Interview with Executive Director Mingu Kim (Toronto Smartphone Film Festival)

The Toronto Smartphone Film Festival was created with the goal to encourage aspiring filmmakers to share their stories through film, without having to equip themselves with expensive video equipment, training or field experience. As the largest smartphone film festival in Canada, TSFF provides aspiring filmmakers, from all backgrounds, with an international platform to showcase their work and talent.

Interview with Mingu Kim

Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Mingu Kim: TSFF provides a unique platform for new, emerging and established filmmakers to showcase their films, not just locally but internationally. It’s another way for filmmakers to express their thoughts and ideas without spending thousands of dollars.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?

MK: This year we are celebrating our 5th anniversary and after several trial and errors, we have stronger award categories for filmmakers and more quality films for people to enjoy than ever. We are also partnered with 2 other organizations, Raindance Canada and Autism in Mind. Raindance Canada is working with us to educate people on smartphone filmmaking and as well as getting local filmmakers to try something different from the norm. Then we have Autism in Mind (AIM) this year to help promote the awareness of autism through film with a separate award category.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

MK: Our regulations are very simple. All films must be 10 mins or less where all scenes must be shot on either smartphones or tablets. We also receive a lot of international submissions so English subtitles are required if the main language used are not in English.

MT: Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

MK: I think every film festival has its own colour and designated audience members to a certain degree, which can affect film selections. Therefore, filmmakers should also do a thorough research on various film festivals around the world to find a festival that best targets the type of films they produce. But then, it doesn’t hurt providing more room and leniency for new and emerging filmmakers, which would bring a broader spectrum of creativity and messages shared.

MT: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

MK: I believe our motivation comes from doing what we enjoy. Many of us are independent filmmakers and we are constantly thinking from the filmmakers’ point-of-view to make TSFF a more inclusive festival. Every year has been a challenge but we feel rewarded knowing that filmmakers enjoy watching their films on big screen and viewers enjoy the difference of our festival compared to others.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?

MK: Well, to make the long story short, we began the festival within the Korean-Canadian community in Toronto 5 years ago under a different name. It started as a marketing strategy for my TV program on OMNI (Korean language programming). However, I saw the potential growth of the festival which needed to include anyone and everyone, so we changed our name into TSFF the 3rd year and became more global than what I had expected.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

MK: I am hoping for TSFF to become one of representing smartphone festivals in the world. We want to grow with the development of new technology so that our films are not only creative but also innovative.

MT: What film have you seen the most times in your life?

MK: It’s a touch question to answer because there are so many films. I love watching films in general, but I always tend to come back to Terminator 2.

MT: In one sentence, what makes a great film?

MK: A great film comes from one’s perseverance, dedication and believing in oneself.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

MK: I think Toronto is one of the best cities representing the film scene. We are so spoiled with hundreds of film festivals that can be enjoyed throughout the year. There’s a film festival for everyone in Toronto!

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.