By Alvin I. Dacanay
More than two weeks after it announced the establishment of the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP, or Fiesta of Filipino Films), the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) said three government-run agencies have joined it as partners for the new film festival, during which foreign movies will not be shown in commercial cinemas throughout the country.
During the joint signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) and press conference at Salu restaurant in Quezon City on May 12, FDCP Chairman and CEO Liza Diño said her new partners—the National Youth Commission (NYC), the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB)—have prepared special activities for the festival, organized by the film council and set to run from August 16 to 22.
“We are very grateful that we are joined by the NYC, NCCA, and MTRCB, (which) have committed their support to the PPP by (holding) several events in August,” Diño said.
She added that these events shall build up toward the festival’s “final week, (when) we show our films.”
These films, to be chosen from a wide range of genres, shall number between 10 and 12 and will be shown in more than 700 theaters nationwide.
These events are the NYC and NCCA’s Sine Kabataan (Cine Youth), described by the FDCP as a “short-film competition for the youth” that touches on the current issues confronting them today, and the MTRCB’s Matalinong Panonood (Intelligent Viewing) Program, an “audience-oriented program for responsible viewership.”
“The NYC, NCCA, and MTRCB’s participation and support of the PPP mean a great deal to us and the film industry. This just shows government agencies coming together as a united front to empower our filmmakers and engage our audience,” Diño said in a statement.
NYC Chairman Aiza Seguerra said he wanted his agency to be part of the PPP after being told about it by Diño, his wife.
“Through stories (on film), I want the entire Philippines to see the state of the youth, and I want this to come, not from seasoned filmmakers, but from the perspective of young people themselves,” Seguerra said in Filipino.
According to the singer-actor, he and the NYC want to use the countrywide platform the PPP offers to open the eyes of not only young people, but also their elders, to what the youth go through today.
“I hope that, through Sine Kabataan, young people would be encouraged to tell their stories, to have a voice. The Sine Kabataan is for you,” Seguerra said in Filipino.
For his part, director and MTRCB Vice Chairman Emmanuel Borlaza, who represented Chairman Rachel Arenas at the event, told the media that the films chosen for the PPP would not go through his board.
“Any movie that will be entered in any important film festival will not undergo review and classification,” Borlaza said, adding that the filmmaker or producer would be one to determine what rating is appropriate.
This particular policy has been adopted by the MTRCB for some time now, he said.
Also during the conference, Diño said film critic Oggs Cruz, cinematographer Lee Briones-Meily, and actress Iza Calzado will join directors Joey Reyes and Erik Matti, screenwriter Ricky Lee, and film editor Manet Dayrit in the PPP selection committee.
The FDCP chief also said directors or producers who are yet to secure a wide commercial release from the National Cinema Association of the Philippines (NCAP) and SM Lifestyle Entertainment Inc. (SMLEI) are eligible to enter their films to the festival, as long as these are made between 2015 and 2017.
“Those who joined QCinema, Cinemalaya, Sinag Maynila (and other local film festivals)—they can still join, as long as they haven’t had a wide theatrical release,” she added in Filipino.
The PPP is open to all Filipino producers, who may submit more than one entry. However, only one film will be chosen per producer, including co-productions.
Films considered eligible are those that have themes reflecting Filipino sensibilities and culture, as well as wide audience appeal; have not been shown on the internet; have a minimum running time of 75 minutes; and have English subtitles, among other criteria.
Those who submit their entries to the FDCP between May 20 and June 2 shall pay an entry fee of P7,000. Those who submit between June 3 and 15, meanwhile, shall pay P10,000.
The chosen films will be announced by the last week of June and are guaranteed to be shown in a minimum of 60 screens across the country for three to seven days.
As for Sine Kabataan, it is open to amateur filmmakers aged between 18 and 24 years old.
Entries to this competition must be five minutes long and are expected to deal with any of these issues: health (teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS or mental health); education (out-of-school youth, bullying or lack of access); security and peace-building (young people in conflict with the law, in conflicted areas or in peace-building); and family values (domestic violence, abandonment, or effects of migration).
Deadline for the submission of entries is on June 30. The chosen ten to 12 short films will be announced on July 5 and screened nationwide during the PPP.