Sunday, August 1, 2021

'Locarno Film Festival' Features PH as Spotlight Country in Open Doors Program

ONE competing film, three non-competition titles, and seven filmmakers comprise the strong Philippine Delegation to the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland from August 4 to 14. 

Held every August since 1946, the Locarno, one of the world’s longest running annual festivals, focuses on auteur cinema where film fans and industry professionals come together to discover new inspiration and transform their passion into cinematic artistry.

For its 74th edition this year, set to compete is Carlo Francisco Manatad’s “Kun Maupay Man It Panahon (Whether the Weather is Fine)” in the Concorso Cineasti del Presente (Filmmakers of the Present Competition), a section dedicated to emerging directors from all over the world. The selected feature films screening as world or international premieres, from documentary to fiction, will compete for the Pardo d’oro Cineasti del presente.


The competing film starring Daniel Padilla, Rans Rifol, and Charo Santos-Concio tells the story of how a mother and her son struggled to survive the Typhoon Yolanda that devastated Tacloban, Leyte in 2013. The film participated in the 2019 Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) Project Market and was awarded with a fund worth PHP 2.5 million through the Agency’s FilmPhilippines International Co-production Fund (ICOF) in 2021. 


From 2019 until 2021, the Locarno Open Doors program chooses to spotlight film projects, talents, and producers from Mongolia and Southeast Asia, namely Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The Open Doors program consists of the Open Doors Hub, Open Doors Lab, and Open Doors Screenings to be held simultaneously from August 6 to 10. 

The documentary film “Aswang” by Alyx Ayn Arumpac and short films “Excuse Me, Miss, Miss, Miss” by Sonny Calvento and “Next Picture” by Cris Bringas will be part of the Open Doors Screenings, the non-competitive section that explores the diverse filmmaking of selected films from participating countries. 

Director E Del Mundo and producer Pamela Reyes’ project “Sam” will be part of the Open Doors Hub, a co-production platform that has a six-day tailored program for the eight selected project teams that will help in the search for international collaborations by giving them access to group discussions and networking activities with industry decision makers and festival guests. 

Producer Stelle Laguda will participate in the Open Doors Lab, a producer-centric six-day training program for the selected eight filmmakers to hone their skills and awareness in the international marketplace.

Last April, Locarno issued a call for entries for its Match Me! Program with FDCP as its Match Me! Partner. This is a three-day networking platform reserved for young producers to get the chance to introduce their companies' profile and projects to potential co-producers. Producers Sarah Brakensiek and her project “Kathoey,” Patti Lapus with “Goliath,” and Micah Tadena with “Inherit” are among the delegates.


Director Rafael Manuel, whose short film “Filipiñana” won the Berlinale Shorts Silver Bear Jury Prize in 2020, is part of the Locarno Filmmakers Academy, an intensive 10-day program for young directors to support their needs when facing challenges in production and distribution. Participants will have the opportunity to meet with internationally renowned figures of the film industry and have a chance to showcase their short films to the festival audience during the evening screenings of the Filmmakers Academy.

Producer, writer, and co-founder and CEO of Epicmedia Productions, Inc. Bianca Balbuena-Liew is back as a Mentor at Open Doors Lab 2021. The 2018 Busan’s Asian Film Commissions (AFC) Network Producer of the Year has been a mentor at Locarno since 2016. Among her works are Venice Film Festival 2009 Lion of the Future and Orizzonti Best Film "Engkwentro" by Pepe Diokno and Berlinale 2016 Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize Winner "A Lullaby To The Sorrowful Mystery" by Lav Diaz. Balbuena-Liew is the youngest to win the Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) FIAPF Award for outstanding contribution to Asia Pacific Cinema. 

“The FDCP’s partnership with Locarno has opened countless doors for Filipino talents and projects. Through the Open Doors Program, our emerging talents have been given opportunities to enhance their skills, develop their projects, and build on their international network, all of which have successfully boosted the global competitiveness of Philippine Cinema,” said FDCP Chairperson and CEO Liza Diño. 


In 2020, Locarno opted to hold the festival online for its participants and viewers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Avid Liongoren’s “Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah vs. The Amazonistas of Planet X,” one of the projects that participated at the Open Doors, received the Locarno Development Support Grant worth 14,000 Swiss francs.  


This year, Locarno will reconvene at the Piazza Grande, the very symbol of the festival, to safely bring back the magical festival experience to the viewers. 

For more information on Locarno Film Festival 2021 and the participating films and projects, visit their official website at

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