The 9th Cinemanila International Film Festival at Closing Time

When the Curtains Go Down…
The 9th Cinemanila International Film Festival at Closing Time

Filipino actor Eddie Garcia(2nd from left) with 2007 Cinemanila Lifetime Achievement Awardees Mr. Robert Malengreau of Belgium, US filmmakerQuentin Tarantino, and HSH Chatrichalerm Yukol of Thailand

In the short span of twelve days, Gateway Cineplex 10 played host to the 9th Cinemanila International Film Festival, recognized by local cineastes as the Festival of Festivals. Indeed, only Cinemanila can boast of no less than 50 films from almost just as many countries, movies as diverse in theme and flavour as their origins. Films from Bollywood, epic Thai war movies, works by Almodovar, Grindhouse pictures, the best of the local digital scene: Cinemanila gave its audience these and much more.

Tarantino Mania

Undoubtedly, a significant part of Cinemanila’s success is the participation of filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, internationally renowned for his a cool style that is all his own. He was present several times during the Festival run: to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award along with fellow honorees H.S.H. Chatrichalerm Yukol, revered Thai filmmaker, and Robert Malengreau, Director of the Brussels International Film Festival, in the Opening Night events on 8 August; to lend support to his favorite Filipino directors Cirio Santiago and Eddie Romero during the Grindhouse Day directing workshop on 10 August; to give a talk on his filmmaking experience in the Grindhouse Day seminar on 11 August; and to introduce his films, almost all of which made their Philippine debut in Cinemanila. In all instances, crowds flocked to see the iconic filmmaker, who was consistently casual, cool, and friendly to his fans. On 15 August, he received his award from Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during ceremonies at the Ceremonial Hall of Malacañang Palace.

Strong Titles

At the end of the day, however, the fate of festivals lies in the draw of its films. Several movies proved highly successful, drawing long lines and garnering praise from those who braved the rains pouring outside Gateway Mall. A Girl Who Leapt Through Time, a delightful Japanese anime about a time-hopping student, was a hit among animation fans; in its first screening, cosplayers from entertained the audience with a mini-fashion show. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Palm D’Or winner at the Cannes Film Festival, drew arthouse audiences in its limited release. Paris Je T’aime and 2 Days in Paris, both romantic French films, were also certified hits, as wasVolver, directed by respected auteur Pedro Almodóvar and starring Oscar-nominee Penélope Cruz.

Seminars and Workshops

Aside from the Grindhouse Days workshops with Romero, Santiago, and Tarantino, other seminars were attended by film students, cineastes, and curious moviegoers. On 9 August, Asian Film Archive Founder and Director Tan Bee Thiam discussed Film Archiving in Asia. He was accompanied by Clodualdo del Mundo, Ph.D., who talked about the need for such film preservation practices in the Philippines. Dr. del Mundo, who wrote the screenplays for such classics as Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag andItim, returned for a Master Class in Scriptwriting on 12 August, which he gave alongside fellow scriptwriter Ralston Jover (KubradorFoster Child).

Nap Jamir, cinematographer of festival hit Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros, gave a Master Class in Cinematography on 13 August. Scenema Concepts sponsored the workshop. Cirio Santiago joined international producer Anant Singh for a seminar on International Co-Production on 14 August. Independent directors Rico Ilarde, Raya Martin, Raymond Red, Roxlee, and John Torres were at Gateway Mall for a two-day Indie Filmmaking Seminar on 15 and 16 August.

Award Winners

At Malacañang Palace on 15 August, Cinemanila and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) officially awarded the winners of the Festival. Fatih Akin’sThe Edge of Heaven was given this year’s Lino Brocka Grand Prize for the best international film. The entire cast of Jim Libiran’s Tribu was given the awards for Best Actor and Best Actress, a first for the Festival. The Special Jury Prize went toPersepolis, directed by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Parronaud. The International Competition Jury was chaired by Wieland Speck, Director of the Panorama Programme of the Berlin International Film Festival. He was joined by Jesper Andersen of the Danish Film Institute and Lalu Roisamri, Program Manager of the Jakarta International Film Festival.

Chul Jung’s Waiting Time and Christopher Gozum’s The Calling won the awards for Best International Short and Best Short (Local), respectively. Neo-Lounge, directed by Joanna Arong, took home the Best Documentary Prize. All these awards were decided upon by a jury chaired by Filipino filmmaker and Ishmael Bernal Awardee Jobin Ballesteros, who was joined by Laura Gerber, Director of the Southeast Asian section of the Asian Hot Shots Berlin Festival, and Hanne Robenhagen, cultural sociologist and documentarist.

