In celebration of the 50 years of diplomatic relations between Singapore and the Philippines, as well as the 100 Years of Philippine Cinema, the Philippine Embassy in Singapore has mounted the inaugural Philippine Film Festival. Pinoy and foreign cinephiles are in for a treat from November 12 to 15 as there is a special screening of “Mr. and Mrs. Cruz” as well as free screenings of “Seven Sundays,” “Bakwit Boys” and “Siargao” at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House of National University of Singapore (NUS).
The Philippine Embassy in Singapore, headed by Ambassador , has partnered with the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), NUS Office of Alumni Relations, and film production company Star Cinema to make the maiden film event happen. The lineup of the Philippine Film Festival 2019 was specially curated with the assistance of FDCP to capture the Filipino way of life. Other Philippine Embassies that have partnered with FDCP to hold full-fledged Filipino film festivals this year are Portugal and Rome, Italy.
Holding Philippine Embassy-led film fests has helped propagate the richness and uniqueness of Filipino culture to Pinoys and foreigners alike. This is made possible through FDCP’s Philippine Embassies Assistance Program (PEAP) which has been running for over two years. Through PEAP, the FDCP helps Philippine Embassies and Consulates hold film-related activities in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and DFA Cultural Diplomacy Unit.
Kicking off the PEAP initiative in Singapore on November 12 is the Reception Night which features the invitational screening of Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo’s “Mr. and Mrs. Cruz” (2018). Bernardo, who is the film’s screenwriter and director, will introduce her movie and give a brief discussion during the Reception Night. The film is about two strangers with the same surname whose lives intertwine upon their serendipitous meeting in Palawan. It won the Yakushi Pearl (Most Brilliant Performer) Award for Ryza Cenon at the 2018 Osaka Asian Film Festival.
The free screenings of the first-ever Philippine Film Festival, meanwhile, will take place from November 13 to 15, starting off with Cathy Garcia-Molina’s “Seven Sundays” (2017) from Star Cinema under ABS-CBN Film Productions, Inc. The family drama is about how four siblings come together when they find out that their father has cancer. “Seven Sundays” won Best Editing, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor for Aga Muhlach at the 36th Luna Awards.
On November 14, the 2018 musical “Bakwit Boys” by writer-director Jason Paul Laxamana will take center stage. It is about four musically talented brothers who band together after their home was destroyed by a super typhoon. “Bakwit Boys” bagged the 2018 Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP) Audience Choice Award.
Moviegoers will be in for a splash when they watch Paul Soriano’s “Siargao” (2017) on the last day. A winner of seven Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Awards, the movie revolves around a man and woman who cross paths in the surfing island of Siargao in Surigao del Norte province. The MMFF citations for “Siargao” are Second Best Picture, Best Director for Soriano, Best Supporting Actress for Jasmine Curtis-Smith, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Sound, and Best Original Theme Song for “Alon” by Hale.
FDCP Chairperson and CEO Liza Diño shared, “In the Philippines, FDCP supports around 25 foreign embassy film festivals each year through our Film Cultural Exchange Program. This includes the Korean Film Festival, Spanish Film Festival, Cine Europa, Eiga Sai Japan Film Festival, and French Film Festival which are some of the longest-running and most successful foreign embassy-led festivals in the country and have captured thousands of local audiences who are getting more exposed to their cinemas and their culture.”
Diño continued, “In the same vein and this time for our own Cinema, through PEAP, we are encouraging our own Philippine embassies to do the same in their respective posts. Through Filipino film festivals, these countries get to experience our culture and our stories, and discover our commonalities.”
All Embassies and Consulates can apply for the PEAP at least two months before the event by contacting the FDCP International Relations Division. The all-out support that FDCP gives via PEAP involves the sending of film ambassadors to give lectures, coordination with producers, securing of discounted screening fees, coverage of subtitling fees, and curation of films.
The Philippine Film Festival 2019 screenings will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the Auditorium of the Shaw Foundation Alumni House, NUS located at 11 Kent Ridge Drive, Singapore 119244.