After being conferred by the French government it’s highest honor, Legion d’honneur, Film Development Council of the Philippines Chairman Briccio Santos was already excited in talking about their latest and ambitious projects.
French Ambassador Gilles Garachon conferred the Legion of Honor to Santos last October 24, 2013 at the French Residence in Makati. This year, Garachon will also confer the Order of Arts & Letters Rank of Chevalier for filmmaker Brillante Mendoza. He is the only Filipino to win Best Director at Cannes for KINATAY (2009). His latest film SAPI starring Dennis Trillo, Meryl Soriano and Baron Geisler will be shown in theaters on November 6, 2013.
Filipinos who have previously been given the Legion of Honor include President Corazon Aquino, General Carlos P. Romulo, Teodoro Benigno, Jose De Venecia, Max Soliven and Aurelio “Gigi” Montinola III.
Last year’s recipient of the Legion of Honor in the Philippines is Jewelmer Managing Director Jacques Branellec. He has established the Save Palawan Seas Foundation, which aims to protect the marine life, environment and the communities in Palawan. Whenever he goes out of the country he promotes not just the products of Jewelmer but the Philippines as a whole in terms of tourism and investments.
Santos has been acknowledged for establishing the Film Cultural Exchange Program, which assists countries in exhibiting their films in venues such as the Shang Cineplex of Shangri La Plaza Mall. Foreign films in festivals such as Cine Europa, Eiga Sai, Silent Film Festival, Spring Film Festival, Asian film fest, Taiwan film fest retain the censorship ratings from their native countries. All aforementioned fests can be seen in Shang Plaza. As part of the FCEP they no longer have to go through the MTRCB screening process.
Now the international cooperation in film has grown beyond the FCEP. Santos explains, “We’re now the convener for film in ASEAN. We hope that some day it will be in the ASEAN secretariat under film. Last September they were here for the summit. We’re meeting again now in Thailand. The big event again will be on June for IFX. This will be a yearly event.”
The cooperation begins with aspects of production and goes further, “For Film ASEAN we are planning to send filmmakers to help them in Myanmar. We are planning to help each other and have a borderless filmmaking. We’re talking about distribution and tariffs, issues that need to be talked about. Our counterparts will all try to institute policies that we will all undertake. The best practices will be in the FILM ASEAN. If a Japanese production will come or someone from Europe all they have to do is go to FILM ASEAN to talk to all.”
Many governments in countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand have created a more affordable environment for film productions. This program will help all members, “We have different laws, regulations and tariffs. One day it can be a universal tax incentive in ASEAN. It will be a multilateral approach for any of the countries coming in. We should clean up our house before we start accepting the guest. Para di sila magugulohan. Southeast Asia is 700 million people. With China, Japan and Korea, that’s 3 billion people, that’s the largest market in the world.”
Santos is upbeat for the future, “The market is here. Before they descend on us, we have to clean up our act in everything. So this is our effort, really the Philippines is taking the lead in common policy. It is our dream to have this united front.”
Written and photographed by Jude Bautista