QCinema celebrates 10th year with onsite, online screenings

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THE QCINEMA International Film Festival returns for a 10th year and its third hybrid edition with all its original sections.

This year’s festival, titled “in10City,” will run from Nov. 17 to 26. It will feature 58 films, including six short film production grantees, with seven sections of full-length films and three short film programs.

Founded in 2013, QCinema is organized by the Quezon City Film Development Foundation. Through the years, the film festival has produced and co-produced 88 films: 38 full length movies, 38 shorts, and 12 documentaries. It has also screened more than 160 award-winning international titles from various local and international film festivals.

“QCinema has taken on life of its own, and we need to ensure that its future veers in the right direction. We have reached a point where QCinema is no longer just about the filmmakers or the audience or the city. It is now about propelling our country to take its rightful place not only in international cinema, but in the world of culture,” Quezon City mayor Joy Belmonte said in a video shown at a press conference for the film festival on Nov. 3.

“I envision QCinema to continue to grow in the next 10 years to become an established cultural destination in Asia, contributing to our country’s creative economy. If we can dream it, we certainly can do it. Thus, despite the unfortunate disruption in the past two years, I’m very happy to say that QCinema is not only 10 years old, but is also 100% back,” Ms. Belmonte added.

Opening this year’s festival on Nov. 17 is the Cannes Palme d’Or-winning class satire Triangle of Sadness by directorRuben Östlund, which stars Filipino actress Dolly de Leon. The closing film on Nov. 26 is Mihai Mincan’s Venice Film Festival entry, To The North, starring Filipino actor Soliman Cruz.

COMPETITION SECTIONSQCinema’s main competition section is back. “Asian Next Wave” focuses on emerging filmmakers from Southeast Asia and East Asia with less than three features.

Making the cut for this year’s festival are Singapore’s Oscar entry, Ajoomma by Shuming He; Japan’s Oscar entry, Plan 75 by Chie Hayakawa, which is also a Cannes Golden Special Mention Winner; and another Cannes entry, the South Korean film Return to Seoul by Davy Chou

Also in competition are the Thai film Arnold is a Model Student by Sorayos Prapapan, and Autobiography by first-time Indonesian director Makbul Mubarak, which won the FIPRESCI Prize in Venice this year.

The last two films competing are Filipino titles. The first is 12 Weeks by Anna Isabelle Matutina, which was the NETPAC Award in this year’s Cinemalaya International Film Festival. It stars Max Eigenmann who went home with the Best Actress award. The other one is Elehiya by Loy Arcenas, which stars the late Cherie Gil in her last screen performance. The actress passed away in August after a battle with endometrial cancer.

“We were trying to finish [the film] a while ago. And then the pandemic came in and the elections came in. So, nasira talaga ’yung (it ruined) process of fixing the film. So, in length of time in between all of these events, it really changed the whole way of dealing with the film,” Mr. Arcenas said of Elehiya, adding that he continued to keep in touch with the actress before she passed.

“I think we were very lucky to have a chance to present it… I personally feel like it is one of her best performances. And it’s really now concentrated on her performance more than anything else,” he added.

Elehiya follows Dr. Celine de Miranda who is trying to escape the bitter and bad memories of her late husband’s infidelities. Things become complicated when she meets a young man with whom she gets romantically involved with.

QCinema  festival director Ed Lejano said that “some of the Asian Next Wave competition directors will be attending their gala screenings.”

Another competition section is QCShorts. The films competing in this section received production grants of P350,000.

The films in competition are Ang Pagliligtas sa Dalagang Bukid by Jaime Morados, BOLD EAGLE by Whammy Alcazaren, Luzonensis mula 7 hanggang 9 by Glenn Barit, Mga Tigre ng Infanta by Rocky De Guzman Morilla, Ngatta Naddaki y Nuang? (Why did the Carabao cross the Carayan?) by Austin Tan, and Sa Ilog na Hindi Nagtatapos by JT Trinidad.

EXHIBITION SECTIONSAside from the competitions, QCinema also has several themed, non-competition sections.

One of these is “Screen International” which showcases the world’s renowned directors with distinctive styles. This year the section will screen David Cronenberg’s Crimes of The Future and Jerzy Skolimowski’s EO.

Hong Sang-soo graces the festival’s screens for the first time with his latest film, Walk Up. One of Costa Rica’s renowned filmmakers Valentina Maurel will be represented by the film I Have Electric Dreams.

Denmark-based Iranian film director and screenwriter Ali Abbasi’sthird feature film, Holy Spider, will also be screened. The film was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. It won the festival’s Best Actress Award for Zar Amir Ebrahimi. It was also selected as the Danish entry for Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards.

Austrian filmmaker Marie Kreutzer’s 2022 drama Corsage is also a Screen International selection. It had its world premiere at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard section.

Close by Lukas Dhont, a French-language Belgian drama film, also premiered at the Cannes Film Festival to critical acclaim and the Grand Prix. It is Belgium’s submission for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards.

