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Republished with permission from APC member organisation EngageMedia.

With Big Tech monopolies owning many of the online services we regularly use, is there still a space (and an audience) for platforms and content outside this mostly proprietary ecosystem? EngageMedia is up for the challenge with the launch of Cinemata, a platform for social and environmental films about the Asia-Pacific. With almost 5,000 videos on its archives, Cinemata welcomes contributions in a variety of styles and genres, including documentary, fiction, animation, experimental, and more.

In this podcast episode, we expound on Cinemata with our Executive Director Andrew Lowenthal. We also chat with Andrew on the importance of open source platforms and their development in the region, as well as the dangers of protecting speech only when it reflects progressive beliefs.

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  • Cinemata, which runs on MediaCMS, is the latest iteration of EngageMedia’s open source video platform. It is the successor to the previous site based on Plumi. Andrew emphasises in the podcast that the platform, from its original inception until now, allows filmmakers and video creators to “go beyond the national” and allow regional audiences to watch their work. Andrew also shares that Cinemata is refreshing, in that it originates from the Asia-Pacific, a region composed, for the most part, of technology users more than developers (especially when compared with North America).

    • Currently, Cinemata is hosting the Pride and Independence festival of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, which will run until June 25, 2021. It is also hosting the trailer of the Burma Spring Benefit Film Festival, which runs until June 20.

    • To continue the conversation on the importance of providing spaces for marginalised voices, we recommend checking out our previous episode with Point of View Executive Director Bishakha Datta.

  • How exactly are YouTube and other corporate video platforms a threat to digital rights? These platforms, which are increasingly owned by the Big Tech monopolies, continue to collect a “frightening amount of data about you” and monetise this data by selling it to advertisers (and more). Such acts also threaten users’ right to online privacy.

  • There are plenty of arguments on how free speech should not be neutral, justifying the banning of Parler in the midst of the 2020 US elections. But there are also many who feel that free speech is not exactly neutral, and should not solely protect liberal or progressive beliefs.

  • Because of the above threats to digital rights, support for open source technology is all the more important. EngageMedia has always been an advocate for open and secure technology. Check out our projects here.

  • For more in Cinemata, we invite you to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, follow the official Twitter and Mastodon accounts, and join the Video4Change Network’s Discourse channel for Cinemata.