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 will put 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 the festival founder, Susy Botello.
"I was working in the video production industry at the time. I was editing interviews and B roll from 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 using a mobile phone camera and I could present it in our film festival?'"
So the first category for IMFF was officially added to the film festival and we began to promote it. The story could be something good, a need, educational, cultural, etc. But it took some time for it to appear.
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. His film won second prize.
You can read a 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. Last year's IMFF 2020, Saeed Mayahy in Iran, shared "Finish Line."
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.
Submissions for the International Mobile Film Festival are currently open. Submit a short film, shot with a smartphone camera to the Community Stories Category for #MFF2021SanDiego. Deadline for the short film competition is November 19, 2020. Who better to share your story than you?
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