Italian century-old castles, buildings and vineyards have become prime locations for some mainstream Filipino movies and teleseryes.
But this year, Filipino-Italian film actor, director and producer Ruben Maria Soriquez is set to bring the best of Philippine cinema to Italy where films by Benini, Antonioni and Felini dominated movie marquees.
Filipino films will have a wider audience through the European Philippine International Film Festival (EPIFF). It was founded by Soriquez together with other Italian filmmakers Maurizio Baldini and Lorenzo Galanti, and supported by the Philippine Italian Association, Italian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, Inc. (of which Soriquez is a board member), the Film Development Council of the Philippines, and Fondazione Sistema Toscana.
EPIFF’s main objectives are to make the Italian and European audience aware of Philippine cinema, to better understand the complexity of Filipino culture, to showcase the natural sights of the country, and eventually find distribution for these Filipino-made films.
“I came up with the idea of doing a film festival in Italy because there’s a lot of Filipinos there,” Soriquez stated. “Originally I want to do it in Rome. But for the first annual film festival, it will happen in Florence.”
The festival will be held from March 7 to 9 in the historical Teatro della Compagnia, just a few steps from he world famous Piazza Duomo.
The EPIFF, however, isn’t just an ordinary showcase of Filipino films. It’s a competitive film festival with six awards up for grabs: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Actor, Best Actress, and the Audience Favorite award. Side events and special screenings of movies apart from the official entries will also be held throughout the three-day film festival.
According to Soriquez, there is no shortage of quality films in the Philippines, but there’s a need to review government policies, and filmmakers' current business model of production, distribution, and exhibition, in order to increase the country’s participation in the international film scene.
“Good stories, good craft. In my opinion many films could be even better if the productions don't rush things and plan everything ahead. Stories and actors are so good but sometimes the technical side is not at that level,” he said.