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Home / World News / Documentaries shot on mobile phones to be showcased at Canada film festival

Documentaries shot on mobile phones to be showcased at Canada film festival

The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival starts on April 26.

world Updated: Mar 25, 2018 07:32 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Hindustan Times, Toronto
A still from the short documentary The Naming Tree, which has been shot using a cellphone.
A still from the short documentary The Naming Tree, which has been shot using a cellphone.(Tomasz Wagner)

The cellphone video is now ubiquitous in the age of social media, but its evolution as a viable means of filmmaking is now being mainstreamed as a set of short movies shot with a mobile will be showcased at the 25th edition of the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, North America’s largest documentary film festival.

The festival, which starts on April 26, will feature nearly 250 films and within its extensive programming will be the section Big Steps, comprising six short documentaries using the “latest smartphone technology.”

“The remarkable growth of digital technology has made the art of filmmaking more accessible, encouraging people to play with and create high-quality footage on their handheld device,” Hot Docs executive director Brett Hendrie said in a statement. These films will explore “life’s profound moments”, reflecting the intimate nature of the device itself.

Among the filmmakers who are part of this innovative series is award-winning Indo-Canadian director Nimisha Mukerji. Her film, The Naming Tree, which she co-produced with her husband Mark Ratzlaff, revolves around the expected birth of their first child in April. The birth will also be included in the finished version of the project-in-progress.

The concept behind the film is to serve as a document to their child’s heritage. Mukerji’s father is a Bengali from Kolkata, while her mother is a Mangalorean from Mumbai. Her husband’s parents have German and Irish roots.

In an interview with Hindustan Times, Mukerji, laughed about how she faces “lots of due dates”.

“We’ve had a lot of discussions over naming our baby. We’re trying to come up with a name that would allow the baby to understand where he came from, from both sides,” Mukerji said. And multi-heritage forms the background to the film, which also looks at how the grandparents want to be called by their grandchild – from Dadu to Nani and Opa to Grandma.

Mukerji said that using a smartphone adds “a sense of immediacy and rawness” to the filmmaking process and is less intrusive than a conventional camera unit. “People are very comfortable with phones versus pulling out a large camera,” she said.

As a filmmaker, she said she welcomed the ability to start filming as “something’s unfolding.”

Regardless of the device being used, “It is going to be a film at the end”.It’ll have the elements of quality and storytelling as in a conventional film, with work for colour correction or sound design as in her previous documentary projects.

But as the film premieres at the festival, the series will mark a new standard for smartphone shooting and its arrival as a filmmaking gadget. Mukerji said” “It’s an equaliser, you don’t have to afford a really large camera.”

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