Freeman Cebu Entertainment

British Council holds first ‘Five Films for Freedom’ screening in Cebu

Januar Junior Aguja - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — The British Council, in collaboration with the University of the Philippines Cebu’s (UP Cebu) Lawak Sinehan, held “Five Films for Freedom”, a March 13 screening of five shorts celebrating the lives of the LGBTQIA+ community worldwide – an initiative that was started by the UK organization in 2014 in partnership with the British Film Institute: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival.

This particular edition marks the first time that the Philippine arm of the British Council staged a screening of “Five Films for Freedom” outside Manila. The event was accompanied by a post-discussion moderated by Lawak Sinehan Coordinator and lawyer Grace Marie Lopez.

The most significant entry in the line-up was the final short titled “Ili-Ili” or “Little One” in English, a Filipino animation directed by Marikina animator Clister Santos. It focuses on a gay father reminiscing on the times he raised his adoptive daughter following her pregnancy and his partner’s heart attack.

UP Cebu political science student Jade Robin praised the short’s progressive storyline featuring two Filipino gay fathers raising their child in the ‘90s.

“It’s time for us to harness the potential of creating alternative storylines into the mainstream. By doing so, we are reclaiming our space and penetrating that space to transform the mind and transform our culture,” he told the audience.

The first short shown was the US documentary “Compton’s 22”, directed by Drew de Pinto, which tackles a forgotten battle of Compton’s transgender sex workers and drag queens fighting against discrimination from the San Francisco police that took place three years before the Stonewall riots.

“The best thing to teach yourself is to acknowledge who you are, and accept that color in your heart because that’s the only thing that they can’t take away from you,” reacted Cebu Normal University student Godfrey Petallar, who identified with the subjects’ struggles of expressing themselves.

The second short was UK’s “Cursive”, directed by Isabel Steubel Johnson, featuring a woman attempting to improve her handwriting as a way to reclaim her voice after a relationship with her girlfriend went sour.

“We all know that it’s not [literally] about handwriting,” UP Cebu student Elizah Sumanlinog said. “It’s more about growing in a different direction than your partner. It’s relatable because when you’re in a relationship, there will come a point where you grow into a better version of yourself that is not aligned with your partner. It’s a difficult situation because you want to grow with them, but you can’t.”

India’s “Halfway”, directed by Kumar Chheda, is about a gay couple arguing on the phone about their relationship following a disagreement on where they should meet.

“Their dialogue was something my partner may have said verbatim. Something along the lines of how time is slipping away, missing each other, and how hard it is to meet halfway in terms of time, but [he] still loves [me],” shared Sumanlinog, who is in a long-distance relationship.

Spain’s “The First Kiss”, directed by Miguel Lafuente, showed a teenager going to Madrid to have his first date with a boy he met online.

“This is so nice because it captures the rawness of your experience of having your first kiss, dating a boy for the first time, and liking it. It’s a good thing to preserve that very moment,” UP Cebu professor Dominic Yasay said.

“The First Kiss” featured an intense scene where the two boys were harassed by homophobic strangers. Robin said that this scene is important to illustrate that first-world countries having progressive laws protecting the LGBTQIA+ community does not guarantee the absence of homophobia.

“Random strangers disturbed a very intimate moment in the lives of two people in what is supposed to be a liberal place in Spain, in Madrid no less,” Robin remarked.

“It’s just sad to note that we are living in a society where LGBTQIA+ individuals still have to grapple with civil rights and try to assert our place in society,” added Yasay. “I just hope that one day, we will move forward to a place where we can enjoy civil rights and love someone. Aspirations start with a conversation and these films allow for that conversation to reflect on our shared experiences and for the future that we want to attain.”

Echoing Yasay’s sentiments, Sumanlinog further said, “I love when films make me feel I am being seen emotionally. That’s the beauty of film. It makes you feel that your life, your struggles, the blessings, the curses, are bigger than yours. It’s the whole grand cosmic thing.”

“A lot of us here had similar reactions to the films presented. It affected us in an emotive manner and struck us personally,” said Robin. “To put these perspectives into the mainstream, it’s important for us to popularize this to ensure a lot of people will understand these perspectives.”

In his opening remarks, British Council in the Philippines Business Development Manager Mike Cabigon said that presenting various LGBTQ+ stories from different countries is part of the organization’s goal to champion LGBTQIA+ rights across the globe.

“LGBTQIA+ rights are fundamental human rights and we are committed to the principle that everyone, everywhere should be free to love whoever they choose to love and express themselves without fear of violence and prejudice,” Cabigon said. “By promoting these films in partnership with BFI Flare, we tell stories from the perspectives of LGBTQIA+ people from many different countries. That’s how we are keen to tell a global story.”

You can watch these “Five Films for Freedom 2024” shorts online on the British Arts Council’s YouTube channel for free until March 24.

vuukle comment


  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with