed by Rossellini, in her Starfish get-up she says with a twinkle, ‘….to mate, you don’t have to have a penis’.

Ali first met Isabella on the set of the Robert Wilson Voom Portraits series, which Hossaini commissioned for LAB, a TV channel devoted to video art that he developed on Rainbow Media in 2004. Since then, they have explored several projects together. 

Excerpt from an article in American Cinematography, September 2007, on the genesis of the Wilson project:

‘Wilson, a renowned theater director and multimedia artist, was approached in 2004 by Ali Hossaini, an executive producer at VoomHD Networks (owned by Cablevision Systems subsidiary Rainbow Media). A fan of Wilson’s work for two decades, Hossaini wanted to develop a project that would showcase HD in all its million-pixel glory. “I was excited about the possibility of working with Robert,” says Hossaini. “He’s a visual innovator who’s well known for his use of lighting and color in a wide variety of media. I knew he’d come up with something unique that would push the limits of what HD can do.”

Wilson and Hossaini considered several options – a vast projected backdrop for a Bach opera was nixed as too esoteric – until they hit on the idea of video portraits. “I have been interested in video as a medium for a long time,” says Wilson, who created video portraits of French filmmaker Patrice Chereau and Sony executive Akito Morita in the 1980s. “But the video technology available [in the 1980s] limited what I could do with lighting and setting up the image. It was only when Noah Khoshbin, (an old UTAustin pal of Hossaini’s) who has worked with me for years, showed me what can be done in HD that I decided to create a larger group of works in this medium.”


Wilson’s Video Portrait characters;

Isabella as a Japanese Manga character.


Wilson, Sean Penn and Hossaini.


Hossaini and Johnny Depp deliberating before the shoot.


The Queen in all her glory: Jeanne Moreau and Hossaini on the set.


William Dafoe

After years of trying to merge art with television, Hossaini thinks an Internet service like Babelgum is one of the best places for arts programming because it can attract a worldwide audience.

Having been in video and motion graphics myself for too long to admit, I’m hoping that in addition to artists who create interesting video, some of the more innovative motion designers and film directors will enter the competition. Like A Tomato Project.

 Joris Ivens’ 1929 Regen’ (Rain) is one of my own personal favorites of early non-narrative film.

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