The Mosaic Film Experience today announced the winners of its annual Mosaic Mobile short film competition. Mosaic Mobile challenges high school students to create short films shot and edited entirely on mobile devices. The top 10 finalists were screened at the Mosaic Film Experience’s 10th annual Mosaic Event on November 3, which was broadcast live from Celebration Cinema North in Grand Rapids.
“The Mosaic Mobile film competition is about challenging the conventions of storytelling and encouraging students to tell their unique stories in innovative ways,” said Skot Welch, founder of the Mosaic Film Experience. “We created Mosaic Mobile to level the content creation playing field and provide a platform for our young people to develop career skills for the 21st century.”
Mosaic Mobile films are two to three minutes long and must contain three requirements: a theme, prop and saying. The requirements are intentionally left open-ended to encourage student’s creativity. The 2021 Mosaic Mobile theme was “the next chapter,” the prop was “box” and the saying was “show me.”
The first-place prize of $1,000 and a scholarship to the Interlochen Center for Arts was awarded to Bree Mathis of City High Middle School for the film “Rigid Edges.” The second-place prize of $500 was awarded to Sam Johnston of Kenowa Hills High School for the film “Clocks.” The third-place prize of $250 was awarded to Charley Guerrero of Careerline Tech Center for the film “One Day at a Time.” The Rick Wilson Award of $500, determined by popular vote, was also awarded to Bree Mathis.
“Each year, we’re blown away by the student films and this year is no exception. As technology changes, we find new ways to connect, create and celebrate the richness of life,” Welch said. “The career preparedness skills that students are flexing while making Mosaic Mobile films transfer to careers in film and digital media but, in 2021, storytelling skills translate directly into any line of work.”
In addition to screening the 2021 Mosaic Mobile top 10 finalists and award ceremony, the 2021 Mosaic Event featured leading national creative professionals in film and digital media who spoke to students about their career journeys and the importance of skills like storytelling, creativity, collaboration and critical thinking. Speakers hailed from Los Angeles; New York; Columbus, Ohio; Berkeley, California; Mexico City; Detroit; and Grand Rapids, Michigan.
“Over the past 10 years, we’ve been building a network of industry professionals to open students’ eyes to prospective career journeys and develop the creativity, collaboration and critical thinking skills that are required to be successful in any field,” Welch said. “We are once again highlighting a variety of diverse voices for our young people, including the founders of the first Black-owned concept art studio and a rising filmmaker from New York with roots in Grand Rapids. These inspiring creatives are challenging the status quo and making a place for diverse voices in the world of storytelling.”
One notable speaker is Mariah Barrera, a 2019 City High-Middle School alumna who returned to the Mosaic Event after winning first prize at the Mosaic Mobile competition in 2017 and 2019. A sophomore at Columbia University in New York, Barrera was awarded a Still I Rise Films fellowship for her short film “My Brother’s Keeper.” With help from the fellowship grant, Barrera expanded the film. “My Brother’s Keeper” has been selected to be screened at the 2021 DOC NYC film festival beginning on November 10.
“The Mosaic Film Experience gave me the confidence that, even as a young person, I have the power and means to tell my stories. That motivated me to apply for film programs and fellowships that I otherwise wouldn’t have,” said Barrera. “I feel so grateful to come back as a presenter and use my experiences to encourage students to pursue their creative endeavors, especially in a world that tells them to do otherwise.”
2021 Mosaic Event speakers included:
- Founders of Los Angeles-based 9B Collective, the first Black-owned concept art studio. 9B Collective has worked with Netflix, Marvel, Lucas Films Ltd., Hulu and HBO.
- Rolando Gonzalez, the creative director of the Mexcio City-based agency Runente. Rolando manages branding and museum projects using augmented reality, interactivity, installations, animation, virtual reality and video mapping.
- Julien and Justen Turner, filmmakers and co-owners of Columbus, Ohio-based Dreadhead Films. The Turner Brothers have produced works for Sesame Street, Nike, Air Jordan, and Amazon.
- Robert Butler, the founder of Detroit-based Easy Breezy Productions.
- Lisa Oliver-King, Krista Suh and Andola Mathis, co-founders of Los Angeles-based Branch Out Productions, a company that is advancing diversity in the entertainment industry within the state of Michigan.
- Mimi Chakarova, a Bulgarian-American photographer and filmmaker and founder of Berkeley, California-based Still I Rise Films, a series of films directed and produced by women about ordinary people who, against all odds, continue to strive for dignity and justice.
“My students have loved [the Mosaic Event] for the past seven years we have been attending. It has also been one of my favorites as an educator,” said Meagan Whittle, visual arts teacher, City High-Middle School. “We appreciate the opportunities you provide through the Mosaic Mobile competition, the inspiration from voices historically underrepresented and the passion this ignites in students to explore new ways of expressing their own creativity and voices.”