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Thursday, August 05, 2021

State of film

HOW bad is film appreciation for Filipino movies in our country today? Worst, in the superlative form, to the point that internationally-acclaimed Filipino Film Director Brilliante Mendoza has to sometimes beg people to watch his films when shown in local theaters.

Filipino filmmakers could only bet that most Filipinos do not even know who Mendoza is or Lav Diaz, for that matter (Don’t Google them after reading this part but way, way better if you do so). At least, this was among the concerns voiced out by Mindanaoan filmmakers during the Mindanao Film Forum with the new FDCP chairperson Liza Diño at the Cinematheque Davao last Saturday.

There are the issues of piracy, competition with foreign films, and audience appreciation which are just among the pile of dusts that the film industry in the country has to shake off, all of which are voiced out by the forum participants during the event.

With the new FDCP leadership, what can filmmakers hope for? It was indeed a chance for the local filmmakers in the region to ask tough questions relating to the industry and air their different struggles to the film council. Various film directors, local indie film actors and actresses took the chance to tell their very own stories of struggles with the FDCP chair.

The main problem with the film industry, according to Diño, is that the sector itself is not considered as an industry in the country.

“We are seen as entertainers. Hindi tayo seen as an industry,” Diño said.

Diño told the forum participants that there will be a year under her leadership that the council will focus on developing the marketing and distribution of films, which are also one of the problems that the moviemakers are encountering aside from audience development.

As an indie film actress, Diño herself shared one occasion where she had to distribute flyers among the people passing by the theaters just to invite them to watch their film.

“Brilliante Mendoza, who is already known all over the world is sometimes begging and pleading para panoorin ang mga pelikula pag pinapalabas sa mga local na mga sinehan,” Diño shared, adding that it is an obvious concern. She then urged everyone to also take part in addressing the issue.

“We have to think of the industry as a whole. Lahat tayo kaparte para payabungin ang ating industriya- hindi lang indie filmmakers, hindi lang ang theater owners, hindi lang ang mainstream kundi pati na ang audience,” Diño said. One of the thrusts that the FDCP is going to do under the new leadership is audience development.

“We really need to develop the audience. We need to let them realize that there are other themes that they can watch or other option of films available for them and that includes the story of the region, our indie films, and documentaries and short films,” she said.

What is really the focus of Diño’s leadership?

In an interview, Diño revealed that she wanted to create a satellite office for each Cinematheque in the country which will not only become a venue for watching films but will a mini FDCP where the moviemakers and the council can connect easily.

Within three to six months, FDCP is going to conduct activities that will engender integration and creation of satellite offices all over the country through the Cinematheques.

“We are going to create a mini FDCP and I hope that out of the interaction that comes with it there will spark services that are more grounded in the communities,” she said.

“I would be very, very candid about my intention to really empower regional films in the communities. It is a very personal advocacy and hopefully, if I can attend to the personal concerns of the region mas mararamdaman ng mga tao na malapit ang FDCP sa kanila, Diño shared.

As to the issue of competition between foreign and Filipino films, Diño said that it is important to address this by having a government mandate that will help protect the Philippines’ own film industry. She also explained prior to this that FDCP, as a policy-making and implementing body, will use the mandate and opportunity to hopefully create a policy for the local film industry.

There is a disconnection between the filmmakers and the audience that is why the latter sometimes prefer to watch foreign films, Diño admitted but she was quick to add that the disconnect is not really intentional.

"Wala lang available avenue at hindi masyadong nadi-disseminate ang information. Bilang chair, ang goal ko is to bridge that gap because it is just a gap that needs to be connected." Diño said.

Once the connection between the filmmakers and the audience is established, Diño is positive that there will become a continuous and free exchange between the two parties.
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