Open call: British Council’s online smartphone film festival

The British Council has opened submissions for its first ever Small Screen, Big Film programme, a new online short film festival for aspiring filmmakers in the region. The scope appears to be very broad – it’s aimed at “budding directors and anyone with a smartphone”, though there is an age limit (25 and under) and there’s a geographical restriction – GCC residents and Gulf nationals living in the UK.

You have to submit an original three-minute film by 31 January 2018 via this link. Submissions can be in English or Arabic; they can be live action or stop motion animation, must be fiction rather than documentary, and should be suitable for an under-18 audience. There are two submission categories: under 18 and 18-25 .

For absolute novices (told you the scope was broad) the British Council has partnered with Into Film, a British film-based educational charity. It has produced a genuinely helpful step-by-step how-to film guide for absolute beginners and those who might need a refresher.

Up to 20 entries will be shortlisted by the British Council and shown online 15-25 March 2018 on the its MENA YouTube channel. The number of audience likes and views will be taken into consideration in the final judging process, which will be done by a jury that includes Emirati director Abdulla Al Kaabi (Only Men Go To The Grave, 2017); the top British documentary maker Asif Kapadia (Amy, 2015; Senna, 2010); and English actress and writer, Amy Lowe (lots of TV and film parts and scripts, mainly comedy).

There will be a winner and runner up for each of the age categories. These will get some professional coaching on a one to one basis from “a UK film industry expert”, plus media training and an invite to a screening of their work with a discussion panel.

More information here or email

The Small Screen, Big Film festival is one of eight initiatives under the British Council’s Culture & Sports programme, a three-year initiative that aims to reach one million people across the Gulf and help young people to drive positive change in their communities.

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