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Pinoy film makes it to Karlovy

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Filipino filmmaker Dwein Baltazar’s Oda sa Wala joins the diverse selection of outstanding films in competition at the 54th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF), making it the only competing Filipino film in the prestigious event for 2019.

Established in 1946, the KVIFF is the largest film festival in the Czech Republic, the leading one across Central and Eastern Europe, and one of the oldest in the world. The KVIFF shares the same category as Cannes, Berlin, Venice, San Sebastian, Moscow, Montreal, Shanghai and Tokyo as one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals.

The Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), the country’s film agency, champions diversity and gender inclusivity in the film industry. “Having Oda sa Wala compete in one of the top-tier film festivals in the world is an important achievement in Philippine cinema. Aside from being the only competing Filipino film in Karlovy Vary this year, this also makes Dwein Baltazar the first Filipino female director who will be competing in an A-list film festival in Europe. As a Filipino and as a woman, her representation in the film industry is something we should celebrate,” FDCP chairperson and CEO Mary Liza Diño said.

On a Facebook post, producer Bianca Balbuena shared the good news and reminisced about talking to KVIFF’s festival director Karel Och about Oda sa Wala. “Karel messaged me, ‘We are intrigued by the film and can imagine it on the list of candidates for the Main Competition to be discussed in April. But it is simply too early for us to make the decision now.’ So I closed my eyes and jumped the cliff. I said no to the other fests and decided to wait. I knew the blame will be on me if KVIFF ends up not choosing it and we missed our big chances. But I took the risk because I know that Dwein gave her heart and soul to this film and it is quite special and she deserves nothing less,” she said.

Dwein Baltazar makes a repeat appearance in the KVIFF this year. In 2012, her debut feature film Mamay Umeng made its run in various major international film festivals, including the KVIFF.

Oda sa Wala is set to have its North American premiere and will be competing under the Camera Lucida section of the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal, Quebec happening from 11 July to 1 August.

The 54th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival runs from 28 June to 6 July in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.

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