July seems to be a good time for film festivals, with Eiga Sai and Cinema One launching free film screenings in cinemas around the metro. But there is one more film festival you could come close to missing: the World Premieres Film Festival, which only runs until tomorrow at SM Manila.
According to its official website, The World Premieres Film Festival roots from a simple concept of bringing together a number of countries, with film cultural exchange partnerships, with the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) for a distinct film festival.
As the Philippine Star puts it, cities such as Cannes, Venice and Berlin have been staging film festivals that shine as annual beacons for cultural enlightenment, business dealings and tourism. Hence, it is in this light that local filmmakers and enthusiasts are optimistic that our very own Manila will be able to do the same.
Here are the films in main competition:
The Sharks of Copacobana (Brazil)
A story of friendship, turbulent passions and lost hopes, The Sharks of Copacobana follows the reunion of a group of surfers in their fifties after 20 years of separation. The friends reconnect after one of their friend dies, a friend who happens to be the husband of Zulma, Nando’s former flame. Consequently, Nando begins a torrid romance with Zulma’s daughter, Nicole, to which the former objects.
Open Wound (Ecuador)
Winner, Grand Jury Prize, Technical Grand Prize, and Best Performance by Actor (René Pástor)
Based on a true story, an inexperienced Ecuadorian soldier finds himself in the middle of the jungle where he becomes a captive of the enemy. This prompts him to discover his becoming, while at the same time trying to escape with a fellow prisoner.
Romantic Nostalgia (Iran)
Winner, Best Performance by an Actress (Mitra Hajjar)
During a demonstration, Feresteh is assisted by a man named Manouchehr and manages to get rid of the security forces. After the revolution, they accidentally meet again and get married despite the objections of Feresteh’s family. But aside from this antagonism, another predicament presents itself: Manouchehr must go to the warfront to defend Iran from the Iraqi Army’s invasion.
Mula Sa Kung Ano Ang Noon (From What Is Before)
Winner, Grand Festival Prize and Best Ensemble Performance
In the words of Director Lav Diaz, “the story revolves around the lives of poor villagers in one of the remotest regions of the Philippines before Martial Law was declared.” Loosely based on real events and characters, the film probes into how an individual and collective psyche responds to extreme and mysterious changes in social and physical environment.
Our Hodja (Turkey)
A delay of an official imam’s arrival in a little village causes its people to resort assigning “Bizum Hoca” (Our Hodja) as their imam, a villager who is loved and respected by everyone, albeit not an official one. Tensions arise when the official imam Ekrem comes while Bizum Hoca leads the people in a protest against the construction of a hydroelectric power plant.
Our Hodja is a comedy movie that centers on love of nature and humanity, and that views religion from a different perspective.
Autopsy of Love (Spain)
A documentary that explores the reasons behind the collapse of known love archetypes. Psychologists, lawyers, priests, couples young and old, single and married give their take on why loving relationships fail.
New Your Shadows (Spain)
New York Shadows is a psychological drama avant-garde that tells the story of Julian, a Spanish filmmaker who comes to New York to visit filming locations for his new movie and to meet an American actress set to star in the film. Suddenly, Julian finds himself entangled in his own story and script, sharing disturbing illusions with that characters he has created.
Winner, Best Artistic Contribution (for Cinematography)
Likened to an impressionist picture or a Japanese Haiku, Crustaceans “is a matter of reflection on an instance in life with the social-economical crisis as a landscape.” The film is a result of a two-year effort of taking footage of street demonstrations and incorporating its actors into the action.
As the WPFF puts it, “both the characters and the people in the street, like identical crustaceans, take to the street to express their shame and range for what is happening and try to find a solution.”
On the other hand, the World Premieres Film Festival also showcases other films under other categories such as: Cine Verde (exclusively for contemporary features tackling climate change and other environmental themes); and ‘The Parallel Sections’ which includes Euroview (features from European countries), ASEAN Skies (features from the ASEAN member-nations), and Spotlight on Ibero-America (features from Latin American countries).
*Source: Photos c/o of WPFF official website and Facebook page.