Tuesday, June 28, 2016

New Works and Restored Classics in This Year’s World Premieres Film Festival

Rita Gomez stars in Ishmael Bernal's Pagdating sa Dulo
The third World Premieres Film Festival (WPFF) opens on June 29, and runs until July 10, 2016. Organized by the Film Development Council Philippines (FDCP) in cooperation with the Cinematheque Centre Manila, it will be shown at different theaters in Metro Manila, including SM Megamall cinemas in Mandaluyong City, SM North Edsa cinemas in Quezon City, Greenbelt 3 cinemas in Makati City, the Shang Cineplex in Mandaluyong City and the Uptown Cinemas in Quezon City.
Briccio Santos, chairman of the government agency for film in the Philippines, said this edition of the WPFF has a “new look” and “youthful energy.”
He added that over 60 international films will be given opportunities to reach new audiences. Moreover, the competition films are stronger this year and coming from well-established filmmakers.
Five films will be exhibited in the Main Competition category of the festival, where they will be assessed by an international jury and vie for the Grand Festival Prize, Grand Jury Prize, Best Performance by an Actor, Best Performance by an Actress, Best Artistic Contribution, Technical Grand Prize and Best Ensemble Performance awards.
The competing films are Yen’s Life (Vietnam, directed by Dinh Tuan Vu), Redha (Malaysia, directed by Tunku Mona Riza), By Accident (France, directed by Camille Fontaine), Daughters of the Three Tailed Banner (The Philippines, directed by Gutierrez Mangansakan II) and Love Above All Things (Spain, directed by Chema de la Peña).
The Main Competition gala premieres will be at Shang Cineplex, Uptown Cinema and Greenbelt 3, followed by an open forum with the directors (free admission).
Aside from the Main Competition, WPFF has different sections such as Filipino New Cinema, Intercontinental, Country of Honor (Vietnam), Asean Skies, Spotlight: China, Out of Competition, Filipino Classics, French Silent Short Films and Cine Verde.
In The Filipino New Cinema section, six Filipino films will be premiering and vying for prizes including Best Picture (first and second place), Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Musical Score, Best Sound Engineering, Best Production Design, Best Performances and Best Supporting Roles.
The films are Ku’te (directed by Ronaldo Bertubin); Edsa (directed by Alvin Yapan); Iadya Mo Kami (directed by Mel Chionglo); Memory Channel (directed by Raynier Brizuela); Curiosity, Adventure and Love (directed by Sunshine de Leon Lichaucho and Suzanne Richardonne); and Ringgo: The Dog-Shooter (directed by Rahyan Carlos).
The Filipino New Cinema gala premieres will take place at SM Megamall and SM North Edsa, followed by an open forum with the directors and cast (by invitation only).
The Intercontinental Section presents films from different countries except those from the Southeast Asian region, which will vie for the Intercontinental Prize for Best Film, while the Asean Skies section focuses on films hailing from the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which will compete for the Asean Skies Prize for Best Film.
