By RICA AREVALO
Images by NEIL DAZA
Last year, around 51 new films were produced in our local film festivals namely, Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, Cinema One Originals Film Festival, CineFilipino Film Festival, Sinag Maynila Film Festival, TOFARM Film Festival, QCinema International Film Festival, and the Metro Manila Film Festival.
Take note, only seven films were directed by women. That’s only about 13 percent. Cinema One Originals, Sinag Maynila, and the MMFF had zero women directors in their lineup last year.
Cinemalaya had Mamang by Denise O’ Hara and Pan de Salawal by Che Espiritu. CineFilipino produced Gusto Kita with All My Hypothalamus by Dwein Baltazar and Delia and Sammy by Therese Anne Cayaba. TOFARM funded Kauyagan by Julienne Ilagan. QCinema had Oda sa Wala by Dwein Baltazar and Billie and Emma by Samantha Lee.
WHAT DOES THIS TELL US?
Even if we campaign for fair representation, the works of women directors are not given the spotlight in these local film festivals. Feminine voices are not heard. Women dream projects are not promoted. And the reality is there is no big budget for women-driven works.
The lack of female representation in film festivals is quite the opposite for the commercial film industry. Joyce Bernal ruled the box office in the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival with Gandarrapiddo! The Revenger Squad. Antoinette Jadaone has effectively crossed over from her debut independent film, That Thing Called Tadhana, to commercial film successes in Irene Emma Villamor Never Not Love You and Alone/Together. Irene Emma Villamor has an upcoming film Ulan, a follow-up to the success of Sid & Aya: Not a Love Story. Sigrid Andrea Bernardo, known for Kita Kita, is now shooting a film in Telavi, Georgia’s eastern province of Kakheti, entitled Untrue.
The same “regulation” exists that if a director’s film earns box office success, it is a sure way one can be “gifted” with a new movie project.
Jane Campion is the first woman filmmaker to ever receive the Palme d’Or, the highest honor at the Cannes Film Festival, for The Piano. To this day, she is the only female director to have won the Palme d’Or and this is the 26th year that no female has won after her.
Patty Jenkins directed the highest grossing film by a female director, Wonder Woman. It is a known fact that she is the only female filmmaker who had ever been given a budget of over $150 million to direct the Gal Gadot starrer. With her smashing success, she was offered to direct the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984.
WHAT TO DO?
Fewer and fewer moviegoers are buying movie tickets. Some film production companies are planning to lie low from producing films. Other film outfits will venture in video streaming as a new platform of entertainment.
There is a need to reevaluate how a film is chosen in our local film festivals. There is potential in women’s voices. We call for directorial inclusion and representation for women. We need to seek out, breed, and showcase top women talent in the entertainment industry.
And this has to start now.