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At the cusp of art-house and mainstream

Kathleen A. Llemit

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Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) chair Liza Diño-Seguerra describes the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino as something “in between.”

The second edition of the film festival is set to happen again during the Buwan ng Wika or National Language Month in August. For a week, the eight films will be shown in cinemas nationwide from August 15 to 21.

PPP comes at the heels of the annual Cinemalaya, now on its 14th year, happening from August 3 to 12. It precedes another much anticipated, yet controversial, film festival, the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), which opens on Christmas Day.

“If Cinemalaya is a platform for strong voices, MMFF, is probably… because of the nature of the audience every December when families go together to watch the movies, [it is a film festival with] very local films that would appeal to a wider audience. I hope the PPP will be the cusp. It’s the in-between. It’s genre, but it’s elevated genre. It’s art-house, but art-house with commercial viability. It is locally relevant but has universal appeal,” explained Diño-Seguerra to the Daily Tribune one afternoon during the break of the workshop her office is conducting together with the Department of Science and Technology (DoST).

FDCP has been actively pursuing partnerships with different sectors with similar agenda in film appreciation and education. The government agency recently forged a partnership with the DoST for the Indie-Siyensiya Film Festival.

Besides forging partnerships, the agency has been creating developmental programs that it hopes would be sustained in the long run. The PPP is among these developmental programs that FDCP has been holding since Diño-Seguerra took post in 2016.

As the PPP celebrates another year, it marks new changes, notably the selection of this year’s official entries.

The first edition saw films that were fielded in other local film festivals like Sinag Maynila, QCinema and CinemaOne Originals. This year’s batch are new releases, meaning films that have not been shown in any format and in any part of the country.

These are Ang Babaeng Allergic sa Wi-Fi, Bakwit Boys, Madilim ang Gabi, Pinay Beauty, Signal Rock, The Day After Valentine’s, Unli Life and We Will Not Die Tonight.

The entries are varied, but in essence, fall under the broad categories of romance, drama and action. The actors headlining the said films are a combination of marquee regulars and up-and-coming names in film; the directors are no different.

Renowned TV and movie director Chito Roño alongside relatively familiar names, playwright, TV and movie producers and directors Jun Robles Lana and Richard V. Somes, are in the same league as indie favorites Jason Paul Laxamana, Miko Livelo, Jay Abello and Adolfo Alix Jr.

Producers are a mix of big studios (i.e. Regal Entertainment and Viva Films) and small and independent production companies (i.e. The IdeaFirst Company, T-Rex Entertainment, Deus Lux Mea Films, Quantum Films, Epic Media, Cape Signal Rock Films and Strawdogs Studio Production).

These entries were curated by the Selection Committee composed of members of the film industry, namely, TV and movie director Jose Javier Reyes, directors Carlos Siguion-Reyna and Sheron Dayoc, editor Manet Dayrit, cinematographer Lee Briones and actress Cherie Gil.

“At the end of the day, after watching it, there’s a different feeling that we feel after watching it. It creates discourse; it challenges, disturbs us. So that’s what’s PPP is all about. It is being able to showcase diverse kinds of film,” mused the chair.

She continued: “I think, we have to appreciate the fact that the Philippines is lucky to have all these kinds of platform because others rarely have these kinds of opportunities to showcase local films in a particular week without that much competition.”

Awards to be given out are more audience-driven than technical and acting awards. Entries will be judged as either Audience Choice Award, Critics’ Choice Award and Special Jury Prize.

Short films through the Sine Kabataan Short Film Competition will be featured and paired with the full feature entries. These are “Alas Nuebe ng Tanghali,” “Anonymous Student Vlog,” “Bahayan-bahayan,” “Bato Bato Pik,” “Isang Tula para sa Nawawala,” “Koleksyong Pamalo,” “Masaya Ako” and “Runner.”

PPP-related events include the kickoff on August 3, Pista at the Park Grand Fans Day and All-Star Caravan at the Quezon City Circle on August 11, Opening Night on August 14 and Thanksgiving Night on August 19. Promo tours are also being held every weekend of July and first week of August in selected malls and schools.