The 38th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) had it’s first-ever “Philippines Day” last March 30, 2014. The whole-day event revolved around the Hong Kong premieres of the films “On the Job,” directed by Erik Matti, a sensation at the 2013 Cannes Director’s Fortnight, and “Kimmy Dora: Ang Kiyemeng Prequel,” directed by Chris D. Martinez, the latest chapter in a smashingly successful comedy franchise, as well as the presentation of the short-film “The Heart of the Storm.” Made by the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), “The Heart of the Storm” chronicles the recent tragedy of typhoon Haiyan and the devastation that fell upon Tacloban City last November 2013. Following the screening of the short-film, the HKIFF society presented a donation of HKD 25, 000 to the Philippine Red Cross. A portion of ticket sales will be donated for the relief of the typhoon victims.
FDCP Chairman Briccio Santos introduced the short-film to the audience in attendance and broke the news of the upcoming “International Film Commission’s Conference on Climate Change” that the FDCP has organized for June 25 to be held in Manila, Philippines. The hope is that this important conference will induce more awareness among film counterparts and the audiovisual communities and organizations world-wide on the changing patterns of our climate. He concluded, “After all, this is our planet and we are all stakeholders in it. We all need to preserve and protect to insure its well-being. “
Executive Director of the HKIFF Roger Garcia and special guest Ms. Catherine Deneuve presented the donation to Chairman Briccio Santos and Ms. Rosanna Villamor-Voogel, the acting Philippine Consul General. Ms. Catherine Deneuve is a legendary French actress most known for her work in films such as “Le Dernier Métro” and “Indochine.” Ms. Denueve was extended an invitation by Chairman Santos to grace the opening of the “International Film Commission’s Conference on Climate Change.” Also on stage were Filipino stars Piolo Pascual and Joel Torre from “On the Job,” Eugene Domingo from “Kimmy Dora: Ang Kiyemeng Prequel”. Piolo and Eugene came straight from the Asian Film Awards where Eugene was nominated for Best Actress for her work in “Barber’s Tales”. Mimi Juareza from “Quick Change” was also nominated in the same awards night.
“The Heart of the Storm” short film is an 8 minutes long documentary aimed at providing viewers with a firsthand account of the recent tragedy. Taken from footage captured by the FDCP team during a trip to the Leyte provinces to witness the aftermath. It shows the daunting task of rebuilding the lives of the victims, which is a storm in itself. The documentary is meant to give the public a glimpse of what lies ahead for a population still rearing from collective shock and many uncertainties.
Executive Director of the HKIFF Roger Garcia conceptualized the “Philippines Day” event hoping to bring focus to Filipino films gaining popularity worldwide. At the same time provide new Filipino films for the numerous Filipinos based in Hong Kong. Filipinos filled up the venue from communities based in Hong Kong. They showed up to the red carpet and premiere screenings to see their home-grown stars, and even stayed post-screening for the special Q&A sessions with the films’ actors.
The 38th Hong Kong International Film Festival takes place from March 24 to April 7 primarily at the Hong Kong Cultural Center and then other nearby venues. The festival’s special section “The Glories of Filipino Cinema” included Jun Robles Lana’s “Barber’s Tales,” Lav Diaz’s “Norte, The End of History,” Elwood Perez’s “Otso,” Eduardo Roy Jr.’s “Quick Change,” and Brillante Mendoza’s “Sapi.”