SF festival highlights Filipino talent in mainstream film

SAN FRANCISCO — Both fans and critics of Filipino films alike got a sneak preview of what’s to come, at a press conference in San Francisco for the upcoming Cinematografo International Film Festival.

The event marks the beginning of what is expected to be an annual exhibition of emerging Filipino talent in film to the mainstream.

“We’re turning a corner on Philippine cinema and we want to give that opportunity to the Filipino filmmaker, especially the Filipino American filmmaker,” said executive director John D. Lazatin.

Aside from its featured films, Cinematografo also launched a competition earlier this year awarding 5 Filipino filmmakers with a $100,000 production grant.

Their work will be featured as original films at the festival.

Film critics say the opportunity is a rare one in today’s competitive market.

“For a film to make an impact it has to sell DVDs or Blu-rays, we don’t have any video stores anymore,” said David Lamble. “They’re not likely to be streamed by major services, so this is your one shot to get an important influential audience.”

For Filipinos outside the motherland, it’s a way of reconnecting, knowing who they are, knowing where they came from, it’s a way of coming home.

More than a showcase, Cinematografo also aims to address several issues through both its films and panels, from affairs in both the Philippines and the US, to the minority experience.

“I think you’re able to discuss some issues that might be taboo, and I think it’s important to have these platforms and events to be able to address,” said Genevieve Jopanda.

“We’re always invisible, always, when it comes to ethnic media, let alone mainstream, so we’re much needed for what you guys are doing here,” said Gregory Chew, SF arts commissioner at large.

“What we did was kind of really review everything, review all the films that have been screening last year, and all the way up to 20 years ago and what encapsulates the Filipino and Filipino American experience and that became the program,” said festival director Miguel Sevilla.

After a dialogue with the festival’s organizing team, attendees were treated to a preview of just one of 28 films to be screened at the festival, taking place from November 9 to 12 at San Francisco’s AMC Kabuki theater.

When it comes to all aspiring Filipino filmmakers, Cinematografo has this message to share:

“Pursue that dream, and hopefully Cinematografo is here to support and assist as a platform to that young Filipino filmmaker’s voice.”

From comedy to social issues, and even a musical, the spectrum of films is broad at the upcoming first ever Cinematografo film festival. But despite the variety, a common thread unites the films, as well as its festival goers. Elevating Filipino talent to the global stage.

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