AS I write this column, I am bound for Bacolod as one of the guests of the Negrense Film Festival and join my fellow sub-committee members for an out-of-town meeting of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts-Cinema.
I have joined film festivals as early as 1985 and even bagged 2nd best in the documentary category of the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines of that year for my indie film Camote Miners. My entry was about a bunch of pocket miners who dug tunnels and extracted gold along the Bued River just below the Kennon Road check point. Back then, we filmed with Super-8 film cameras and used razor blades and acetone to edit. We reviewed each frame using a hand cranked analog viewer and marked our edit cut-points with a graphite pencil. The thrill and experience of showing your film to a number of audience and the act of receiving a plaque with corresponding cash was truly worth all the effort and enthusiasm. That definitely rewarded and paid off my numerous travels to UP Film Center, trek to the mining tunnels and the scar on my left arm that I got out of those filming days.
Film festivals conducted in France, Berlin, Tokyo and United States democratized and empowered young independent filmmakers to produce self-financed films and this resulted to more of its kind like our own Cinemalaya and Cinerehiyon.
During my five year stint as Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) coordinator for Baguio managing the country’s first Cinematheque, we hosted local and international film festivals that featured award winning films from various countries. We also featured student works that were shot using digicams and smart phones.
Recently, representatives of the European Union was in Baguio for another showcase of Cine Europa at the Baguio Museum. The German head of the delegation gave an overview and started with a question "Where are we now?”. He went on to say, “We are on a challenging decade of EU. Accepting war refugees was shared by members of European Union communities with Germany accepting the biggest number. Where are we heading for?" The EU representative thinks that they may not have one government at the moment and expressed fear that they will again lose another member. A millennial observer from the audience stood up and said that today's generation do not want another war and he appealed that these countries must stay bonded to support world peace.
Movies are one of the most effective forms of advocacy because it does not only entertain but also educates us by way of its screenplay, creative portrayals and depiction of its subjects. If you are a visual artist who engages in camera-works, loves music and knows how to write a story, indie-cinema is one great option to tread into as more and more avenues are getting into the scene for a wider viewership. It is just sad that Baguio as one of Unesco’s recognized Creative Cities has lost the distinction as having the first Cinematheque in the country because it was gone in 2016.