The third World Premieres Film Festival (WPFF) opens today, June 29, and runs until July 10. Organized by the Film Development Council Philippines (FDCP) in cooperation with the Cinematheque Centre Manila, it will be shown at different theaters in Metro Manila, including SM Megamall cinemas in Mandaluyong City, SM North Edsa cinemas in Quezon City, Greenbelt 3 cinemas in Makati City, the Shang Cineplex in Mandaluyong City and the Uptown Cinemas in Quezon City.
Briccio Santos, chairman of the government agency for film in the Philippines, said this edition of the WPFF has a "new look" and "youthful energy."
He added that over 60 international films will be given opportunities to reach new audiences. Moreover, the competition films are stronger this year and coming from well-established filmmakers.
Five films will be exhibited in the Main Competition category of the festival, where they will be assessed by an international jury and vie for the Grand Festival Prize, Grand Jury Prize, Best Performance by an Actor, Best Performance by an Actress, Best Artistic Contribution, Technical Grand Prize and Best Ensemble Performance awards.
The competing films are Yen's Life (Vietnam, directed by Dinh Tuan Vu), Redha (Malaysia, directed by Tunku Mona Riza), By Accident (France, directed by Camille Fontaine), Daughters of the Three Tailed Banner (The Philippines, directed by Gutierrez Mangansakan II) and Love Above All Things (Spain, directed by Chema de la PeAa).
The Main Competition gala premieres will be at Shang Cineplex, Uptown Cinema and Greenbelt 3, followed by an open forum with the directors (free admission).
Aside from the Main Competition, WPFF has different sections such as Filipino New Cinema, Intercontinental, Country of Honor (Vietnam), Asean Skies, Spotlight: China, Out of Competition, Filipino Classics, French Silent Short Films and Cine Verde.
In The Filipino New Cinema section, six Filipino films will be premiering and vying for prizes including Best Picture (first and second place), Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Musical Score, Best Sound Engineering, Best Production Design, Best Performances and Best Supporting Roles.
The films are Ku'te (directed by Ronaldo Bertubin); Edsa (directed by Alvin Yapan); Iadya Mo Kami (directed by Mel Chionglo); Memory Channel (directed by Raynier Brizuela); Curiosity, Adventure and Love (directed by Sunshine de Leon Lichaucho and Suzanne Richardonne); and Ringgo: The Dog-Shooter (directed by Rahyan Carlos).
The Filipino New Cinema gala premieres will take place at SM Megamall and SM North Edsa, followed by an open forum with the directors and cast (by invitation only).
The Intercontinental Section presents films from different countries except those from the Southeast Asian region, which will vie for the Intercontinental Prize for Best Film, while the Asean Skies section focuses on films hailing from the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which will compete for the Asean Skies Prize for Best Film.
This year, the Country of Honor section will be debuting and it will first highlight films of Vietnam. Eight contemporary Vietnamese films will screen whose directors will grace festival events and activities such as roundtable discussions, media functions and galas. On the other hand, the Spotlight: China section features films from mainland China.
One interesting section is the Filipino Classics, which mostly feature restored versions of old films, which will go to the growing collection of the National Film Archives of the Philippines. Highlighting this section is the restored 1971 film Pagdating sa Dulo, directed by Ishmael Bernal. Starring Rita Gomez and Vic Vargas, it will also serve as the opening film at the festival opening ceremony today, June 29, at the Cinematheque Centre Manila.
Aside from Pagdating sa Dulo, other films to be screened are Noli Me Tangere (Gerardo de Leon, 1961), Batang West Side (Lav Diaz, 2001), Damortis (Briccio Santos, 1986), White Slavery ( Lino Brocka, 1985) and Turumba (Kidlat Tahimik, 1981).
The Out of Competition section has foreign films, which have garnered success and critical acclaim at other international film festivals, while Cine Verde presents films on environmental issues, presented in partnership with Connect4Climate (C4C), a global partnership program based at the World Bank, and global campaign, Film4Climate.
There will also be outdoor screenings at the courtyard within the Cinematheque complex, where one can watch films while sipping refreshments in a more casual atmosphere. Films to be shown include French silent films, environmental films in the Cine Verde film section, and Filipino Classics films.
Aside from the films showings, there are several events within the festival.
The International Film Conference (IFC) will be held at the Casino EspaAol de Manila in Ermita, Manila, on July 1 at 11 a.m. Free and open to the public, this "aims to impart global film industry perspectives to everyone from those in the Filipino film industry, to students alike." The topic of the conference is "Behind the Scenes: a 360 degree view of the film industry," and invited speakers include Katharina BAlttinger of the Sales and Technical Department of the European Film Market; Edgar Tejerero, president of SM Lifestyle Entertainment Inc.; Ted Roper, partner lawyer of Freeman Freeman and Smiley, LLP, based in Los Angeles; and Hyong-Joon Kim, Korean film producer.
On the same day, the Mini International Film Expo will open at the Cinematheque Centre Manila, featuring a election of the industry's latest and greatest technologies.
On July 2, the Director Roundtables and Q&A Panels will be held at the Asean Library of Cinematheque Centre Manila, featuring a Vietnamese filmmaker at 2 p.m. and a Main Competition filmmaker at 3 p.m.
Also during the festival, the Film Asean Knowledge Management Centre will be inaugurated on June 30 at the Cinematheque Centre Manila. This is a library "on the moving image culture of the Philippines, its neighboring nations, and beyond. It will be a resource hub for those interested in learning about Asean cinema cultures, creating access to books, magazines, and a rich variety of resource materials contributed by the 10 member states of the Asean." Aside from access to books and other materials, the library will also host workshops and symposia to further develop the cultural exchange of information and skills of Southeast Asian nations.