They say the best things in life are free, and I think that should be true especially for cultural appreciation. Thank God that in Metro Manila we’ve got a couple of international film fests running alternately the whole year, one of my favorites being the French Film Fest hosted annually by the French Embassy in Manila and their partner institutions and companies. This year marks their twentieth time to host this event, which means it’s bigger, brighter, and grander! Comparing with the previous years when I attended the event, I think the line-up this year is more diverse in terms of genre. Romantic comedies are a good way to catch the Filipino public’s eye, but I believe that romantic comedies alone will never be able to give the ordinary viewer a proper chance to observe the nuances of a society.
I participated in the French Film Fest 2015 for three consecutive days, at its two different venues, to watch four different films. I was with three different sets of people, who had differing degrees of enthusiasm for the movies we watched. To compete for the raffle that the French Embassy hosted, I wrote reviews for: Le Havre; Les Garçons et Guillaume, à table! ; 108 Demon Kings; and, Saint Laurent. Each of these movies focuses on an aspect of the French society: Le Havre is about immigration; Les Garçons et Guillaume, à table! is about sexuality; 108 Demon Kings is an animated film with Oriental hints; and Saint Laurent is a biopic on one of France’s fashion icons. Of the four I’ve seen, my favorite is Les Garçons et Guillaume, à table! because it’s a wonderful movie, aside from being sensitive and curious about the ever-fluid topic of gender. It’s definitely a movie everyone should watch.
For my efforts – my four entries for their raffle contest, one for each of my movie reviews – I was one of the three winners of gift prizes from the French Embassy’s partners. I won a pair of sandals from Kickers. I love how they miraculously came in my size (EU 8) because it’s difficult for me to find appropriate shoes in department stores given most Filipinas have tiny feet. I met with Ms Camille Conde of the French Embassy (16F, Pacific Star Building, Makati City) to claim my prize. She was so nice – she even asked me if it was my first time to watch the movie, to which I replied that it was my second or third.
I’ll definitely be watching the French Film Fest again next year, although I do hope they open more venues outside Taguig and Makati. The crowd in Quezon City is very appreciative of international film fests as well – the UP Film Institute in UP Diliman is known for hosting international film fests regularly – and I think it would be a way to reach out to viewers who may not be comfortable in going all the way to Greenbelt and BGC Mall. This is just my opinion though – I’m sure there are reasons for the French Film Fest having been hosted at Greenbelt and BGC. In any case, the movies were great!