By Ibarra C. Mateo
AS THE Philippines marked its 120th independence today, June 12, this year’s French Film Festival showcased three films by Filipino directors who had garnered awards in French film competitions.
French Ambassador to Manila Nicolas Galey said the screening of Filipino films during the Philippine Independence Day is a “tradition of paying tribute to Philippine cinema.”
On June 12, Philippine Independence Day, the French Film Festival honored the films by Director Raymond Red, a pioneer of Philippine independent cinema and the 1st Filipino to be awarded the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000 for his short film, Anino.
The 13-minute Anino was screened together with another Red film, Himpapawid.
The third film to be shown at the 23rd edition of the festival was Bagahe, the latest film by Director Zig Dulay. Bagahe won the grand prize, Cyclo d’Or, in the 2018 Vesoul Asian Film Festival.
“Among the aims of French cultural diplomacy is to promote cultural diversity through cinema. In the Philippines, the French Film Festival has been giving the Filipino public a glimpse of French culture and society for 23 years. It provides an alternative to the commercial programming of movie theatres, thereby promoting this diversity to the local audience,” Galey said.
This year’s festival offers a panorama of contemporary French productions, from family dramas to romance, modern-day comedies, action and animation.
“I am also proud to announce that this year will be the first time ever for us to organize this festival in Luzon, in Visayas and Mindanao,” Galey said.
Martin Macalintal, French Embassy audiovisual attaché, said French cinema “has found an audience in the Philippines” in the last 23 years.
“While the commercial circuit continues to be dominated by Hollywood blockbusters, international festivals have provided Filipinos an alternative programming that gives them the chance to see a different kind of cinema – to witness stories that look into human values, relationships, and socio-economic conditions in contemporary French society that they may, sometimes surprisingly, identify with,” Macalintal said.
Commercial theaters have opened their doors to festivals to offer their loyal clients diversity in film choices, even for limited periods, Macalintal said.
This year, the Ayala cinemas are hosting the French Film Festival in several venues in Metro Manila: Greenbelt 3 in Makati City, Central Square in Bonifacio High Street, Taguig, and UP Town Center in Quezon City, as well as in Ayala Center in Cebu and Abreeza Mall in Davao.
As Philippine cinema celebrates 100 years, the French Film Festival pays tribute to the centennial of the birth of one of France’s great directors, Jean-Pierre Melville, Macalintal said.
The groups behind this year’s film festival are: the Embassy of France to the Philippines, Institut Français, UniFrance, the Alliance Française de Manille, Film Development Council of the Philippines, Ayala Malls Cinemas, SSI Group, and Central Square.
From Makati, Taguig, and Quezon City, the film festival goes to Davao City for the first time through the Abreeza Mall – Davao on June 21 and 22, then makes its way to the Ayala Center Cebu from June 25 to 27.
Tickets for each screening are priced at PHP150 to cover the operational costs of the cinema and may be purchased at the box office or through www.sureseats.com.
For its 23rd edition, the French Film Festival screens 21 French films embodying 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).
Art serves as the 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.
This year’s line-up presents 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.
Highlighted this year is the recently released 5th installment of the action-packed blockbuster, Taxi, which screened for the first time in Manila.
The festival also features a retrospective of films by acclaimed director Jean-Pierre Melville, who pioneered French film noir between the 1940s to the 1960s.
For inquiries, contact the Embassy of France to the Philippines at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0966-389-9119.