Philippines is one of the fastest-growing economies in developing Asia and a visit to Quezon city in the Manila Metropolitan Area in Philippines evidences in multiple ways its growth story. This city of new horizons known for its shopping malls and skyscrapers is also the Entertainment capital of the country. It is no surprise that the annual Qcinema International Film Festival which was started just 4 years back has grown into a major cultural event. Its mother organization Quezon City Film Development Corporation (QCFDC) and the festival has a clear focus on the development of Philippines movie industry and more particularly the nurturing of the new indie talents. The presence of films from Philippines in global forums like International film festivals have grown in quantity and stature and the credit goes to Qcinema festival and the QCFDC. It seems that the cultural vision of Mayor Hon. Herbert M. Bautista, Vice Mayor Hon. Ma. Josefina G. Belmonte and the Festival Director Mr. Eduardo J. Lejano, Jr converge into a single purpose of promoting the young film makers and cinema of the Philippines.
This year’s festival was held during October 13 to 22, 2016. Its declared theme “One City to the World” had extended the frontiers of the festival to new International Section, the Asian Next Wave. This would encourage the new talent beyond Philippines as well, as it has happened with the QCFDC funded Circle Competition films of the Filipino auteurs and the short film projects.
There is a discernible pattern in the post colonial societies across the world. Modernity encountering the tradition and the pangs of change manifesting into socio cultural conflicts characterize the artistic expressions in these societies. The heterogeneous life styles representing different time frames in the evolution of the civilization coexist in the cauldron of modernity. It is gratifying to note the response of young Filipino auteurs to such spectrum of lived experiences. Say from the tribal lifestyles and traditional practices as picturised in the young film maker Bagane Fiola’s “Baboy Halas” to the rural agrarian conflicts of feudal gangs insensitive to the feminine instincts in Sheron Dayoc’s “Women of the Weeping River”, trials and tribulations of the economically and socially marginalized characters stuck in a time warp as in Derick Cabrido’s “Purgatoriyo” or Kristian Cordero’s “Hinulid” or Anton Juan’s “Woven wings our Children” or Victor Villanueva’s “Patay Na Si Hesus” were all evidences of a vibrant and concerned minds articulating their genuine feelings towards the unrepresented segments in the mainstream of the modern societies. Yambao’s “Best. Partee. Ever” was however a challenging film on the nuances of the modern urban spaces and their impact on the young minds. It is also a bold attempt at presenting an ambience and prejudices on the reality discourses on sexual orientations. The emotionally charged film, Prime Cruz’s film Ang Mananggal Sa Unit 23B extended the range of expression by presenting the blood sucking vampire as an anti thesis to blood letting social disorders. The film in the biopic form Bradley Liew’s “Singing in the Graveyard” was an informative compilation.
The films in the Asian New wave showed wider cultural spectrum and more informed cinematic forms. Two films stood apart and won the praise and awards from the Jury. Thai film “By the Time it gets dark” by Anocha Suwichakornpong is a multi story narrative with a non formal cinematic technique dealing with politics, relationships and spiritual introspections. On the other hand the Singapore film “Apprentice” by Boo Junfeng told in a traditional narrative form is an equally significant film with a simple discourse on crime and punishment. The other films from Indonesia and China “Solo, Solitude” and “Old Stone” were interesting takes on a Political reality and the individual’s ethical crisis.
All in all the 4th edition of the QCinema International Film Festival at Quezon city was a rich and satisfying experience for the NETPAC Jury members (Myself, Rolando Tolentino and Nick De Ocampo) and also Asian New Wave Jury members (Myself, Jun Lana and Sherad Sanchez).
The hospitality and screening arrangements were wonderful. Special thanks to Mr Ed Lejano and his hospitality team lead by Ms Pee Wee Baisa.
NETPAC Jury award winner in Circle Competition for Filipino films
“Baboy Halas” (Philippines/105 mns/Color) Directed by Bagane Fiola
An aesthetically challenging cinematic exploration of the tribulations of the not so familiar indigenous people whose lives are in tune with Nature in a mythical way and are attempting a new familial and social order.
Citations for Award winners in “Asian New Wave” Sectio
The Apprentice (Singapore/115mns/color) Directed by Junfeng Boo
For giving a relevant, poignant and sensitive discourse on socio-psychological consequences of crime and punishment in a well-developed human drama.
Special Jury Citation:
By The Time It Goes Dark (Thailand/105mns/color) Directed by Anocha Suwichakornpong
For taking us into an uneven yet mesmerising journey of history and memory in its many reincarnations to collective, social, personal and cinematic adaptations.