12 for 2012

Twelve things I’m interested in this year. This isn’t a countdown.

1. Sineng Pambansa National Film Competition.

At last, the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) lives up to its name as a national film development body with the announcement of the 23 finalists of the first National Film Competition. For the first time, a film competition is conducted on a national level to seek and develop work from filmmakers within and – more importantly – outside Metro Manila. Thirteen full-length Feature, seven Documentaries, and three new Animation projects shall see development this year and hopefully all of them become finished products in the near future.

2. The National Film Archive

We Flips are so addicted to cinema it’s a wonder why it took us this long to archive the many films in our more-than-100-year-old industry.

By the end of February, proponents mostly from the Society of Filipino Archivists for Film (SoFiA) shall have established the country’s first National Film Archive as a respository of film and film-related documents in Cubao, Quezon City. Treasures such as films from the LVN studios and Fernando Poe Jr’s FPJ Films collection – many of them celluloid rotting in old film canisters – shall be permanently housed there. Sofia is also working with the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia to restore LVN’s first film, Giliw Ko, directed by Carlos Vander Tolosa in 1939 (source).

However, a food for thought: many countries survive without a film industry – let alone a national film archive. I wonder what the Archive is actually an archive of. Without a doubt this is a positive development in the local industry. My question sits on the essence of what the archive is storing.

Is it a repository of culture? Or of cultural identity? Or of cultural commentary? My issue is not about the archive itself but what it is archiving. My view is that so long as cinema is diminished as a form of entertainment (hey tax, how are you?), Enteng ng Ina Mo shall stand in the same room, figuratively speaking, as Oro Plata Mata and Himala. Do they deserve to be archived together? Why not. Do we deserve more films like Enteng ng Ina Mo? Well.

3. The Hobbit, Prometheus and other Hollywood excitement

Even as the US economy shrinks, Hollywood will stay on the safe side of production by making even more remakes, re-imaginations, adaptations and ‘Quels’ (pre- se- or even side-quels). Of the 200 or so titles to come out in the US this year, a good number of titles have familiar or established brands. While I hope that many of these titles get released in Manila, I feel that we should be spared from some of them.

Sundance month January sees the return of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast in theaters but in 3D format. Also in January is the fourth installment of Underworld in Underworld: Awakening.

In February there’s Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace in 3D, and the reboot in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Also in this month is an interesting action-romance-comedy in the Rheese Whiterspoon-Chris Pine-Tom Hardy triangle This Means War. Let’s see if that’s not a statement against rom-coms.

March is one of the busiest months with the animation Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, out-of-planet John Carter, period thriller based on Edgar Allan Poe’s poem Raven, the movie remake of the 80s hit TV show 21 Jump Street, one of the many different takes on Snow White called Mirror, Mirror starring Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen, the hyped adaptation of The Hunger Games, and finally, Wrath of the Titans – a spin off of the 2010 remake of the 1981 original that featured Ray Harryhausen monsters. Whew.

April, officially the start of US summer season – Dorothy of Oz (a musical animation based of course on The Wizard of Oz); American Reunion (which hopefully does not show a preserved apple pie); the 3D rerelease of the most successful film of all time Titanic; The Three Stooges; and Scary Movie 5.

May – Marvel comic’s biggest film to date, The Avengers opens this month. Next are Dark Shadows (based on the 1960s horror soap opera), What To Expect When You’re Expecting based on the bestselling series of pregnancy guides; Hysteria starry Maggie Gyllenhaal, based on the story of the invention of the vibrator; and more aliens in Men In Black III.

June – Rock of Ages (the movie musical based on the hit broadway musical of the same name); Snow White and the Huntsman; Madagascar 3; Ridley Scott’s the highly-anticipated Alien prequel Prometheus; Bryan Singer’s comeback in Jack the Giant Killer based on the fairy tale; Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Killer based on the popular novel by Seth Grahame-Smith; Pixar’s latest animation Brave; and another Chaning Tatum starrer, G.I. Joe: Retaliation.

July is bat month with The Amazing Spider Man; Ice Age 3: Continental Drift; The Dark Knight Rises; and hopefully the last of the series Step Up 4.

August – Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, made-in-Manila The Bourne Legacy, the remake of the Schwarzenegger sci-fi actioner Total Recall this time starring Colin Farrel; and The Expendables 2.

September – the rerelease of Finding Nemo, in 3D; Resident Evil: Retribution; and Dredd (starring Karl Urban as the latest incarnation of Judge Dredd.)

October kicks off the Oscar season with The Wachowski’s adaptation of sci-fi wonder Cloud Atlas; Liam Neeson returns in Taken 2; Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D; Paranormal Activity 4; Oscar-bait The Gangster Squad; Halloween 3D; and indie drama Of Men and Mavericks.

November – period actioner Red Dawn; the upteenth James Bond, Skyfall; the ultimate The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II; The Silver lInings Playbook based on the comic of the same title; Keanu Reeves returns to the screen in 47 Ronin; and Alfonso Cuaron’s sci-fi thiller Gravity.

