Now on its 20th year, the French Film Festival in Manila is bigger than ever with a fitting total of 20 films in its featured line-up, beginning today until June 6 at the Greenbelt, Ayala, and Bonifacio High Street cinemas.
Brillante Mendoza’s Taklub, an Ecumenical Jury Special Mention awardee in the recently concluded 68th Cannes Film Festival, will open the festival, alongside Le Famille Beliér (The Belier Family), a 2014 comedy film about a provincial deaf-mute family whose daughter wants to pursue a singing career in Paris.
Choosing Taklub for its festival opener is in line with the French Embassy’s tradition of paying tribute to the Philippine film industry in this annual outing. French ambassador to the Philippines Gilles Garachon lauded the film for effectively depicting the tragedy, which Super Typhoon Yolanda left in Tacloban, while stimulating an “academic way” of discussing global warming and climate disruption.
“We have a lot of lessons to learn from the people of Tacloban. The message is so strong. I think it’s just wonderful to have a chance to talk about it [climate change]because in fact when we talk about it, we talk about our future,” Garachon said at the French Film Festival’s press preview at the Bonifacio High Street Cinemas.
He also expressed his regret over Taklub falling short of snagging the 2015 Ecumenical Jury Prize; the winner was an Italian film titled, Mia Madre. If it were up to Garachon, the Nora Aunor-starrer should have had the victory.
“They [the production]really deserve it,” enthused the diplomat. “That’s why we’re so happy to show this movie for the opening of the festival.”
The 18 other French films in this year’s line-up offer a diverse selection of genres including romance, comedy, drama, suspense and crime, historical films, and animation. Produced within the last two years, these are Hippocrate, La Prochaine Fois Je Viserai la Cœur, Lulu Femme Nue, La Belle et La Bete, Dans la Cour, La Jalousie, Eden, Le Havre, La French, 3 Coeurs, Les Garçons et Guillaume, à Table!, L’amour est un Crime Parfait, L’homme qu’on Aimait Trop, Saint Laurent, Timbuktu, 108 Rois-Démons, Chante ton bac d’abord and Diplomatie.
This year’s French film festival also seeks to highlight The World Cinema Support, or Aide aux Cinémas du Monde, a grant for international co-productions by the Ministry for Culture and Communication and the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, managed by Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée (CNC) and the Institut Français.
The first Filipino recipient of this fund is Pepe Diokno, the filmmaker behind the award-winning Engkwentro of 2009. Diokno completed his second film Above the Clouds under the grant, which took three years to make. Premiering at the 27th Tokyo Film Festival in October 2014, the film featured Filipino rock icon Pepe Smith and young GMA Network actor Ruru Madrid, shot on a mountainous hike at Mount Pulag.
According to Ambassador Garachon, the French Embassy hopes that more Filipino filmmakers will apply for this grant in the coming years to further strengthen cultural and artistic ties between France and the Philippines.
Tickets to the featured movies for the French Film Festival are available for P100 at the Greenbelt, Ayala and Bonifacio High Street ticket booths or through www.sureseats.com. For the screening schedule, log on to www.frenchfilmfest.com.