World cinema at your fingertips

Philip Cu-Unjieng (The Philippine Star) - March 16, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The byword for cable programming has always been “to niche,” hence, the proliferation of channels that cater to a specific taste or predilection on a 24/7 basis.

We see cooking channels, fashion TV, channels devoted to kiddie entertainment and of course, channels that make movie buffs stay glued to their frequency all day long. Nowadays, the trend has been to refine further, to specialize and address the more exotic, particular propensities of the cable audience.

For serious film aficionados, CinemaWorld is now an option on your Sky Cable digibox and on Cable Link. CinemaWorld is the only pan-Asian international movie channel — a unique equity, one that should make true cinema fans rush to add it to their channel listing, and even make it their default channel, as a lot of the other movie channels stick too dearly to the mainstream and blockbusters — films that were probably viewed when they had their commercial theater runs.

As someone who used to work with HBO, Suarina Chua, co-founder and CEO of CinemaWorld, was only too aware of how different her own movie channel programming would have to be. She was an ardent fan of the more languid and organic story-telling that European, and even Asian films, would have in spades; and felt there was an audience out there that would appreciate and even seek this kind of movie-making. Award-winning films, movies that were box-office hits in their respective countries, critics’ choices that cross boundaries and cultures, film festival favorites — these type of films make up CinemaWorld’s playlist.

Big international movie stars are in these films — the likes of Jean Dujardin, Noomi Rapace, Til Schweiger, Luca Argentero — from Italy, Sweden, Spain, Norway, Iran and wherever a fertile film industry is producing “gold.” To make sure CinemaWorld has a truly current proposition, the films screened can only date back to 2005. 

The proof is in the pudding, the eating and so just to give us a taste during the CinemaWorld event, we were treated to a screening of Lessons in Chocolate, a romance/comedy starring Luca Argentero that subtly takes on issues like immigration, national identity, business ethics and the love of making chocolates, all in one film. A truly delightful Italian film, the movie had me eager to sign up and make CinemaWorld a new favorite. Other films in the next month’s programming include Norway’s Babycall, a psychological drama that stars Noomi Rapace, who played the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in the original Swedish film series. The Tuche Family from France is an audience favorite that hilariously chronicles the misadventures of social mobility, and the action-thriller Easy Money 2 was a 2012 Swedish No.1 box-office hit.

With integrity in capital letters, the films on CinemaWorld are shown in their original versions, with choices of subtitled languages — and while honestly, this may be a drawback for a Filipino mainstream audiences who often avoid subtitled films, for the true “cineaste”, this shouldn’t pose a problem for enjoying these film treasures. The cable platform has only been around for a year, but this early on, they already have an extensive library of prestige international films, making their programming look like a film festival in itself.


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