Italian directors now shoot a 93-minute movie up close

ROME: The theme is familiar to many independent movies explicit chat about love and sex but the tool used to shoot an Italian feature-length documentary is new: a standard cell phone camera.

Italian directors have completed a 93-minute documentary that they say is the first feature film to be entirely shot by such a technique. Called "New Love Meetings," it was filmed in a MPEG4 format with a Nokia N90 a regular, higher-end cell phone , co-director Marcello Mencarini said.

The technique underscores what has become a fixture in today's globalised world: the use of amateur video and cell phone cameras to immortalise moments in people's lives. Also, when news breaks, early footage is often shot with a cell phone, and, in the case of major events, authorities and news outlets have been known to call on amateurs to come forward with video. "With the widespread availability of cell phones equipped with cameras, anybody could do this," Mr. Mencarini said. "If you want to say something nowadays, thanks to the new media, you can."

When it comes to movies, though, cell phone cameras have their limits, such as the difficulty to film in darkness or the lack of microphones. As a result, this movie mostly features close-ups, and the image, while largely clear, is slightly shaky. The directors said no post-production manipulation was made on the image.

Although no professional lighting was needed, a pocket flashlight was used at times, said Barbara Seghezzi, the other director. The approach offers the advantage of being intimate, leading people to open up a little more. In a documentary about love and eroticism, that does not hurt.

For two months last year, the directors interviewed some 700 people across Italy, at bars, open markets, on the beach. About 100 of them ended up in the movie.

"To use a small instrument that belongs to people's daily routine allows you to establish an intimate dialogue, instead of using a regular camera," she said. "The interview becomes more like a chat."