GUIDE: SalaMindanaw International Film Festival 2015

The third edition of SalaMindanaw International Film Festival will be organized from November 18 to December 2, 2015 in the cities of General Santos and Cotabato, Philippines.

The full festival schedule can be downloaded here.

The Festival will open with an exhibit at SM City Gensan on November 18 called Fluid Boundaries – Bridging Central Mindanao and Southeast Asia Through Cinema which shall feature a photo exhibit of films made in Central Mindanao in the last ten years as well as in neighboring Southeast Asian countries that share common images and issues forming a unique film iconography and discourse. The exhibit is co-presented by the Department of Tourism XII.

Six films will vie in the Festival’s Asian full-length competition. These are Chasing Waves (Charliebebs Gohetia, Philippines),Under Construction (Rubaiyat Hossain, Bangladesh), Jalanan (Daniel Ziv, Indonesia), Snakeskin (Daniel Hui, Singapore), River of Exploding Durians (Edmund Yeo, Malaysia) and Crescent Moon (Ismail Basbeth, Indonesia).

‘River of Exploding Durians’ competed at the 2015 Tokyo International Film Festival.

Meanwhile, seven films will compete in the Asian short film section. These are Elegy (Yousef Kargar, Iran), When The Boats Come In (Khin Maung Kyaw, Myanmar), Man in The Cinema House (Bernard Jay Mercado, Philippines), The Cat and The Orange Seeds (Nguyen Le Hoang Viet, Vietnam), November (Shane Lim, Singapore), Following Diana (Kamila Andini, Indonesia) and The Young Man Who Came From The Chee River (Wichanon Somumjarn, Thailand).

With the exception of Bangladesh and Iran, all films in the line up are from Southeast Asia.

'Following Diana' was screened at the 2015 Toronto IFF.
‘Following Diana’ was screened at the 2015 Toronto IFF.

“On our third year, the Festival’s programming is closer the vision of SalaMindanaw, which is to make the Festival a platform for Southeast Asian cinema,” festival director Teng Mangansakan revealed.

“This year (2015) marks the start of ASEAN Integration. General Santos and Cotabato are strategic locations for regional cinemas across the east ASEAN region due to its proximity to other regional film hubs such as Davao and Zamboanga in the Philippines, and Palu and Makassar in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Cotabato is also the seat of the regional government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Cinema can bridge Southeast Asia and bring its people closer,” Mangansakan noted.

This year, SalaMindanaw is also organizing the inaugural Mindanao Screen Lab. In partnership with forumZFD, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and Mindanao State University Gensan – Graduate School, the Screen Lab is designed as an intensive learning program that provides emerging Mindanao filmmakers hands on training as well as project development sessions that will transform ideas into films. Aside from skills development, the Screen Lab is also aimed at developing young filmmakers who can serve as ambassadors of peace and cultural diversity by instilling a critical appreciation of the issues and challenges to peace in Mindanao. Mentors include award winning Filipino filmmakers John Torres and Sherad Anthony Sanchez and Singaporean auteur Kan Lume.

SalaMindanaw is the first and only international film festival in Mindanao. It is organized by the Mindanao Center for the Cinematographic Arts (Mindanao Cinematografica).

River of Exploding Durians was in the international competition in Tokyo IFF last year while Crescent Moon was in the same section in Tokyo IFF this year. The Young Man Who Came From The Chee River competed at the Orizzonti section of Venice IFF this year. Elegy was in Cannes 2015 and is being considered for Oscars 2016 best shorts nomination. Following Diana screened in Toronto IFF last September.

The Festival is anchored on its mission to be a mirror (salamin) of peace (salam) in Mindanao, hence the name SalaMindanaw.

Monica Bellucci, Lea Seydoux play strong women in ‘Spectre’

James Bond, of course, is always drawn to women and Columbia Pictures’ new 007 action adventure SPECTRE proves that he can still woo them. Italy’s Monica Bellucci (“Malena,” “The Matrix” sequels) and France’s Lea Seydoux (Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Blue is the Warmest Color”) play the new women in Bond’s life.

