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Spark from a Golden Era
The strength and credibility of film festivals in the Philippines owes much to the early successes of the country’s movie productions in international competitions, particularly those which emerged triumphant during the fifties, a time period considered as a golden era in Philippine cinema.
Filipino filmmakers first created waves internationally when the movie “Genghis Khan” was screened at the Venice Film Festival, a feat repeated by the productions “Anak Dalita” and “Ifugao” in 1954. It was also around this time that the first award-giving institutions were established in the Philippines. Pioneering in this effort was the Manila Times which established the Maria Clara Ward in 1950. Two years hence, the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences Awards (FAMAS) was organized. Up to 1976, FAMAS was the only institution giving Filipino movie awards.
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Early Film Festivals
The sole dominance of FAMAS as an award-giving institution came about even with the holding of several film festivals between 1950 and 1976. These film competitions included those organized by the city of Manila, Quezon City, and Bacolod.
However, it will be a wait of more than five years for Filipino film buffs before the Philippines played host to an international film festival. This occasion was the Manila International Film Festival organized by then First Lady Imelda Marcos in 1982, with a venue, the Manila Film Center, especially built for the purpose.
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Metro Manila Film Festival
The Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) is easily the largest and longest running Filipino competition, after its establishment in 1975. Now entering its thirty-sixth edition, the festival is held annually in time for the height of the Yuletide season, from December 25 to the first week of January. Importantly, movie houses across the Philippines only screen Filipino-produced movies during the festival.
Among the awards at stake in the MMFF are those for the best picture, actor and actress, and director. Likewise coveted are those awarded for best supporting actor and actress, as well as the best float during a parade of entries.
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Cinemanila International Film Festival
Exposure of Filipino filmmakers to movies of international caliber is among the main objectives of the Cinemanila International Festival (CIFF), an annual affair that started in 1999. Its advocacy was inspired by the late Filipino director, Lino Brocka, who reaped international success in his classic productions like “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang” and “Mortal.”
The CIFF, held last at the Market! Market! in Taguig City in October 2009, likewise focuses on the cinema in Southeast Asia. Many international luminaries of the celluloid world have been involved in the CIFF, including the likes of director Quentin Tarantino of “Kill the Bull” fame.
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Cultural Center of the Philippines
For local independent film producers, among the awaited film festivals in the Philippines is the one organized by the country’s Cultural Center. This indie film festival began in 1987. Entry categories cover animation, documentary, kids, and short films. A wide range of films accepted, ranging from traditional filmmaking to digital filmmaking.
It also encourages and supports the original film production about Filipino culture and tradition. Coverage of CCP includes broadcast arts, visual arts and literary arts. The CCP presents different achievements of Filipino artists and providing them different motivational filmmaking workshops, seminars, trainings and exhibits.