In 2009, we launched the International Mobile Film Festival in San Diego as a platform for all humans around the world. It was soon after launching, in the same year, that the idea of "Community Stories" was conceived.
We felt that the power of storytelling could empower humanity as a whole. We knew "cell phones" were accessible by almost all individuals, globally. It was that realization that moved us to create the very first category suggestion for the festival.
IMFF had no preconceived categories because we wanted to expand the creativity of expression as creators without hinting at what types of films one could make using a mobile phone camera.
Our goal was to challenge everyone to think "Big." That's why we told the world: Make a movie with your cell phone and we'll screen it on a big screen in San Diego and roll out the red carpet for you.
The idea of Community Stories was a bit personal for festival founder, Susy Botello.
"I was working in the video production industry at the time. I was editing interviews and B roll from local communities, in San Diego. Their stories seemed to have no voice outside of the videos we created for our client. As I launched the festival, I thought, 'What if a community member could share the story of their community themselves, from their own perspective, using a mobile phone camera and I could present it in our film festival?'"
Later, it became the first official category for IMFF, and we began to promote it. The story could be something good, a need, educational, cultural, etc. But it took some time for people to submit films directly to this category.
It was in 2014 that the first Community Story was screened in our film festival. "Himalayan Tsunami" was shot with the Samsung GT-N7100 in 2013. Shiva Prasad, from India, shared his personal story in a documentary as it unfolded. He captured the events with his cell phone camera. The film won second prize during IMFF 2014, and to this day he maintains a good communication with festival founder, Susy Botello.
You can read the story about his experience making the film.
Throughout each film festival we try to select one film in the category to feature during the festival. In IMFF 2021, Razi Uddin from Iran won the Third Place Award in the short film competition with his documentary, A Train to Home: "Memories and fears of the people whose houses were demolished in an attempt to revive Karachi circular railway."
In 2019, Alexandra Guillossou shared a story about her family dealing with her brother who suffers from secondary-progressive MS and his struggle. The short documentary, "The Deepest Cut," won second Prize. Alexandra came to San Diego from Missouri with her husband and daughter to share the story of making her film, which she shot with her iPhone 6. It was a bit of a tear-jerker for us, and attendees. You can read more about it in this article.
Find out about our film festival transformation beginning with IMFF 2022.
Submissions for the 11th annual edition of San Diego's International Mobile Film Festival are currently open. Submit a short film, shot with a smartphone camera to the Community Stories Category for #MFF2022SanDiego. Deadlines vary for Short Film Competition and Feature Film Competition. The Community Stories category is expressly for the short film competition. Who better to share your story than you?
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