This year, the Country of Honor section will be debuting and it will first highlight films of Vietnam. Eight contemporary Vietnamese films will screen whose directors will grace festival events and activities such as roundtable discussions, media functions and galas. On the other hand, the Spotlight: China section features films from mainland China.
One interesting section is the Filipino Classics, which mostly feature restored versions of old films, which will go to the growing collection of the National Film Archives of the Philippines. Highlighting this section is the restored 1971 film Pagdating sa Dulo, directed by Ishmael Bernal. Starring Rita Gomez and Vic Vargas, it will also serve as the opening film at the festival opening ceremony today, June 29, at the Cinematheque Centre Manila. 
Aside from Pagdating sa Dulo, other films to be screened are Noli Me Tangere (Gerardo de Leon, 1961), Batang West Side (Lav Diaz, 2001), Damortis (Briccio Santos, 1986), White Slavery ( Lino Brocka, 1985) and Turumba (Kidlat Tahimik, 1981).
The Out of Competition section has foreign films, which have garnered success and critical acclaim at other international film festivals, while Cine Verde presents films on environmental issues, presented in partnership with Connect4Climate (C4C), a global partnership program based at the World Bank, and global campaign, Film4Climate.
There will also be outdoor screenings at the courtyard within the Cinematheque complex, where one can watch films while sipping refreshments in a more casual atmosphere. Films to be shown include French silent films, environmental films in the Cine Verde film section, and Filipino Classics films.
Aside from the films showings, there are several events within the festival.      
The International Film Conference (IFC) will be held at the Casino Español de Manila in Ermita, Manila, on July 1 at 11 a.m. Free and open to the public, this “aims to impart global film industry perspectives to everyone from those in the Filipino film industry, to students alike.” The topic of the conference is “Behind the Scenes: a 360 degree view of the film industry,” and invited speakers include Katharina Böttinger of the Sales and Technical Department of the European Film Market; Edgar Tejerero, president of SM Lifestyle Entertainment Inc.; Ted Roper, partner lawyer of Freeman Freeman and Smiley, LLP, based in Los Angeles; and Hyong-Joon Kim, Korean film producer.
On the same day, the Mini International Film Expo will open at the Cinematheque Centre Manila, featuring a election of the industry’s latest and greatest technologies.
On July 2, the Director Roundtables and Q&A Panels will be held at the Asean Library of Cinematheque Centre Manila, featuring a Vietnamese filmmaker at 2 p.m. and a Main Competition filmmaker at 3 p.m.
Also during the festival, the Film Asean Knowledge Management Centre will be inaugurated on June 30 at the Cinematheque Centre Manila. This is a library “on the moving image culture of the Philippines, its neighboring nations, and beyond. It will be a resource hub for those interested in learning about Asean cinema cultures, creating access to books, magazines, and a rich variety of resource materials contributed by the 10 member states of the Asean.” Aside from access to books and other materials, the library will also host workshops and symposia to further develop the cultural exchange of information and skills of Southeast Asian nations.

