Now comes the hard part.
Three Filipino films have made it to Cannes this year: Lav Diaz’s “Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan” and Adolfo Alix Jr.’s “Death March” for the Un Certain Regard section; and Erik Matti’s “On the Job” for the Directors’ Fortnight.
The social networking site Facebook and the indie film scene at large are rife with rumblings about the difficulties encountered by these filmmakers who are raising funds so they could attend the festival in southern France from May 15 to 27.
As the clock ticks closer to crunch time, members of the indie community have taken to Facebook to express their sentiments.
Film editor Chuck Gutierrez wrote: “Praying that the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) would support the three Filipino films … It’s FDCP’s time to shine and
perform its duty as the government arm [mandated to help] Filipino filmmakers.”
On Wednesday, Matti commented on Facebook that his film didn’t qualify for the festival grants usually given by the FDCP. “Salamat na lang sa suporta ng bansa. (I’m just thankful for the support of the country.)”
Two days later, Matti learned that his film would receive P200,000 from the FDCP, the same amount that Diaz’s and Alix’s films were being given.
Before he was informed of this, Matti told the Inquirer, “The grant (for Diaz and Alix) is not enough. I really hope the government can help us become a real delegation in Cannes
—in the same way that South Korea sends a delegation that stands out every year.”
In the absence of substantial legislated budgets, filmmakers have decided to help one another, said Matti. “We support each other—kanya-kanyang sikap (we work hard on our own).”
It could be pointed out that Matti’s film might not really need government subsidy since it is coproduced by Star Cinema, a major industry player.
“Regardless of whether we are indie or mainstream,” argued Matti, “we are not representing a company; we are carrying the country’s flag in Cannes.”
He hopes to bring actors Piolo Pascual, Gerald Anderson, Joel Torre and Angel Aquino to the premier festival.
Diaz said Cannes fest would provide “for the directors’ three-night hotel accommodation, but no airfare.”
Raymond Lee, producer of Diaz’s film “Norte,” told the Inquirer that he had no time to fret. “We are brainstorming and planning how to raise the funds we need to get our film and our team to Cannes.”
Lee said the “Norte” contingent consists of at least eight people, including lead actors Sid Lucero, Angeli Bayani and Archie Alemania.
Alix also told the Inquirer that the filmmakers’ situation is “sad, but true.” He explained: “This is one of the few times that there is a very strong Filipino presence in Cannes. That’s why we were disheartened when we heard the news that subsidy for the films was going to be small. The FDCP cited several factors for the cut: the ongoing establishment of the film archive and the council’s Sineng Pambansa, which handed out its own grants. But they said they would try to raise more [funds] for us.”
Its web site says the FDCP’s vision is for Philippine cinema to become a “flourishing, professional and united film industry that produces and promotes high-quality films which
encourage social and cultural transformation and are viewed by a wider audience, both locally and internationally.”
As part of its mandate, the FDCP has been giving grants to Filipino filmmakers invited to international film festivals, particularly the top three— Cannes, Venice and Berlin.
“Giving grants is subject to availability of funds,” FDCP chair Briccio Santos told the Inquirer. He said the FDCP needed to streamline grant-giving “to rationalize distribution of limited resources.”
Santos acknowledged that it’s a “good year” for Philippine cinema in Cannes. “We are premiering four feature films, including the digitally restored version of Lino Brocka’s ‘Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag’ in the Cannes Classics section.”
Alix agreed: “With four of our films in the festival, isn’t this a great opportunity to promote Philippine cinema?”