Leah C. Salterio – The Philippine Star

September 26, 2021 | 12:00am

Promoting Spanish culture in the Philippines is being successfully done through the years by Instituto Cervantes de Manila. Particularly, the vibrant film industry that Spain has, depicts the beauty of the country and its people through the annual Spanish film festival, Pelicula, now on its 20th year.

While the pandemic has yet to taper off, the COVID-19 crisis is a way to innovate for everyone. For the second year in a row, Instituto Cervantes has successfully presented the Spanish Film Festival online. The festival extends to Thailand, Australia and for the first time, Malaysia is participating.

A scene from Una Vez Mas.

The festival was created for the Philippines 20 years ago. Annually, the public has enjoyed watching Spanish films, with English subtitles, in theaters. For its 20th edition online, Pelicula will stream 16 feature films and four short films for free.

“This online edition has given us the opportunity to broaden the scope of the festival,” Instituto Cervantes executive director Javier Galvan said. “Our mission is to promote Spanish language and culture all over the world.”

Director David Trueba works on A Este Lado del Mundo.

Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) chairperson and CEO Liza Diño, is “a very important partner” who works closely with Instituto Cervantes with everything related to movies. “It’s a very fruitful cooperation throughout the years that will continue on and on,” Javier said about the working relationship with Liza’s FDCP.

As head of the national film agency of the country, Liza is a proud partner of Pelicula every year. “It’s always been an honor for us to take part in the activities that the festival creates to bring together this link between the Philippines and Spain,” she asserted.

Instituto Cervantes executive director Javier Galvan.

“With great success, we are finding more opportunities to bring together the film industries of Spain and the Philippines. Now that we are going towards globalization and we are seeing a new generation of filmmakers who are very inspired to collaborate not just with their local partners, but also their international partners, as well.

“I hope that we can capitalize on this opportunity to be more intentional in bringing together Spanish producers and Filipino producers, even Thai producers, to have this multi-lateral cooperation in creating films that will travel and will be seen not just in our respective countries, but all over the world.”

Liza also brought up a possible co-production venture between Spain and the Philippines for a movie with Volpi Cup winners in the recent Venice Film Festival, Hollywood actress Penelope Cruz and John Arcilla. “Maybe that’s something that we can aspire and create in the near future,” Liza said.

Opening the festival on Oct. 1 is El Cover (2021), a musical comedy that marks the directorial debut of actor Secun de la Rosa. The lineup includes Gracia Querejeta’s Invisibles (2020), Guillermo Rojas’ Una Vez Mas (2019), Ruiz Barrachina’s Tristesse (2020), Judith Colell’s 15 Horas (2020), David Perez Sanudo’s Ane (2020) and the latest film of David Trueba, A Este Lado del Mundo (2020), a bitter yet intelligent depiction of immigration.

Film Development Council of the Philippines chairperson and CEO Liza Diño

There are documentaries like Samuel Alarcon’s Oscuro y Lucientes (2018) and Antonio Machado (2018), and Laura Hojman’s Los Dias Azules (2020).

Pelicula will also stream Latin-American films such as the Mexican documentary, Andrea Martinez Crowther’s Observar Las Aves (2019) and a feature film, Lina de Lima (2019), directed by Maria Paz Gonzalez and co-produced by Chile, Argentina and Peru. Films will be streamed for only 48 hours. The festival closes on Oct. 10.

Filmmaker Guillermo Rojas, who directed Una Vez Mas, is very excited to have his film shown for the first time in Southeast Asia. He is also the producer of the documentaries Antonio Machado and Los Dias Azules.

Guillermo Rojas is at the helm of Una Vez Mas.

“It’s a great honor to be part of Pelicula and I’m very, very excited,” Guillermo said from Seville, Spain. “Presenting our films in a festival like Pelicula is the opportunity to see how we live in Spain and how we see reality. My film is about young people who need to go abroad looking for a job. It’s very important to know this kind of reality.”

Meanwhile, Liza pointed out the Philippines learns largely from how the Spanish film industry sustains and creates an ecosystem for them. “With all the partnerships that we have with Spain, I am always absorbing all of the learnings and trying to adopt all the best practices for our local sector,” Liza said. “There’s so much to learn from them.”

 

For instance, the theme of migration present in Rojas’ story, is something prominent in many Filipino films, too. “There is a huge human capital in terms of Filipino workers overseas,” Liza explained. “Provided that linkage in terms of themes and narrative is really beautiful when you see it in the lens of another country.

“We can learn a lot on how they present that kind of story. In terms of systems, we all know that Spain, like other European countries, has a mature system when it comes to filmmaking. That is not just in the creation, but also in the business of distributing and exhibiting content.”

Director Judith Colell takes pride in 15 Horas.

Liza expressed her desire for our local industry to be equipped with the tools to be more globally competitive and to work with international producers. “The idea of international co-production or two countries working together is already normal for countries like Spain, but something that is just emerging in the Philippines,” she maintained. “That is something that we’re actively working on right now as a sector, in order for us to keep up with this changing landscape.”





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