Two years ago, when I first became interested in the phenomenon of Internet video in the Spanish-speaking world, I was able to locate over a thousand sites including articles and video projection and download sites – a large, but still manageable number. In August 2005, there were 265,000; a quick check in October turned up 700,000 (of which 18,000 were download sites). Even taking into account the vast amounts of duplication on mirror sites, I would be reluctant even to guess at the range of discrete locations that will appear by the time this chapter sees print. The well-known US-based site Atomfilms /Shockwave at that time reported an archive of over 15,000 films and a visitor base of over 20 million per month. Ifilm, in its ‘success stories’ link, bragged about its growing importance to industry heavyweights as evidenced by the on- and offline deals with filmmakers that the site had generated. Buscacine was offering hyperlinked pages on filmmakers, cortometrajes, and even updates on unreleased cortos still in production stages. The Argentine site SoloCortos expressed its mission in an email bulletin dated 30 September 2005 as ‘to generate attention about the new creative Latin American audiovisual currents, which, thanks to the digital era, have offered greater and richer possibilities for expression to more artists, without discrimination by country, resources, and sex’. Similarly, Cortomanía announced that it was created by a group of people who were passionate about independent film, and, they added, ‘we know how difficult it is to distribute a corto and how frustrating it is for the creator not to be able to show his/her work; for that reason, this team took the initiative of creating this site’.
‘Mejor da click’ [Clicking is better], the title of an already-dated Mexican article, defines the response of many in the Spanish-speaking world when asked about national film production. Clearly, Internet video is a technology and an artistic form that has now been mainstreamed in many circles; yet it has been relatively unstudied in literary or culture studies circles despite representing a phenomenon that, in its many different and sometimes problematic forms, engages larger debates not only about the changing shape of technology, but also about comparative access, identity, and national cinema projects.