BitTorrent Live Stream Brings Film Festival to Gaza

BitTorrent is the most effective way to share large files online, but it can also be used to stream live events. In some cases it's the only way for people to access cultural events. After a Palestinian filmmaker was denied a visa to visit a film festival in Norway where one of his films is to be screened, the festival's organizers are turning to BitTorrent to stream the festival live to Gaza.

This weekend, the International “Nordic Youth Film Festival” takes place in Tromsø, Norway. As is the case every year, the festival’s organizers have invited young filmmakers from all over the world to show their work, but not all were allowed to come. Despite an invite, the Palestinian director of Ticket to Azrael was prevented from flying to Norway by the authorities.

“It’s not a secret that the blockade in the Middle East prevents vital resources like water, food and medicines going to the needy people in Palestine. But it is perhaps not as general known that normal people who are traveling out of the area are denied a visa,” the festival organizers write in a blog post commenting on the issue. Luckily, with BitTorrent the filmmaker can still follow the festival.

The Norwegian film festival has close ties to the people of Gaza. The festival’s organizers have previously invited its young filmmakers and after the 2008/2009 siege they continued to collaborate on film workshops over the Internet. This year, due to the political situation, they’re going to take it up a notch by offering a BitTorrent-powered live stream to people all over the world, including Gaza.

The BitTorrent stream that the festival will use is facilitated by The Far North Living Lab which has experience with the technology. Last year the lab kicked off with a spectacular experiment in which they used BitTorrent to stream a 2K resolution film onto the big screen, and a few months later they hosted the first BitTorrent-powered live streamed concert.

The Far North Living Lab start their live stream from the festival tonight during the opening. In order to get the stream to Gaza and other parts of the Internet they’ve set up a BitTorrent-powered live stream (approx 1.1mbit h264, full PAL resolution) that will be transmitting from Norway’s oldest still-used cinema. Similar to the previous projects, the lab’s researchers are using the P2P-Next codebase.

“This is an important opportunity to reach our goal for an international awareness of Youth Cinema,” festival director Hermann Greuel told TorrentFreak.

An important aspect is that through the stream young filmmakers in Gaza can follow the festival. “The current stream will not be possible on a central place or event in Gaza due to special permissions from the Gaza government, but the stream is available in Gaza,” he added.

It’s good to see that there are filmmakers and enthusiasts who put BitTorrent to creative use, rather than simply accusing the technology of facilitating copyright infringement.

Readers who want to check out the stream can do so from 6 PM CET.

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