The tools of filmmaking have changed dramatically in recent years. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville will be highlighting this with their Mobile Phone Film Festival, set to take place on December 5. They are taking submissions through Nov. 30.
So why mobile phones? According to Sara Segerlin, Senior Manager, Public Programs and Community Engagement, “The mobile phone serves as our creative tool of the 21st century—it’s our paintbrush, pencil and camera. We experience and express life with our phones.”
Films are limited to a maximum of four minutes and they welcome genres ranging from documentary, experimental, animation, music video, and so on. Selected applicants will be invited to attend the screening for a post-filmmaker discussion and reception at the festival.
For the last seven years, Crystal Bridges’ Short Film Festival has gone through several iterations. Originally, Segerlin said, it began as a collaboration with the Fayetteville Film Festival’s board members Dan Robinson and Jules Taylor and they screened “Ozarkumentaries” -- shorts on Ozark stories by local filmmakers. Later, they developed a post-discussion with filmmakers to share about their creative works and network with each other.
“A couple years later in 2015, we broadened the short film festival to increase opportunities for more creatives to explore the art of film inspired by the museum’s mission of uniting the power of art and nature, or exploring an exhibition on Andy Warhol, or creating new music videos,” Segerlin said, “Last year, we shifted to the mobile phone film festival and one-minute video given that so many people now use their phones and use a creative tool and personal journal of photographs and videos, as well as the increase of Instagram 60-second videos. Last year, we had more than 100 submissions across ages ranges from 6 to 80 years old, and it was a wonderful turnout by friends and family who got to see their peers video on the big screen – there was a lot of excitement in the audience.”
Crystal Bridges has hosted more than 300 films and filmmakers at the museum over the years. They host films every month at the museum as exploratory outlet to create conversation around with the local community through post-discussions by filmmakers and guest speakers. These often focus on content in the museum’s contemporary exhibitions, creative technique of storytelling to share cultural stories around social issues. They explored issues around identity and immigration with their Border Cantos film series on the US-Mexican Border, FREE MEN with Kenneth Reams, Native Voices film series with Kyle Bell, Sterlin Harjo and more. They hosted film screenings and post-film discussion inspired by their exhibitions such as Soul of the Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power that focused on Black Power films.
The Summer Outdoor Film series is very popular and a lot of fun featuring cult films and blockbusters that move around to unique spaces of the museum such as screening the Wizard of Oz next to the Buckyball. They have also hosted feature-length independent films such as Nick Offerman, Brad Beesely, Joey Lauren Adams, Sam Green, Qasim "Q" Basir, Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller, Patricia Cullors (co-founder of Black Lives Matter) and The San Diego International Short Film Festival in collaboration with Hispanic Heritage Month.
On January 10, 2020, they will screen the documentary, Kasuma: Infinity Mirror, and on February 13, Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, which will feature a post-discussion by the University of Arkansas’s Diversity and Inclusion professors Anne Shelley and Elecia Smith.
At the ACS, we believe that if we provide filmmakers an arena to exhibit their talents, and film enthusiasts a healthy diet of quality programming, we can inspire more Arkansans to make and watch more films. By supporting filmmakers, festivals, theaters and young people interested in filmmaking throughout the state, we hope to create statewide network, pool Arkansas’s resources and be an umbrella organization that feeds all things film. We believe a rising tide lifts all boats.
To be a filmmaker, we have to connect to create. A painter needs a brush, paint and a canvas. A director needs a writer, a cinematographer, a sound mixer, production designer, editor, actors, distributors, and an audience. We cannot do it alone. This art form forces one to collaborate and thus, creates jobs. Filmmaking is unique in the arts in this way. It takes an army.