Community Stories Tells the Stories from Within
Empowered with a smartphone camera, it's not necessary to wait for others to share the story of your community.
Festival founder Susy Botello created Community Stories as the first official category for IMFF in 2009. However, it’s not a category on its own at this time. Simply, we select a qualifying film that meets the criteria of the Community Stories program from the short film competition, or we select a film that meets the criteria for the program outside the competition, at the sole discretion of IMFF.
We’ve included Community Stories with the first, which screened in our festival in 2014 and won second prize. "Himalayan Tsunami" was shot with the Samsung GT-N7100 in 2013. Shiva Prasad, from India, shared his personal story in a documentary as it unfolded.
In 2019, filmmaker Alexandra Guillossou shared a story about her family. Her brother suffers from secondary-progressive MS and they were dealing with his struggle. The short documentary, "The Deepest Cut," won Second Prize. Alexandra came to San Diego from Missouri with her husband and daughter to share the story of making her film, which she shot with her iPhone 6. It was a bit of a tear-jerker for us, and attendees.
In 2021, Razi Uddin from Iran won the Third Place Award in the short film competition with his documentary, “A Train to Home” The synopsis: Memories and fears of the people whose houses were demolished in an attempt to revive Karachi circular railway.
Not all Community Stories, submitted into the short film competition and screened during the festival, win.
Since then, our criteria to be selected has dramatically changed for the short film competition. As of the 2022 edition, we screen higher quality films. So we created The Rookie Awards for novice filmmakers. The Rookie Awards screens outside the competition in a separate program. You can read about all the changes here.
The criteria for Community Stories is the same as the short film competition, with a few exceptions:
The filmmaker/director, is part of the story being told about a community or culture. The filmmaker does not need to be in the film, of course, but needs to be involved with the community it represents. The filmmaker can share stories of an entire community, a group within a community, or an individual within the community. The story can be about a location, a person, a community need, event, or celebration. Community Stories videos need to include the “Community Stories” and “IMFF” logos in the opening credits.
Film submissions for this program, outside the short film competition, are the only submissions we accept outside of FilmFreeway. The duration of the films may be longer than the current time limit set for the short film competition. The time is contingent on the scheduled programming in the live in-person film festival.
The filmmaker will include a 2-3 minute well produced video (not a selfie or vertical video) which shares the reason they made the film. This video is exclusive to IMFF in San Diego, which shall be named within the video and logos, stated above, included.
"‘I was working in the video production industry at the time. I was editing interviews and B roll from local communities, in San Diego. Their stories seemed to have no voice outside of the videos we created for our client. As I launched the festival, I thought, 'What if a community member could share the story of their community themselves, from their own perspective, using a mobile phone camera and I could present it in our film festival?'" —Susy Botello, IMFF Founder.
If you would like your film to be considered for the Community Stories program during the festival, there are two options:
Submit your short film to the IMFF short film competition. After you’ve submitted your film send us an email with details letting us know your film meets the criteria for the Community Stories program, and you’d like it to be considered.
To be considered outside the competition, contact us from our website with details about your Community Stories film and information about how it meets the criteria for the program outside the competition.
The submission outside FilmFreeway incurs a fee payable when a decision has been made to include it in our in-person film festival in San Diego. Otherwise, there is no charge to be considered.