VP Leni: Policy change needed to get more gov’t support for local film industry
A change in policy” is what is needed in order for the local film industry to get more support from the government, according to Vice President Leni Robredo.
“We should work on changing the mindset of people in Congress in terms of how they look at the entertainment industry,” Robredo stressed. “Right now, people think it’s an expense and not an investment, compared to what we spend on education and health.”
“[To be fair,] there are several members of both Congress and Senate who have been advocating for the film industry. I think this just needs a good push,” Robredo observed.
“Why can’t we do what these countries (Korea, India and China) are doing considering that we have so much talent here? We can’t just hope and wait for this to happen. There should be a concerted effort to push for this,” she declared.
She added: “People have yet to see the potential here. We have a wealth of talent in this industry and the office of the Vice President has realized this because of the 2019 Istorya ng Pag-asa Film Festival (INPFF).”
The said festival, which is scheduled in June, is a nationwide competition that aims to give a platform for short films showcasing true and inspiring stories of hope. It is a project of the office of the Vice President, in partnership with Ayala Foundation Inc. and the Film Development Council of the Philippines.
Robredo said her office has yet to come up with an incentive scheme for the INPFF-winning filmmakers.
Last year’s best short film was Florence Rosini’s “Ang Biyahe ni Marlon,” which is about an Uber driver afflicted with Tourette syndrome. Runnerup “Tago,” by Meg Seranilla, is about a group of artists determined to save a rundown jazz bar in Cubao.
“Our office honestly doesn’t have the budget for it just yet,” she said of the incentives to filmmakers. “What we have done was extend help to some of the films’ subjects—I think this was more urgent. We have recently found a group interested in renovating the jazz bar and have already scheduled a visit to the place. Also, the story of a young boy featured in another short film (‘Alkansya’) is very touching. One partner helped us treat him to a day at a theme park.”
Robredo said finding people to help others has never been a problem for her team. “We’ve realized that there are so many people who are willing, but just don’t know how. You just have to provide coordination,” she said. “[Giving incentives to the filmmakers] is something that we still need to explore.”
Last year, there were 73 INPFF entries, which were then shortlisted to 15. The top 10 films will be announced on April 30. They will be screened during the INPFF Gala Night and Awards Ceremony on June 8.
“This was initially a one-time thing. But the judges, who are all seasoned filmmakers, told us of the potential of this project. That’s when we decided to make it a regular thing,” Robredo said, adding that they have brought the films to as far as London, Germany, Canada, the United States and, most recently, Hong Kong.
“The response in Hong Kong was very encouraging, Nag-iiyakan lahat,” she recalled.
While film subjects could also be celebrities or politicians, Robredo said she preferred to watch films about ordinary Filipinos. “We want something that people around the country can relate to. It’s meant to give hope, and encourage Filipinos to continue fighting.”
The VP pointed out that, initially, the event was merely to celebrate the first anniversary of its traveling photo gallery last year, but because of the number and quality of the film entries submitted to them, “we’ve decided to make the second edition bigger and better.”
For this year’s edition, the INPFF will be giving more awards and cash prizes. The Top 3 short films will be screened for a longer period in Ayala Cinemas nationwide, Robredo reported.
The best film will bring home a cash prize of P800,000; first runner up, P50,000; and second runner up, P30,000. Five special awards, with corresponding cash prizes, will also be handed out.
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