Philippine cinema was represented at several levels in the Cannes Film Festival this year. Two Filipino films were selected: Nakaw by Noel Escondo and Arvin Belarmino in the Short Corner and Jodilerks: Employee of the Month by Carlo Manatad in the Semaine de la Critique. After Jaclyn Jose was named Best Actress for her role in Ma’ Rosa by Cannes favorite Brillante Mendoza in 2016, the invitation of new Filipino filmmakers to the festival confirms the promise of great talent among the young generation of directors, beyond the festival regulars. Their exposure to filmmakers from other parts of the world further widens their horizons to develop networks with other film professionals, from directors to producers, and eventually, gain access to international funds or grants.
In fact, this is Carlo Manatad’s second visit to Cannes. Last year, he was among the 10 privileged participants to the La Fabrique des Cinémas du Monde hosted by the Institut Français at the International Village during the Cannes Film Festival. During this mentoring workshop, up-and-coming filmmakers from developing countries are guided and inspired by a renowned director. In 2016, it was Chinese director Jia Zhang-Ke. In 2017, Institut Francais invited Brillante Mendoza to be the “parrain,” or mentor, of La Fabrique. This year, a Filipino director has become the Godfather of World Cinema.
To mark the 70th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between France and the Philippines, in synch with the 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, the Institut Français chose Brillante Mendoza for his achievements. Following the successive selection of his films in the different sections of the Cannes Film Festival and the commercial release in France of his French-co-produced titles, Brillante has gained recognition among the film community in France. He has also received the award for Best Director at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival for his film, Kinatay. Following this, no less than Isabelle Huppert came to the Philippines to star in his film, Captive.
Meanwhile, Film Development Council of the Philippines Chairperson Liza Diño led a delegation of Filipino film professionals to Cannes to promote Philippine cinema in the international film market, and to support the two Filipino films. Her presence in Cannes allowed for meetings with France’s National Center for Cinema to further develop the cooperation between the two agencies. Official visits to the French archives and film offices in Paris also provided new avenues for cooperation that will assist the FDCP in developing its policies and programs to further uplift the Philippine film industry. Finally, a series of meetings with Unifrance promises to facilitate commercial screenings of French films in the Philippines within the Cine Lokal program of the FDCP. More French movies for the Filipino audience.
In the meantime, let us make the most of the French Film Festival. See you at the screenings!