NEW HORIZONSThe festival’s “New Horizon” section features new directors and their acclaimed works.

This year the section features Saint Omer by Alice Diop, Venice Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize winner and French Oscar entry; Utama by Alejandro Loayza Grisi, Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner and Bolivia’s entry to the 95th Academy Awards; and Next Sohee by July Jung, the closing film of Cannes Critic’s Week.

Two films from Germany are also in this section: the comedy The Ordinaries by Sophie Linnenbaum and the offbeat fantasy film Piaffe by Anne Oren.

One of QCinema’s most distinctive sections is “RainbowQC.” The films featured in the category are: Joyland by Saim Sadiq, which was the both the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize winner and the Queer Palm winner at this year’s Cannes Film Festival; and Angry Son, by Japanese director Kasho Iizuka, which was awarded the Grand Prix Award in the Osaka Asian Film Festival.

Included in this section are You Can Live Forever, by Canadian co-directors Mark Slutsky and Sarah Watts; and the Stranger By The Lake by Alain Guiraudie, the 2013 Cannes Un Certain Regard Best Director award winner.

Other LGBT titles, co-sponsored by the French Embassy Manila, are Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Billie and Emma, and The Divide.

The RainbowQC Shorts program is composed of the QCShorts 2021 Best Picture i get so sad sometimes by Trishtan Perez; QCShorts 2019 film Isang Daa’t Isang Mariposa by Norvin delos Santos; the 2021 silent film Alingasngas ng mga Kuliglig by Vahn Leinard Pascual; Dikit by Gabriela Serrano; and the QCinema Asian Shorts film entry How to Die Young in Manila by Petersen Vargas.

SPECIAL SCREENINGS, MIDNIGHT SERIES, CLASSICSFilms to be shown in the “Special Screenings” section are The Sales Girl by Janchivdorj Sengedorj, the top prize winner of the New York Asian Film Festival; Love Life by Kōji Fukada, the Golden Lion winner at the 79th Venice International Film Festival; The Damned Don’t Cry by Fyzal Boulifa; and When The Waves Are Gone or Kapag Wala Nang Mga Alon, Lav Diaz’s black-and-white opus starring John Lloyd Cruz.

Another must-watch section is the “Midnight Series” which features three spine-tingling titles. In this section is Nocebo by Lorcan Finnegan, which stars Chai Fonacier as a Filipino caregiver who knows traditional folk healing.The film guarantees Fonacier more international exposure. Then there is Huesera by Michelle Garza Cervera, a Spanish-language supernatural thriller that premiered in Tribeca earlier this year and won the Best New Narrative director for Ms. Cervera. British-Iranian director Ana Lily Amirpour returns to local screens with her latest film, Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon, starring Kate Hudson and Jun Jong-seo.

The “Digitally Restored Classics” section features newly restored versions of unforgettable films by two celebrated directors. These are Mike de Leon’s classic movies Itim (The Rites of May) and Wong Kar-wai’s romantic drama In The Mood for Love.

The Asian Shorts Program also returns this year. The short films in this program are Dancing Colors by M. Reza Fahriyansyah; the 2021 Cannes Leitz Cine Discovery Prize winner Lili Alone by Zou Jing; Four Nights by Deepak Rauniyar; the Sundance Festival 2022 Short Film Grand Jury Prize winner The Headhunter’s Daughter by Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan; the Cannes 2022 Palme d’Or Best Short Film winner The Water Murmurs by Story Chen; and Papaya by Timmy Harn.

NEW SECTIONA new festival section offers a first look at upcoming titles to be launched later this year. “Advance Screenings” features 2022 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner Nanny; and Argentina, 1985 which won the Fipresci at the Venice Film Festival and is the Argentine entry at the 95th Academy Awards.

Presented in partnership with Warner Brothers Philippines are She Said by Maria Schrader, and Bones and All by Luca Guadagnino. Bones and All won the Silver Lion for best direction at the 79th Venice International Film Festival.

“We would like to reach out more to our Asian neighbors, not only in Southeast Asia but also in East Asia. So, we can strengthen our foothold in the region,” festival director Mr. Lejano said of the film festival’s outlook in the coming years.

WHERE TO CATCH SCREENINGSFilm screenings will be held both in-person and online. Theatrical screenings for all films will be held at the mall cinemas in Gateway, Trinoma, and SM North EDSA, and at Cinema 76.

This year, the Powerplant Cinema in Rockwell will also host film screenings for viewers within or near Makati City.

The QCShorts 2022, QCShorts 2021, and RainbowQC Shorts will all have online screenings in partnership with VivaMax from Nov. 22 to 26.

Ticket prices for theatrical screenings are P300, while online tickets are P299.

The QCinema Awards night will be held on Nov. 23 at Novotel in Araneta City.

Details about in10City, QCinema’s 10th anniversary presentation will be available at qcinema.ph and updates will be posted at its social media accounts —www.facebook.com/QCinemaPH,twitter.com/QCinemaPH, andwww.instagram.com/qcinemaph. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman