By Sheila Riikonen, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau correspondent
Posted at 03/12/2013 10:24 AM | Updated as of 03/12/2013 10:28 AM
(L-R) Jewel Maranan, Anna Isabelle Matutina, Raymond Red, Axel Estein and guest at Focus on the Philippines
FINLAND – Twenty documentary, experimental and fiction short films by prize-winning filmmaker Nick Deocampo, noted directors Raymond Red, Anna Isabelle Matutina, and Jewel Maranan were showcased at the recent 43rd Tampere International Short Film Festival.
Held from March 6 to 10, the film festival gathered a poignant collection of short films made during the last 40 years in the Philippines. The Philippines was one of the festival’s main focuses in Asia, along with China and India.
The 5-day fest was attended by thousands of international guests, filmmakers, organizers, students, and film buffs, who viewed over 500 screenings and 4500 international films for the press at the “Film Market” events.
The four directors led by Red, a veteran of the short film genre, and two upcoming young directors Sunshine Matutina and Maranan participated in seminars, discussions and masterclasses, as well as workshops, in Finland´s 19th century district.
“We are very happy to be in one of the most prestigious film fest in Europe,” Red said in an interview with ABS-CBN Europe at the historic Tammer Hotel in the mainland city of Tampere.
“[Its] a good chance to show that our film industry is vibrant with promising young talents. We have been invited before but this is our first opportunity to be here,” he said.
Some Filipinos went to the film festival to give their support to the Filipino directors.
“We are very excited to welcome them here. We listened to ‘Focus on the Philippines’ program discussions and we were very proud,” said Tampere-based Alice Savolainen from Albay. She and her Finnish husband paid a minimum of 8 euros for each film and enjoyed the free additional screenings.
Matutina’s acclaimed “Imik” drew gasps from the audience with its portrayal of female sexuality and family relationships. Maranan´s documentary on “Tondo, Beloved: To What Are the Poor Born?”, which was shown to a big crowd on Saturday evening, was well-received by the mainly European audience.
“It was amazing when watching the film how the director can present her subjects poignantly and subtly in such close proximity,” said Vladimir Horev from Estonia.
Red’s “Ang Hikab” (1984) was described in Finnish blogs as a surreal film balancing the fine line between dreaming and being awake by a man caught in his own nightmares.
The 15-minute film is a very successful model to exploit, as a crossbreed of ‘Becket and Kafkaesque’ kind of encounter with the world, wrote critic Henri Walter Rehnström.
“Red’s use of 8-16 millimeter camera results in very familiar but also has a very special outcome. Filipino films that have remained invisible to Finland commercially show again a short repackaging of fact and fiction,” he added.
UK won the Grand Pix
“The Mass of Men” (2012), directed by Gabriel Gauchet, won with its story of a 55-year-old Richard, who is late for his appointment at the employment office. According to the jury, “the filmmaker skillfully leads the viewer through a constantly developing narrative asking them to question their own preconceptions as the full story is gradually revealed.”
The Best Fiction category went to Argentina’s “Asesinato en Junìn” (Murder in Junín, 2012) by Andrew Sala while the audience award for Best International Film was handed out to “Matka” (Mother, 2012) by Polish Lukasz Ostalski.
Finland´s National Competition winners include “Hänen tilanne” (When One Stops, 2012), “Hiljaisen talven lapsi” (The Child of Silent Winter), “Laulu koti-ikävästä” (Finnish Blood Swedish Heart, 2012), and “Häätanssi” (Dance of Outlaws, 2012). The Youth Jury Award and student prizes were also given. The Trash Film Festival aimed at low budget Finnish films was well-attended.
“The competitions attracted a large audience as well as Zaida Bergroth’s retrospective screenings which were sold out. Old film classics were audience favorites too while the unique show Retour de flamme swept the audience off at Tullikamari,” the festival director said.
Painful issues in PH tackled in light-hearted way
The cinematic journey to the Philippines and China are highlights of the main program. The more recent fiction films deal with even painful issues in a lighthearted way, wrote the Finnish press.
As a theme, the Philippines was depicted as a “former Spanish colony with prominent Catholicism displayed in the films as colorful carnival culture, among other things.”
“The Eternity” about the quest for eternal life, and “Black Nuisance” about the Philippine-American War at the turn of the 20th century, were shown in Focus on the Philippines, alongside “True Blue American Coconut Grove” and “Rust”.
Meanwhile, the status of gay men living on the margins of Filipino society by Paolo Villaluna’s “Margin.”
“Ang Magpakailanman” was reminiscent of “Metropolis” (1927), and visually compelling “Andalusian Dog” (1929), wrote Rehnström. “It would have been great if the Film Festival had the opportunity to make further production showings of Red, for example, in the 2000 film of Anino that won the Short Film Palme d’Or at Cannes.”
“We never knew about the Philippines, but after the festival we have a strong desire to go there and see for ourselves,” said Monika, a young student from Tampere.
The first Tampere International Short Film Fest, which started in 1970 now evolved to become an international meeting place for film professionals and enthusiasts. Since, 2009 over 3000 films were submitted to the competitions. Remaining ideologically neutral and open, the event prides itself on showcasing high standard cinema, regardless of social systems.