Short films by Robert Frank, Jan Svankmajer and Jeanne Faust are among the first titles available at Oberhausen Films Online, a new kind of video-on-demand platform launched by the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen.

For the launch of this new platform, the festival digitized around 270 films from past competition lineups and special programmes. As a break from previous models, the administration of this platform will be placed in the hands of the filmmakers themselves, who will decide on whether a film is made available for streaming or download and what price to charge.

Of the income generated from viewing charges, 51% will go to the film’s author and 49% to Oberhausen’s technical partner for setting up and maintaining the digital infrastructure.

“We want Oberhausen Film Online to help spread film culture in a way that directly benefits the filmmakers,” says festival director Lars Henrik Gass [pictured], describing the initiative as a “strategic partnership between filmmaker and film festival” and “a vital step into the digital age of the film festival.”

“Today, it’s no longer enough to show films online solely for the purpose of documentation,” Gass explains. “Providing online access to films must be a component of both the festival’s own brand building as well as the filmmaker’s self-distribution efforts. This is one way for film festivals to overcome the limits of space and time and to ultimately make a part of cultural heritage accessible to a new audience.”

In future, new films will be added to the platform from the current festival programmes as well as from the festival archive, beginning with the competition nominees from Oberhausen’s 57th edition which runs from May 5-10.