By Atty. Espiridion D. Laxa
(The following is the partial report of Chairman Laxa regarding the just concluded Cannes Festival where Filipino films were featured in the newly organized All Cinemas in the World section.
The Philippines delegation, composed of 14 representatives including four feature length and two short film directors, departed last May 17 and arrived in France on May 18. On the same day, the delegation proceeded to the venue of the Cannes Film Festival for registration as participants.
On May 19, the delegates, in Philippine formal costume, were led by Festival Programmer Serge Sobczynski and Festival Officer Caroline Venzo to the red carpet leading to the main Cannes Theater for the gala screening of Free Zone , where the delegates from other countries in formal evening wear were at the theater’s entrance waiting, led by the Festival President Gilles Jacob.
Before entering the theater, we were introduced one by one to Pres. Gilles Jacob and the other delegates who accorded us applauses. In short, we were given a royal warm welcome by the Festival officers and other delegates. The glittering ritual was shown on a giant screen near the theater. We then felt that our country and our delegation were distinctly honored.
On May 20, the Philippine films listed below were exclusively screened in a newly built theater within the Cannes Festival area: named All Cinemas in the World Theater, a new section in the International Cannes Film Festival where only seven countries including the Philippines , out of 125 countries, were invited to send their films.
Bagong Buwan, Star: Cesar Montano; Director: Marilou Diaz Abaya
Dekada 70, Stars: Vilma Santos, Christopher de Leon; Director: Chito Rono
Milan, Stars: Claudine Barreto, Piolo Pascual; Director: Olivia Lamasan
Panaghoy Sa Suba, Star: Cesar Montano; Director: Cesar Montano
Liyab , Director: Socorro Fernandez
Batang Trapo , Director: Ramon de Guzman
There was a long red carpet leading to the All the Cinemas in the World Theater. The exhibition of our films were well attended and appreciated. In fact, some of those who saw them commented that our films are better than some of the films in competition. This was confided to Mr. Robert Malengreau, an officer of the Brussel Film Festival and widely-respected film journalist, who enjoyed mentioning repeatedly said comment to us.
The Cannes Film Festival Programmer Serge Sobczynski personally supervised the exhibition of our films, including the question-and-answer sessions after the screenings. He so zealously performed his task that upon our request, he allowed many Filipinos to enter the theater despite their lack of the required festival tickets.
The favorable comments for our films suggest that Filipino filmmakers are capable of producing films deserving of participating in the Cannes Film Festival competition section. This being the case, next year or in subsequent years, the Philippines should seriously consider sending entries for competition to the Cannes Film Festival if only to prove that the sending of four feature films and two short films this year paved the way for us to compete next time.
On May 21, our last day in Cannes, relative to the prospect of marketing Filipino films during the Cannes Film Festival in the future, the author, assisted by Ms. Socorro Fernandez and Mr. Ramon de Guzman, the directors of the two short films, went to the market area and visited the booths of China, South Korea, Thailand, India and Taiwan, and the Digital Short Film Section which were all quite impressive and fully decorated with the posters and other promotional materials for their films.
One of the productive aspects of our visit to the market section was the fact that we secured from the Thailand ‘s booth a pamphlet indicating the amendment of their Board of Investment Law providing the establishment of MOVIE/TOWN through which their producers are exempt from all taxes on machineries and equipment and exemption for eight years from corporate tax. We can request our Board of Investments to pattern its film policy to this particular Thai law.
The impression we got is that for a country to globalize the marketing and distribution of its films, it has to put up a booth in the market section of a prestigious film festival like the Cannes Film Festival.
Hence, we deem it proper and advisable for the NCCA, FDCP, and FAP to collaborate with each other to put up a Philippine booth next year in the Cannes Film Festival to encourage Filipino film producers to send their films and the corresponding promotional materials to the said festival. This could be part of the solution to the consistent downturn of the annual output of the domestic film industry.
The other portions of the report of the Philippine delegation consisting of the photos and videos of the delegates with the officers of the Cannes Film Festival and in activities in which they participated in will be submitted upon their completion.
Aside from the undersigned, the other members of the Philippine delegation were: Directors Marilou Abaya, Chito Rono, Olivia Lamasan, Cesar Montano, Socorro Fernandez and Ramon de Guzman; Claudine Barreto, Piolo Pascual, Marjorie Barreto; Carlos Antonio de Leon of the FDCP, Malou Santos of Star Cinema ABS-CBN Films, Ismael Reyes of CM Films and Helene Ratier, production consultant of Axantis Productions Inc.