The international film festival season is about to kick off with a bang, starting with the first A-List fest of the year, the Berlin International Film Festival or Berlinale. The Berlinale in Germany is among the Big Three of international film festivals alongside Venice in Italy and Cannes in France. It will take place from February 20 to March 1. On its 70th year, the Berlinale is set to welcome back the Filipino contingent headed by the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP).
The Philippine Embassy in Berlin expressed excitement about the participation of Filipinos in Berlinale. It will even co-host Philippine Night, the networking event of local and international filmmakers, together with FDCP. Of the around 400 titles that will be screened in Berlin this year, three are projects with Philippine representation: “Death of Nintendo” by Raya Martin, Alex Piperno’s “Window Boy Would Also Like to Have a Submarine” co-produced by Armi Rae Cacanindin, and “Filipiñana” by Rafael Manuel. Meanwhile, the German entry “Orphea” was co-directed by Alexander Kluge and Filipino Khavn.
Antoinette Jadaone’s “Boldstar” was among the Berlinale Co-Production Market selections, while Alemberg Ang, Anne Prado-Magadia, Gutierrez Mangansakan II, and Carlo Valenzona got in the Berlinale Co-Production Market Visitors Programme. Producer Gale Osorio and director-editor Celina Marie Donato made it to the Berlinale Talents program and Carlo Francisco Manatad’s “Whether the Weather is Fine” was among the Berlinale World Cinema Fund recipients.
“We will also welcome the delegation from the FDCP as they promote filming in the Philippines, co-productions, and other programs with international counterparts,” remarked Philippine Ambassador to Germany Theresa Dizon-de Vega on her social media account. The Philippine Ambassador to Germany also expressed support for the Filipino film industry especially since it is in the midst of celebrating One Hundred Years of Philippine Cinema.
Martin returns to Berlin
The coming-of-age film “Death of Nintendo” by Martin is set to get its world premiere in Berlin. “Death of Nintendo” was invited by section head Maryanne Redpath to be part of Generation, which features films that are relevant to young moviegoers. The co-production between the Philippines and United States is among the nine films in the Generation Kplus category. The other films are from Sweden, Belgium, Australia, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, the Netherlands, and Mongolia. Winners of the Generation section will be decided by the Children’s Jury and Youth Jury.
The inclusion of “Death of Nintendo” was made known in December when the first titles that made it to Berlinale were announced. Martin shared on social media a frame from the film as well as its colorful neon poster, evoking feelings of nostalgia. It has been five years since Martin’s last participation in Berlinale, and he is no stranger to the film festival. He was part of the 2005 edition of Berlinale Talents, a skills development program for emerging international filmmakers. In 2009, Martin and Cinematografica Films received the Berlinale World Cinema Fund worth USD 63,000 for “Independencia.” His documentary, “La Última Película,” was part of the Forum Expanded section in 2014.
Martin’s latest work is set in the 1990s just before the devastating Mount Pinatubo eruption. “Death of Nintendo” is about four 13-year-old boys who are crazy about video games and are faced with adolescent issues such as first love feelings. Their journey towards self-discovery is chronicled with a homage to ‘90s pop culture. It stars Noel Comia, Jr., Kim Chloie Oquendo, Jiggerfelip Sementilla, John Vincent Servilla, Moi Bien, Nikki Valdez, Angelina Kanapi, Jude Matthew Servilla, Elijah Alejo, Cayden Williams, and Agot Isidro.
“Death of Nintendo” is from IndieFlip and Black Sheep with Nik Juban, Jun Juban, and Jeremy Chua as co-producers, Kris Gazmen, Marizal Samson-Martinez, and Marjorie Lachica as producers, and Olivia Lamasan and Carlo Katigbak as executive producers. It was written and produced by Valerie Castillo Martinez. Cinematography was care of Ante Cheng, editing by Cyril Aris, original music by Zeke Khaseli and Yudhi Arfani, and production design by Whammy Alcazaren and Thesa Tang.
Photo from Berlinale
‘Filipiñana’ secures spot in Berlinale Shorts
Manuel will mark his first appearance in Berlinale with a world premiere of social commentary short film “Filipiñana.” It is a Philippines-United Kingdom co-production written and directed by Manuel for the London Film School. “Filipiñana,” which is part of the Berlinale Shorts section, is about the story of a tee-girl who is drawn to a golf course. It aims to expose the marginalization and exploitation experienced by tee-girls who spend long hours teeing golf balls for those who practice the sport.
“I am extremely proud and happy for the team behind it. Thank you to our cast and crew. And to our Kickstarter backers, we couldn’t have made this film without you,” remarked Manuel on his social media account under the name Ram Mendoza. A total of 139 backers pledged over USD 12,400 for “Filipiñana,” exceeding Manuel’s goal of around USD 10,400.
