Philippines, France to Renew Film Cooperation Agreement
MANILA, PHILIPPINES, JULY 8, 2021 — The Philippines and France will continue their partnerships in several sectors of the film and audiovisual content industry after the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) and Centre National du Cinéma et de l'image animée or National Centre for Cinematography (CNC) renewed their Film Cooperation Agreement during the 9th Philippines-France Joint Economic Commission (JEC) Meeting on July 2.
In addition, the much anticipated Co-production Treaty between France and the Philippines could come to fruition by 2022 as the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) are pushing for the ratification this year of the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions that would lead to the co-production treaty with France, a formidable stalwart in global cinema.
The French Government requires the ratification of the UNESCO Convention so that the Philippines and France may engage in cultural and economic exchanges through international co-production and bilateral co-production agreements to further expand their film, television, and video production and distribution industries.
The FDCP has been closely coordinating with the Senate and DFA to expedite the ratification. The national film agency sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs on June 30, 2021, and they replied that as soon as the DFA submits the consolidated concurrence, it will be prioritized this year. The DFA is set to submit to the Senate the consolidated concurrence of all related government agencies and other ratification documents.
With this development, the Philippines hopes to conclude a Co-production Treaty with France by next year as the countries celebrate 75 years of diplomatic relations. In the absence of a co-production treaty, the FDCP and CNC signed a Film Cooperation Agreement in 2014 to pursue cooperation in promoting cultural diversity and heritage, expertise and training exchanges, production and co-production, and distribution and festivals.
“The Film Development Council of the Philippines welcomes the further expansion of the long history of cooperation between the Philippines and France, particularly in the film and audiovisual areas. This would provide more opportunities for filmmakers and other stakeholders of both countries to expand their respective markets and learn from each other's best practices, especially with the drastic change of landscape in the film and audiovisual industry as we all pivot to the digital space,” said FDCP Chairperson and CEO Liza Diño.
Proposals for the distribution and animation sectors
At the 9th Philippines-France JEC Meeting held via video conference, the FDCP highlighted the importance of creative industries through film. Aside from tackling the co-production treaty and renewal of the FDCP-CNC cooperation, Diño presented other priorities in the distribution and animation sectors.
The FDCP, through its UniPhilippines program, made known its intention to partner with UniFrance in providing consultancy and training activities and holding joint film market events in order to secure wider and stronger distribution opportunities for Filipino and French content distribution.
The FDCP also recognizes the animation sector as one of the emerging sectors in the creative industry that has gained attention and support locally and internationally. Therefore, the FDCP proposed for the Philippines and France to explore co-production for animation content and conduct capacity-building activities to elevate the skills and talents of our animation creators.
Since 2017, the Philippines has been participating in the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France and its Marché international du film d'animation d'Annecy (MIFA) or Annecy International Animation Film Market where it has hosted a country pavilion and provided market badges for Filipino animation companies.
This year, the FDCP led the biggest delegation to MIFA with more than 50 animation workers from 29 animation studios plus four animation film projects and the country’s first competing film, Avid Liongoren’s “Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story.” The first Filipino Netflix animated film was a project of First Cut Lab 2019, co-organized by the FDCP and Tatino Films.
FDCP and CNC collaborations
Since the 2014 Film Cooperation Agreement, the FDCP and CNC, both government agencies, have forged partnerships to promote more collaborations between the Philippines and France and empower the same efforts from the private sector. Among their various cooperation projects are as follows:
In 2016, the complete restoration of the first full-length Hiligaynon film “Giniuhaw Ako, Ginagutom Ako (I am Thirsty, I am Hungry)” by Quirino “Quin” Baterna and Leonardo Q. Belen was done by the French Film Archive.
In 2017, the CNC-French Film Archive facilitated the visit of FDCP representatives to the French Film Archive to provide technical assistance in establishing the Philippine Film Archive Heritage Building spearheaded by the FDCP in partnership with the Department of Tourism and Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA).