In the film, a cryptic message from the past sends James Bond (Daniel Craig) on a rogue mission to Mexico City and eventually Rome, where he meets Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci), the beautiful and forbidden widow of an infamous criminal. Bond infiltrates a secret meeting and uncovers the existence of the sinister organisation known as SPECTRE.

Italian Monica Bellucci is an actress that producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli had tried to recruit in the past, denied only for scheduling conflicts. “We’re delighted to finally get her,” says Wilson. “She is terrific in the role.”

Bellucci, meanwhile, says that she was delighted to finally join the series. “I said yes right away because I was very happy to work with Sam Mendes and to be part of this project,” she explains. “I have so much respect for the James Bond films in general because I think they are such a big part of cinema history. And I respect so much all the James Bond girls; I think they are beautiful actresses and talented and it was very interesting for me to be part of this history.”

The character she plays is a seductive Italian woman who holds a number of secrets. “Her Mafioso husband is killed and she risks the same thing happening to her,” Bellucci explains. “When she first meets Bond she doesn’t trust him because she comes from a world where only corrupt men have the power.

“But the chemistry and the attraction between them is so strong and she realises her feminine power over him. Then she trusts him. He saves her and she gives him the information he needs.” She laughs. “And they find an interesting way to sign a contract with each other!”

Another woman playing a pivotal role in SPECTRE is Madeleine Swann, who is brought to the screen by French actress Léa Seydoux. “She’s a doctor and she’s a strong woman,” Seydoux says of her character. “She is intelligent, independent and she doesn’t want anything to do with Bond when she meets him for the first time. She’s not impressed.”

As the story progresses, however, events force a change in their dynamic, and their relationship softens. “She understands Bond very well because she has an insight into the world that he lives in,” the actress continues. “For his mission he needs to understand things from his past and he needs Madeleine for the information she can provide. Eventually, it is a very strong relationship between them.”

Opening across the Philippines on Friday, November 6, 2015, SPECTRE is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.


FDCP pitches ‘Escape to Manila’, ‘The Bells of Balangiga’ at AFM

The Film Development Council of the Philippines is organizing a Philippine film production pitching session entitled “Love, War and History” at the upcoming American Film Market (AFM). The pitch will feature the films Escape to Manila and The Bells of Balangiga and will be held at the AFM studio on November 7 (Saturday) at 10:00am, in Santa Monica, California.

Foreign producers and distributors are expected to attend the session. FDCP hopes for an international co-production with the Philippines on both film projects.

“Escape to Manila” is a romantic adventure that tells the story of two Jews, Anna Cassel and Ralph Preiss, who must forget their old lives to forge new ones, as they escape Nazi tyranny and head for the Philippines, after President Manuel L. Quezon helped allow for the safe entry of Jews into the country. The script was written by writers Amado Angelo Lacuesta and American producer and screenwriter Scott Rosenfelt.

The “Bells of Balangiga” depicts a historical event where a nation’s pride and freedom rang out against America’s colonial presence in the idyllic tropical town of Balangiga. In the unequal battle between Krag and bolo, the brief shining moment of liberation becomes a victory that is pyrrhic—and poetic—sparking a century-old struggle to return the bells back to their rightful home. The script was written by Jose F. Lacaba and placed 1st in the FDCP’s “kaSAYSAYan: Historical Scriptwriting contest” back in 2010.

The American Film Market (AFM) is the premiere global marketplace where Hollywood’s decision-makers and trendsetters all gather under one roof. The AFM is a marketplace where production and distribution deals are closed, with over 8,000 industry leaders in attendance.

WATCH: Teaser trailer for new spy comedy ‘Brothers Grismby’

Columbia Pictures has released the first trailer for the new spy comedy The Brothers Grimsby which may be viewed below.

The movie stars Mark Strong as a British black ops spy who is forced to go on the run with his idiotic football hooligan brother, played by Sacha Baron Cohen. Directed by “Now You See Me’s” Louis Letterier, this teaser trailer opens as a standard actioner, before revealing the Cohen humorous payoff.

“The Brothers Grimsby” also stars Rebel Wilson, Penelope Cruz, Isla Fisher, Gabourey Sidibe, Annabelle Wallis, and Ian McShane.

Opening across the Philippines on March 2, 2016, The Brothers Grimsby is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.