Japan puts phone films in its Pocket


TOKYO -- The inaugural Pocket Film Festival in Japan, showing movies made entirely on mobile phone cameras, will run Friday-Sunday in Yokohama.

Forty-eight films, chosen from more than 400 entries from 18 countries -- including Japan, Singapore, China, South Korea and Germany -- will screen in competition at the festival, organized by the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.

The competition has two categories, one for films to be shown on regular screens and the other for films to be viewed on phones. The winning film will receive 500,000 yen (US$4,500).

"Being the first time for the festival, we weren't sure what to expect, but we've had a range of films from regular narrative stories to more experimental films," organizer Yuko Mori said.

"Of course, the resolution is comparatively low on phone cameras, so effective use of that is important," Mori said. "People have also made films where only a camera phone could go. One entry, by grade-school children, was even shot inside a fridge."

The festival also will feature symposiums on the possibilities for new content and applications using the medium of camera phones.

Softbank and Sharp are supporting the event. Softbank, a major mobile carrier, took over Vodafone Japan and also owns Yahoo Japan. Sharp was the first company to sell a camera phone, in 2000, and is now a leading maker of TV-enabled phones.