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Baguio to hold own film fest in December


BAGUIO CITY—Bolstering its claim at being one of the most progressive cities north of the national capital, Baguio City will hold its first film festival in December.

The Baguio Film Festival (BFF) is being organized under the auspices of the Metro Manila Film Festival-Philippines (MMFF-Philippines), chaired by Bayani Fernando, chair of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, according to stage and film actor Chinggoy Alonzo, the BFF project director.

But although the BFF was organized under MMFF-Philippines, it will have its own star-studded awards night where film director and National Artist Eddie Romero will be given a lifetime achievement award and inducted into the BFF hall of fame.

Alonzo, native of Baguio and alumnus of the University of the Philippines in Baguio, said Romero was chosen because many of his films, such as the award-winning Igorota, were shot in Baguio.

Most of the films vying for the awards will be shown at the SM cinemas, but other cinema houses will also be tapped provided they will upgrade their facilities and meet the criterion of the MMFF.

Baguio residents can look forward to mall tours of celebrities, a parade of stars and a festival of old Filipino classics on December 5 to 22 at the Baguio Convention Center and the theaters of the various colleges and universities here. Short films of experimental filmmakers will also be shown.

“Only quality films will be shown and allowed in the theaters throughout the festival. The focus will be purely Filipino films,” Alonzo said allaying fears of local conservatives that lewd films might be included.

In fact, Alonzo said, no less than the Department of Justice is doing the selection screening for the eight film finalists. Three have already been chosen and all were made by respected director Joel Lamangan. Screening is still ongoing.

“Producers of the eight films vying for the awards will be obliged to send two major stars but will not be limited to them. In fact, many stars have been invited to come up to Baguio and a lot have indicated their interest because December is a beautiful season to be here,” Alonzo added.

Local executives, led by Mayor Braulio Yaranon, expressed hope that the BFF will boost the city’s flagging tourism industry and promote Baguio as a center of the film and show business industries.

The BFF was organized as part of MMFF-Philippines’s desire to reach out to others parts of the country, apart from Metro Manila.

“In fact, the inclusion of Baguio City in the MMFF inspired Chairman Fernando to include Philippines in the name of the MMFF,” Alonzo said, adding that MMFF-Philippines will also be going to other key cities in the Philippines, like Cebu, Davao and Zamboanga.

Vice Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. said that the proposal to slash the amusement tax from 35 percent down to 10 percent to 15 percent during the BFF is an incentive proposed by Councilors Perlita Rondez and Antonio Tabora.

But a portion of the proceeds of the film fest will be donated to local beneficiaries, like the Girl Scouts of the Philippines, City Anti-Drug Abuse Council, and the Alay sa Kalinisan. Baguio City will also be vying for the best float award at the MMFF parade of floats where P500,000 is up for grabs. Alonzo said Baguio is a strong contender.

By Laarni Ilagan

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