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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 October 2005, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
Festival celebrates mobile phone movies
By Rory Mulholland in Paris

Europe's first film festival for movies shot with mobile telephones opens this weekend in Paris.

Image from La Vengeance du Docteur Follenburg by Wladimir Anselme
Wladimir Anselme is showcasing two movies at the festival

With dozens of films to be screened, ranging from 30-second shorts to a full-length feature made in Rome, the Pocket Film Festival seeks both to showcase an emerging art form and to ask what effect it might have on mainstream cinema.

"There's already great creativity in mobile phone film-making," said festival director Laurence Herszberg.

"I don't think we'll ever see Scorcese making films on phones, it's a new form and it will attract its own creators."

The festival comes as mobile network operators in many countries are thrusting third-generation (3G) phones equipped with video cameras and internet capability on their customers in the hope of recouping some of the huge investments they made in the sector.

While mobile phone users are long familiar with downloading ringtones, games, and graphics, they can now in some countries view "mobisodes," clips that play on a mobile phone's screen.

Whatever tool you use gives you creativity, you have to overcome its limitations
Wladimir Anselmename

In the US and UK, for example, minute-long episodes drawn from Fox TV's 24 television series, were available during the show's last season.

There have been prizes for movies made on or for mobile phones at events such as the Sundance Festival in the United States.

However, the three-day event which starts on Friday at the Forum des Images film centre in Paris is the first in Europe dedicated to films made on phones, said Ms Herszberg.

A film festival in Taiwan for Asian directors of phone films began in late September.

Several months ago the Forum handed out 100 3G phones to film-makers, writers, musicians, and other creative types and told them to go off and experiment.

Kiefer Sutherland
"Mobisode" clips were available during the last season of 24

They came back with films that spanned genres from film noir parody to personal diaries to a 90-minute feature entitled Jours où Je N'existe Pas (Days When I Don't Exist).

Fourteen of these films are in the running for prizes of cash and mobile phones, to be handed out Sunday at the close of the festival.

The festival is jointly sponsored by Nokia, the world's leading mobile phone maker, and the French mobile operator SFR.

They and other films will be shown on regular cinema screens in the Forum over the weekend, but can also be seen on mobile phone screens in installations in the centre's lobby.

Films being shown on these phone screens also include short films from the Lumière brothers, the French inventors whose 1895 film Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory is considered the first motion picture.

The festival director explained that the constraints of making movies on a mobile phone were in some ways similar to producing film on the primitive "cinematographe" camera invented by the Lumières.

Image from L'Homme qui Aimait les Fleurs by Jean-Claude Taki
The films on offer range from 30-second shorts to full-length features

She rejected suggestions that mobile phone films were merely a gimmick, pointing out that digital movie cameras were at first scorned by serious film-makers but have now been widely accepted.

Wladimir Anselme, one of the film-makers being showcased at the festival, agreed that the reduced capability of the mobile phone drove him to be more creative.

"Whatever tool you use gives you creativity, you have to overcome its limitations," said Anselme, who is also a musician and cabaret artist.

He made several films with his 3G phone, two of which were brief epsiodes in a film noir series and will be shown at the festival. He describes them as a witty parody mix of Martin Scorcese's Taxi Driver and early Jean-Luc Godard gangster movies.

Festival-goers keen to 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 Forum, where actors and technicians will be on hand to help.

And, this being France, the festival will also host several weighty round-table debates on subjects such as the meaning of the new art and its sociological implications.

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