By LIZA DIÑO-SEGUERRA
Notes from the Chair
The Sunday Times Magazine
The Manila Times
July 5, 2020
One of the priorities of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) is to empower Filipino documentary films and provide filmmakers and producers more platforms to showcase their works.
Marché du Film of the Cannes International Film Festival in France — the largest film market in the world which has its platform this year in the digital realm — was a good start.
FDCP partnered with Marché’s Cannes Docs Online to showcase the Philippines as one of the eight featured countries. Such presentation extends the reach of our documentary projects to more sales agents, festival programmers, and other decision-makers who provide funding and other forms of support.
Marché du Film (Cannes Film Market) took place from June 22 to 26, and our “Showcase Philippines” was held on the opening day. Although everything was held virtually, Marché du Film still managed to recreate the Cannes market atmosphere.
During our showcase day, I was more than proud to introduce our four documentary projects which represented a diverse set of subjects and focus: “Holy Craft” by Joseph Mangat; “Nowhere Near” by Miko Revereza; “Remnants of a Revolution” by Cha Escala; and “The Remotes” by John Torres.
The successful “Showcase Philippines” was part of the Docs-In-Progress section of Cannes Docs Online. I was so impressed with our filmmakers as I watched them present their projects through a pitch and a 10-minute sequence of the rough cut. In attendance was Pierre Alexis-Chevit, the Head of Cannes Docs.
The partnership with Cannes Docs proved to be fruitful as our filmmakers had a successful run in the first-ever virtual Marché du Film.
“Holy Craft,” directed by Mangat and produced by Alemberg Ang of vy/ac Productions, bagged the Docs-in-Progress Award out of 32 documentary projects from eight countries. The “Holy Craft” team received a cash prize worth 10,000 euros and a professional long-term project follow-up that will be supported by the International Emerging Film Talent Association (IEFTA).
It was the first time to have a “Showcase Philippines” in Cannes Docs, and the country already bested other nations to win the top prize. It’s so surreal to hear the announcement of Mangat and Ang’s victory via a video conference call.
I am personally a witness to the project’s growth from its participation in FDCP’s very own First Cut Lab in 2019 to the Cannes Docs Philippine Showcase this year. “Holy Craft” has really come a way. The documentary project dwells on the intersections of religion, labor, and gender at a local Catholic handicrafts factory and even with a localized theme, it managed to be universally relatable.
Cannes Docs Online jury member Lina Soualem, a French-Palestinian-Algerian actress and ﬁlmmaker, was amazed by the showcase of the subject.
“It’s an intriguing and fascinating subject tackled through an observational point of view with a touch of the absurd which allows us to dive into the contradictions of our contemporary world, balancing between the sacred and the profane,” Soualem commented in a Variety article by Christopher Vourlias.
This recent triumph proves that even in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, Philippine Cinema and documentaries can truly thrive and shine.
It was a really new experience to have screenings, booths, meetings, and presentations online. I attended panel sessions late at night to learn how international film industry stakeholders cope with the crisis caused by the pandemic and while it did not match the warm atmosphere of having to meet your partners personally and interact with them, it was still memorable for me.
Philippines’ entry ‘Holy Craft’ — directed by Joseph Mangat (above) and produced by Alemberg Ang (below) — bested 31 other documentary projects to win the ‘Docs-in-Progress Award’ at Marché du Film of the Cannes International Film Festival
In the panel “Meet the Streamers: Independent Streamers reply to a crisis,” Filmin of Spain, Kino Now / Kino Marquee of the US, and Draken Film of Sweden talked about their projects which were launched to address the pressing needs of the independent film industry.
I also learned about other initiatives, how these affected businesses, and the relationship of independent streamers with the rest of the industry. While everything is still uncertain at this point, it was commendable that they also tackled what could be up next for them.
Meanwhile, as the FDCP pushed for local documentaries in Cannes Docs, a full-length feature by multi-awarded filmmaker Brillante Ma Mendoza achieved another success at the Cannes Film Market Online.
London-based SC Films International recently bought the international rights of “Gensan Punch,” an English-language boxing biopic written by Honee Alipio and produced by Mendoza’s Center Stage Productions and Gentle Underground Monkeys of Japan.
SC Films presented several animation and live action titles at the Cannes Film Market Online, including “Gensan Punch,” which is the first sports biopic of Mendoza. Its production is expected to wrap up next month with a release planned by the end of this year. With scenes shot in Fukuoka, Okinawa, and the Philippines, the film follows Tsuchiyama’s journey from Japan to General Santos (Gensan) City. He builds on his boxing career in Gensan, the famed training ground of bouters which include superstar boxer and world champion, Sen. Manny Pacquiao.
These recent achievements in the international stage are victories not just for the Filipino film industry but for the whole country as well. I thank our filmmakers for creating stories and projects that cater to both local and international markets.
Indeed, no virus can stop Philippine Cinema from being showcased on the global platform, thanks to the dedication, hard work, and artistry of our filmmakers who tirelessly and passionately champion Filipino films to the world, serving as our inspiration during challenging times.
Notes from the Chair is part of the Arts Awake section of The Sunday Times Magazine published by The Manila Times. Click HERE to view the article on The Manila Times website.