When Motorola demonstrated the first handheld mobile phone back in 1973, little did they know that what they had just designed as a device utilised to enable voice calls without resorting to a landline would eventually evolve into a multi-purpose minicomputer by the mid-2000s. Naturally, the biggest evolutionary step will always be the Snake game developed by Nokia, but still, one also has to recognise other functionalities which score almost as high on the practicality scale: from checking emails to streaming sports broadcasts, dating or being reminded to feed the hamster, there’s little that phones cannot do.
In 2000, Sharp came up with the idea of installing a small digital camera on one of their mobile phones. Since then, the concept has undergone a great deal of improvement, to the point that nowadays, top-notch mobile phones can shoot better quality videos than some professional cameras of yesteryear. And while cat videos remain by far the most popular use of the phone camera, amateur or even professional films shot integrally with a mobile phone have started popping up.
Of course, the ability to take a device out of your pocket and shoot a film project greatly lowers the entry barriers to the industry, particularly due to a significant cut in necessary financial investment for equipment. The practice is not without its critics, however, and while the points they make are quite valid, there’s no denying that some fantastic projects have emerged as a result of this newfound medium. Specialised film festivals seeking to reward films shot with mobile devices have recently started to become more widespread, so here’s nine of the best.
1. Mobile Film Festival – Paris, France
Already reaching its 12th edition, the Mobile Film Festival presented its winners on the last day of February, at the MK2 Bibliothèque Multiplex in Paris. Focusing on themes such as gender equality, violence against women and the refugee crisis, the winners enjoyed a substantial award offered by the partnering BNP Paribas.
2. Cinema Perpetuum Mobile – Minsk, Belarus
Started in 2011 and thus celebrating its 6th anniversary in 2017, the Cinema Perpetuum Mobile film festival seeks to promote films by independent Belarusian producers on both a national and international scale. A healthy dose of Eastern European creativity is always welcome.
3. Super9 Mobile Film Fest – Portugal
Started in 2014, the Portuguese Super9 Mobile Film Festival seeks to reward projects shot on smartphones, registering a maximum 15-minute runtime. The accepted genres include fiction, documentaries, music videos, animations, as well as experimental shorts, so there’s something for everyone!
4. iPhone Film Festival – Beverly Hills, US
Here’s a good one to consider if you’re an Apple aficionado: the iPhone Film Festival. Actually, no, Samsung and Nokia owners can also rejoice – as long as 70% of the film is shot with a mobile device, the project is eligible to win stuff, lowercase preceding ‘i’ or not.
5. Toronto Smartphone Film Festival – Toronto, Canada
Just one week left until this one begins, so make haste and grab those tickets! One of the fastest-growing mobile film festivals on the North American continent, the Toronto Smartphone Film Festival encourages both professional and aspiring filmmakers to share their stories shot via a mobile device.
6. SmartFone Flick Fest – Sydney, Australia
Screening the best 14 selections at the Chauvel Cinema in Sydney, and offering prizes in excess of $10000, the SmartFone Flick Fest takes great pride in its status as the only Australian smartphone film festival accessible to just about anyone – yes, this includes you and your project.
7. Cairo Mobile Film Festival – Cairo, Egypt
The mission statement of the Cairo Mobile Film Festival, which reaches its second edition this year, is ‘to create a meeting point for talented students, young artists, emerging filmmakers and cinema enthusiasts from Egypt, the Arab world and Europe to come together and share their linked passion and knowledge of the cinema industry through its competition.’
8. International Mobil Film Festival – San Diego, US
The main rule of IMFF2018 is a simple one: mobile phones only. Their festival description reads: ‘The purpose of our mobile film festival is not only to create interest and spark creativity in people of all ages with limited income or resources, but to actually inspire creative filmmakers to live to their potential and realise the opportunity to fulfil their dream.’
9. Mobile Motion Film Festival – Zurich, Switzerland
Striving to first and foremost be an agent of change, and not to merely recognise and reward new and daring approaches, this brand-new festival calls the beautiful Swiss city of Zurich home. Accepting projects shot on phones, tablets and GoPro cameras, and only charging a modest submission fee, the Mobile Motion Film Festival is the place to make your work known to the world. The only drawback is that you may find it difficult to leave this amazing Alpine region behind once the festival ends.