Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Diagnosis: Critical Condition (Or Why the Filipino Film Industry is in Deep Shit)

The Art Muses seem perverse in humor. Just as the local film industry breathes its last breath, foreign film festivals proliferate. How many have there been this year? Ok, let's enumarate shall we? (Those that I know of, of course.)

1. June. French Film Festival. Showy Frenchies like making big cultural splashes. And the film fest is the crowning glory of a month-long cultural celebration. They charged P50 pesos (I think) per film. Still cheaper than SM's P60.

2. July. Cinemanila. Hugely successful almost month-long festival which showcased some 20 foreign films, the epic-in-length Lav Diaz flick and the controversial "Imelda." My boyfriend and I shelled out P600 a piece for six films. Hard on the pocket but well-worth it.

3. July-August. Italian film fest. Screenings on Tuesday nights at the CCP dream theater. Its a small venue, but always packed.

4. July-August. Pink Film Fest. Haven't seen any of the entries. Shown not just here in Manila but in Cebu and Davao as well.

5. September. Cine Europa. Fourteen european films screening at the SM Megamall. Will also be shown in Cebu and Baguio Admission is free. I've seen "Black Meteor" and
"Distant Lights" so far. Germanic films that sucked big time. I will stick to Romance languages. Passion, intensity, similar Filipino temperament. Los Lunes al Sol and Les Choristes should be good.

While Manila residents are having a field day sampling film fares from all over, Filipino films attract flies instead of patrons. Even Bold Films aren't making as much money as before, and so SM Cinemas made the business move not to show them anymore. (No, not because they are bastions of morality and high standards all of a sudden.)

I think local producers should get a clue. People with extra money to spare for entertainment want to see films, not porno. Or the usual run-of-the-mill romances and comedies. What else explains the sudden demand for film fests? These are obviously hard times, and there is a widely held belief that "artsy-farsty" films don't make money. Precisely the point, with ordinary folk squeezing their budget as far as it would take them, they'll prioritize necessities. Not entertainment. And besides, they can always purchase that P30 VCD from the friendly neighborhood pirate.

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