December, the most important month, is a downer locally because of the schedule interruption by MMF. Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln may not be released here till February of 2013, so will Tom Hooper’s screen adaptation of the musical Les Miserables; there’s a good chance that the Brad Pitt starrer World War Z may come out a week before MMFF and then return in January, although that is a better schedule for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, just like how MI4 did in 2011. Finally, Oscar hopefulls Kill Bin Laden and The Great Gatsby starring Leo DiCaprio will open in the US in December but won’t reach local theaters till at least Oscar week.

For more titles and their trailers, hit this.

4. The Bourne Legacy is made in Manila.

As of this writing, actors Jeremy renner, Rachel Weiss and Edward Norton are all filming scenes in Metro Manila. It is said that more than 20mins of the film is set in Manila, which, for the first time in its film-location history, is not standing in for another city. Yup, Bourne Legacy will show the world how Manila and the Philippines really look like these days. Opens in August.

5. CineMARAMI

Cinemalaya, CinemaOne Originals and CineManila are all reaping the rewards of a bigger audience as they become more popular. I just hope filmmakers can make more risks than make arthouse versions of MMFF or MMK. As we say it: the more the many-er.

6. The Death of MMFF

Wait, this is wishful thinking. Definitely won’t happen in 2012. This festival is doing Filipinos more harm – culturally, intellectually – than all the boxoffice it can make. If you want to see Filipino films, there’s #5. Not interested? There’s #1. Prefer the classics? #2.

Since 2009, the two-week Festival has surged 45% in nationwide boxoffice earnings from PhP437M (US$9.9M ) at 44:1 to PhP636.8M (US$14.47M) in 2011 (Average ticket is around P130). That bodes well for the local industry IN GENERAL which is struggling to compete against Hollywood marketing. Despite the overall financial success, however, the festival is far from being a true champion of local cinema. The Festival has this peculiar selection process that whittles entries down to particular genres, supposedly to make the festival attractive to the broadest audience possible. There are only permutations of these five: drama, comedy, fantasy, horror or action. Previous attempts to stray from these categories (animation in Urduja and RPG Metanoia) resulted to relative financial failure.

No extensive study has yet been done to profile MMFF and its audience (non that I’m aware of at least, ping me if you know of any).

5. Let the Korean Tsunami drown the world.

South Korea is the new Japan. The Elantra is the most famous sedan in the US. The United Nations’ Secretary General (Ban Ki-Moon) is South Korean. This Asian wave may have started from Taiwanese soaps and boy bands years ago, but the Koreans  are now taking over the world.

First it was Korean soaps. Endless Love, Lovers in Paris, Full House, Jewel in the Palace. And then, K-Pop. The hip-hop/R&B/electronic disco inspired phenom popular among Asian teens is spreading across the Pacific, despite the language barrier.

Remember Star Circle Quest product Sandara Park? She got the better deal from Karma. She’s now one-fourth of Korean pop supergroup 2NE1 (pronounced either Twenty-one or To Anyone, both are correct), MTV Iggy’s Best New Band in the World and due to debut in the US this year.

I say we can learn from our Korean friends in taking our world-class performers to the world stage. If not from SuperJunior, there’s 2PM, Beast, Girls Generation and Wonder Girls. After all, Charice didn’t get her break in Ellen until after she appeared in a Korean show. Filipinos, Fighting/Hwaiting!

4. More Azkal friendlies.

Admittedly, we’re decades away from levelling competitively against powerhouses like Spain or UK or Argentina. It wasn’t the friendly against LA Galaxy but the game between third-tier CF Internacional de Madrid and the all-purely-Filipino UFL champion Phil Air Force Phoenix that stressed this point.

For the national team to level up to even Asian championship standards, the Azkals – our best team – need to hone their skills against stronger clubs with longer years of experience. We literally are just starting, and there’s only one national team. Hopefully we can hold an Asian Cup trophy within 10 years.

Next match is against Incheon Citizen FC on the 21st. Go Azkals!

3. Impeachment = No dramas! 

‘Nuff said!

2. Total ban on fireworks on New Year’s Eve.

Provided the world does not end on December 21, I look forward to a smog-free January 1, 2013. How about designating one – only one – fireworks display centre per city like the ones on Ayala Avenue in Makati or Luneta in Manila?

The powders and residue are bad enough for the air and our lungs, the noise traumatise pets and the trash accumulated the day after are in the tons. After Typhoons Ondoy and Sendong, didn’t we al say we should take care of the environment more? I don’t think we’re taking the warnings seriously. Also, aren’t fireworks covered in the Clean Air Act?

1. It’s More Fun In The Philippines.

The Department of Tourism’s new slogan is so catchy, it received so many permutations within 24 hours of posting. Permutations to  confirm, deny, make fun of and repeat this online. All I can say is, IT JUST IS!

>>DISCLAIMER: I do not own all the photographs, posters and logos posted here, except section #4 Azkals and #2 New Years Eve which I personally took. Credit and copyright belong to the owners of the photos and logos appearing in sections #1-3, #5-12.<<

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