South Korea’s Smartphone Film Fest Accepting Submissions

South Korean Smartphone Fest - H 2012

The Olleh Festival -- designed for shorts made on mobile devices -- is adding an international section this year to become more globally competitive.

SEOUL – South Korea’s Olleh Smartphone Film Festival is now accepting submissions from overseas for its newly added international competition section.

Shorts shot with a smartphone running less than 10 minutes are eligible, regardless of genre. Candidates should submit videos between Feb. 1 and 28 through the official Web site ( Prizewinners are entitled to cash gifts amounting to 50 million won (about $46,910) and brand new smartphones.

The festival director, Lee Jun-ik, the helmer of box office hits such as King and the Clown, believes smartphones have “democratized cinema.”

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“It’s amazing. Anyone, even a three-year-old kid, can make a video using a smartphone,” Lee said.

This is especially true in Korea, where over 60 percent of mobile phones in use are smartphones. In addition to the new international competition, the festival has introduced a section for children; last year, judges gave out special prizes to middle schoolers.

The film festival was launched three years ago after the iconic filmmaker Park Chan-wook created a short, Night Fishing, on an iPhone 4. The film went on to win a Berlin Golden Bear. “Olleh” is the brand slogan of KT Corporation, South Korea’s first carrier of iPhones.

Lee said the festival aims to encourage work from aspiring filmmakers and amateurs without access to the more expensive production equipment. Some candidates will use smartphone video-editing apps while others choose to use PC tools. Candidates can also make full use of equipment such as tripods or handgrips for phones and attachable camera lenses.

Regardless of the techniques employed, however, the essence of cinema – good storytelling – remains the same, the director stressed.

“We get all sorts of submissions. One time we even got a 3D movie that a candidate made using two phones. While it was creative we are looking for compelling stories and good storytelling,” he said. “Our winning films last year were so good that they were invited to the Shanghai International Film Festival.”

The 3rd Olleh International Smartphone Film Festival will open in Seoul on April 17.