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Rossellini ponders how to make online video pay

 Italian actress Isabella Rossellini attends a news conference in Berlin in this February 13, 2006 file photo. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz - Reuters
Italian actress Isabella Rossellini attends a news conference in Berlin in this February 13, 2006 file photo. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz
— image credit: Reuters

By Ilaria Polleschi

MILAN (Reuters) - The Internet is the future for experimental film-making, but the time has come to make online video art profitable, Isabella Rossellini says.

The Italian actress who has become a web sensation with her short films about the sex life of insects and marine animals said the audience for such ventures was growing but financing remained problematic.

"The Internet offers new ways of telling stories, it's a mix of film, photography and video art. But nobody finances these films," Rossellini, 57, told Reuters in a telephone interview from New York.

One of the world's most recognizable faces after years of acting and modeling, Rossellini has seduced millions of Internet and mobile phone users with her "Green Porno" series of short films featuring the sexual behaviors of flies, spiders and whales.

She wrote, directed and interpreted the one-minute clips for the small screens of cell phones, iPods and laptops.

"The web is a double-edged sword," she said, speaking in Italian. "It has a huge potential for distributing content, creating contacts. There are a lot of advantages. The problem is that money is spent on technologies, not on content."

Rossellini said she was happy to have been invited to chair the jury of a competition launched by independent web and mobile platform Babelgum to seek out the world's best and edgiest video artists.

Nine winners will have their videos exhibited in New York City's Times Square on December17, while three will also win cash prizes worth a total of $30,000.

MAKING MONEY

Rossellini, the daughter of Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman and Italian director Roberto Rossellini, said she has been interested in experimental films for years, but she is now trying to figure out how to turn it into a profitable activity.

The success of Apple's iTunes music service has recently spurred a new round of debate about whether users should pay for online content, including news.

Rossellini, who has created her online series with the backing of actor and director Robert Redford, said one way to finance projects could be to charge Internet users a small fee.

"We are discussing how to continue this experiment, how to learn from 'Green Porno' and develop not only content, but also a business," she explained.

"We have 2-3 million viewers so this could be a solution. But should we find a sponsor or charge each viewer a cent? People expect online content to be free."

Information about the Babelgum Metropolis Art Prize is available at www.babelgum.com/metropolisartprize .

(Reporting by Ilaria Polleschi; writing by Antonella Ciancio; editing by Paul Casciato)

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