Any filmmaker worth his salt will tell you that the audience that means the most to him are those whose feet tread the same soil.
Continuing the train of thought set out by the previous post…
There are a number of European Film Festivals that provide funding for films coming from “Developing Countries” (sorry Singapore!): Rotterdam’s Hubert Bals Fund (annual budget: 1.2M Euro), Goteborg Film Fund (budged not listed on website), Berlin’s World Cinema Fund (500,000 Euro), and (for documentary projects) International Documentary Festival Amsterdam’s Jan Vrijman Fund (360,000 Euro) to name but a few examples.
For the sake of discussion, let’s limit ourselves to the Hubert Bals Fund– as they appear to be the largest funding agency, and films from the Philippines– as it is where I reside:
Projects supported in the 90’s, but never completed:
– Miserere Nobis, Lino Brock, 1991 (of course, Lino passed away, a fair reason)
– Makapili, Raymond Red, 1993
– Senor Pertierra’s Dream Machine, Nick Deocampo, 1994
– The Birth of an Island, Grace Ambilangsa, 1997
Projects hat have received grants recently but remain to finished:
– Moro2Moro Maharlika 2Moro, John Torres
– Years When I was Father’s Child Outside, John Torres
– EDSA XXX, Khavn De la Cruz
– Mondomanila: How I Fixed My Hair After a Really long Journey, Khavn De la Cruz
– Now Showing (former tite: Glint of an Alley in a Rush), Raya Martin
Supported projects that have been finished:
– The Family That Eats Soil, Khavn De la Cruz, 2004
– A Short Film About the Indio Nacional, Raya Martin, 2005
– Heremias, Book One, Lav Diaz, 2006
– Balikbayan Box, Ramon Mes De Guzman
– Death in the Land of Encantos, Lav Diaz, 2007
One must be extremely grateful that these institutions exist, most especially given the chances that they take with the films they fund. Gertjan Zuilhof, a member of the Hubert Bals Fund team (herein referred to as HBF), says that part of the reason for a fund such as this, is to provide preliminary funding for audacious films that otherwise may not get made. That is the risk, he concedes, and therefore it is only naturally that some of the films that they support will not get made.
To prove the chances that they take you need only look at the honor roll of projects by Filipino filmmakers from the 90’s that received grants but were never completed.
It is wonderful that there is support for these films and projects, but there are questions that linger: what happens once the films are finished their tours of festivals? How are they received at home, by local audiences?
While more than likely none of the completed films would turn in earth-shattering numbers at the box office in the Philippines, they certainly all deserve a larger audience than they’ve received thus far, and certainly a healthier level of discourse, that is, if there has been any form of discourse at all. To give an example: There have been more shallow articles have been written about Lav Diaz as a personality in Philippine magazines and newspapers than there have been screenings of his trilogy– Batang West Side, Evolution of a Filipino Family, and Heremias, Book One— and this includes screenings of the film that have happened in Universities and Cafes.
As it stands, these grant-giving bodies are funding sophisticated cinema from developing countries (a noble act), but without encouraging the development of an audience for them in these countries.
Herein do we suggest an idea:
Could not, say, a modest portion of 5% of the (roughly) 1.2 Million Euro that the HBF distributes annually go toward support for the enrichment of film culture in the countries whose cinema they support? That 5% portion (in effect, 60,000 Euros), put towards various film journals or workshops for young and aspiring critics, would certainly go a long, long way toward improving (or in some countries establishing) a film culture.
If the concern of the HBF, as per their mandate, is to provide support for the artist, to encourage a more vibrant film culture in the filmmakers country of origin is not exactly out of place (HBF does for example provide up to 15,000 Euros for distribution of the film in its country of origin), in fact, it would seem like the next logical step in the process. There are few greater forms of support a filmmaker can receive than to be appreciated and respected in the place where he works.
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