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JR Lopez Gonzales 11:51 AM 0

I was reading the dailies this morning and I stumbled upon the entertainment section. I was ecstatic to find out that six Filipino films are included in Portugal's 14th Internacional Festival Signos de la Noite line-up which will take place 2 days from now in Lisbon. That's a good number of locally-produced movies shown in an international silver screen.

And
 as we're inching closer to December, the month where we finally see majority of Philippine movies dominate the ticket sales due to the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), it seems to me that 2016 is a good year for Philippine Cinema. We are treated with a  long line of achievements from our dear Filipino filmmakers both here and abroad for this year.
At a filming location in one of a Lav Diaz's movies.
Director Lav Diaz got the Top Prize at the Venice Film Festival for Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left) last month. On the other hand, 62nd Cannes Film Festival Best Director Brillante Mendoza's opus, Ma' Rosa earned the Best Actress award for Jaclyn Jose who plays the lead role. This film about drug-dealing was also chosen out of the 8 local films to be the country's 2017 Oscars official entry.

Some months ago, before my kababayan (townmate) Liryc Dela Cruz attended Filmadrid, I had the chance of talking with him about his works, influences, and his then-latest opus Sa Pagitan Ng Pagdalaw At Paglimot (The Ebb of Forgetting). It was a great interview that I actually posted it in two parts for my vlog show. 
A screenshot of my interview with Director Liryc Dela Cruz for my YouTube show.
With these feats, and with the bunch of other Filipino films that are making waves outside the archipelago, one thing is certain here: the Filipino cinema is alive and well. And it is rightly so, with a rich cultural and historical backdrop, the Filipino storytellers have a way of telling their own narratives through the Pinoy director's viewfinders.

However, a lot of things has yet to be done in order to maintain the momentum that the Filipino film industry has been having since the start of the millenium. One of the interviews that stuck in recent memory is the PDI article entitled, "Lav Diaz: Why do filmmakers have to beg from government". It was such a great wake up call to us Pinoys that behind the glitz and the glam of the red carpet are the hardships encountered by our talents just to produce their masterpieces.

Financially, the government has been appropriating measly funding for film development. Even for the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), our filmmakers need to be on bended knees to ask for support. For what I see as a possible response to Pinoy directors' concerns, a week after the Diaz interview came out, the new FDCP Chairperson Liza DiƱo announced to the public that a new travel assistance program for producers of local films. I am glad that they listened to our directors' sentiments.

And while these new financial assistance scheme is a welcome development, many still has to be done. The FDCP should further foster the development of Pinoy cinema. Excellent cinema can be sourced from the various parts of the country and we still need to find more directors that would take the craft to another level. And since education is key as well, we might need to educate the younger generation on cinema appreciation. This would continue to be a challenge; I honestly believe.

Last week, I went out to see Yeon Sang Ho's horror movieTrain to Busan at a sold-out Pampanga theater mainly watched by a horde of Filipino youngsters. It was a great movie and I was surprised that it actually premiered last May at Cannes. The special effects and the overall production, and the story of the movie was excellent.

This made me ask myself: will there be a time for more Pinoy films to venture on unconventional storytelling? In my lifetime, will Filipino-produced movies have sold-out theaters worldwide, just how the Korean zombie flick did? Will it be possible to have intelligently-entertaining films that the masses would get to appreciate?

But with us being bombarded by formulaic films - MMFF movies included - for our Pinoy directors, for now, it remains to be a long shot.

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