The film, which was hailed as a “Kickstarter Project We Love,” was produced by Kiko Meily and Kyle Nieva. Xenia Günther was in charge of cinematography, Andrea Vigoni for production design, Manuel Colayco for sound, and Noami Pacifique as producer and first assistant director. Among its actors are Jorrybell Agoto, Micah Musah, Sunshine Teodoro, Elle Velasco, and Mimi Mendoza.
“Filipiñana” is among the 24 films included in the Berlinale Shorts programme of new section head and curator Anna Henckel-Donnersmarck. The other short films are from Canada, France, Switzerland, Lithuania, South Africa, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, India, Israel, United States, Russian Federation, Argentina, Belgium, and German Democratic Republic (out of competition). The Berlinale Shorts will be deliberated by the International Short Film Jury composed of filmmaker Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese from Lesotho, curator Fatma Çolakoğlu from Turkey, and animation filmmaker Réka Bucsi from Hungary.
Cacanindin co-prod barges into Berlinale Forum
A total of 35 films were picked for the Berlinale Forum, which is headed by Cristina Nord and curated and organized by Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art. One of them is “Window Boy Would Also Like to Have a Submarine” also known as “Chico Ventana También Quisiera Tener un Submarino.” The co-production among Uruguay, the Netherlands, Argentina, Brazil, and the Philippines was directed by Uruguayan Alex Piperno and co-produced by Cacanindin of the Philippines. It is slated to have a world premiere in Berlin.
Starring Noli Tobol, Inés Bortagaray, and Daniel Quiroga, the film is about a young sailor who finds a corridor that leads to an apartment in Uruguay while on the other side of the globe, Filipino farmers discover an abandoned shed in the valley, attributing supernatural powers to it. The other Berlinale Forum films are from Canada, United States, Spain, Cuba, Nigeria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, France, Russian Federation, Romania, Lebanon, Italy, Brazil, Argentina, Iran, United Kingdom, Belgium, China, Japan, Chile, Burkina Faso, Israel, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Berlinale Forum is now on its 50th edition.
Khavn goes back to Berlin
The 70th Berlinale has introduced a new section for ingenious and independent filmmakers whose works are deemed to be “aesthetically and structurally daring.” Encounters, which was formed to complement Competition, is also a competitive section. It has 15 films in its lineup, including “Orphea” directed by German Kluge and Filipino Khavn. “Orphea” is a rock musical set in present-day Manila that is based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. The title role is played by renowned German actress Lilith Stangenberg while the character of Euridiko is portrayed by Filipino performance artist and painter Ian Madrigal.
Photo from Berlinale
“Orphea” will be having its world premiere in Berlin and is “bombastically brought to you by Rapid Eye Movies, Kairos Film, and Kamias Overground,” noted Khavn on his social media account with the username Khavn dela Cruz. Khavn has been to Berlinale several times, as a participant in the Berlinale Talents Campus as well as the Berlinale Co-Production Market for “Mondomanila.” His short film “Can & Slippers” was shown in 2005 while “Pusong Wazak” was among the Berlinale Shorts titles in 2012. He was included in the Berlinale Shorts Jury in 2009 .
“Orphea,” which has Filipinos in production credits, is listed as a German entry. The other Encounters Programme titles come from Norway, Argentina, United States, India, France, Colombia, Brazil, Romania, Serbia, Switzerland, Sweden, Bosnia, North Macedonia, Portugal, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Ireland, Austria, Japan, Hong Kong, China, United Kingdom, and Poland.
‘Boldstar’ continues foreign co-prod run
Filipino writer-director Jadaone’s project “Boldstar” has been making waves internationally, particularly in Busan, South Korea and Berlin. “Boldstar” from Epicmedia and Project 8 Projects bagged the CJ Entertainment Award at the 22nd Asian Project Market (APM) in Busan. It was also chosen to be among the 36 titles in the Berlinale Co-Production Market. It is the lone Philippine project in the roster alongside films from Switzerland, United States, Portugal, New Zealand, Turkey, Ukraine, Poland, Argentina, Norway, Morocco, Spain, United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, Ireland, Belgium, Brazil, Romania, Bulgaria, Germany, South Africa, Nepal, Azerbaijan, Faroe Islands, Pakistan, Greece, and Indonesia.
“Boldstar is heading to its European market premiere! My first time to join a European co-production market! I’ll be with my producers Dan Villegas and Bianca Balbuena-Liew, the same power team of ‘Fan Girl’ and ‘That Thing Called Tadhana,’” exclaimed Jadaone on social media. The film was conceptualized in 2016 and is set to start shooting in late 2020. Starring Angelica Panganiban, “Boldstar” is about the long-forgotten heydays of bold stars or soft porn genre actresses in Philippine Cinema.
