18 November 2019 – In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Philippines-Singapore diplomatic relations and 100 Years of Philippine Cinema, the Philippine Embassy in Singapore in cooperation with the National University of Singapore – Office of Alumni Relations (NUS-OAR), Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), and ABS-CBN Film Productions, Inc./Star Cinema successfully held the inaugural Philippine Film Festival on 12-15 November 2019 at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House in NUS.
The opening night of the Philippine Film Festival on 12 November 2019 featured “Mr. and Mrs. Cruz,” a romantic comedy-drama set in Palawan starring Ryza Cenon and JC Santos. The director of the film, Ms. Sigrid Andrea Bernardo, attended the opening night and briefly introduced the film.
The by-invitation reception and screening during the opening night was attended by Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Joseph Del Mar Yap; Ms. Florence Neo, NUS Director for Alumni Cultivation & Engagement; Mr. Jo Andrew Torlao of FDCP’s International Relations Division; Ms. Karen Almeida, Head of Star Cinema’s International Sales Distribution and Branded Entertainment Unit; members of the diplomatic corps, Filipino community in Singapore, and NUS alumni and students.
“Philippine cinema has found a new calling as a global brand. Gone were the days when Philippine cinema was only for Filipino moviegoers. The world has become our stage and the international community has become our target audience. We aspire to be part of the resurgence of a new breed of Asian cinema. Uniquely Filipino but with an international appeal,” Ambassador Yap said in his welcome remarks.
Other films featured during the Philippine Film Festival were “Seven Sundays” on 13 November 2019, “Bakwit Boys” on 14 November 2019, and “Siargao” on 15 November 2019. The film screenings for 13-15 November 2019 were free of charge, although moviegoers were requested to register online first.
The line-up of films for the Philippine Film Festival highlighted not just the artistry and talent of Filipino filmmakers but also particular facets of life in the Philippines.
The beautiful settings of the films “Mr. and Mrs. Cruz” and “Siargao,” which are Palawan and Surigao, respectively, showcased these tropical paradises as exciting tourism destinations. “Seven Sundays” is about the highs and lows of a tightly knit family, which is common among Asian societies, including Singapore. “Bakwit Boys” shows the inherent musicality of Filipinos even in times of calamity and adversity.
FDCP’s collaboration in this film festival was made possible through its Philippine Embassies Assistance Program (PEAP) which has been running for two years already. Through PEAP, the FDCP helps Foreign Service Posts to hold film-related activities.
Host countries of Philippine diplomatic missions get to experience Philippine culture and discover commonalities through these film festivals. The support given by FDCP includes coordination with producers, as well as sending of film ambassadors to give lectures, securing of discounted screening fees, coverage of subtitling fees, and curation of films. END