A San Diego Film Festival Brings The World In Your Hands

April is thought of as a symbol for change, new beginnings, and hope. We are right in the middle of the Spring Season and we’re very excited to bring changes and new beginnings.

If you’ve been following our film festival, International Mobile Film Festival in San Diego, we thank you! We are quite persistent when it comes to organizing our annual festival and always have an eye on the future. We got together over the last 10 months to discuss how we can make our events and programs better for everyone.

One thing that is a constant is the festival taking place every year during the last weekend in April. You can count on it, after 11 annual editions.

We continue to accept films shot with the most popular mobile device in the world, which we’re glad we knew before we launched in 2009 was the mobile phone.

We’ve been telling everyone to make feature films with smartphones. We like to see you succeed and we know, generally speaking, feature length films get more attention for distribution, monetizing, and in many ways they get more respect in the industry, than short films. However, we love the short films competition and we love sharing short films with our attendees. We’ve screened so many short films! Online, in 2021 we screened 50 short films in our online festival as VOD on MobileFilmStories.com.

The in-person festivals have a limit, due to the time we can give and expect attendees to sit and watch 50 short films. Even 30 is a stretch. That said, we’re far more than a film screener event. We realize the in-person festivals is where we’ve captured the heart of mobile filmmaking. The stories told and shared on and off screen by the storytellers and filmmakers attending, create an awesome vibe.

The camaraderie between filmmaker and attendee movie enthusiast, and the interest between filmmakers and their projects is a benefit that cannot take place, as hard as we try, online. These connections sparked long friendships between mobile filmmakers over the years.

This year, for IMFF 2022, we meet together in person again. And it’s a big deal! It’s the first time we’ve held our traditional in-person festival event since 2019.

Back in 2019, we said goodbye for another year. Little did we know it would be three years before we’d meet again. One person who is working hard behind the scenes is one of the cheerleaders in the smartphone and indie filmmaking industry. Susy Botello, festival founder and director, is cheering on a very exciting event this year.

“Never has the popularity of a camera been more clamorous than it was even just a few years ago. When the general film industry realized the entertainment and theater industry is evolving when it comes to streaming films. It’s also changing what’s happening behind the camera, and the types of cameras, of course. The most versatile camera ever! Smartphone cameras can record home videos to share with friends or family, document with video and create content for branding. But the same camera can make a movie that you can watch on a theater screen and forget it was shot with the phone in your pocket. Until you feel inspired to make your own, that is.”

“We are going to celebrate this niche industry with the people who are ready to raise it above our own heads. After all, we are all storytellers and this is a story we’re all a part of!” Said Susy Botello.

The 2022 IMFF will host Q&A sessions and panels, 25 official short films, 4 Rookie Award films, 6 full length feature films, a mobile filmmaking workshop, red carpet extravaganza, raffles and more surprises and the awards ceremony. There are also timed breaks to network and meet people, eat and shoot photos and videos on the beautiful venue.

We’ve come together with our team to discuss several items we wanted to implement in the festival. A few changes and a few additions:

Short film time limits, categories shake up, and a new challenge.


While the Rookie Award films are mainly for novice filmmakers and is showcased during the festival, the IMFF’s Short Film Competition is the official competition with an official screening at the event. We transformed our festival to the best and more experienced and professional short films for 2022+. Beginning with 2023, it’s time to shake up the time limits. Rookie short films will continue to be limited to the 1 to 5 minutes time length. The official Short Film Competition will change from 1-5 minutes, to a minimum of 3 to 10 minutes maximum. Take into account all official selections screen in San Diego.

We always wish to select more, not less, and include every single short film selected officially to screen in San Diego.


This year, you submitted your official short film competition films into specific categories. Winners of each of the IMFF short film categories will be announced during the awards ceremony Sunday, May 1. We also included a new category for the Rookie Award, which is outside the short film competition.


We’ve decided to select a Community Stories short film based on all shorts submitted for the short film competition and Rookie Award to give that program continued special recognition. Filmmakers do not need to submit their film into the Community Stories Program in order to be featured Community Stories in the festival. Our team will reach out to potential selections in this program and give it added recognition. Community Stories must be told by an inside member of the culture or community reflected in the film. We’ll continue making it a highlight of the programming during our festival when appropriate.

We’ll be surrendering several categories but we continue to have mostly the same categories to choose from. We don’t have a thousand films to go through, which is not a bad thing. We watch each and every film submitted. Even if your film does not get selected, we acknowledge you in the global community online and welcome you to the festival to celebrate and perhaps gain new tips hands-on. You’ll continue to be allowed to submit same film to more than one category, or more than one film to multiple categories. Just note that only one film from each filmmaker is selected to each competition. All selected films receive laurels, as is tradition. Winners in categories will receive new award laurels.


We’re introducing the Mobile Film Screenwriting Competition to IMFF 2023. We will accept submissions for short film, 4-8 minute screenplays, which could be shot with a phone camera. We hope to bring more screenwriters to the IMFF community. When we talk to people about mobile filmmaking, we always send the message to make a movie. Just do it. But we take for granted everyone has access to a story ready to shoot. Sometimes a filmmaker just needs the screenplay in their hands to begin the production process. We believe connecting more screenwriters with mobile filmmakers is going to bring more mobile films to the screen and save some filmmakers who want to shoot movies the added time required to write. Welcome screenwriters, to the International Mobile Film Festival in San Diego!

DISCUSSION TOPIC IMFF 2022: There will be an in-person discussion opportunity during our film festival April 29, 30 & May 1 in San Diego.


We’ve discussed a new challenge we’re bringing to the festival in 2023: The challenge: Frame A Story (One story in one frame). A smartphone photo challenge. All brands, any phone camera.

This new challenge will present itself as a separate category in our film festival. Everyone, even official selected filmmakers can be contenders.

Everyone can submit any number of photos shot with any smartphone camera while focusing on telling a story. One photo per submitter will be selected. The official selection of photographs will be included in a video, with each photographer’s name, to be presented during the 2023 edition of the festival.

Winner of the Best Mobile Photo Story Award will receive a prize during the awards ceremony. We’ll have more details. Photos will be owned by their photographers. We’ll have non-exclusive permission to publish photos to promote our festival and content giving credit to the photographer. More details to come!

Our belief is that the smartphone camera community is large and could benefit from connecting and collaborating in projects together. The smartphone storyteller community is large and there is much to benefit from connecting and introducing everyone involved. Empowering the storyteller using smartphone cameras is part of our mission. Filmmaking is a combination of multi media in one produced film which shares a story, sends a message, evokes emotion and feelings of empathy. Making films is a team effort that brings many rewards, and we hope to be a part of your choice to reward your efforts and successes.

We’re excited to host a great group of filmmakers attending the festival for three full days of an incredible fun and inspiring experience. This month, we step forward with this “cannot miss” in-person film event in San Diego. Following three years gone virtual only, we’re excited. What will we do? Elevate!

Come “Elevate!” with us during the 11th annual edition in San Diego’s International Mobile Film Festival April 29, 30 & May 1, 2022. View the program and schedule.

© 2022 S. Botello Productions™. All rights reserved.