DIRECTORS OF WPFF ENTRIES HAVE MANY THINGS IN COMMON WITH FILIPINO INDIE FILMMAKERS
By Pablo A. Tariman
A Spanish musician coping with excruciating body pain.
A Turkish soldier finds love in time of the Crimean war.
Four sets of Taiwanese couples with varied backgrounds define love on their own terms.
A victim of human trafficking during the time of Spanish dictatorship confronts her past and makes the present dispensation pay for it.
An Indonesian coffee shop unravels story of two café habitués confronting their past over a cup of coffee.
These are just some of the interesting subjects of film in the main competition section of the World Premieres Film Festival (WPFF) Philippines with regular screenings in selected SM cinemas from June 29 to July 7.
The complete lineup of competing films include Spanish director Anna Bofarull’s Sonata for Cello, Indonesian director Angga Sasongko’s Filosofi Kofi, Russian director Alexandr Melnik’s The Territory, Dutch Director Remy van Heugten’s Son of Mine, Taiwanese director Li-Da Hsu’s The End of Love, Turkish director Burak Cem Arliel’s Crimean and Spanish director Ana Murugarren’s Three Lies.
Asked about the state of filmmaking in their respective countries, the visiting filmmakers replied every film endeavor on their part is constant struggle to get funding, to apply for film grants and to attract new audiences and sponsors.
Which is practically the status of Filipino indie filmmakers.
The other common response is that independent films find it difficult to compete with Hollywood films which have a wider share of audiences everywhere in the world.
Director Bofarull (Sonata for Cello) told the Star the story of a musician coping with chronic medical disorder called fibromyalgia has parallels with the plight of independent filmmakers. “Doing Sonata for Cello was difficult enough. I had to consult with real musicians and I had to arrange quick cello lessons for the lead star to make the part believable. My film is not just about Spanish musicians but all about a human being in general. It just happened that film is set in Spain. I chose to explore the human condition in the eyes of a musician. It is basically about how pain can change life and how it can change our outlook. But after all the hard work, you find yourself in need of more funds with nothing left to promote the finished product. Of course you also figure out your new audience because moviegoers in Spain are not exactly fanatic lovers of classical music. But our goal to share new stories on film keeps us going.”
Actress Jayang Noer who appears in Filosofi Kopi reports that that the film industry in Indonesia is quite active with over a hundred Indonesian films released every year.
Taiwanese director Li-|Da Hsu (The End of Love) avers the film output in Taiwan can hardly be described as an industry but good filmmakers continue to emerge.
On the whole, the visiting directors admit they can’t possibly win over Hollywood films in terms of wider audiences.
Turkish director Burak Cem Arliel (Crimean) says Turkey has a flourishing film industry with comedy and drama as the most patronized genes.
Spanish director Ana Murugarren said she is unfazed by the presence of Hollywood films getting wider audiences than independent films. “My film (Three Lies) is about strong women and it is my tribute to women with rare courage to confront present day issues. In the same manner, I have to be determined and strong as a filmmaker to promote films that teach deeper things than Hollywood products.”
WPFF director Teodoro Granados (he is also executive director of the Film Development Council of the Philippines) said the main mission of the festival is to serve a growing number of film narratives in search of new avenues of exhibition by launching their international premieres. “At the same time, the WPFF will provide a unique opportunity for talented filmmakers from all over the world to converge and share their stories in Manila which has one of the oldest film cultures in Asia,” he added.
(The gala premieres of the film in competition will have free admission on first come first served basis starting June 25 to 27 at SM Mall of Asia Cinema 6. Regular cinema tickets are available at the SM box office during the regular screening starting June 29 to July 7.)