Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino: An audience-oriented film festival

It’s a fact that a lot of local filmmakers have alternatives ideas and they can produce so much content, which beg to be seen by a wider audience. But commercial theaters, however, aren’t exactly the venue, which can help them exhibit their works.

Probably, this is the same exact challenge identified by the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) that’s why the lead agency for local films is very keen on staging another festival solely dedicated to Filipino made movies.

In honor of the Buwan ng Wika, FDCP is partnering with commercial theaters to exclusively screen Filipino films nationwide from Aug. 16 to 22. Dubbed as Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, the weeklong celebration will feature a dozen of Filipino films vying for the Audience Choice Award, which is the only recognition that will be given out before the conclusion of the event.

“The awards night will happen on Aug. 19, which coincides with the birthday of Manuel L. Quezon,” FDCP Chair and CEO Liza Diño told Manila Standard, “We will conduct an audience survey to select three films that will win the Audience Choice trophy.”

Diño explained that the new film festival is very different from any other existing festival for local films. First, the festival is going to be a nationwide event backed by the National Cinema Association of the Philippines and SM Lifestyle Entertainment generous support ensuring each entry’s commercial success.

“Our main goal is to give more platforms for films to screen exclusively. We know the competition between foreign films and locally produced ones. So, this festival aims to highlight Filipino films and give them the right amount of exposure they deserve,” Dino explained.

FDCP Chairman and CEO Liza Diño

Asked whether or not the film festival is the answer to a clamor to bring back the old format of Metro Manila Film Festival and create a separate festival for independent films, the FDCP chair replied:

“This materialized even before we had our execom for MMFF. At that time, I didn’t know the direction it’s going to. This was born out of FDCP’s proposal for a national film month.  And this very different from any other existing festivals because first of all it’s a nationwide event and we’re talking about more than 700 screens all over the country.”

FDCP wanted to create an equal footing for all participating movie outfits by selecting just one entry per production company. And apart from being an audience-oriented film fest, it will also cater to varied film genres.

Diño furthered that the selection committee has a very clear direction in terms of choosing the films that will be part of the weeklong event. She cited acclaimed directors Joey Reyes, Erik Matti, Manet Dayrit, and screenwriter Ricky Lee as part of the jury.

“We are looking for films with outstanding audience appeal, films with universal theme that will not just appeal to local audience but also to international audience as well. We are looking for genre films. We want to feature film of various themes. This is the answer to the imbalance of the kinds of films we see commercially. We are very heavy on romantic comedy, drama…and our producers do it because it’s very safe. This is the testing ground to encourage our producers to be more courageous in terms of the films that will produce,” Diño said.

The FDCP chairman furthered that the agency is pursuing its goal to help local films to start earning so that film workers would see sustainability in the industry.

“In a larger scope, we are thinking about this idea since film is a very important part of our cultural development. We hope that the economic aspect of this industry will also be taken into consideration for us to see move development,” the FDCP chairman noted.

The film fest is open to all Filipino filmmakers who may submit films on or before June 15. Ten to 12 films will be selected by a Selection Committee headed by the FDCP with genres ranging from family-oriented, to romantic comedy, horror, fantasy, and even historical films that emulate Filipino sensibilities and culture. Each film will be screened at a minimum of 60 theaters.

In addition to the screenings, Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino will include caravans, audience surveys and forums to maximize the participation of film stakeholders, especially for the audience.

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