PH showcase, Oscar-bound films in ‘must-watch’ lineup of QCinema 2022
Four of the most celebrated films this year, all featuring Filipino actors as main cast members, will be screened at the 10th edition of the QCinema International Film Festival, which will run starting Nov. 17.
“Finally, my 90-year-old mom will be able to see it,” said actor Soliman Cruz, whose edgy thriller, “To the North,” will be screened as the festival’s closing film on Nov. 26.
“Before we shot the movie, the production team asked for photos from when I was a young boy. Shown in one of the sequences was the picture of my parents taken when they got married. That actually lasted for several seconds. It’s one of the things I’m really happy about,” Cruz told Inquirer Entertainment in an interview over the weekend.
Cruz added that he is considering bringing his mom to the screening, which will fall exactly on her 90th birthday.
The film, by Romanian director Mihai Mincan, competed in the Orizzonti (Horizons) section of the 79th Venice Film Festival in Italy. It was presented the Premio Bisanto D’Oro for best film by a group of Venice-based independent critics.
Meanwhile, Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund’s “Triangle of Sadness,” the black satire that won the highly coveted Palme d’Or of the 2022 Cannes Film Festival in France, will be QCinema’s opening film on Nov. 17, 6 p.m., at Gateway Cineplex in Araneta City.
“I’ve waited for four long years to share this huge moment with Pinoy moviegoers since this film is for them and nothing excites me more than to see our ‘kababayans’ inspired by seeing someone who looks like them on the big screen. I hope they see a reflection of themselves and leave the cinema with a strong sense of empowerment,” said Dolly de Leon, who is a strong contender for a best supporting actress nomination at the 75th Academy Awards.
Two more films, featuring Filipino actresses portraying strong female characters, will be screened within the duration of the QCinema fest: Irish helmer Lorcan Finnegan’s “Nocebo” will be part of the Midnight Series section, while Japanese director Chie Hayakawa’s “Plan 75” will be screened in the Asian Next Wave section.
“Nocebo” is the first Irish-Filipino coproduction. Exhibited recently at the Sitges Film Festival in Spain, the psychological thriller features our very own Chai Fonacier acting alongside Hollywood actors Eva Green and Mark Strong.
Asked how she feels about the fact that the movie will finally be seen by Filipino viewers, Chai said: “Mostly anxious, and interested about how they will receive it. When it was screened [in] Sitges several weeks ago, I felt like it was received well by the audience there, but I wonder how different the reception will be, considering that when we (Filipinos) watch the film, we’re more familiar with several other elements from our culture as opposed to Western audiences. I am interested to hear what conversations may come up among Filipinos after viewing it.”
Meanwhile, Japan-based actress Stefanie Arianne, said she is “extremely happy and grateful” that “Plan 75” is finally showing in the Philippines. It received the Golden Special Mention at this year’s Cannes film fest and is Japan’s representative in the best international feature film category of the 75th Oscars.
“A lot of our kababayans can empathize and connect with (my character) Maria since her story is about an OFW (overseas Filipino worker) who wants to support her daughter’s medical bills. Also, since Japan and the Philippines have differences in culture, I’m very curious about what the Filipino audiences’ feedback will be after seeing the film,” the actress said.
As with QCinema’s previous years, the festival’s 10th edition, titled “In10City,” focuses on emerging filmmakers from Southeast Asia and East Asia with less than three features. Seven new titles will be competing for the Pylon Award.
Aside from “Plan 75,” the following are the films in competition: Shuming He’s “Ajoomma” (Singapore’s Oscar entry), Davy Chou’s “Return to Seoul” (South Korea’s Oscar entry), Sorayos Prapapan’s “Arnold is a Model Student” (Thailand), Makbul Mubarak’s “Autobiography,” (Indonesia), Anna Isabelle Matutina’s “12 Weeks” (Philippines), and Loy Arcena’s “Elehiya” (previously titled “Mirador,” Philippines).
To be shown under the Screen International section are the following: Hang Sang-soo’s “Walk Up,” Ali Abbasi’s “Holy Spider” (winner, Cannes best actress award for Zar Amir Ebrahimi), Marie Kreutzer’s “Corsage” (winner, Cannes Un Certain Regard best performance by Vicky Krieps), David Cronenberg’s “Crimes of the Future,” Jerzy Skolimowski’s “EO” (winner, Cannes Jury Prize), Valentina Maurel’s “I Have Electric Dreams” (winner, San Sebastian best director/Horizons Award), and Lukas Dhont’s “Close” (winner, Cannes grand prize).
QCinema is known for bringing to the country the most celebrated foreign films, which is definitely a challenging task. Asked how he and his team manage to do it, festival director Ed Lejano explained: “It’s quite a daunting task to preview hundreds of titles. More so this year when I had to become the sole programmer. I do get a lot of inputs from our team, and also Carlo Manatad, to curate short films.
“I monitor the best offerings starting from Sundance, Berlin, Cannes, Locarno, Venice and, finally, Toronto. I do go to some of these festivals, where I regularly get invited to be a jury. I have to be constantly on the lookout, not just for critically acclaimed titles from around the globe, but also from Asia and our own local films.”
Lejano continued: “We also try to have a certain focus after making a short list. What has emerged in our program is how our Filipino character actors shine in various foreign films across our sections. What we currently lack in Filipino festival titles, we more than make up for as these homegrown talents are finally getting their due spotlight on the international scene. For 2022, it’s been a banner harvest of intense performances of our Pinoy actors in foreign films that we’re excited to share for our 10th year.”