Jay screens at Venice Film Festival
Ferdie Lapuz (The Philippine Star) - July 30, 2008 - 12:00am

Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival Best Film winner Jay by Francis Xavier Pasion will have its international premiere at the 65th Venice Film Festival in Italy from Aug. 26 to Sept. 6. Jay will screen in the Orizzonti section of the festival.

Selection committee member Paolo Bertolin who was in Manila last June sent the invitation. I gave him the English subtitled DVD of Jay when we met at the Paris Film Festival in France last month. Paolo later confirmed the official invitation when I was attending the New Delhi Film Festival two weeks ago.

According to the Venice website, Orizzonti is the section aiming to provide an overview of the new trends in cinema. A maximum of 18 feature films will be presented. This section will also include a maximum of seven documentary feature films.

Only feature films presented as world premieres will be admitted. Only in exceptional circumstances will derogations from this rule be allowed for films, which have not yet been given public screenings outside their country of origin (or in Italy for Italian films).

In this case, Jay is very lucky to have been invited because it already had its world premiere at the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival where it won Best Film, Actor (Baron Geisler) and Editing awards.

Jay is eligible for the Orizzonti award. The award will be judged by an international jury of three to five members from the world of cinema and culture from various countries, excluding anyone who has worked on the production of the invited works or who may have an interest in their distribution.

Direk Francis is also eligible for the Luigi De Laurentiis Award for a Debut Film. All the debut feature films presented in the various sections of the Film Festival (Official Selection and Independent and Parallel Sections) will be eligible for the Lion of the Future — Luigi De Laurentiis Venice Award for a Debut Film.

An international jury made up of three to five members from the world of cinema and culture from various countries, including one producer, will award a prize of $100,000, donated by Filmauro, to be divided equally between the director and producer (no split awards permitted). The director will also receive a 40,000 euros voucher to be spent on film stock, granted by Kodak.

Direk Francis is the first Filipino director to have his first feature to be shown in Venice.

Other Filipino films shown in Venice were Manuel Conde’s Genghis Khan, Mike de Leon’s Sister Stella L, Jeffrey Jeturian’s Tuhog (Larger Than Life) and Lav Diaz’ Death in the Land of the Encantos which won a Special Jury Prize in last year’s Orizzonti section.

Jay is written and produced by Francis for Pasion para Pelikula Productions and Cinemalaya Foundation. Aside from Baron, Jay stars Coco Martin, Flor Salanga, Angelica Rivera, Jericho Espiritu and JC Santos. Armando Lao served as creative consultant.

Direk Francis will present his film in Venice along with Baron and cinematographer Carlo Mendoza. The Film Development Council of the Philippines will subsidize their trips.

I also asked Francis who is the one person he would like to bring to Venice to present Jay.

“Tony Boy Cojuangco,” was his quick reply. He explained that he owed it to Cojuangco’s generosity for providing funds to new filmmakers like him to make their films.

“He has been helping new filmmakers like me realize our dreams and without his help, Jay would not have been made at all,” direk Francis said.

Cojuangco is the founder of Cinemalaya. This is Cinemalaya’s fourth year and Jay is the first film to be screened in Venice.  Francis is hoping that Mr. Cojuango and maybe with Gretchen Barretto, would consider going to Venice so they can present Jay.

Aside from Cojuangco, direk Francis also would like to thank Cinemalaya organizers direk Laurice Guillen, Seiko producer Robbie Tan, CCP’s Nestor Jardin and Ed Cabagnot for all the support not only to him but to all Cinemalaya directors from its first year until its recent edition. Also to FDCP for subsidizing their trip.

Jay will have a special screening at the Holy Angel University Theater in Angeles City on Aug. 1 at 2:30 p.m. It is sponsored by the Center for Kapampangan Studies. The film was shot on location in Bacolor, Pampanga. This is the reason why Francis dubbed the one time screening as Para Kareng Kapampangan.

Jay is one of the three Cinemalaya films that Ignatius Films Canada is representing.

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