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Sunday night at the Edinburgh Film Festival, the much-promoted Nokia Shorts Competition drew to a close with the debut screening of the 8 finalist films. Shot entirely on Nokia phones, the 8 films proved themselves to be worthy entries for one of the more high-profile short film competitions of recent vintage.

Nokia only  recently dove headfirst into short films as a marketing tool, working with them in promotion of its N8 handset, a phone which takes rather nice video.  The phone has been marketed to video hobbyists and filmmakers,  and the fruit of this focus has been a pair of fairly nice online shorts,  The Commuter feat. Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel with Pam Anderson, and the multi-award winning Aardman micro-animation film, Dot.

Both films received viral attention, and looking to build upon this campaign, the Finnish company conceived of the the Nokia Shorts Competition. And let me just say, they really did the process right. First, they chose a good partner, teaming up with Vimeo to advertise with, and outsource to, their hosting and community-building needs. They also cobbled together some of the existing ideas in the world of corporate short film competitions which didn’t quite work on their own, and smushed them together—creating a process that actually makes sense.

Similar to the Tribeca/AMEX “My Movie Pitch” campaign, Nokia requested filmmakers to pitch an idea through a short Vimeo-host vid. But, unlike the AMEX competition which yielded the short film Mr. Stache, the filmmakers behind the pitch were actually allowed to make the film they pitched. Then, similar to The Doorpost Competition, the filmmakers were given money to produce their short film—$5000. Some supplementary materials, a blog with Q&A’s, and making-of videos helped keep the community interested and2 involved until the 8 films were ready to compete at Edinburgh for the $10,000 grand prize. The screening at the festival  served as the capstone  of a 3 day short film mini-festival inside EFF that Nokia sponsored. Classy.

You can actually tell how good of a process this was by the finalists themselves. Temujin Doran, director of The Adventures of a Cardboard Box, was recently nominated for best documentary at the Vimeo Awards for Facts About Projection.  Jason Van Genderen is an old favorite of our site. His cell-phone shot film Mankind is No Island was my favorite film of 2008, and his entry for this year’s Tropfest, The Unspoken, was the most emotional of that batch of films. And yet, neither of them won. JW Griffiths did, for his film Splitscreen: A Love Story.

I haven’t caught all of them yet, but I intend to soon. In summation, this is all corporate, but its cool. You should watch.

Watch the 2011 Nokia Shorts Finalists at: VIMEO