by Nickie Wang
If the opening of Cannes International Film Festival is about glitz and glamour not to mention interesting features, the 15th French Film Festival usually hosted by Shang Cineplex in Manila was modest.
No film luminaries or even well-known personalities unlike in the previous editions of the annual festival. Instead, the festival focused on bringing French culture to the Filipino people through the screening of some of the most popular and critically acclaimed French films in multiple venues.
The festival runs from June 3 to 13 at the Cinema 4 of Shang Cineplex of the Shangri-La Plaza in Mandaluyong City, and from June 18 to 20 at the Ayala Center in Cebu. A retrospective of films by Eric Rohmer, acclaimed French filmmaker who passed away early this year, will run at the Cultural Center of the Philippines from June 15 to 19. Finally, from June 22 to 24, a selection of films will be shown at the UP Film Institute for the film and mass communication students, followed by discussions with film professors.
On June 1, during the press preview, French film enthusiasts were treated to La Graine et leMulet. The movie tackles life at the port via main character Monsieur Beiji, a 60-year-old divorcé with a complicated family. Despite his problems, he dreams of putting up his own restaurant, which surprisingly becomes the one thing that will bind his family together.
Another family film is L’Heure d’été. It tells the moving story of two brothers and a sister, who all witness the disappearance of their childhood memories just as they need to relinquish their family possessions to ensure the succession of their late mother.
The French Film Festival offers the rare opportunity for movie audiences to experience French culture through a panorama of various genres of film set in different situations including the lighthearted comedy Les Bureaux de Dieu, a friendship tale called L’amour c’est mieux à Deux (by Dominique Farrugia, who is the festival’s guest of honor and is currently shooting a new film in the Philippines), dramatic film Dans la vie, a film about a personal journey called le premier venu, political story La fille du rer, and a tale of love and life entitled Welcome.
Tribute to Philippine cinema
The continued growth of viewers of French films in the Philippines encourages local distributors to look into the commercial release of French titles in the territory.
Meanwhile, Filipino films have been gaining international recognition all over the world particularly at international festivals, particularly in Cannes and in other film capitals in Europe. Brillante Mendoza won the Best Director Award for Kinatay at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009, and his later movie, Lola is now showing in theaters in Paris. The French are thus given a glimpse into Philippine society through the films.
As a tradition, the French Film Festival pays tribute to Philippine cinema on June 12, with the screening of Lola at the Shang Cineplex.
For inquiries and screening schedule, call 633-7851 or log on to http://www.shangrila-plaza.com.