• Cinema

Interview with Bruno Smadja, founder of the Mobile Film Festival

Since 2005, The Mobile Film Festival is to detect and promote new talents through the organization of a competition that the rules of the game are simple and open to the public: 1 Mobile 1 minute 1 film. Selected by a panel of prestigious professionals, the winner receives a scholarship BNP PARIBAS € 15,000 and the accompaniment of a producer. So why not you? In 2016, the Mobile Film Festival is back for its 12th edition! Tell your own story and send it before January 3, 2017, here.

To start things off, who are you, what’s your role with the Mobile Film Festival, and what’s your professional background?

Hello, I’m the founder of the Mobile Film Festival, which I created 12 years ago. I’m still the coordinator and leader of the festival’s team, which has expanded over time and which organises the festival.

Before creating my company, I worked for the web agency, and for the television channel MCM in Business Development and Communication roles.

The Mobile Film Festival is celebrating its 12th anniversary this year. Could you give us an overview of its creation, focusing on the who and the why of the concept of “1 Mobile, 1 Minute, 1 Film”?

In 2005, I had an opportunity to test one of the first telephones with a built-in camera. Together with some friends of mine who were aspiring filmmakers, I tried out the video and it worked! In addition, I was convinced that camera phones would very quickly become accessible to everyone and would have quasi-professional technical capabilities.

I also believed that the camera phone was going to be one of the major industry-disrupting influences on film-making, which is the ultimate industrial art form – just like, for example, the arrival of sound, colour, and 16 mm film, which made the New Wave film movement possible, and video film-making, which led to the Dogme manifesto.

During the same period, we saw the emergence of the main video platforms such as YouTube and Dailymotion – a great opportunity to present creative work, and especially short films, to a very wide audience.

“ with the Mobile Film Festival and its unique format – 1 Mobile, 1 Minute, 1 Film – I wanted to eliminate all financial barriers for all of the participants, to impose a restrictive format (1 Minute) to stimulate more creativity, and ultimately to create an essentially digital form of distribution so that these films could be viewed by as many people as possible ”

Bruno Smadja

Founder of the Mobile Film Festival

What can we expect from the 2017 event? Will there be new dimensions to this year’s festival compared to previous years?

The 2017 event will reaffirm the international scope of the Mobile Film Festival, while maintaining the simple concept that has driven the success of the festival over the past 12 years: “1 Mobile, 1 Minute, 1 Film”.

Thanks to the support of BNP Paribas, we’ll be offering 2 BNP Paribas grants of € 15,000 each for the France Grand Prize and the International Grand Prize. These grants will enable the winner to make a short film over the course of 1 year, with professional equipment and the help of a producer.

What’s more, this is the first year that the CNC (the French national film centre) has chosen to sponsor the winners of two of the Mobile Film Festival awards – Best Director and Best Screenplay – with 2 screenwriting grants.

Finally, we’ve created a new award for vertical films. It’s a fun feature of the camera phone, and people often watch films in vertical mode, so it’ll be interesting to see how the creators approach this new form of expression!

Mobile Film Festival 2017

Discover Mobile Film Festival's trailer 2017

Has the Mobile Film Festival already launched the careers of young filmmakers? Do you maintain contact with some of the winners of the festival afterwards?

Thanks to the BNP Paribas grant, which was first established 7 years ago, we’ve been able to build a coaching and support programme for the winners. In particular, 2 years ago we created the Mobile Film Academy, which brings together the winners of all of the awards.

We try to reinforce the work of professionalisation through workshops led by people such as Henri de Roquemaurel, who gave a presentation about financing for films at a special matinée event for the members of the Academy.

We also try to create professional opportunities. For example, this summer, we contributed to the Toi Même Tu Filmes #TMTF tour established by You Tube. 

During the 50 stops on the tour across France, the Academy’s film directors worked with young people at youth centres in underprivileged suburban areas in towns such as Grigny, Villiers le Bel, Aubervilliers and Sarcelles, helping them write and make 90-second short films with their mobile phones on the theme of Fraternity. It was an exceptionally rewarding and very personal experience!

Toi-même tu filmes , with Youtube.

Other winners are also making great strides in their film-making careers.

In particular, Morgan Simon, the winner of the first BNP Paribas grant (2011), was among the last 4 finalists for the 2016 César Award for Best Short Film. His first feature film, “A Taste of Ink”, will be released in february 2017 and has already been selected by the International San Sebastian Film Festival, where it received the Special Jury Prize, the Festival of Saint Jean de Luz (Best Actor and Special Jury Prize for a Young Filmmaker), and Tofifest in Poland (Best Young Filmmaker and Best Director).

Another highly successful young filmmaker is Alexander Perez, who has twice won the Mobile Film Festival Best Director Award, in 2014 and 2015. Alexander has just finished shooting a short film in virtual reality called “Sergeant James”, which will be screened in December at the Festival Paris Courts Devant, the international short film festival in Paris. His VR short was backed by the CNC, the City of Paris and RTS, the Swiss public broadcasting organisation.

And finally, Benjamin Busnel, the winner of the BNP Paribas grant in 2012, is the creator of the highly successful YouTube channel “Inernet”. His TV debut, the series “The Department”, can be viewed every Sunday on Canal +.

And there are many other inspiring stories of success among the earlier winners of the Mobile Film Festival.

What are your favourite memories of previous festivals? Also, what are your proudest achievements to date?

Every year, it’s very exciting to discover the films that are sent to us. We have to go searching, among the 700 films that we receive, for the pleasure of discovering that perfect gem: a film that grabs us and that we’re instantly convinced must be part of the official selection of 50 films.

I also have very good memories of the jury meetings for watching and deliberating about the films. Discussing, commenting, arguing and finally just talking about film, about the shots, scripts and interpretations... it’s always an honour for us and an expression of deep respect on the part of the jurists for the work of the competing directors.

Of course, the awards ceremonies are always special moments, with a great deal of emotion and joy.

This year, I’m looking forward to bringing together an outstanding jury, whose members are honouring us by joining us for this 12th annual event. 

The jury of the 12th Mobile Film Festival

Emmanuelle Bercot

Actress, Director, scriptwriter 

Kim Chapiron

Actor, Director,


Emilie Dequenne

Belgian Actress 

Maïmouna Doucouré

Actress, director et scriptwriter

Julie Gayet

Actress, Director et French producer

Laurent Grégoire

Agent artists

Jalil Lespert

Actor, Director,


Aïssa Maïga


And finally, the Mobile Film Festival is open for submissions from 8 November 2016 to 3 January 2017. The award ceremony will be held on 28 February. If you were to give our readers a few good reasons for participating, what would they be?

I’m delighted to invite them to participate in the Mobile Film Festival and, in particular, to take on the tremendously fun and creative exercise of writing a story as a group.

Over the years, we’ve seen many groups of friends participate in the festival by creating a shared project, and based on what they tell us, it’s a fantastic collaborative experience for them.

For more experienced filmmakers, I’d remind them about some of the opportunities that we offer that go beyond the constraints of the 1 Mobile, 1 Minute, 1 Film rule. They can record sound and edit their film outside of the mobile phone, and they can also add special effects.

But above all, I’d invite them to remember this statement, which has been attributed to many different directors. A film is 3 things: a story, a story, and a story.

Mobile Film Festival


In 2016, the Mobile Film Festival is back for its 12th edition. As in the past editions, rules are simple : 1 mobile - 1 minutes - 1 film. Make your own story and submit your film before January 3rd on www.mobilefilmfestival.com


Keep in touch and receive our newsletter!

Select your topics of interest and frequency of delivery.