Gatas, Markova shine at Palm Springs Int’l Filmfest
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo () - January 24, 2002 - 12:00am
Direk Gil Portes flew back home the other day from California where he attended the Palm Springs International Film Festival held from Jan. 10 to 21 where his two World War II films, Gatas (Sa Dibdib ng Kaaway) and Markova: Comfort Gay, were screened along with some 150 other films from all corners of the globe.

Gatas
(titled In The Bosom of the Enemy for the international market) was put under the Oscar Submissions category of the non-competition filmfest, along with 43 other films from "non-English speaking, film producing countries" around the world submitted for consideration to the Best Foreign-Language Film competition of this year’s Oscars slated sometime in March. Actually, more than 60 countries submitted entries, with the five finalists to be announced on Feb. 12.

Will Gatas (starring Mylene Dizon and Jomari Yllana, produced by Millennium Cinema) make it to the finals? Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

You might be interested to know that the Palm Springs Filmfest has been the jumping board and/or launching pad for non-US filmmakers to the mainstream. Films chosen from the list submitted for "Oscar consideration" screened at Palm Springs almost always make it to the finals, with some of them winning the Best Foreign-Language Film plum, including Italy’s Cinema Paradiso (1990), Switzerland’s Journey of Hope (1991), Italy’s Mediterraneo (1992), France’s Indochine (1993), Spain’s Belle Epoque (1994), Russia’s Burnt By the Sea (1995), The Netherlands’ Antonia’s Line (1996), Czech Republic’s Kolya (1997), The Netherlands’ Character (1998), Italy’s Life is Beautiful (1999), Spain’s All About My Mother (2000) and China’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2001).

Gatas
is up against stiff competition, among them Danis Tanovic’s No Man’s Land (Bosnia) which was voted Best Foreign Film by the Golden Globe Awards a few days ago.

"I sat beside Tanovic during the International Filmmakers Symposium," gushed direk Gil who is no stranger to the Palm Springs film event (and other international film festivals besides). A few years ago, his other film, Saranggola, was also screened at the same filmfest, likewise chosen from the roster of films submitted for "Oscar consideration," and the film’s lead actor, Ricky Davao, graced the Palm Springs event and rubbed elbows with international actors. "Present in that symposium was Pierre Rissient, producer, who’s familiar to Filipino movie fans because he was responsible for bringing Filipino films (most of them by the late Lino Brocka) to the Cannes Filmfest of which he’s a ranking official."

Markova
was categorized (in the filmfest’s souvenir program) under the "Gay" genre along with 12 other films.

"Palm Springs is gay territory," said direk Gil, "so Markova was a big hit. Eric (Quizon), who plays Markova together with his dad Dolphy and brother Jeffrey was in Palm Springs with me and he was an overnight sensation there."

(Lifetime Achievement awardee in this year’s Palm Springs International Film Festival is Sean Connery, with Alan Bates as Career Achievement awardee.)

As usual, direk Gil brought home "proof" that his two movies were noticed out there and it’s none other than a clipping of the Jan. 17, 2002 issue of The Desert Sun, showing direk Gil’s smiling face (stamp-size photo), a still photo from Markova and the ad for Gatas. The article, titled Remembering World War II (by Randy Martin), took note of how lucky direk Gil is for going to Palm Springs with "not just one but two new features under his arm, In The Bosom of the Enemy and Markova: Comfort Gay, which have World War II as themes involving Japanese mistreatment of the Filipino people. Both deal with adult subjects. The former is about a woman who becomes a wet nurse for a Japanese officer’s baby to secure her husband’s freedom and the latter, about a male sex slave for Japanese soldiers."

Having hurdled the "first round" at Palm Springs, will Gatas make it to the Oscars and become the Philippines’ first entry to actually compete for the Best Foreign-Language Film award?

Let’s sit back and keep our fingers crossed – and pray real hard.
Martin has songwriter’s permission
First, this letter e-mailed to Funfare all the way from Los Angeles. The sender is Kristine Pronuevo:

Hi! I was watching ASAP here in Los Angeles via The Filipino Channel. I watched Martin Nievera’s performance in the January 20 edition of ASAP. I was greatly disappointed when he sang Imagine Me Without You, a famous Christian song here in the US and it’s sung by a Christian singer named Jaci Velasquez. Martin turned a Christian song into an ordinary love song. That song is intended for God, not for a man and woman. He changed the meaning of the song from the original version pertaining to the singer who cannot imagine herself without God, to his own version of the song.

I hope that you will put this article into consideration. Martin needs to know that this song will offend a lot of Christians here in the US, if he will sing it at his concert. We will greatly appreciate it if he can sing the original version of the song, glorifying God.

Thank you very much!
Sincerely,
– KRISTINE PRONUEVO


Probably anticipating this kind of reaction, Martin made it clear the other day at the presscon for his Martin Nievera: XEver – The Crossover Adventure Continues... concert that he asked permission from the song’s writer to change some words in Imagine Me Without You to make it less a Christian song and more of a romantic song. (XVEver slated on Jan. 19 at the Waterfront Hotel in Lahug, Cebu; on Jan. 26 at the La Salle Coliseum in Bacolod City; and on Feb. 9 at the Freedom Ring Amphitheater at the Expo Filipino in Clark Field, Pampanga.)

No, Martin further clarified, "That song (revised version) is not dedicated to anybody in particular."

At that presscon held at Don Henrico’s on Tomas Morato, one of the concert sponsors, Martin looked visibly sad, letting off whatever was bugging him by talking continuously, with the movie writers hardly able to ask any questions during the open forum. It was just as well because in his stream-of-consciousness "monologue," Martin answered all the questions everybody wanted to ask, including the ho-hum topic about him and ex-wife Pops Fernandez, the possibility of his being a "front act" for Mark Anthony’s forthcoming three-month US concert tour ("scooped" by Funfare) and the possible axing of his late-night ABS-CBN show (which, according to a Funfare DPA, will not be axed but will only be reformatted.)

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