MANILA, PHILIPPINES, JUNE 7, 2021 — Featuring the riveting love story of Marianne and Héloïse that has captivated viewers worldwide, award-winning French film “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is having its Philippine Online Premiere at the 2nd PelikuLAYA: LGBTQIA+ Film Festival of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) from June 4 to 30.
Written and directed by Céline Sciamma, it won the Queer Palm Prize and Best Screenplay Award at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, along with 55 other recognitions from international film festivals and award-giving bodies. It has garnered 154 nominations, including Best Film Not in the English Language at the British Academy Film Awards, Best International Film at the Independent Spirit Awards, and Best Motion Picture - Foreign Language at the Golden Globes in 2020.
Set in the 18th century at Brittany Coast in France, Marianne (Noémie Merlant) is hired to paint the wedding portrait of Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) without her knowing. After getting to know each other and growing closer, intimacy and attraction ensue as they share Héloïse’s final moments of freedom before her arranged marriage.
“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is available for rental from June 4 to 30 on the FDCP Channel (fdcpchannel.ph), which hosts the PelikuLAYA: LGBTQIA+ Film Festival in celebration of Pride Month. The film can be viewed via rental for PHP 220 with a 7-day access that will expire 48 hours after the first play.
It is the only international film in the 2021 PelikuLAYA lineup and the film was acquired by FDCP through French distributor mk2 films and in collaboration with UniFrance that aims to promote French films around the world.
“As one of the first international titles acquired by the Agency, we are truly proud to premiere Portrait in such an important platform through the PelikuLAYA. We intend to acquire more films like it that compellingly tackle important issues and elevate conversations on their subjects, and host more online premieres through the FDCP Channel. In the meantime, we hope that our audience enjoy this beautiful and poignant film,” said FDCP Chairperson and CEO Liza Diño.
David Sims of The Atlantic lauded the romantic drama for being the “most enthralling cinema experience” of 2019; Rachel Syme of The New Yorker said that “among other things, it is a story of profound female solidarity.” In an interview with Emily VanDerWerff of Vox, Sciamma noted that she sees her film “as a manifesto about the female gaze.”
The French filmmaker, who is the first woman to win the Cannes Queer Palm Prize, continued: “The film’s narrative is based on equality among the love story because there is no gender domination. Embodying equality in a love dialogue could be a wake-up call for a lot of persons. That’s why it’s so important to tell stories. It’s to represent us, so a lot of people feel seen. And the film is about that mutual gazing. But it politically involves much more than our stories.”
According to Julie Miller of Vanity Fair, Sciamma wrote “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” with Haenel in mind for Héloïse. Sciamma and Haenel, who have been making films for more than a decade, are former lovers. “Our conversation around cinema has never stopped. We were always paying a lot of attention to the work of one another, but also making some choices together,” said Sciamma, adding that she wanted to work with Haenel again because “she’s the most amazing actor.”
Aside from “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” PelikuLAYA features seven subscription titles, four free films, and two titles with one-time free screenings. It will also hold film talks and lectures, a drag yoga event, and musical performances to empower the members of the LGBTQIA+ community with the theme “Sama-Sama, Lahat Rarampa!”
Since June 4, subscribers can view 23 FDCP Channel titles for PHP 99, including the PelikuLAYA titles available until June 30: “Masahista” by Brillante Mendoza, “I Love You. Thank You” by Charliebebs Gohetia, “Mga Gabing Kasing Haba ng Hair Ko” by Gerardo Calagui, “Miss Bulalacao” by Ara Chawdhury, “Ang Huling Cha-Cha Ni Anita” by Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo, “Best. Partee. Ever.” by HF Yambao, and “Ned’s Project” by Lem Lorca.
The free films throughout the festival are Rhadem Morados’ documentary “Budjang” and three shorts from CineSpectra 2019: A Film Festival for HIV/AIDS Awareness — “A” by Rod Modina, “Alex & Aki” by Dexter Paul de Jesus, and “Doon sa Isang Sulok” by Yong Tapang, Jr. There will also be one-time free screenings of “Lihis” by Joel Lamangan for the opening program and “T-Bird at Ako” by Danny Zialcita for the closing program.
Photos courtesy of mk2 films
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