The McGill International Cellphilm Festival is a project of the Institute for Human Development and Well-being and the Participatory Cultures Lab (PCL), a Canada Foundation Innovation-funded unit led by Claudia Mitchell in the Faculty of Education, McGill University. The establishment of the Cellphilm Festival in 2013 recognizes the growing use of cellphones around the world, the burgeoning work in the area of participatory visual methodologies (PVM) in community-based research, and the role of cellphilm methodology within PVM.
Inspired by the work of South African researchers, Jonathan Dockney and Keyan Tomaselli, who coined the term ‘cellphilm’, the PCL research team embarked upon its first use of cellphilms in 2011 in work with rural teachers in South Africa. Since that time, numerous doctoral and masters students attached to the PCL have incorporated cellphilming into their research around the world and through their publications and presentations have inspired many others, including International NGOs, to include cellphilming in their programs. Three of the original Cellphilm Festival team, Dr. Katie MacEntee, Dr. Casey Burkholder and Dr. Josh Schwab-Cartas published their ground-breaking book in 2016 What’s a Cellphilm? Integrating mobile phone technology into participatory arts based research and activism,
The International Cellphilm Festival itself is not just about the cellphilms that are submitted, but regularly includes a knowledge mobilization component, with speakers and panelists talking about their work: Thora Hermann (University of Montreal), Lisa Starr (McGill), Josh Schwab-Cartas (McGill), Joanna Petrasek MacDonald (McGill), Katie MacEntee (McGill), Laurel hart (McGill). Young Indigenous film-makers from Wapikoni have also participated.
Now in its 8th year The McGill International Cellphilm Festival is led by a committed group of doctoral students and researchers who organize the ‘call’ each year, and arrange for judging and prizes. Each festival has a different theme:
- 7th (2019): Picturing Change
- 6th (2018): Making community; Action, Activism, Advocacy, Art
- 5th (2017): Resisting & Speaking Back
- 4th (2016): Exploring Consent: Bodies, Lands, & Media
- 3rd (2015): What’s a Cellphilm? DIY in the Digital Media Age
- 2nd (2014): Our Spaces, Our Selves.
- 1st (2013): Bridging Communities
Hani Sadati, Ramy Gorgis, Stephanie Pizzuto, Claudia Mitchell