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Mobile phones make movies at Paris festival
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) June 22, 2010

Apple iPad sales hit three million
Washington (AFP) June 22, 2010 - Apple iPad sales have hit the three million mark and are showing no signs of flagging. The Cupertino, California-based gadget maker announced Tuesday that it sold its three millionth iPad on Monday, just 80 days after the touchscreen tablet computer first became available in US stores. "People are loving iPad as it becomes a part of their daily lives," Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said in a statement. The iPad went on sale in the United States on April 3 and Apple sold one million of the devices in the first 28 days and two million in two months.

"We're working hard to get this magical product into the hands of even more people around the world, including those in nine more countries next month," Jobs said. The iPad became available in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Switzerland at the end of May and will hit stores in Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand and Singapore in July. Apple also said software developers have created more than 11,000 applications for the iPad, which runs most of the more than 225,000 mini-programs developed for the iPhone and the iPod Touch. With the latest model iPhone scheduled to go on sale on Thursday, Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore said Apple is "beginning the strongest product cycle in the company's history."

"iPhone demand is off the charts and iPad uptake remains strong; both appear to be tracking ahead of our previous expectation," Whitmore said. "We anticipate another 'Apple event' with long lines, heavy store traffic and stock outs," Whitmore said of the iPhone 4 launch on Thursday in Britain, France, Germany, Japan and the United States. Apple said last week it had received 600,000 pre-orders for the iPhone 4, its largest number of pre-orders ever in a single day. Whitmore said Deutsche Bank expected iPhone sales of 44 million units this year and 55 million units next year. The Deutsche Bank analyst said iPad sales estimates for 2010 were being raised to 12 million units from five million units and to 17 million units next year from 7.5 million units. Standard & Poor's equity research analyst Clyde Montevirgen was also bullish about Apple.

"Over the last few years, Apple has transformed from the hip iPod maker to a leading-edge technology giant with a hand in some of the fastest-growing technology hardware markets," he said. "By competing in the smartphone, laptop, tablet, and retail markets, and outperforming formidable competitors along the way, Apple has effectively expanded its total available market size and renewed its long-term high-growth potential," he said. The iPad allows users to watch video, listen to music, play games, surf the Web or read electronic books. Apple's latest iPad sales figures were released a day after online retail giant Amazon and US bookstore chain Barnes & Noble announced they were cutting the prices of their e-book readers.

Amazon dropped the price of its Kindle e-reader to 189 dollars from 259 dollars while Barnes & Noble said it was lowering the price of its e-reader, the Nook, with 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, to 199 dollars from 259 dollars. Barnes & Noble also said it was introducing a Wi-Fi only version of the Nook for 149 dollars. The cheapest iPad, which features a color e-reader compared with the black-and-white "e-ink" Kindle and Nook, costs 499 dollars. Apple shares were up 2.01 percent at 275.60 dollars in early afternoon trading on Wall Street.

Mobile phone clips of birthdays or nights out circulate like digital letters, but also provide material for a new cinema, say organisers of a groundbreaking Paris festival uniting Oscar-winners with amateurs.

At this year's three-day edition, even Italian acting legend Isabella Rossellini had her own pocket film showing on a loop, French arthouse filmmaker Benoit Jacquot led the jury; and Oscar-winning director Barbet Schroeder starred in one film in competition.

Scooping the top jury award at the closing ceremony Sunday however, was French student Sophie Sherman's just over two minutes "Fear Thy Not", about a girl entering a strange tunnel.

A 30-second clip about a traffic light by Japan's Tubomi Koukou also picked up an award.

"It was a gamble at first," Laurence Herszberg told AFP about the festival that was Europe's first for pocket films, "we wanted to see if cameras on mobile phones would give birth to a new visual language, like text messaging."

"Part of our life today happens within images," artistic director Benoit Labourdette said, "but it is not because we make the images that we are any freer or in control of them."

"A society where people can't read cannot be a democratic society ... we're all making images and we must learn the language of images, otherwise we'll be manipulated by them."

The first results of the venture were "catastrophic", Herszberg said, but after a run of workshops teaching basic techniques, and six festivals later, the "Pocket Film" wager has proved worthwhile.

The public has also shown sustained interest over the six years, with audience number reaching around 4,000 at the Paris Forum des Images, a state-funded film center, and some 5,000 when the event was held at the city's arts hub, the Pompidou Centre.

"Not a week goes by without a request to show a selection of the pocket films at an international institution," Labourdette told AFP, with Tokyo and Rio de Janiero having hosted satellite events.

Each year the thousand or so films submitted "tend to closely reflect social trends," Herszberg explained, who is the Forum des Images director.

In 2006 many of the entries concentrated on narrative, they were very "written and cinematic". A few years later abstraction was in, and filmmakers seemed more inspired by the plastic arts and video.

This year Herszberg and Labourdette noticed a spike in the "interactive" character of films, and also more political works, which is a shift from the earlier crop of entries that prioritised aesthetics.

-- New visual language --


Filmmakers are exploiting the intimacy and non-obtrusive nature of the mobile phone: banal, it passes just about anywhere, as in "Isratine Palestel", which won second prize this year.

In Naruna Kaplan de Macedo's seven minute film the young Frenchwoman records her car trip from home in Tel Aviv to see a friend in Ramallah.

She was able to record all her forced lies to soldiers at Israeli checkpoints and the dramatically changing landscapes between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territories.

Pocket filmmakers are also exploiting the phone for its mobility.

"The Champion" by Portugal's Rui Avelans Coelho that won the top prize in 2008 showed a hammer thrower in action, but from the viewpoint of the equipment.

With the mobile phone tied to the hammer, viewers had a peek at what it might be like to fly as they were hurled across the sports field before crash landing on the grass.

The quality of the picture is poor compared to traditional film, "but this gives surprising, unexpected results... like very saturated colours," Labourdette explained, who recalls the similar charm of Polaroid photographs.

"It is extremely inventive," Paul Otchakovsky-Laurens told AFP, a leading French publisher who is on this year's jury, and a pocket filmmaker himself.

"The use of so-called faults in the device are very interesting aesthetically, the constraints of format, image definition, it is thrilling to see how we film a deficiency and make it into an aesthetic object."

If there is a new visual language emerging, are the films really worth a cinema projection and a three-day festival?

"Having a film festival for pocket films is certainly a paradox," admits Jean-Yves de Lepinay, head of film programming for Forum des Images.

"You have to see it to believe it," Labourdette said, adding that the mobile phone is being used increasingly by traditional cinema directors.

New Wave veteran Jean-Luc Godard for example, has just used it to record some scenes in his latest work, "Film Socialism."

"Who knows how people will use technology," Labourdette said. The Lumiere brothers built the first film camera, "they never dreamt people would use it to make cinema."

So far, the proliferation of image-making "has led to some regrettable consequences," Herszberg said, "no events escape what the mobile phone records, whether the scene is unusual, disturbing, sinister, funny."

But the pocket film festival is a prod in the direction of creativity, and by taking movies from mobile phones seriously it has injected self-reflection about image-making, and also provided new invention for the old silver screen.


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