Celebrating stronger ties, superb French » Manila Bulletin Entertainment

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France and the Philippines now mark 70 years of diplomatic ties.

In an interview with Bulletin Entertainment, Embassy of France to the Philippines’ Deputy Head of Mission Laurent Legodec said the two countries have “common commitments and common engagements.”

“Our friendship with the Philippines is like a tradition for us,” he said.

The bilateral relations are stronger in all sectors particularly in the field of culture and arts.

“We are able to directly reach a wider public through a medium that people can easily relate to, which is the culture,” he said. “It may not be obvious at first, but people will see through how much French and Filipinos have in common in terms of culture.”

Film festival

As part of their commitment to the cultural exchange, the Embassy of the France to the Philippines, Institut Français, the Alliance Française de Manille and de Cebu, and the Film Development Council of the Philippines, roll out anew the French Film Festival in Manila.

Embassy of France to the Philippines’ Deputy Head of Mission Laurent Legodec

Embassy of France to the Philippines’ Deputy Head of Mission Laurent Legodec

Now on its 22nd year, Legodec believes the annual event is an important part of the diplomacy of France in the Philippines.

“The French government believes in cultural diversity and in the potential of film to bridge nations and cultures together,” he noted.

He added that cinema is more than entertainment as it mirrors creatively what is happening in a particular society.

“It is an alternative venue for Filipinos to discover and appreciate a different kind of cinema, culture, and language.”

Legodec is positive this year’s festival would be another success. He cited that more than 15,000 viewers in Manila and Cebu were recorded in the last year’s festival.

“We look forward to what the friendship between France and Philippines could achieve together in the next 70 years,” he said.

Legodec revealed that FDCP Chairperson Liza Diño has discussed ways to intensify cooperation and exchange with the FDCP’s French counterpart, the Centre national du cinema et de l’image animée  (CNC) and Unifrance.

According to him, the meetings aimed “to encourage French-Philippine co-productions for possible collaborations in the future.”

In the lineup of this year’s French Film Festival are: “Je Suis Un Soldat (I Am A Soldier),’’ “Tour De France (2016),” “Les Chevaliers Blancs (The White Knights),” “21 Nuits Avec Pattie (21 Nights With Pattie),” “Jamais De La Vie (The Night Watchman),” “L’Ombre Des Femmes (In the Shadow Of Women),” “Le Dernier Diamant (The Last Diamond),” “Géronimo,” “Bastille Day,” and “Personal Shopper.”

The 22nd French Film Festival happens from June 9 to 17 at Ayala Malls Cinemas of Greenbelt 3, and at the Bonifacio High Street Central Square Cinemas.

Also, for the first time, the festival will dedicate one weekend for “plein air” free public outdoor screenings at Circuit Makati on June 17 and 18.

Making the mark

The festival will also pay homage to Filipino films that have been selected at the Cannes Film Festival, which also celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.

In time for Independence Day, the following films that will be screened at the festival are: “Nakaw” directed by Noel Escondo and Arvin Belarmino (Short Film Corner, 2017); “Ma’ Rosa” directed by Brillante Mendoza (Main Competition, Best Actress Award, 2016); “On The Job” directed by Erik Matti (Director’s Fortnight, 2013); and “Anino” by Raymond Red (Short Film Corner, Palme d’Or for Best Short Film, 2000).

Legodec noted “the Philippines has made its mark” through the active presence of Filipinos in prestigious festival.

Not to mention that Mendoza has been recently invited by Institut Français as the “parrain” (godfather) of the La Fabrique Cinéma, a mentorship program for 10 up-and-coming filmmakers and producers from emerging economies.

“It clearly shows the wealth of film creation in the Philippines,” the deputy head said.

At the Festival launch, Bulletin Entertainment also got the chance to interview “Nakaw” director Belarmino, who describes his recent Cannes experience as “amazing.”

“It was surreal,” he added. “It was a great experience to be there and to see other filmmakers. For us to be gathered with different people, from different countries in one big event like Cannes, it’s really an honor and unforgettable experience as a filmmaker.”

“My recent Cannes experience motivates me to continue making films and show the world what Filipinos can do,” the director added.

Wait, there’s more

Aside from the festival, the Embassy of France, together with its institutional partners has launched “PhilFrance: Feel French!,” a year-long festival that seeks to illustrate the growing and diversifying cooperation between France and the Philippines through five key themes: “Arts And Culture,” “The Youth And Knowledge,” “High Tech And Entrepreneurship,” and “Sharing Values.”

Note that from now on, this festival will be organized every year.

According to Legodec, the goal of the “PhilFrance: Feel French!” is to give Filipinos the opportunity to better “feel France” in various aspects of everyday life, and to experience the strength of the friendship between our two countries through a series of activities to be organized throughout 2017 and in the coming years.

The “PhilFrance: Feel French!” program includes “Fête De La Musique,” “Goût De France, and the “Soirée Beaujolais Nouveau” organized by the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

On June 22, to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Amity of 1947, French pianist François Chaplin and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra offer an evening of French classical music at the Ravel Unraveled concert. The proceeds will benefit the France-Philippines United Action Foundation.

Other events to look forward to is the “Bon Appétit!” food market and the “Dangal Photo Festival” to be led by photojournalist Christophe Loviny, both taking place in November; and a series of seminars, conferences and meetings that will highlight French-Philippine cooperation in the arts, sciences, business, technology, and education, among other fields.

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