PH filmmakers off to Co-Production Market
The delegation from the Philippines is boosted by four filmmakers who were selected to join the Berlinale Co-Production Market Visitors Programme 2020, as supported by FDCP. The Berlinale Co-Production Market 2020 will gather around 600 high-profile financiers and producers who are working on international co-production projects. They will come together in various events from February 22 to 24 at the Berlin House of Representatives.
Alemberg Ang, Anne Prado-Magadia, Carlo Valenzona, and Gutierrez Mangansakan II
Ang is the producer and writer of “Ang Larawan” (2017) and producer of “Liway” (2018) and “Haunted: A Last Visit to the Red House” (2017). Prado-Magadia is the producer and writer of “Dagsin” (2016), Mangansakan is the director, producer, and writer of “Obscured Histories and Silent Longings of Daguluan's Children” (2012) and “Qiyamah” (2012), and Valenzona is the line producer of “Mindanao” (2019), associate producer of “Verdict” (2019), and producer of “Lakbayan” (2018).
Ang, Prado-Magadia, Mangansakan, and Valenzona will each receive a Market badge and a stipend worth 1,000 euros from FDCP, plus their credentials will be included in the Visitors Brochure. They are set to take part in Country Sessions wherein they will get to speak about the current situation of international co-production in the Philippines. Their other activities are Visitors’ Meet and Match, Case Studies, Theme Talks, Speed Matchings, Networking Receptions, and One-on-one Meetings. They can also access the Producers’ Lounge and “Books at Berlinale” Pitch and Networking Event.
Filipinos in Berlinale training program
This year’s Berlinale Talents has chosen 255 creatives from 86 nations. They represent the fields of film criticism, sound design, score composition, sales and distribution, production design, editing, cinematography, screenwriting, acting, producing, and directing. Donato and Osorio are the only Filipinos who have made the cut. Donato is an editor and director whose editing credits include the documentaries “Haunted: A Last Visit to the Red House” (2017) and “Mga Kulay Sa Labas Ng Linya” (2016) and the short film “Kung Wala Nang Tulad Natin” (2016).
Gale Osorio and Celina Marie Donato. Photos from Berlinale
Osorio is an independent film producer for the Binisaya Movement company. Among her works are “A Short History Of A Few Bad Things” (2018), “Babylon” (2017), “Lily” (2016), and “Iskalawags” (2013). She organizes the yearly Binisaya Film Festival in Cebu City. She was selected by the Busan Asian Film School for the 2018 International Film Business Academy and was part of the Southeast Asia Fiction Film Lab (SEAFIC) Open House in 2019.
Philippine Night in Berlin
A Philippine contingent’s trip to an international film festival will not be complete without the anticipated and celebrated Philippine Night. Much more than being just an evening of revelry, the Philippine Night is actually a crucial event attached to a film festival or film market that allows local filmmakers to create partnerships with their international counterparts. Previous Philippine Nights have resulted in Filipino filmmakers interfacing with foreign company representatives and festival programmers.
This year’s Philippine Night in Germany is made more special by the partnership of FDCP and the Philippine Embassy in Berlin. It is set to celebrate the wins of the filmmakers who are part of the Berlinale sections, Co-Production Market, and Berlinale Talents. Moreover, the event is expected to encourage local filmmakers to look to other markets so that they may widen their audience and bring Philippine Cinema to other countries.
Manatad receives Berlinale support
Meanwhile, another Filipino film that received support from Berlinale in the amount of 30,000 euros is Manatad’s “Whether the Weather is Fine.” The film on how a family went through the Typhoon Yolanda ordeal in Tacloban, Leyte was among the recipients of the Berlinale World Cinema Fund (WCF). The WCF is made possible by the German Federal Cultural Foundation, Berlinale, German Federal Foreign Office, and Goethe-Institute.
Photo from Dreamscape Entertainment
“Whether the Weather is Fine” is a Cacanindin-produced project starring Charo Santos-Concio and Daniel Padilla. It is among the five Production Funding WCF recipients with the other films hailing from Brazil, Nicaragua, Germany, Argentina, and Indonesia. WCF Europe and WCF Africa awarded two films each while Distribution Funding WCF chose one recipient.
A Berlinale lineup that will linger for a long time
As of writing, the Berlinale Festival Management has yet to reveal all of the titles included in the festival as the public programme will be released on February 11. The other Berlinale sections are Panorama, Forum Expanded, Perspektive Deutsches Kino, Berlinale Special, Berlinale Series, Berlinale Goes Kiez, and Retrospective, Berlinale Classics, and Homage.
Berlinale Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian said of the selection process, “Safeguarding a space where it is not imperative to immediately respond to the signal one has received–as in the rush of the pure selection process–is not only healthy but also essential, if we want a line-up that isn’t consumed over the course of eleven days but lingers in the minds and bodies of the viewers.” The Berlinale, with Executive Director Mariette Rissenbeek at the helm, has esteemed British theater and film actor Jeremy Irons as president of the International Jury 2020.
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