Also in 2017, the CNC and FDCP meeting at the CNC headquarters, led by CNC’s Julien Ezanno and FDCP Chairperson Diño, discussed the best practices of the French film industry that can be adapted by the Philippines.
In 2018, a policy forum on French film policies and levy funds for film for Philippine legislators was conducted at the FDCP’s International Film Industry Conference during former Film France commissioner Franck Priot’s visit to the Philippines that was hosted by the CNC and the French Embassy in the Philippines.
In 2019, the FDCP hosted Annecy Film Festival’s Animation du monde in Manila in partnership with the French Embassy in Singapore through Regional Attaché for Southeast Asia Charlotte Deflassieux and French Embassy in the Philippines through Audiovisual Attaché Martin Marvin Macalintal.
In 2020, the acquisition of 2019 French film “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” by the FDCP was made possible by mk2 Films and Jeremy Segay of UniFrance. The historical romantic drama film written and directed by Céline Sciamma, which won the Best Screenplay and Queer Palm Prize in the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, was part of the FDCP’s online PelikuLAYA: LGBTQIA+ Film Festival in 2021.
From 2020 to 2021, the FDCP’s FilmPhilippines Incentives Program provided financial support through the International Co-production Fund (ICOF) to three France-Philippines co-production projects: “Kun Maupay Man It Panahon (Whether the Weather is Fine)” by Carlo Francisco Manatad, “Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah vs. The Amazonistas of Planet X” by Avid Liongoren, and “Dancing the Tides” by Xeph Suarez.
“Kun Maupay Man It Panahon,” which will have its world premiere in this year’s Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, is co-produced by Filipino companies ACC Cinematografica, Globe Studios, Dreamscape Entertainment, Quantum Films, Black Sheep, and Plan C together with House on Fire (France), AAND (Singapore), KawanKawan Media (Indonesia), and Weydemann Bros. (Germany).
“Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah vs. The Amazonistas of Planet X” is produced by Rocketsheep Studio, Ghosts City Films (France), Maltu Trading/Hoorakhsh Studios (Malaysia/Iran), and Graham Films (Norway) while “Dancing the Tides,” a project of the FDCP’s 1st Southern Voices Film Lab where it won the Special Jury Prize with a Co-Production Grant worth PHP 500,000, was selected by La Fabrique Cinéma de l'Institut français, a film lab of the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.
Another FilmPhilippines Incentive, the Film Location Incentive Program (FLIP), was awarded to animated TV series Bionic Max, produced by France-based Gaumont, which secured the services of Filipino production company Top Draw Animation. Through FLIP, Top Draw Animation is eligible for a 20% cash rebate of up to PHP 10 Million (approx. US$ 196,000) on Qualified Philippine Production Expenses (QPPE).
Enhancement of PH-France relations
With the various partnerships between the FDCP and CNC, the FDCP expressed its openness to revisit, expand, and renew the Film Cooperation Agreement in a letter dated June 30, 2021 addressed to CNC President Dominique Boutonnat.
The FDCP also proposed the inclusion of collaborative activities related to animation, expansion of cooperation in distribution by providing support to other distribution platforms, indication of holding expertise and training exchanges at least twice a year, and inclusion of film archiving in the provision on heritage to preserve and nurture the film heritage of both countries.
With the renewal of the Film Cooperation Agreement, the FDCP is optimistic that its film cooperation activities with CNC will continue to enhance the bilateral relationship between the Philippines and France, especially in terms of cultural and economic relations.
The FDCP expressed its gratitude to Ambassador of France to the Philippines Michèle Boccoz and DTI Undersecretary Ceferino “Perry” Rodolfo for leading the JEC Meeting. The national film agency also thanked French Embassy in the Philippines Audiovisual Attaché Macalintal and Embassy of France to the Philippines and Micronesia Cultural Counsellor Marc Piton for their guidance in solidifying the proposed cooperation initiatives between the Philippines and France.