QUEZON CITY – Mayor Joy Belmonte and the City Government are setting their visions on transforming Quezon City into the premier “Film Capital of the Philippines” and a thriving film hub within the Southeast Asian region.
“We are in the process of crafting legislative measures as well as intensifying our efforts to amplify the film and tourism industry by putting up key infrastructure to support it,” Belmonte affirmed their commitment to this vision during the press conference of QCinema International Film Festival 2023.
Adding that not only film critics and film reviewers recognized the QCinema as the number film festival in the country.
“Now even the Department of Tourism and the Tourism Sector also acknowledges our good practices and the good things we are doing for our country in the area of boosting tourism,” she said.
She believes that this is the direction that the Qcinema should belong to.
Belmonte stated that the film gallery, which was initially a humble and close-knit space aimed at supporting the local film industry, has transformed into a globally recognized film event.
“We started to unfold the vast potential for QCinema as a sustainable tourism activity for Quezon City and see the festival in an elevated manner,” she added.
QC Film Commission Executive Director Liza Diño-Seguerra corresponds to Belmonte that the City fits to be on this spot as Quezon City has a diverse selection of cinemas, where the majority of broadcast, film, and media institutions are situated within the metropolis.
And according to Seguerra, seventy percent (70%) of the revenue in the Philippines, in the film industry, comes from Quezon City.
“So it’s really just very organic that our dear mayor is re-championing the film industry as its core revenue stream and support for our filmmakers,” she said as most of the filmmakers, talents and technicians reside as well in the urban center.
“We’re going to make Quezon City like Los Angeles, like the Hollywood of the Philippines,” Seguerra highlighted.
QC Project Market
To reinforce this vision, Belmonte introduces the “QC Project Market,” a convenient hub designed to streamline and simplify film and media production within the city.
This initiative, a collaborative effort between the city government and its partner agencies, envisions a dedicated space at City Hall where filmmakers can readily seek support and assistance for their production needs.
This one-stop center at City Hall is aimed at enhancing the efficiency of obtaining film permits, providing incentives to promote filmmaking, and ultimately fostering a more filmmaker-friendly environment.
“All of that will have a single window processing. So, it’s just one window that our filmmakers will go to when they need it,” Seguerra added.
QC’s Quest for UNESCO Creative City
In a bid to solidify QC status as a film hub, Belmonte highlights that the City Government is actively working towards becoming a UNESCO Creative City for Film by 2025.
Belmonte spoke about this endeavor, emphasizing the importance of QCinema as a cornerstone of their efforts.
“We have a lot of work to do. And one of the pillars, the most important showcase and platform that we have is QCinema,” she remarked.
She believes that becoming a UNESCO Creative City for Film would provide substantial international recognition and support to Quezon City’s thriving film industry. UNESCO’s backing would open doors to global exposure and promotion, making it an attractive prospect for the local film community.
Liza Seguerra as the Executive Director of the QCIFF, elaborated on the city’s journey to obtain this prestigious title.
“We have a national agency that identifies who will apply for 2025. So every two years, our country will identify these cities who aspire to become a UNESCO creative city,” she said.
QC was identified as a prime candidate due to its adherence to many of the criteria necessary to attain the Creative City designation.
One of the key criteria is the substantial contribution of the film industry to Quezon City’s economy.
“Quezon City is, if not at the top, but one of the main contributors in our economy,” Seguerra remarked as the city boasts a significant number of film production companies.
Secondly, film policies also play a pivotal role in UNESCO’s evaluation. The city aims to establish a comprehensive framework that supports all sectors within the film industry, including producers, filmmakers, talents, suppliers, and exhibitors. These policies are crucial for the successful release and promotion of films, particularly within Quezon City’s cinemas.
Infrastructure development is another essential component of the city’s application. Quezon City is investing in creative spaces, hubs, and training centers to nurture the local film industry.
Furthermore, the re-establishment of the Quezon City Film Commission is a critical step in fulfilling the city’s aspirations.
The application also places a strong emphasis on action plans to ensure that the city’s ambitions translate into tangible results.
The establishment of the QC Screen Academy is part of a long-term strategy to equip local talents with the necessary skills and tools to create globally competitive films.
“It’s really a big, monumental task but I think the city is ready to take it on,” Liza concluded.
However, when asked about when Mayor Belmonte stepped down as the city Mayor after the term, seeing the film commission as the institutionalized body, Belmonte expressed assurance that “Everything we do is institutionalized.”
“One of the things we’re doing is we’re really strengthening the film commission. That’s why we have to show the economics behind doing what we’re doing,” Belmonte said.
Adding, “It’s not just a passion project, but it contributes greatly to the economic development and growth of the city.”
QCinema’s 11th edition
For this year’s 11th edition of Qcinema lineup, it will feature 60 other titles, divided in 10 sections, including three competition sections.
Seguerra further mentioned that they have introduced the capability for online reservations with Qcinema.
She explained, “We have over 20 international individuals attending, including film festival directors, programmers, and sales agents.”
“We’re all on our toes to make sure that this elevated edition of QCinema is really going to be a memorable experience for everyone.
The regular ticket price is 300 and 250 for students, persons with disabilities, senior and Quezon City residents.
QCinema collabs Garapata for an ELEVATED festival experience happening from November 17 to 26, 2023 at Gateway and Ali Mall Cineplex, U.P. Town Center – Ayala Malls, Robinsons Magnolia, Red Carpet Cinemas, and Power Plant Mall.
The opening film is the Golden Lion winner in this year’s prestigious Venice Film Festival – “Poor Things,” headlined by Emma Stone.
In the main competition section, the Asian Next Wave, has 10 directorial debuts from Asian filmmakers. The section includes Cannes, Venice, and Udine award-winners and two Oscars entries.
