Written and photographed
By Jude Bautista
This year French President Françoise Hollande visited the Philippines to commemorate 20 years of diplomatic ties. In reality France has had a longer more established relationship with the Philippines through cinema. Nora Aunor’s work made her return to Cannes through TAKLUB directed by Brillante Mendoza. Based on the story of Yolanda survivors highlighting the dangers of climate change the film earned the Ecumenical Jury Prize-Special Mention.
While Mendoza has won several awards from Cannes in recent years, Aunor’s connection to the fest goes further to BONA. The Lino Brocka directed film was screened at the Director’s Fortnight in 1981.
Apart from the awards he won at Cannes, Mendoza also had a French co production-starring actress Isabelle Huppert and Angel Aquino in the film CAPTIVE in 2012. This year’s French film festival also features the latest co production in ABOVE THE CLOUDS directed by Pepe Diokno. The French Film Festival celebrates its 20th year of bringing critically acclaimed films and blockbusters to local audiences. The festival aims to promote French culture and, at the same time, support the local film industry by screening and paying tribute to classic and contemporary Philippine films.
The French Film Festival will be running from June 3 to 9, 2015 at the Greenbelt 3 cinemas in Makati City and at the Bonifacio High Street cinemas in Taguig. Similar to last year, tickets for each screening are priced at P100.00 to cover the operational costs of the cinema. Tickets are available at the box office or through http://www.sureseats.com.
Brillante Mendoza’s Taklub to be honored at the French Film Festival
To commemorate the two decade run of the French Film Festival, two films will be screened at the red carpet opening night on June 3 at Greenbelt 5. The opening French film, La Famille Bélier (The Bélier Family), tells the story of a provincial deaf-mute family that must deal with the desire of their daughter to study music in Paris. On the same night, Taklub, Brillante Mendoza’s latest film and the only Philippine entry to the Un Certain Regard section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, will be premiering at the festival’s red carpet opening night.
TAKLUB will be the opening film of the French Film fest. Ambassador Gilles Garachon was very much impressed with Nora Aunor in TAKLUB, “Her performance is breathtaking. I think she personifies the Filipina, very courageous, very dedicated not showing off. The way she plays is minimal but very efficient way. She communicates emotions easily so it’s very moving.”
Garachon was also very touched with how modest Aunor is in person after meeting her, “I googled her before going into the theater just to see. I saw her in google in make up. But when she visited the embassy she was very very casual. I saw the Lacoste t-shirt but she was casual and nice. It was very casual, two human beings speaking and it was very pleasant. She told me about Cannes with a very nice sense of humor. If she could be at the opening that would be very meaningful.”
On a personal note Amb Garachon will be wrapping up his term in the Philippines by the end of June. For him his host country has been a special experience, It was a wonderful experience I’ve been here 3 and a half years. It was the first time for me in the Philippines. I’ve been to Boracay as a tourist. So it was a fascinating discovery because of the people. The country is amazing and beautiful with a lot of sceneries beautiful beaches and historical places. But the real prize is the people. The Filipino people for me is no.1. People are very nice but with a great sense of humor. Everyday here is joyful and nice a real privilege to work and live in the Philippines. The past 3 years will be absolutely unforgettable for my family and me. I think and hope we have become a part of the Filipino family. Definitely we feel at home here, we shall come back as tourists.”
Pepe Diokno’s ABOVE THE CLOUDS & BROTHERHOOD
Pepe Diokno, with his film Above the Clouds, is the first recipient of the World Cinema Fund granted by the France’s Ministry of Culture and Communication, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and Institut Français. This fund seeks to provide funding for joint French and Filipino co-productions.
Moreover, the Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée (CNC) signed a cooperation agreement with the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) to facilitate the establishment of a National Film Archives for the conservation of Philippine film heritage.
Diokno talked about the French role in the post production work on ABOVE THE CLOUDS starring Pepe Smith and Rue Madrid. After qualifying for a grant called Aide De Cinema Du Monde, the World Cinema Support Grant he was able to get funding to the tune of 110,000 Euros. A prestigious French production company called UNLIMITED helped with the facilities and technical expertise.Diokno explains, “Last year I was in Paris close to 4 months to do post production on our film. We did editing, sound editing, sound mixing, color grading, mastering. It was a really really beautiful experience. It was good because the first thing our French co producer said was, they’re here not to make a French film they’re here to make a Filipino film first and foremost. It just so happened to be supported by France. That’s one of the best things working with the French to them its all about the soul of a film. Working with them was about that. My upcoming film KAPATIRAN (BROTHERHOOD) which is about lawschool hazing was just invited to the Paris co production village next month. So I’m going back to Paris to meet with co producers under NCS agents.”
It was very much collaboration between Diokno, editors foley artists and other creative and technical people. Being exposed to the hallowed halls of the Louvre or the Cinematheque was also a source of inspiration. The people who worked with according to him are more than happy to share their expertise here in the Philippines.Diokno added, “The kinds of people we worked with in France, we had someone who worked with Michelle Gondry, we had a guy who just won a French Oscar. Those were the level we were working with. But one ofthem turned to me and said you know what your actor looks like Billy Joe Crawford. Kilala pala nila si Billy Joe Crawford. They’d expressed interest to come here just to travel and do a workshop for free. I intend to hold them up to that promise.”
Cinémix live in Manila
In addition to the film screenings, this year’s festival goes beyond cinema with a concert on June 5, 8:00pm at the Greenbelt 3 Park. French DJ Oof will be fusing electro and cinema with the Cinémix project. Cinémix is a collection of reinterpretations of French soundtracks from the 1960s and 1970s synced to videos flashed onscreen. Entrance is free of charge.
An evening of fashion closes the 20th French Film Festival
This year’s festival ends with glamour and style with a fashion night hosted by L’Officiel Manila and the SSI Group, Inc. at the Central Square, Bonifacio High Street on June 9. Capturing the essence of France as one of the world’s fashion capitals, guests would be able to enjoy special shopping perks and discounts offered by the various brands housed by Central Square.
The 20th French Film Festival is organized by the Embassy of France to the Philippines, Institut Français, the Alliance française de Manille and Cebu, in cooperation with the Ayala Malls Cinemas, Bonifacio High Street and Greenbelt. This event would have not been possible without the support of the platinum sponsors: SSI Group, Inc., Beauty Bar, Eden Park, Lacoste, L’Occitane, Oliviers & Co., and Vilebrequin; gold sponsors ThinkBIT and Chateau; bronze sponsors Delsey, Kickers, Sledgers, Peugeot, Bizu, Le Cellier, Don Papa, Monin and TWG; and media partners ANC, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, BusinessWorld, High Life, HerWord.com, L’Officiel Manila and Rogue Media, Art Plus Magazine, Expat News, Mellow 94.7 Sounds Good, and Spot.ph. For more information and for the screening schedule, visit www.frenchfilmfest.com.