China’s leading internet TV site is to launch its third annual original content inititative featuring four “micro-movies” from names including Tsai Ming-liang and Ann Hui.

Youku Inc, China’s leading internet TV site which trades on the New York Stock Exchange, is to launch Beautiful 2012, its third annual original content campaign since 2010. The first four films of the Beautiful 2012 campaign will be four “micro movies” from award-winning Asian directors Gu Changwei, Tsai Ming-liang, Ann Hui, and Kim Tae-yong, to have their world premieres at the Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) on March 22.

The short films, or “micro movies” a new term coined in China for short films made for online viewing, will be released exclusively on Youku’s online platform over the course of the next year.

This is the first time that HKIFF has showcased micro movies, a web-native storytelling format that has emerged alongside the rise of online new media platforms in China since 2006. The success of online-only movies such as Xiao Yang’s Old Boys which was viewed 20m times in two months on Youku has created a lot of interest from well-known directors in the format.

Besides the four short films premiered at HKIFF, the Beautiful 2012 series will be presented on a three-month basis, and will feature an as yet untitled short by Zhang Yang (Getting Home, Shower) and Spring Flowers by up-and-coming director Lu Huizhou. Huizhou also directed the short Love at the Crossroads, which was viewed 17m times as part of the 2011 Youku series entitled “One Step Away”.

“The ‘micro movie’ is an exciting new option for writers and directors, and we share Youku’s vision of developing it into a new format for our millennia,” said Roger Garcia, Executive Director of Hong Kong International Film Festival Society.

All the Youku Original series are co-financed by Youku with advertising sponsors. The sponsors include General Motors (2010 short film projects), Philips (One Step Away, 2011 short film projects), Hyundai and Sony. The Beautiful 2012 series has so far secured Canon and Remy Martin as main sponsors.