Five PH films in Rotterdam
Five Filipino movies have been invited to the 47th International Film Festival Rotterdam in the Netherlands, from Jan. 24 to Feb. 4.
To be screened in the fest’s various sections are Mikhail Red’s “Neomanila,” Alberto Monteras II’s “Respeto,” Shireen Seño’s “Nervous Translation,” Christopher Gozum’s “Dapol Tan Payawar na Tayug 1931” (The Ashes and Ghosts of Tayug 1931), and Gerald Calagui’s “Mga Gabing Kasinghaba ng Hair Ko” (Those Long-Haired Nights).
These movies were products of the country’s different indie film festivals: Cinema One Originals, Cinemalaya and QCinema.
Monteras told the Inquirer that to be included in Rotterdam’s Bright Future section (for up-and-coming directors) is “such an honor.” “They chose only seven filmmakers from all over the world to be part of this competition, and I am blessed to be one of them.” Monteras said that he is also “excited” to attend Rotterdam, which is his Cinemalaya-winning film’s “international premiere.” “I hope we get our message across.”
Red’s “Neomanila” is included in the new section called Rotterdammerung, “which focuses on genre films that have a distinct voice.” “It’s something unique for a festival that usually showcases art-house cinema,” Red explained. “I’m ecstatic … to be part of this section, which also features modern genre films like ‘The Villainess’ and ‘Satan’s Slaves.’”
Meanwhile, Seno’s sophomore outing, “Nervous Translation,” is one of eight films vying for top honors in the Hivos Tiger tilt.
She recounted that Rotterdam had supported her second film from the start, “through a Script and Project Development grant from its Hubert Bals Fund and through its project market, CineMart.” She related: “It took me four years to finish it, but now, after a long and winding journey, I feel I am coming home.”
Rotterdam’s website describes Seno’s Cinema One entry as “a sparkling and at times surreal film [that] quietly shows the political instability of the Philippines in 1987, as seen through the dreamy eyes of an 8-year-old girl.”
Considered the fest’s “most prestigious tilt,” the Hivos Tiger competition “celebrates the innovative spirit of young filmmakers.”
Rotterdam’s Voices program is the ninth international event for Calagui’s film, producer Bianca Balbuena volunteered. The fest’s site hails it as an “unflinching yet open-hearted portrait of prostitution.”
“I feel that I am placed in a position where I could help shape and influence people’s perspective on sex workers and transgender women,” Calagui said. “I feel that as a filmmaker moves on to bigger festivals, he needs to be very responsible with every film he presents to the audience.” Calagui’s film premiered in Busan and made its local debut in QCinema last year.
Also making its international premiere in Rotterdam is Gozum’s QCinema period film. Gozum said that his “Pangasinense creative documentary film” is included in Rotterdam’s “A History of Shadows” program.
Gozum remarked: “I feel fortunate that my new Pangasinense film will be screened in a major festival. It is just a small movie about a forgotten local hero named Pedro Calosa, who staged a two-day agrarian uprising.”
According to its website, Rotterdam seeks to “encourage … both emerging and established filmmakers [because it] believes in the power of cinema to increase [people’s] understanding of society.”
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