By RICA AREVALO
There is no physical edition of the 73rd annual Cannes Film Festival. Instead, an alternative online screening of the official selections is set. Same goes for the Marché du Film, the festival’s biggest film market, where international projects are pitched to get funding for their production and distribution. All meetings were held virtually from June 22 to 26.
The Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) brought four projects at the Cannes Docs Online 2020.
Cha Escala, the director behind Remnants of a Revolution, tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle that her documentary is a very personal story. “The two main characters are people who are close to me. They’re a father and son,” says the Best Picture winner of the 2014 QCinema International Film Festival for her work, Nick and Chai. “The father is one of the founding members of the communist party of the Philippines. I was in a relationship with his son,”
The last phone call of the father and son revealed an ultimate confession of a violent past. “I’d like to believe that my film is about understanding the complexity and the multiple layers of a person,” she explains. The 72-minute film aims to be an exercise of empathy—a father whose dark past precedes him and a son who feels guilty for the “mistake” committed by his father.
The online virtual meeting with distributors is advantageous to Cha. “While I enjoy occasional socializing at film events, my introvert self often find it exhausting, and at times, even excessive,” she says, adding that the online market gets down to business faster. “The only downside is it’s easier to study the one you’re in a meeting with in a face-to-face conversation, rather than via Zoom.”
Joseph Mangat, director of Holy Craft, moved to US when he was eight years old. He was mentored by avant-garde French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Gorin at the University of California, San Diego.
“The film started as a narrative about a Filipino immigrant church clerk who has a sudden bout with his faith after accidentally breaking the centerpiece crucifix at the Catholic Church he works at,” he reveals.
Producer Alemberg Ang met Joseph thru one of his students at Xavier. The two teamed up to examine the peculiarities of religion, labor, capital, and gender, all converging at a Catholic figurines factory where pious LGBTQ+ workers and outcasts pray to the same items they manufacture. For Joseph, it is important to look for funding abroad. “Let’s face it, documentaries are not popular with general Filipino audiences,” he reveals. “Often it takes years to complete. For us, we’ve been making this film for five years now.”
Both are excited to be in one of the largest film markets in the world. “We want to see, from an international perspective, how our film is and how it will fare in the international market. We want to hear advice and suggestions on how to make it better,” adds Alemberg.
Other documentary projects showcased by the Philippines in the Cannes market were Nowhere Near directed by Miko Revereza and The Remotes directed by John Torres.
At the end of it all, the €10,000 Docs-in-Progress Award went to Alemberg’s Holy Craft.