Audiovisual cooperation, cinema, and the digital revolution: France and the Philippines side-by-side
France nurtures a particularly rich cooperation with the Philippines in the audiovisual sector, which encompasses areas ranging from cinema to NTICs. This cooperation is
founded on a common passion for the cinema and the moving image. There are several initiatives that illustrate the diversity of our partnerships particularly well.
In the field of cinematography, the French Film Festival is worth mentioning. Held annually in Manila since 1985 and now among the most-awaited events in the Philippine cultural scene, this festival offers the public, which is generally accustomed to American blockbusters an occasion to experience the diversity and originality of French cinema. There are clear parallels between French and Filipino cinema. In 2016, the festival opened with a screening of the film ‘Mon Roi’, whose leading actor, Emmanuelle Bercot, won the award for best actress at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015. The screening was organised in the presence of Jaclyn Jose, who won the same award in 2016.
The Cannes Film Festival, which is well known in the Philippines and which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, also served as a backdrop to many Franco-Philippine interactions in the cinematographic field. During the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, the Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée (CNC) and the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) signed a framework agreement for cooperation in preserving the particularly rich cinematographic heritage of the Philippines, as well as promoting film co-productions and the inclusion of national works at festivals and other cinematographic events organised in the two countries.
The Philippines, a pioneering country for cinema in Southeast Asia, recently initiated the creation of an audiovisual archives centre, a field in which France has long possessed recognised expertise. The French government awarded a grant for the centre’s directors to complete a Master’s Degree in audiovisual heritage management at the French National Audiovisual Institute (INA), thereby allowing them to acquire the necessary knowledge to manage the conservation, restoration and use of the centre’s analogue and digital audiovisual resources.
The French Embassy also sponsors the screening of Filipino films at major film festivals in France, particularly the Cannes Film Festival where leading Filipino film director Brillante Mendoza is a regular participant, even winning the award for Best Director in 2009. In 2000, the film ‘Anino’ by Raymond Red was awarded the Palme d’Or for best short film, followed by the successive selection of films by Raya Martin, Erik Matti, Lav Diaz, Adolfo Alix Jr. and Brillante Mendoza in the different categories of the Festival and during the Directors’ Fortnight. By distinguishing Jaclyn Jose for her main role in the film ‘Ma Rosa’ in 2016, the Cannes Film Festival was not only honouring a Filipino actress for the first time, but also was helping to shed new light on Filipino cinema, the promotion of which around the world can be principally attributed to France.
The French-Philippine audiovisual cooperation also includes the animation & video game industries, which have enjoyed remarkable growth in both countries over the past few years. Taking its roots in France with the invention of cinema, the film and animation industry made headway in the 1960s and the 1970s with the creation of
the French Association of Animated Film (AFCA), supported by the French National Centre for Cinema (CNC).
In the Philippines, the production of animated films by Hannah Barbara and Walt Disney gave birth to a strong local animation industry with its fair share of talented artists. Today, the advent of digital is opening up new prospects in this sector, including 3D and now, virtual reality. It is in this context that the French Embassy is supporting the country’s association of animation studios, the Animation Council of the Philippines, Inc (ACPI) by regularly inviting French experts, such as the film director Jacques-Rémy Girerd, to facilitate conferences as part of the animated film festival ‘Animahenasyon’, organised in Manila, and by screening French films made available by the INA.
The dynamism of the Filipino animation industry, which employs more than 11,000 people, more often than not in SMEs, helps create an environment that is particularly favourable to the development of cooperation projects between the two countries,
particularly film co-productions through which French studios seek to find new talent. It is therefore not by chance that Ubisoft, the French video game leader, decided to collaborate with the De La Salle University to train young animators. In October 2016, a Filipino delegation supported by the Philippine Department of Information & Communication Technologies (DICT) took part, for the first time, in the International Market of Communications Programmes (MIPCOM) in Cannes. During the event, representatives from the Animation Council of the Philippines, Inc. (ACPI) had the opportunity to meet their counterparts from the AFCA to explore areas for cooperation. The Network of Animated Cinema Schools (RECA) also approached ACPI to discuss possible collaboration in terms of training courses and university exchange programmes, with a view of sharing French know-how and expertise, especially in the areas of digital and 3D animation. For 2017, the Annecy International Market of Animated Film (MIFA) has offered to invite Filipino studios to France, giving them the chance to present Filipino animation to international professionals and the general public.
In light of the richness and diversity of our ongoing and future cooperation initiatives, our two countries are now looking to sign a framework agreement in the field of creative industries, which will allow us to expand and enrich our partnerships in culture & economy-related growth sectors, with a particular emphasis on training, the exchange of specialists and the promotion of cultural & business exchanges.