Size doesn't matter at mobile phone film festival

7th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 7, 2007 (AFP) - The big screen was the star at last month's Cannes film extravaganza, and now France is now honouring the -- very -- small screen with a festival for movies made with and for mobile phones.

PARIS, June 7, 2007 (AFP) - The big screen was the star at last month's Cannes film extravaganza, and now France is now honouring the -- very -- small screen with a festival for movies made with and for mobile phones.

The Pocket Film Festival in Paris aims to showcase an emerging art form and to demonstrate that the mobile phone is rapidly becoming the "fourth screen" in our lives, after the cinema, television and the Internet.

The three-day event starting Friday at the Pompidou Centre will show some 200 films from around the world ranging in length from less than a minute to an hour and a half and spanning fiction, documentary, cartoon and experimental video.

Australian Emmelene Landon made the 38-minute "Trans-Siberian to Vladivostok" with a 1.3 megapixel camera on the Nokia phone the festival organisers gave her when she set out on a train trip last year across Russia.

Using a phone camera was "very intimate, like an interior voice, it was like filming my thoughts," she told AFP.

Landon, a Paris-based painter who made two previous films with a regular video camera, did however admit to getting a sore arm holding up the phone as she filmed the endless Russian landscapes for her work, a mixture of travelogue and meditation on the soul of Russia.

The mobile technology that has brought about the democratisation of film-making has moved on rapidly since the first edition of the Pocket Festival two years ago.

Now, said festival director Laurence Herszberg, it is often impossible to tell if a film has been shot on a phone or with a regular video camera.

And the people making creative phone films have changed too. At first it was a largely amateur affair undertaken by artists from other disciplines.

"Now several cinema directors have turned to mobiles," she said.

"That doesn't mean they're going to give up mainstream movie-making, but they find the exercise very interesting."

The movies at the festival were either made with mobile phones for viewing on phones or on cinema screens, or were made with regular cameras to be shown on phone screens. 

Herszberg also noted that mobile phone companies in Japan, where TV  on-the-move is already a big hit, have begun commissioning artists to make "video ringtones" -- very short movies, usually animated, that play when your phone rings.

"This is throwing up interesting new modes of financing video creation," said Herszberg, whose Forum des Images film centre has borrowed the Pompidou Centre's cinema screens while its own premises undergoes major renovation.

With mobile phone operators keen to recoup their massive investments in the powerful 3G networks, video phone content is attracting increasing attention, and more and more leading TV and film studios are making their shows available on this new platform.

Pocket Films invited other movie festivals or film centres around the   world that work with mobile phone creation to submit entries for the Paris festival, as well as accepting works from film schools in several countries.

Films from Japan, Brazil, South Africa, Korea, China and the United States will be screened here this weekend alongside a crop of French works on the Pompidou's cinema screens as well as on dozens of mobile phones distributed around the venue. 

The films include works such as "Tearing Pages from Quijote" by Colombian director Felipe Cardona, a two-minute comedy about a youth who tears out and eats pages of classic literature in order to later regurgitate the fine words to woo a young woman in an elevator.

Cardona uses a straightforward narrative mode combined with defiantly   amateurish special effects, while French video artists Claire Iglesias and Yann Boyer eschewed story-telling and used their telephones to make a kaleidoscopic, impressionistic film of a train trip.

Festival-goers keen to make a break into this new art form will be able to make their own mini-films in a special studio and editing facility set up in the Pompidou, with video professionals on hand to help.

Over the weekend there will also be a series of debates on the artistic, commercial and social aspects of mobile phone films.

The festival, sponsored by French mobile operator SFR, closes on Sunday with cash prizes and top-of-the-range mobile phones for the best movies among the 26 works in the official competition.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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