France honors Filipino cinema

40-film retrospective to include Mendoza homage

PARIS The 40-film Philippine retrospective at this year’s Festival Paris Cinema reflects France’s long-held esteem for Filipino cinema, which was initiated by the French publicist Pierre Rissient when he introduced Lino Brocka’s masterpiece “Insiang” to Cannes in 1978.

The fest will pay homage to the Filipino director Brillante Mendoza whose latest pic, “Serbis,” was the first Filipino film to be nominated for the Palme d’Or since Brocka’s “The Jaguar” 24 years ago. All six of Mendoza’s pics are being screened as part of the tribute.

“There was a kind of a Filipino New Wave at the end of the 1970s with filmmakers like Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal,” says Jeremy Segay, an expert on Asian cinema who has assembled this year’s retrospective. “Then for a long time afterwards there was a black hole. It’s only recently that Filipino cinema has become rediscovered, in many ways because it has carved out a homosexual niche.”

Segay’s biggest challenge was finding enough copies of Filipino films in acceptable condition to be shown on the big screen. While he managed to turn up a copy of Brocka’s “Insiang,” he was unable to find a copy of “The Jaguar” that could be screened.

“In general in the Philippines it becomes hard to find a good copy of a film even if it is only five years old,” Segay says. “We luckily found some copies of films more than 30 years old in the archives of the Cultural Centre of the Philippines in Manilla. However that’s quite rare. We’re holding a retrospective of films by Joey Gosiengfiao, who was known as the Filipino John Waters, and they’re all having to be projected using video.”

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