Philippine cinema gets its share of spotlight at Cannes filmfest

Charmie Joy Pagulong - The Philippine Star
Philippine cinema gets its share of spotlight at Cannes filmfest
Mike de Leon’s Itim screens at the prestigious 75th Cannes Film Festival as part of the Restoration World Premieres under its Cannes Classics category. The 1976 movie starred Tommy Abuel and Charo Santos-Concio.
Photo from Festival De Cannes website

MANILA, Philippines — In the two years of dealing with the pandemic, the Philippines only participated virtually at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. This time around, however, as the restrictions have been eased, the Philippine team is able to take part physically in the film festival.

Led by the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), the Philippine delegates are currently in France to be a part of the Cannes Film Festival, and its industry counterpart, the Marché du Film in Cannes, France, from May 17 to 28.

The Philippine-Singapore Pavilion, in partnership with the Singapore Film Commission, also comes back to welcome delegates along Cannes’ Village International-Riviera on the said dates.

According to FDCP, this year, the Philippine team is composed of films Plan 75 and Itim, selected in the Un Certain Regard and Cannes Classics sections.

Film projects Sam and The Beer Girl in Yangon are both participating in the L’Atelier, while Ria will be part of the Cinefondation - Residence Du Festival.

Plan 75 by Hayakawa Chie is co-produced by Japan, France and Philippines. Also co-produced by Filipino producer Alemberg Ang and by Filipino production company Fusee, headed by Will Fredo, the film follows the story of three characters — an elderly woman whose means of survival is vanishing, a pragmatic salesman for Plan 75 (a fictional government program), and a young Filipino laborer. They have to choose between life and death.

On the other hand, the restored film Itim, helmed by Mike de Leon, is about a young man who returns to his provincial home and gets involved with a woman, who is ultimately possessed by her sister’s spirit, paving the way to revealing the painful truth about her unsolved disappearance. Itim served as the debut film of a then 20-year-old Charo Santos-Concio and won her the Asian Film Festival Best Actress in 1978.

Filipino filmmaker Arvin Belarmino (right) and Rongfei Guo of China are awarded development assistance from the National Centre for Cinema of France.
Photo from Festival De Cannes’ Facebook page

Meanwhile, Filipina actress Dolly de Leon is attending the film festival as part of the cast of Swedish filmmaker Ruben O?stlund’s upcoming film Triangle of Sadness, a contender for the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

Three film projects, five producers and 16 production companies are also present at the Cannes with one goal in mind, that is, to “celebrate the best of Philippine cinema with the world,” according to FDCP chairperson and CEO Liza Diño.

“It is truly an honor to jumpstart the FDCP’s mission of bringing the best of Philippine Cinema to the rest of the world, after two years of hiatus because of the pandemic, in Cannes. This year’s participation is extra special, for the 75th edition of Cannes coincides with the 75th celebration of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and France. We have prepared a lineup of events for the festival’s duration to showcase and promote the country’s delegation and FDCP’s programs,” she said in a statement.

“We are proud and excited that we are going to Cannes with a large delegation of both renowned and emerging filmmakers who are ready to put their projects out there, are open to collaborating and networking with other film professionals and companies, and gaining more knowledge that they can bring home to elevate our local film industry,” she continued.

Last May 18, the FDCP and the Centre National du Cinéma et de l’image animée or National Centre for Cinematography (CNC) of France have signed the renewed cooperation agreement between the two agencies during the 75th Cannes Film Festival and Marché du Film.

It also marked the celebration of 75 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The aim is to “to pursue mutual participation in creating stronger film policies, exchange of education and training development, and other aspects of filmmaking from co-production, exhibition efforts, and best practices in heritage preservation.”

Olivier Henrard, CNC COO representing CNC president Dominique Boutonnat, and Liza Diño sealed the agreement.

“With all these aspirations to understand the structure, the system, how we can improve, and how we can elevate the industry to become more globally competitive, the updating of the agreement, that will include cooperation in animation and strengthening our archiving partnerships, will be really instrumental to us as we support more projects,” Liza delivered this message during the signing program.

She thanked the CNC team for “seeing the value of this partnership” and hoped that “in return, the warmth and the welcoming arms of the Philippines can also lead you to our country, so we can discover more collaborations together.”

Olivier, for his part, shared, “I’m sure that this signing of the CNC-FDCP agreement will be one of the peaks of the festival. We are full of optimism; we are full of energy to launch a new move in the industry in Europe and with our partnerships with the Philippines.”


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