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A Short Note to Festival Organisers February 11, 2008

Posted by Richard Bolisay in Essay, Indie Sine, Noypi, Short Cuts, UP Screening.
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While writing my review of Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Climates, I’ve come across the site of the 4th Boston Turkish Film Festival which features the Ten Best Turkish Films of all time. The films included were based on a poll conducted by the Ankara Cinema Association, the group who organises Festival On Wheels in Turkey and visits 4-6 cities every year to present the best of world cinema. The selection ranges from Metin Erksan’s Golden Bear-winning Susuz Yaz (1964) upto Ceylan’s Uzak (2002), which in turn gave Turkey its second Cannes Film Festival win after Serif Goren’s Yol (1982). It prompts me to thinking: why can’t we do it here? Why can’t we launch our film festivals that include the best of Philippine cinema?

The line-up of Cinemalaya includes films both in competition and exhibition. To be honest, the films in exhibition are the ones that I look forward to attending. Same goes with Cinemanila, though in the last few years, my interest dwindled due to its faulty scheduling and choice of theatre screenings. I wonder what happened to Pelikula at Lipunan. Is it still existing?

Whether we do it every year or not, until our audience gets nauseated by too much greatness or until we are suffocated by too much Brocka and Bernal that we produce different lists every year, then it is better than having nothing at all.

Which films to include is not an issue: Noel Vera already has his own, which I believe he won’t mind if we follow, and Gawad Urian also has its own selection of best films for each decade. The important thing here is that we have films to see and we have films to argue about. How could we talk about a film if we haven’t seen it? I understand how horrible some of our old film copies are, how they are eaten up by molds and how badly our equipment project them, but do we have a choice? Could we request for budget allocation? Could we ask for the opposite of euthanasia? I am sure that we, Filipinos, have high tolerance to these things. I remember seeing Nunal sa Tubig in a really dreadful copy in UP, but I sat through and finished the film, only to realise that I did not understand it. Again, something is better than nothing.

It is enlightening to discuss what constitutes a great Filipino film after we’ve seen it. Various factors such as timelessness, narrative, and treatment can be easily analysed if we have venues for screening and discussion, which at present Mogwai does. The large-scale nature of Cinemanila, Cinemalaya, and Cinema One Originals can largely help in developing and, later on, establishing our own national cinema. These festivals are only held once a year so people who are really interested will do everything to catch screenings they like. I remember I almost got hit by a speeding ten-wheeler to watch Endo, but I missed it. (I was able to see it the next day though) The flexibility of schedules, the quality of audio-visual equipment, and the efficiency of festival management are the things we need to crown these efforts with success. And if ever this idea pushes through, not only we can increase awareness and following of classic local films, not to mention honest appreciation of these works, we can also achieve a healthy environment for criticism. We do our part, you do yours. Everything follows.

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