Film Development Council of the Philippines Chairperson Liza Diño believes cinema is not only a medium to tell stories but it is a platform for “soft diplomacy.”
She told Bulletin Entertainment at the launch of the 23rd French Film Festival a few days ago.
“Meron ding economic contribution (ang mga pelikula) na pwede maging gateway natin for discussion and cooperation with other countries,” she explained. “So napakalaki ngayong role ang ginagawa ng film to connect different countries together. This way, we will be able to promote our cinema globally because of these exposures.”
The French Film Festival will screen 21 French films that embody the richness and depth of French society through the creativity of French filmmakers. The line-up includes critically-acclaimed films such as “Personal Shopper” (Official Competition, Cannes Film Festival 2016), “La Prière (The Prayer)” (Silver Bear for Best Actor, Berlin Film Festival 2018), and the jazz biopic “Django” (Opening Film, Berlin Film Festival 2017).
The festival continues its tradition of paying tribute to Philippine cinema. On June 12, Philippine Independence Day, the French Film Festival features two films by Raymond Red, a pioneer of Philippine independent cinema and the first Filipino to be awarded the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for his short film, “Anino.” The movie will be screened at the festival together with “Himpapawid.”
Also in the Philippine line-up is “Bagahe,” the latest film by up-and-coming director Zig Dulay. The movie won the grand prize Cyclo d’or of the Vesoul Asian Film Festival this year.
Liza underscored why movies are such a potent tool for the purpose it serves.
“Cinema kasi it’s so portable and ang dali niyang dalhin sa ibang bansa. It’s already a complete taste (of the country put in context). Parang isang buong example ng kung anong meron tayo, kung anong klaseng tao meron sa atin, what kind of society we have, what kind of culture we have,” she said. “Dala-dala mo siya sa isang buong master piece or sa isang buong obra and pinapakita mo siya sa mundo.”
She pointed out that film as art form serves two purposes – to entertain and to impart lessons.
“There has to be balance (between the two),” she said.
Liza is proud the Filipinos are creating a brand, an identity internationally through the cinema we offer.
“Lav Diaz with his slow cinema, Brillante Mendoza with his great and very realistic point of view about ills of the society. I think duon nakikilala ang Pilipinas,” she cited. “We need to continue championing other filmmakers too na gumagawa rin ng sariling boses nila, na nagbibigay rin ng sarili nilang pagpapakilala kung ano ba ang cinema natin, ano ba ang Pilipinas.”
This year’s French Film Festival will also serve as a backdrop in telling stories about passion and relationships – between artist Paul Cézanne and writer Emile Zola in “Cézanne Et Moi (Cézanne And I),” between a Russian ballerina and a French dancer in “Polina,” and between the fashion icon and his business partner and lover, Pierre Bergé, in “Yves Saint Laurent.”
The line-up will also present films for a variety of audiences: Dramas “Orpheline (Orphans)” and “Une Vie (A Woman’s Life),” comedies “Epouse-moi Mon Pote (Marry Me, Dude),” and “Rock ’N Roll” for the light-hearted, the dystopian science fiction film “Seuls (Alone),” and animated film “Louise En Hiver (Louise By The Shore)” for the younger audiences, and the documentary “Voyage À Travers Le Cinémafrançais (A Journey Through French Cinema)” for film aficionados.
The highlight this year is the recently released fifth installment of the action-packed blockbuster, “Taxi.” It will be screened for the first time in Manila during the festival’s red carpet premiere night on June 8 at Central Square in Bonifacio Global City.
The event will feature a retrospective of films by acclaimed director Jean-Pierre Melville, who pioneered French film noir between the 1940s to the 1960s.
“We are developing our audiences into appreciating what cinema is about from a local perspective. Parang ’pag napanuod natin ngayon ’yung mga pelikula natin at nakapanuod tayo ng mga pelikulang galing sa ibang bansa, makikita natin kung ano ba ’yung mga pagkukulang natin or saan ba tayo nakakaangat,” she said.
Can’t Pinoys just watch on their smartphones, we asked.
“It’s such a communal experience, to watch something na hindi lang sarili mo na tumatawa ka, na mag isa ka lang ’di ba? Dito iba ’yung nanunuod ka ng comedy film tapos lahat kayo tumatawa. And I hope ’yun ’yung hindi mawala sa atin even with the changing platforms and distribution avenues,” she said.
This year’s edition proposes a selection of films for the following dates and venues in Metro Manila: June 6 to 12 at Greenbelt 3 Cinemas in Makati City; June 8 to 12 in Bonifacio High Street cinemas in Central Square, Taguig; and June 10 and 11 at the UP Town Center cinemas in Quezon City.
The festival will also make its way for the first time ever to the Abreeza Mall, Davao City on June 21 and 22, and also back to its loyal audience at the Ayala Center Cebu from June 25 to 27.
Asked why they are screening the festival outside Metro Manila for the first time in 23 years, Liza said that when the event notched up 15,000 viewers collectively in the past years, they felt it’s now time to start bringing the festival to more audiences.
“I think 15 thousands is a lot for one week screening, it’s a lot for something not our own and hindi Hollywood,” she pointed out.
Tags: Berlin film festival, Brillante Mendoza, Bulletin Entertainment, Cannes Film Festival, Film Development Council of the Philippines, French Film Festival, French filmmakers, independent cinema, Jean-Pierre Melville, Liza Diño, Louise By The Shore, Manila Bulletin, Manila Bulletin Entertainment, mb.com.ph, Paul Cézanne, Philippine Cinema, Philippine Independence Day, Vesoul Asian Film Festival, Why Liza Diño's passion for cinema is at all-time high