The Lost Pen Pays Poetic Homage to Free Speech in Sydney Film Festival

Beraat Gokkus’ short film about exiled journalists dominated Sydney’s prestigious international film festival featuring mobile movies.

Abdullah Ayasun
5 min readOct 19, 2020
A scene from The Lost Pen features the chief actor Karam, a poet from Syria.

A film starring actual journalists and shot by a journalist/director at a place that hosts exiled journalists from all around the world in Paris dominated the mobile moviemaking festival in Sydney last weekend as the industry gears itself for an impending shift to more mobile ways of filmmaking in the foreseeable future.

SmartFone FlickFest (SF3), Australia’s International Smartphone Film Festival, launched its premiere online last week due to the Covid-19 pandemic’s physical restraints. Found by two film nerds, the festival is featuring 70 films from across the world while its award section contains 16 finalists that competed for the best film, best director, and other cherished spots that attest to the talents of enthusiastic directors.

The Lost Pen, a French film directed by Beraat Gokkus, won three awards, including best film, best director, and best actor. Shot in a single plan for the span of the entire 14 plus minutes, the film is a testament to the growing appeal of mobile moviemaking. Initially starved of funds and deprived of many palatable options, shooting the film with a smartphone was more a dictate of necessity than a personal choice for the director in the first place.

In an interview with Mobile Movimaking magazine last week, Gokkus set out his reason in more candid terms. Yet, austere conditions of indie film-making were not the only factor that swayed his decision. The allure of the smartphone, the power of self-reliance, and his experience prior to The Lost Pen amplified his confidence in the way how and why he shot the film. Before this latest drama, he won another award for a short doc that featured refugees in Paris — his adopted new home, and the chief starring actor in his visual works.

What landed the film in the final spot was not just the modalities of how it was made. The theme the film wrestles with has strong repercussions beyond the screen. The Lost Pen, as the title aptly alludes, is a film…



Abdullah Ayasun

New York-based journalist and writer. Columbia School of Journalism. 2023 White House Correspondents' Association Scholar. Twitter: @abyasun