Smartphones. Love them or hate them, feel they are absolutely vital to your very existence or mock them; they are now officially here to stay. And – I don’t want to scare anyone here – their power is growing. Leaps in technology mean that we can achieve more and more with our phones, from controlling household appliances to tracking our health. And once the practicalities of life are taken care of (so to speak), we have time to use our phones for leisure and art. Incidentally, I don’t mean consuming it. I mean creating it.
It is the beginning of a true revolution and democratisation on the art scene. True, we are still quite far from the days when we’ll all be able to just “make a blockbuster” using household items. But we are now at an age when a smartphone, a bit of ingenuity and a very, very, VERY minimal budget can result in some extraordinary artistic and cinematic feat. This being the internet, if you didn’t know where to look you may have missed it. But last week, a library in Canada Water played host to a festival that hopes to be the harbinger of exciting days to come. I am talking about The Mobile Motion Film Festival – MoMo . The festival came to a close last week with an awards ceremony on 30th of May, when the final 14 films from three different categories were screened in Zurich and broadcast live in London. Guidelines for submission were strict – as usually is the case with these festivals – but they were a little unlike your usual fare. The films had to be shot on a mobile device capable of shooting HD video. At a first glance this sounds like an extraordinarily limiting condition. But that would be vastly underestimating both the talent and imagination of all the budding filmmakers out there and the abilities of mobile technology these days. If MoMo taught its viewers one thing, it was that the “older generation” need to sit up and pay attention. Something quite extraordinary is coming…
To give but one example – and there were many truly extraordinary examples out there on the night – we can take a look at the star of the night and winner of both the Best International Film and Audience Choice awards on the night: Caradecaballo (Horseface). The film has already collected an impressive number of awards and mentions on short film festivals around the world and is one of those films that are all the better if you knew as little as possible about it. Let’s just say that it is very much like one of those days that start looking as if they are going to be completely normal and suddenly take a sickening jolt for the surreal and then the downright horrifying. Made for just 20 euros and starring just the director himself and his grandmother, Caradecaballo is a truly brilliant example of what smartphone technology can achieve on an artistic level.
Easy access to equipment also means that there are more opportunities for younger filmmakers who want to experiment. This is probably why the festival had a special category for Young Talent – for filmmakers under the age of 21. The winner, Speedball Race, is a stop motion film made by a group of very talented young filmmakers who – by the looks of things – may well go on to great things in a few years to come.
Two more prizes were handed out that night, one was a tribute to the host country – Best Swiss Feature. The winner was a horror comedy – The Nightshift – that managed to serve up equal portions of chills and giggles in a mere three minutes. The last accolade was the Special prize selected by Boa Lingua, the festivals partners, and went to Dancers of NYC by Tristan pope, a beautiful tribute to dance, New York, art and freedom.
There is no doubt at all that current technological developments have made art a more democratic process. And while pundits will no doubt debate long and hard whether this is a good thing or not, if experimentation is a fundamental part of the artistic process developments that allows more and more people to join in the fun, that can only be a good thing. MoMo was a fascinating experience for me, if only through the sheer number of genres and sheer quality of films that were created only using mobile devices. A hearty congratulation to all the winners – and here’s to more mobile movies to come!