A wave of protests swept the Net when it was revealed that the Filipino film “One More Try,” which won best picture at the Metro Manila Film Festival last December, bore a striking resemblance to the Chinese Berlin fest winner, “In Love We Trust.”
“In Love We Trust” was shown in Manila three years ago during the annual Spring Film Festival, whose organizers this year seem unruffled by the comparison.
Sidney Christopher Bata, director of Ateneo de Manila University’s Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies, told Inquirer that he’d rather focus on the positive.
The Spring Fest, now on its seventh year, runs at the Shangri-La Plaza mall from today till Feb. 10. The event is undertaken by the Leong Center, the Confucius Institute and Credit Suisse.
Bata sees the near-controversy as a good sign. “We’re happy that Chinese cinema is able to inspire local filmmakers,” he said, expressing hope that the discussions would increase Filipinos’ interest in Chinese films and future editions of the festival. He jested, “Instead of just ‘One More Try,’ [let there be] ‘More and More Tries.’”
The festival’s goal is to promote Chinese language, culture and cinema in mainstream Philippine society. Bata announced that the Ricardo Leong center was in the proces of adapting a Chinese literary work as a Filipino-language play to be staged in the third quarter of this year.
For this year’s edition of Spring Fest, organizers have teamed up with the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), through its Film Cultural Exchange Program.
The council helped the organizers secure necessary permits to screen their entire lineup of six films without having to pass through the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).
The films—three of which are award-winning—met the criteria set in the exemption memorandum between the FDCP and MTRCB.
“Piano in a Factory” won in festivals in Tokyo (2011, best actor for Wang Qian-Yuan), Sydney (2011, special jury prize) and Shaoxing, China (Golden Flower Movie Festival, best original film music).
“Storm Warriors” won for best visual effects in the Hong Kong Film Awards.
“Jasmine Women” won the grand jury prize in the Shanghai fest and best actress in China’s Golden Rooster Awards (for Zhang Ziyi).
The three other films on the list are “Space Dream,” “Golden Times” and “2 Become 1.” Bata pointed out that all the movies tell universal stories.
“Space Dream” is about a man whose persistence earns him his family’s love and respect. “Golden Times” focuses on the children of migrant workers. “2 Become 1” espouses the cause of breast-cancer awareness.
“The FDCP will also screen all six films in its Cinematheques all over the country,” said Bata.
Last year, the Spring Fest attracted 12,000 viewers. “This year,” Bata said, “we are targeting 20,000. With FDCP and our school partners in Cebu, Davao, Iloilo and Cagayan de Oro, we hope to achieve that. But our biggest dream is to have an annual Filipino film festival in China, too.”