Manila festival survives funding crisis
By Stephen Cremin
Mon, 06 December 2010, 16:25 PM (HKT)
The 12th Cinemanila International Film Festival concluded Sunday 5 Nov with the local premiere of John SAYLES' Amigo (2010). The event opened on Wednesday 1 Nov with another foreign film featuring Filipino actors, Taipei-shot Pinoy Sunday 台北星期天 (2009).
International guests at the five-day event included South Korean director IM Sang-soo 임상수 | 林常樹, Indonesian cinematographer Yadi SUGANDI, Thailand-based actor Ananda EVERINGHAM อนันดา เอเวอร์ริ่งแฮม, Taipei-based director HO Wi Ding 何蔚庭 and Tokyo-based filmmaker Edmund YEO 楊毅恆.
The festival's stated goals are to nurture young Filipino directors, unearth new talent in Southeast Asia and help create a revitalised local film industry so that it can become a major creative player in the region. Local stars who supported the festival this year included actress Iza CALZADO (pictured with Ananda Everingham).
Like the concurrent Jakarta International Film Festival, the Philippines' festival was in dire financial straits and until mid-November had yet to secure a venue. The festival was able to continue with the last-minute financial support of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) under new chairman Briccio G. Santos, appointed in September.
At the opening ceremony, the festival's founding director, Amable "Tikoy" AGUILUZ, stated that "Cinemanila is like Philippine cinema, always in crisis mode, always in trouble, but somehow, someway, always pulling through". The festival had previously been in danger of cancellation at its second edition in 2000.
Festival organisers said they were particularly hit this year by high screening fees from European sales agents, who are increasingly representing Southeast Asian titles. Other sales agents withheld titles until the festival could find a local distributor in one of the most difficult markets in Asia for foreign-language cinema.
Festival director Anima AGUILUZ SLANGEN estimates that more than half of this year's budget was spent on screening fees that have grown ten-fold since the event launched in 1999. Co-director "Tikoy" Aguiluz described the practise to Film Business Asia as "abusive", "colonialist" and a form of "cultural imperialism" that is devastating festivals in the region.
Tikoy Aguiluz suggested that sales agents should in fact be paying the festival to show their films to reflect their role as an ambassador for foreign-language cinema in the Philippines. The festival previously helped secure distribution for The Ring リング (1998) and City of God among other contemporary classics.
The hottest tickets at this year's festival were for the single local screening of Scott Pilgrim vs the World — whose local release has been canceled — and Monster JIMENEZ' documentary Kano: An American and His Harem about the unusual family arrangements of Vietnam War veteran Victor Pearson.
Vignettish "road movie" about two Filipino workers on their day off in Taipei is slim but likable.
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