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SnagFilms Puts Documentaries On The Web

Backed by former AOL executives, SnagFilms currently has 250 films available on its site and is in the process of adding another 200.

And now, from the people who brought you AOL, something completely different: an online movie site called SnagFilms that will distribute documentary films on the Web for free.

SnagFilms was launched Thursday by its chairman Ted Leonsis, who said in a statement: "Through SnagFilms, everyone on the Web can be a theater owner and a film distributor if they just donate their pixels and enable these incredible documentaries to be seen."

Leonsis, who is vice chairman emeritus of AOL and the principal owner of the Washington Capitols hockey team, has been joined by former AOL chairman Steve Case and by venture capitalist Miles Gilburne, another ex-AOL executive.

SnagFilms currently has 250 films available on its site and is in the process of adding another 200. Once Web surfers have found films they want to watch, they have different options -- the selected films can be viewed in a search window or, using a widget, the viewers can place films on their own Web sites, blogs, or social networking pages. In turn, they can place selected films on any Web page, in the process turning it into a digital movie theater.

The technology behind SnagFilms was developed by another Leonsis company, Clearspring Technologies. SnagFilms generates its revenue through advertising shown while films play.

At least some of the incentive behind SnagFilms came from Leonsis' frustration in distributing Nanking, a documentary on the China city that was the subject of brutality by Japanese troops in 1937. Leonsis said he had difficulty getting the documentary distributed.

SnagFilms also reported Thursday that it acquired IndieWire, a site presenting news and information for the international independent film community.

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