These films vying for a Pylon Award are “Abang Adik” by Jin Ong, “Gitling” by Jopy Arnaldo, “Inside The Yellow Cocoon Shell” by Thien An Pham, “Last Shadow At First Light” by Nicole Midori Woodford, “Love Is A Gun” by Lee Hong-chi, “Mimang” by Kim Tae-yang, “Solids By The Seashore” by Patiparn Boontarig, and “Tiger Stripes” by Amanda Nell Eu.
“Abang Adik” won at Udine’s Far East Film Festival the Golden Mulberry Audience Award, the Black Dragon Critics’ prize, and Best First Feature. “Inside The Yellow Cocoon Shell” won the Caméra d’Or or Best Feature Film at Cannes. “Love Is A Gun” is the first Taiwanese film to win the best first feature at the Venice International Film Festival. “Tiger Stripes” won Critics’ Week Grand Prize at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. “Gitling” is Cinemalaya’s Best Screenplay winner.
Two other competition sections are for short films, which are QCShorts and QCSEA.
QCShorts, a festival mainstay, features films that received generous grants from QCinema. “These are A Catholic School Girl” by Myra Angeline Soriaso, “Abutan Man Tayo ng Houselights” by Apa Agbayani, “Animal Lovers” by Aedrian Araojo, “Microplastics” by Lino Balmes, “Tamgohoy” by Roxlee, and “Tumatawa, Umiiyak” by Che Tagyamon.
While QCSEA, a fresh section, includes 10 shorts from Southeast Asia. The films are “Basri And Salma In A Never-Ending Comedy” by Khozy Rizal, “Buoyant” by Toan Thanh Doan and Hoang-Phuc Nguyen-Le, “Cross My Heart And Hope To Die” by Sam Manacsa, “Dominion” by Bea Mariano, “Hito” by Stephen Lopez, “I Look Into The Mirror And Repeat Myself” by Giselle Lin, “Kung nga-a Conscious ang mga Alien sang ila Skincare (The Thing About Aliens And Their Skin Care)” by Seth Andrew Blanca and Niño Maldecir, “The Altar” by Moe Myat May Zarchi, and “When You Left Me On That Boulevard” by Kayla Abuda Galang.
For the Exhibition Sections, the much-awaited Screen International, New Horizons, Restored Classics, RainbowQC, and Special Screenings also have something for every cinephile.
Screen International, which features works from world-renowned directors, has the best films from the most distinguished film festivals.
These include Locarno Golden Leopard winner “Critical Zone” by Ali Ahmadzadeh and Special Jury Prize winner “Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World” by Radu Jude.
Venice Grand Jury Prize and FIPRESCI Award winner “Evil Does not Exist” by Ryusuke Hamaguchi is also in this year’s Screen International.
This section also has Cannes Jury Prize winner at the Palme d’Or “Fallen Leaves” by Aki Kaurismäki, Prize of the Ecumenical Jury “Perfect Days” by Wim Wenders, and Best Director winner “The Taste of Things” by Trần Anh.
Also in this section is Berlin Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize winner “Afire” by Christian Petzold. Completing the lineup are Andrew Haigh’s “All of Us Strangers” and “Sweet Dreams” by Ena Sendijarević.
In New Horizons, five films, all directorial debuts, make up the section.
These are “City Of Wind” by Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir, “Foremost By Night” by Victor Iriarte, “Scrapper” by Charlotte Regan, “Through The Night” by Delphine Girard, and “Women From Rote Island” by Jeremias Nyangoen.
“Scrapper” is the Grand Jury Prize winner for the World Cinema Dramatic Competition of the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.
Restored Classics, a regular QCinema crowd-drawer, has Wong Kar-wai classics “Chungking Express” and “Fallen Angels.” Also included are “Enter the Dragon” by Robert Clouse and “A Clockwork Orange” by Stanley Kubrick.
This year’s RainbowQC, one of the most distinctive sections this side of Southeast Asia, has four show-stoppers.
“These are Mutt” by Vuk Langulov-Klotz, “Passages” by Ira Sachs, “Peter Von Kant” by François Ozon, and “Woman Of…” by Michał Englert and Małgorzata Szumowska.
Mutt’s Lío Mehiel won the Special Jury Award for Best Acting at Sundance.
Lav Diaz returns to QCinema at the Special Screenings section with his film “Essential Truths of The Lake.”
Other films are “Irreversible: Straight Cut” by Gaspar Noé, “Karaoke” by Moshe Rosenthal, “Only the River Flows” by Wei Shujun, “Raging Grace” by Paris Zarcilla, “Saltburn” by Emerald Fennell, “Strange Way of Life” and “The Human Voice” by Pedro Almodóvar.
“Only the River Flows” is Best Film at the Pingyao Int’l Film Festival.
Before Midnight also makes a comeback. Its 2023 lineup includes “Hungry Ghost Diner” by We Jun Cho, “Femme” by Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping, “River” by Junta Yamaguchi, and “Red Rooms” by Pascal Plante
This year also witnessed the rebirth of QCinema’s documentary section. Now called QCDox, the section has three interesting real-life stories. These are “Divine Factory” by Joseph Mangat, “Nowhere Near” by Miko Revereza, and “National Anarchist: Lino Brocka” by Khavn.
The films “Afire,” “City Of Wind,” “Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World,” “Fallen Leaves,” “Perfect Days,” “Sweet Dreams,” “Tiger Stripes,” “The Breaking Ice,” and “The Taste of Things” are their respective countries’ Academy Awards submissions.
When asked about how these films were selected for QCIFF, Film Director Ed Lejano humorously said, “We sell our souls…”
“We have partnerships, and with the unwavering support from the city, they give us the freedom for selection and initiatives,” he said.
Image credits: John Eiron R. Francisco