Film council focuses on regional cinemas

By Juan Escandor Jr. NAGA CITY --- Giving due importance to filmmakers outside Metro Manila, the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) focuses its efforts on the development of regional cinemas. “We need to empower the regions since our cinema is almost ‘Manilacentric’ amidst so many films coming from the regions that must be given due importance,” said Liza Diño, FDCP chair, who was here to conduct film education among university mentors in Bicol. Diño said she believes that a directive that encourages decentralizing film making into the regions is on the right perspective. She said the FDCP has continuously went around the regions to conduct consultations with the local government units, the academe and filmmakers. Diño said they have rolled on the Film Festival Development Assistance Program to support locally initiated film festivals to empower filmmakers in the regions. “There are already a lot of initiatives coming from the private sector who are really passionate film makers putting together films produced in their locality, from north to south,” she said. Diño said that instead of the FDCP creating film festivals as it is mandated to do so, they opted to support and encourage existing film festivals in the regions. She cited the film festivals in Mindanao which had been around for the past 12 years; Iloilo for the past four years; and those in Pampanga and Cebu. Diño made special mention of the film festival in Nabunturan, Compostela Valley where there is no cinema house so that films were shown in open air in the town plaza with the entire townsfolk watching. “You will realize that the cinema is confined in Metro Manila but anywhere and there are so many filmmakers who are really good in making films in their own dialects,” she said. Diño said the phenomenon of increasing the number of filmmakers indicate that the film is a powerful tool to express and take pride of their roots and culture which she said is a positive form of regional development. For example, she said, in Iloilo the filmmakers commonly dwell on the folklore so that their films are full of magic realism while in Mindanao the stories told are about the indigenous people there. “Cinema allows us to discover and rediscover who we are and I think if we take this chance and celebrate, then maybe this is one way for us to understand each other,” Diño said. Wilfredo Manalang, FDCP executive director, said the government is financing the establishment of hub for filmmakers’ films, enthusiasts and educators called “cinematheque” in partnership with LGUs. Manalang said the cinematheque is a kind of movie house with 150 seats with rooms for workshops and forums about film and constructed in at least 500 square-meter lot. He said what the LGU will have to provide is the lot where the cinematheque will be constructed while the FDCP provides the staff and operational expenses. Manalang said the cinematheque will show different kinds of films not shown in commercial movie houses like films from different countries that may be available through their respective embassies. He said there are five cinematheque already constructed and established in Manila, Baguio, Iloilo, Zamboanga, and Davao while construction in Nabuturan, Compostela Valley is on-going. “We are encouraging all the regions to at least have one cinematheque,” Manalang said. Diño said cinematheque is home of regional cinema, independent films and films deemed not commercial and alternative venue where students can show their short film created for public viewing. “It’s so important to have a cinematheque because right now independent films are here. We have arthouse films, experimental films and these need a home, a venue because you will never see them in a commercial venue,” she said.