Making its debut this year was the ASEAN Competition in celebration of the ASEAN’s 40th anniversary. Lifetime Achievement Awardee Robert Malengreau chaired the jury, which also consisted of Tan Bee Thiam and Jeffrey Jeturian, director of the critically acclaimed Kubrador. Yasmin Ahmad’s Mukhsin was hailed as the Best ASEAN Film, while Renita, Renita by Tonny Trimaranto was declared Best ASEAN Short.

Solidifying its status as Numero Uno sa Digital, Cinemanila gave awards for its eighth Digital Lokal Competition. Olivier Pere, Artistic Director of the Directors’ Fortnight of the Cannes Film Festival, was chair of the jury. Other members were Ansgar Vogt of the Selection Committee of the International Forum of New Cinema in Berlin, and Jaclyn Jose, multi-awarded Filipino actress. Autohystoria by Raya Martin won the Lino Award, Grand Prize, while Voice: Tilted Screens and Extended Scenes of Loneliness: Filipinos in High Definition (A Work in Progress) by John Torres garnered the Lino Grand Jury Prize. Christopher Gozum’s The Calling was chosen as Best Short Film. Cinemanila’s eighth Ishmael Bernal Awardee for Young Cinema is Ernest Michael Manalastas for his film Delusions. He joins an illustrious list of filmmakers: Peter Chua (2000), Mes de Guzman (2001), Romeo Candido (2002), Mariami Tanangco (2003), Raya Martin (2004), John Torres (2005), and Jobin Ballesteros (2006).

The 4th Boracay International Co-Production Meeting

In its fourth year, the Boracay International Co-Production Meeting saw projects from all over Southeast Asia vying for financial support from the Hubert Bals Fund, represented by Gertjan Zuilhof. Babi Buta Yang Ingin Terbang (Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly), directed by up-and-coming Indonesian filmmaker Edwin (whose Kara, Anak Sebatang Pohon was the first Indonesian short to screen at Cannes) and produced by Meiska Taurisia, eventually won over seven other entries in the short-list for funding. These are: Chris Chong Chan Fui’s Karaoke from Malaysia; Paolo Herras’s Ang Manghuhula (The Fortune-teller) from the Philippines; Tey Clamor’s Paslit Puslit (Young Thief) from the Philippines; Azharr Rudiin’s Pungguk Rindukan Bulan (This Longing) from Malaysia; Sally Jo Marie Bellosillo’s Regina from the Philippines; Roxlee’s Whistlerfrom the Philippines; and Khoo Eng Yow’s World Without Shadows from Malaysia.

A special party at the Sandbar, organized by Festival Co-Director Anima Aguiluz, was held for the participants and guests. Fire dancers and drummers entertained a rapt audience, which was also treated to an outdoor screening of the Joey Gosengfiao classicTemptation Island. The event was closed by the presentation of the 5-minute contribution to the SEAWAVE Project by Boracay Co-Prod winner Edwin.

Asian Spirit provided the transportation for the participants of the 4th Boracay International Co-Production Meeting. Cinemanila also gives special thanks to Casa Pilar, the venue for the Meeting and home to the participants, and René Barbier for wines.

On to the 10th Cinemanila…

Next year, the Cinemanila International Film Festival will be celebrating a decade of bringing the best of international cinema to the Philippines. It will be difficult to top a year that saw Tarantino, Thai royalty, Cannes and Berlin luminaries, stalwarts in Filipino filmmaking, and international festival favorites grace the Festival. What will next year bring? Cinemanila has always risen to whatever challenges it has faced over the years. The 10th will be no different.

The 9th Cinemanila International Film Festival was co-presented by the Independent Cinema Association of the Philippines (ICAP), the NCCA, the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), Gateway Cineplex 10, CinemaOne, the Office of the President, the Department of Education, and the Department of Tourism. Other sponsors were Edsa Shangri-La Manila, Ignite Media, Manila Bulletin, Philippine Airlines, Scenema Concepts, and Web Philippines Inc. (Gold Sponsors); (Festival Sponsor); Asian Spirit and Boysen (Event Sponsors); 105.1 FM Crossover (Festival Patron).

Lifetime Achievement Award: Quentin Tarantino

Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino delivers a speech after receiving his Lifetime Achievement Award during last night’s 9th Cinemanila Film festival opening at the Gateway Cinema in Quezon city. INQUIRER PHOTO/ JIM GUIAO PUNZALAN