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New Transformation San Diego's International Mobile Film Festival

The International Mobile Film Festival in San Diego celebrates storytellers, content creators and filmmakers around the world. This year is our 11th annual edition of the event launched from an idea and vision in the Spring of 2009. The vision of the founder, Susy Botello, was that mobile phone cameras, regardless of the brand, would be capable to produce films suited for the big screen, and one day ride shotgun with traditional filmmaking regardless of the camera.

As a pioneer in the mobile filmmaking industry, we have continuously raised the bar for filmmakers by providing opportunities to grow and enhance mobile smartphone filmmaking. We only accepted films shot with smartphone cameras.

We began with a low threshold of 1 to 3 minute films which were screened on big screens in the inaugural festival in 2012. The following year, we raised the time limit to 5 minutes. This time limit is good for us to accept more films into our programming and for filmmakers to showcase their skills and talents.

In 2016, we announced we were going to begin accepting feature films by experimenting with 20 to 40 minute narrative films and we would select not more than three films. In 2017, we screened our first “feature” film. During that screening we announced we would begin to accept 40 to 90 minute narrative films beginning in 2018.

In 2018, we began to accept aerial footage for shorts and feature films that did not equate to more than 10% of the length of the film. We also began to accept more than one submission from filmmakers, though only one film would be officially selected.

In 2020 we raised the bar yet again. We announced a full two hour limit to the length of feature narrative mobile films.

In 2021, we selected three narrative films with impressive stories and film quality. The story is always the main element to consider in any film. However, it is now apparent that there are no limits to the quality of films that can be produced with the constant updated technology on smartphone cameras, regardless of the manufacturer. In our festival, the iPhone, Samsung and OnePlus have shown positive results among others and we see Huawei and others racing to the top as well in 2021.

Having had a conversation with Filmic Pro and FilmConvert about their latest partnership with FilmConvert's Cinematch, in the SBP Podcast Mobile Filmmaking, the amazing capabilities for experienced filmmakers is now more apparent than ever.

The one thing that supersedes the ability to be a contender with some of the best independent films of today, is not the camera. It is the skills and talents of the filmmaker to bring a great story to its audience and master the skills and technical requirements needed in both production and post production to bring their film to the highest level.

The founder of our film festival, Susy Botello, has embraced filmmakers of all walks, all experience levels, all countries and all humans of any age sharing films and videos with IMFF in San Diego since before the launch of the festival in 2009. However, there is no denying the more traditional filmmakers who are making exceptional films using smartphone cameras.

Beginning in 2022, we are offering a new category for our festival.

The feature film competition will continue to accept only exceptional narrative films shot with mobile phones and expect high quality story-based narrative fictional films. The time limits remain not less than 40 minutes and not more than 120 minutes (2 hours).

The new category is open to all ages, and will receive a separate award we are naming: The Rookie Award.

The Short Film Competition is now categorized on FilmFreeway. We are raising our expectations for the short film competition. We’re not just looking for good stories, but also for films which are higher quality in audio and video. The short film competition is now geared toward more experienced filmmakers. The films selected will be screened in the short film session of our programming during both the live event and online event.

Being a “rookie” is not to be underrated, it’s to be celebrated. Especially in the mobile filmmaking community of filmmakers. The new “rookie” category contestants will not compete with the films in the short film categories. Instead, a handful of films will be selected to compete for The Rookie Award. The selected films will not be screened with the short films session/competition in our festival programming, but will still be screened in a separate program session during the festival. We urge youth of all ages to also submit to the new Rookie Award competition/category.

Our modest submission fees remain at the same rate as last year and continue to be competitive with most festivals.

Submissions open at Midnight June 19, 2021. International Mobile Film Festival proudly accepts entries on FilmFreeway, the world's #1 way to enter film festivals and creative contests.

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