All systems go for PH contingent in Berlin | Inquirer Entertainment

All systems go for PH contingent in Berlin

/ 02:59 AM February 11, 2016

ALESSANDRA de Rossi (left) and Cherie Gil are Berlin-bound.

ALESSANDRA de Rossi (left) and Cherie Gil are Berlin-bound.

First, the good news: Three government offices will chip in to help the Philippine contingent that’s bound for the 66th Berlin International Film Festival, which begins today and ends Feb. 21 in Germany.

Bianca Balbuena, producer of Lav Diaz’s “Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis,” told the Inquirer that the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Quezon City local government, through Mayor Herbert Bautista, are pitching in to help defray some of the expenses.


“The FDCP and Mayor Herbert are shouldering some of the delegation’s airfare and accommodation, along with postproduction expenses,” Balbuena clarified. “The NCCA will cover Lav’s roundtrip airfare.”


Balbuena explained that the top three A-list film festivals (Berlin, Venice and Cannes) don’t provide airfare for invited filmmakers. “The FDCP will sponsor a dinner in honor of the country’s delegation in Berlin, too,” she related.

“Hele” is the only Filipino film competing at this year’s Berlinale, as the German fest is known. It is only the third Filipino film to compete at the Berlinale—after Ishmael Bernal’s “Himala’ in 1982 and Brillante Ma. Mendoza’s “Captive” in 2012. Although some records count Manuel Silos’ “Biyaya ng Lupa” as the Philippine entry at the Berlinale in 1960, Balbuena said it “was only featured in a special screening that year.”

PIOLO Pascual (left) and John Lloyd Cruz in “Hele”

PIOLO Pascual (left) and John Lloyd Cruz in “Hele”

Among the “Hele” cast members who will travel to Berlin are John Lloyd Cruz, Piolo Pascual, Cherie Gil, Angel Aquino, Alessandra de Rossi, Susan Africa, Hazel Orencio, Joel Saracho and Bernardo Bernardo. Also part of the delegation are executive producer Paul Soriano and line producer Erwin Blanco.

Diaz, Balbuena, Soriano and Orencio will leave today; Cruz on Feb. 14; most of the actors on Feb. 15; and Gil and Aquino on Feb. 17. The eight-hour Filipino film will premiere on Feb. 18 in the German fest.

It’s a bittersweet journey for Bernardo, who will finally make it to Berlin after 36 years. He told the Inquirer that he was supposed to join the Berlinale in 1980, for Ishmael Bernal’s “Manila By Night,” which was censored by the martial law regime and retitled “City After dark.”

“Our trip didn’t push through,” Bernardo recalled. “For some reason, our film didn’t make it to the lineup. Perhaps the powers that be then were not pleased with the film’s portrait of the country’s capital.”


Fund-raising efforts for the “Hele” team, however, will continue even after Berlin. “We are also raising money so that we can bring some of the actors to our Asian and North American premieres,” Balbuena said.

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TAGS: 66th Berlin International Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, cinema, Competition, Entertainment, Film, Hele

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