BUSAN, South Korea—“Maybe they were happy to see somebody different,” said filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik when asked to recall his red carpet experience here at the sprawling Busan Cinema Center for the 23rd Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), where the Philippines is the Country of Focus.
Kidlat was seen wearing his iconic bahag, which drew cheers from the crowd. “I’ve walked on several red carpet events before, but today, the audience was very warm. I guess they were starstruck, even though I’m not a star to get struck at,” he told the Inquirer at the after-party dinner in Heaudae Grand Hotel.
“I always say, Oscar people go ‘oooh’ because they are looking at the cleavages. In my case, siguro sa puwet,” Kidlat quipped.
As he walked the red carpet, Kidlat had one wish: “I hope at least one percent of them will watch my film.”
Teddy Co of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) pointed out that, this year, the BIFF is giving honor to the Philippines by featuring 19 films, 10 of them retrospectively. “We should be happy and proud of this because a major festival, and the biggest in Asia, is giving us due honor on the occasion of our centennial,” he stressed. “And we came in full force.”
Also seen on the red carpet were actors Christopher de Leon, Sandy Andolong, Joel Torre and Max Collins, filmmaker Remton Siega Zuasola, Manunuri member Tito Valiente and FPJ Productions’ vice president Jeffrey Sonora. The Philippine delegation also includes actors Piolo Pascual, filmmakers Brillante Ma Mendoza and Joyce Bernal.
Philippine cinema will be highlighted in a number of activities and events during the weeklong festival. This included the launch of the commemorative book published by the BIFF, titled “Centennial Anniversary of the Philippine Cinema,” on Friday.
On Oct. 7, the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) will host the “Philippine Night” to introduce Philippine delegates to international partners for exposure and possible collaborations. Guest of honor is Raul S. Hernandez, Philippine ambassador to Korea.
The BIFF’s Special Program focusing on the Philippines, titled “Cinema as a Response to the Nation,” is featuring the following classics: Lamberto V. Avellana’s “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino” (1965), Eddie Romero’s “Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon?” (1976); Mario O’Hara’s “Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos” (1976); Fernando Poe Jr.’s “Ang Panday” (1980); Lino Brocka’s “Cain at Abel” (1982); Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s “Moral” (1982); Ishmael Bernal’s “Himala” (1982); Mike de Leon’s “Bayaning 3rd World” (2000); Chito Roño’s “Dekada ’70” (2002); and Remton Siega Zuasola’s “Ang Damgo ni Eleuteria” (2010).
Films being showcased at the “Window on Asian Cinema” section include Mike de Leon’s “Citizen Jake”; Brillante Ma Mendoza’s “Alpha, The Right to Kill”; Alec Figuracion’s “The Eternity Between Seconds”; Dwein Baltazar’s “Gusto Kita with All My Hypothalamus”; Chito Roño’s “Signal Rock”; and the omnibus “Lakbayan,” by Lav Diaz, Brillante Ma Mendoza and Kidlat Tahimik.
Part of the “Wide Angle Short Film Showcase” are Joji Alonso’s “Last Order” and Stephen Lee’s “Manila is Full of Men Named Boy.” Kevin Piamonte’s “Land from God” is part of the “Wide Angle Documentary Showcase.”