Filipino artists and works participating in the movie world’s most prestigious festival
It’s that time of the year again when one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals gathers celebrities, directors, and the toughest movie critics in the south of France. The Cannes Film Festival is in full swing right now celebrating its 70th anniversary with the likes of Julianne Moore, Robert Pattinson, Jake Gyllenhaal and Nicole Kidman walking its red carpet.
Likewise, the Philippine movie industry has a presence in the annual event. Already hobnobbing with the world’s movie greats in the French Rivera is Brillante Mendoza on the invitation of Institut Français—France’s film institute that promotes heritage films. As the first Asian to win the prestigious Cannes Best Director Award for “Kinatay” in 2009, he was asked to mentor 10 new and upcoming directors at the festival’s 9th Fabrique des Cinemas du Monde. This current batch of filmmakers come from South Africa, Brazil, Egypt, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mali, Myanmar, and Peru.
Before leaving for Cannes, Mendoza said in an interview that filmmakers abroad are curious how Filipino directors like him are able to churn out world-class projects despite limited budget and shooting time.
In mentoring at the festival, the pride of the Philippines follows in the footsteps of past invitees like Chinese film director and screenwriter Jia Zhan-Ke, French film director and writer Claire Denis, Brazilian filmmaker and film producer Walter Salles, Haitian filmmaker of documentary and feature films Raoul Peck, and Palestinian film director Elia Suleiman, among others.
Meanwhile, another Filipino who is excited to be in Cannes is young filmmaker Carlo Francisco Manatad. His short film, “Jodilerks dela Cruz, Employee of the Month” is an entry in the festival’s 56th Semaine De La Critique (International Critics’ Week), which aims to spotlight first and second films of emerging directors.
Jodilerks follows the life of gas station attendant and her last day at the site, which is soon to be closed down. The titular role is played by Angeli Bayani who had attended the Cannes Film Festival in 2013 for Lav Diaz’s “Norte: Hangganan ng Kasaysayan” and Anthony Chen’s “Ilo-Ilo” [winner of the 2013 Camera d’Or Award].
Moreover, four Filipino films were accepted to the festival’s Short Film Corner, a category, however, which is not part of the competition section. Nevertheless, the showcase will allow directors to network with institutions, financiers, and representatives in the film business.
The first film among the four is noted independent film director Ralston Jover’s “Love Remembers.” It is an 11-minute short starring O.J. Mariano and Mercedes Cabral about an overseas worker from South Korea who returned to the country to look for his daughter’s remains in a public cemetery.
The second entry is “Nakaw” directed by Alvin Belarmino and Noel Escondo. This is a seven-minute film is about a 10-year-old boy who steals an elderly woman’s wallet, which eventually starts a series of events that will change the lives of five other people forever.
“Ayo-Ayo” directed by Reena Dunque, meanwhile, was classified by the festival as a “film school film.” The 12-minute short follows a boy who moves “from the province to Metro Manila for college and faces the challenges brought about by the domestic migration.”
Lastly, “Blood And Ink (Dugo At Tinta)” is the entry of director Jill Damatac. It is a 15-minute “intimate short documentary meditating on identity through the story of the Philippines’ last indigenous tattoo artist (Apo Wang-od), and the director [who]returned to her birth country after 22 years as an illegal immigrant in the United States.”