The ticket price of each film during the festival is P100 at all venues, unless indicated otherwise. For more information and schedules, visit www.wpff.ph, e-mail info@wpff.ph, call (02) 256-9908, or check out its official Facebook page, www.facebook.com/worldpremieresfilmfestival. To join in the social media conversation, use its official hashtags, #enjoythescene and #wpff.

By Accident (France, directed by Camille Fontaine) 
Rita Gomez stars in Ishmael Bernal's Pagdating sa Dulo
Redha (Malaysia, directed by Tunku Mona Riza)
Yen’s Life (Vietnam, directed by Dinh Tuan Vu)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Stroking for the Conservation of the Seas

Reef Strokes was held at the Pico de Loro Cove in Nasugbu, Batangas
Six Filipino open-water swimmers tackled the rough waters off the coast of Nasugbu, Batangas, at the entrance of the Verde Island Passage, in an effort to raise awareness on the need to conserve Philippine coral reefs and highlight the importance of Verde Island Passage.
Ingemar Macarine, Frank Lacson, Betsy Medalla, Julian Valencia, Moi Yamoyam and Miguel Villanueva, most of which are well-known athletes, gathered together for the first time on May 29, 2016, for Reef Strokes, an open-water marathon and promotional event organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines and hosted by Hamilo Coast, a sprawling coastal, mixed-use development of the SM Group, to also celebrate World Environment Day on June 5, World Oceans’ Day on June 8 and Coral Triangle Day on June 9.
The six swimmers started at Dorado Cove; swam through the coves of Arkaya, Balibago, North Etayo, Etayo, Subli and Santelmo; and ended up at the Pico de Loro Beach and Country Club, tackling eight of Hamilo Coast’s 13 coves and covering a distance of about 10 kilometers.
Open-water swimmers are natural stewards. It is in their own interest to protect the sea,” said swimming coach Medalla on their participation in the venture. She and Valencia are the first two Filipinos and Asians to swim the Robben Island Channel in Cape Town, South Africa.
As a swimmer who regularly swims in open water, I am disheartened each time I encounter floating garbage. We swim to remind everyone that we need to act now to protect our marine resources,” declared Macarine, who was awarded by WWF Philippines as a Hero of the Environment for his efforts in raising marine conservation awareness in his swims. Known as the Pinoy Aquaman, he swam 20 kilometers in just eight hours and plans to be the first Filipino to cross the English Channel in August.
Lacson, on the other hand, is regarded as the pioneer of triathlon in the Philippines, while Yamoyam is a former member of the Philippine National Triathlon team and has had a number of podium finishes as a triathlete. Villanueva is a student of Medalla and an open-water swim podium finisher. This is his first time to swim a marathon distance for swimming.
Supporting Reef Strokes was Hamilo Coast, which WWF Philippines has been assisting since 2007, creating environmental programs for Pico de Loro Beach and Country Club and Pico Sands Hotel such as coastal resource management, renewable energy use, solid-waste management and ridge-to-reef conservation.
Hamilo Coast is located right at the apex of the Verde Island Passage, which boasts of an incredible array of marine species. As an organization with sustainability at the forefront of its operations, we ensure that we take good care of the environment from ridge to reef. Through the help of WWF, several sustainability programs have been incorporated in our development,” said Wesley Caballa, Hamilo Coast sustainability head.
Selected coves of Hamilo Coast have been declared marine protected areas and Bantay Dagat units were established to monitor the area. Giant clams are also being cultivated at Santelmo Cove and the ride-to-reef management project helps protect corals from sedimentation and siltation. These are some of the efforts of Hamilo Coast and WWF Philippines to conserve and protect the environment as well as to minimize the impacts of tourism and property development.
The athletes and the supporting companies unanimously encouraged people to take care of the seas, especially Verde Island Passage and the coral reefs in the Triangle.
Surrounded by the provinces of Batangas, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque and Romblon, the Verde Island Passage has been called “the center of the center of marine shorefish biodiversity,” being at the center of the Coral Triangle, considered as the world’s epicenter of marine life, abundance and biodiversity and being a home to 319 species and 74 genera of hard coral. A rich production area for fishing, the passage is threatened by climate change, pollution and mining.
On the other hand, Joel Palma, WWF Philippines president and chief executive officer, stressed the importance of Coral Triangle, on which about 130 million people depend on. About 25 billion US dollars worth of tourism revenue has been generated and the area yields about three million US dollars worth of tuna and other food fishes.
Coral reefs give millions of people food and livelihoods,” he said. “However, they are threatened by plastic waste, which smothers delicate corals. Climate change effects such as global warming also lead to coral bleaching, turning once-productive reefs into graveyards coated by algae.”
Thus, environmental conservation and awareness efforts, like Reef Strokes, prove to be crucial.
Reef Strokes shows how our collective ‘strokes’ will take us to the finish line, which is a world where productive oceans continue to gift Filipinos with food, jobs, even the very air we breathe,” Palma said.
On the other hand, coral reef expert Dr. Wilfredo Licuanan said, “When you combine a cause with science, partner with advocacy groups like WWF and enlist the aid of athletes who experience nature first-hand, then we can create a bigger impact. We hope this inspires more people to conserve our natural resources.”

For the first time, top Filipino open-water swimmers united for conservation of the seas. In the photo are coach Betsy Medalla, coach Julian Valencia, lawyer Ingemar Macarine, Frank Lacson, coach Moi Yamoyam and Mikey Villanueva. (Photo by Wowie Wong) 

Hamilo Coast in Batangas boasts of 13 beautiful coves which feature mangrove forests, white-sand beaches and protected coral reefs (Photo by Albert Labrador)
A swimmer approaches Pico de Loro Cove and the end of the 10 kilometer swim (Photo by Wowie Wong)