Written and photographed
By Jude Bautista
Cine Europa, the festival featuring the best European films is now on its 15th year in Shang Plaza Mall. Filipino audiences can watch these films for free from September 6-16, 2012 at Shang Cineplex. European Union Political Counselor Julian Vassallo said, “Starting with just 11 films in 1998, Cine Europa has grown and with this year’s line up of 21 European films and 4 Filipino films. In the last 15 years the festival has brought European quality films to more than 200,000 film enthusiasts. Last year alone we reached 24,000. And we hope to make another leap in viewers in 2012.”
More and more countries have joined the fest according to Vasallo, “This year’s films come from the 17 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and for the first time Norway.” Through KLM one lucky viewer may also have the chance to see Europe through a raffle.
Vasallo also noted the depth of emotion European films are known for compared to their Hollywood counterparts, “As you have noticed by now European cinema is less known for sugary sweet movies with happy endings. And for films that find the absurd the humorous and the ironic in our daily lives that shine a torch in the forgotten pockets of our societies.”
Shangri La Plaza Gen Mgr and EVP Lala Fojas also explained that Filipinos and Europeans have a shared passion for film, “This commonality allows us to get to know each other’s roots and practices, respect each other’s diversity, improve our mutual understanding and to a deeper extent share the joys and sorrows of the human spirit. There is more therefore to Cine Europa than just visual entertainment. Cine Europa provides a venue for active dialogue of cultures and beliefs through the magic of cinema.”
According to her there is a great range among the many titles, “With a parade of carefully selected films from 17 different countries, this year’s roster with its great mix of genres including drama, comedy, romance, history and family oriented films will surely delight our film fest aficionados. We would also like to welcome the newest addition to this year’s roster from the Embassy of Norway, with its film “Upperdog” which also opens this year’s festival. Surely this new participant will add flavor to our already exciting line up of multi-awarded films.”
The 15th edition is more than just entertainment. The Independent Filmmaker’s Multipurpose Cooperative (IFC) will be helping them organize activities apart from just watching movies. Fojas added, “A major highlight of this year’s edition are talks on September 8 and 15 on film appreciation analysis, financing and film making at 11am at the Premiere Theatre. This will be followed by the screening of 2 Filipino independent films at 1 and 4 pm. We thank the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines for honoring our local talents by including them in this year’s roster.”
Another partner for this year’s fest is the Film Development Council of the Phil. FDCP Chairman Briccio Santos was able to talk about which programs is directly related to the fest, “We’re glad that Shang Cineplex continues to host this festival year after year among other great festivals that it hosts in its theaters. Through FDCP’s Cinemateque Program we are bringing these films to more Filipinos nation wide. These stories and sensibilities through FDCP’s Cinematque will reach Davao, Baguio and Ilo-ilo. And we are looking forward to host our EU delegation as well in these venues.”
France is one of the many European countries who have stepped up in terms of film relations with our country. French Audio Visual Attaché Martin Macalintal said, “Cultural Counselor Christian Merer has always pushed cinema as a priority cooperation program. You’re speaking of public diplomacy and the cultural diplomacy of France in the Phil. Cinema is a number one priority. It is not a secret. You might also find in our website we are pushing for further development of relations between France and the Phil and therefore Europe through cinema.”
If there are still any doubters to the exchange of films / talent that have been spawned through the relationship of European countries and ours, one only has to look at recent successes like Brillante Mendoza. Macalintal continued, “It’s a long-term process. But through the years finally we’ve been able to bring in a French actress, Isabelle Huppert nonetheless to act in Brillante Medoza’s film.” “Captive” is currently being shown commercially in theaters and “Thy Womb” which stars Nora Aunor got 3 awards in Venice, Italy: Bisato D’Oro, Venezia Cinema prize and the P. Nazareno Taddei Award Special Mention. “Thy Womb” will also be shown commercially in Manila.
The significance of the total number of audiences last year who watched Cine Europa are not just getting entertained. He surmised, “That’s 24,000 Filipinos being aware of the diversity of cultures in the world. Not everybody speaks English. In Cine Europa you see German, you see French you, see Spanish, Czech name it! It’s a whole diversity of culture that these 24,00 Filipinos get to watch and to appreciate every year.”