Filipino movies are about to mother at TIFF 2023, literally, with two films being selected to make their world premiere at the prestigious film festival.
Philippine cinema has been enjoying a moment on the international film scene as of late. Dolly de Leon officially joined the acting branch of The Academy, making her an eligible member to vote at the Oscars. John Llyod Cruz recently bagged his latest international acting award, the Boccalino d’Oro prize at the 76th Locarno Film Festival. And a few Filipino films are screening at some of the biggest film festivals in the world, two of which are going down this September at the Toronto International Film Festival.
REALITY SHOW MAMA
In case you didn’t know, we’re in the middle of the fall film festival season. The Venice Film Festival just wrapped and saw films like Poor Things and Priscilla make noise as future awards contenders. And over in Canada, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is going down with movies from all over the world showing at the popular film festival. That lineup includes two Filipino movies as further proof that local talent is worthy of global reception.
The first is Sonny Calvento’s Primetime Mother, which was included in the Short Cuts programme as part of 42 narratives from 23 countries. If the director’s name sounds familiar, that’s because he also directed Excuse Me, Miss, Miss, Miss, which made history in 2021 as the first Filipino short to screen at the Sundance Film Festival and recently took home the Audience Award in Locarno Shorts Week 2023. As the name suggests, Primetime Mother revolves around a 45-year-old mother named Minda (Meryll Soriano). With her desperation to help her ailing child reaching a fever pitch, Minda decides to join a local TV game show called My Amazing Mama.
As well as serving as a parody and critique of local game show culture, the short film will also celebrate a mother’s resilience and tenacity, as well as challenge the idea of what mothers in Filipino society should look and act like as they aspire for their dreams and agency.
AN UNEXPECTED GUEST
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The second Filipino film making a splash at TIFF is Anak ka ng Ina Mo, directed by Jun Lana. 2023 may very well be Lana’s year as he’s delivered back-to-back hits Ten Little Mistresses and About Us But Not About Us. His third film of the year heads overseas to Toronto as part of the Centerpiece Programme, which will feature 47 films that represent global cinema.
Once again revolving around the indomitable Filipina mother, Anak ka ng Ina Mo centers on a hard-working mother and son whose relationship is put to the test when the mom invites one of her students to live in their home. Starring Sue Prado and Kokoy De Santos (who previously starred in Gameboys), the film is said to tell a tale of sacrifice, love, and boundaries.
It can be remembered that the last time a Filipino movie played at TIFF, it was Martika Escobar’s Leonor Will Never Die, which ended up taking home the Amplify Voices Award at TIFF and earned a nomination at the 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards for Best International Film. So, it goes without saying that the hype is real. Not only will these two films have a presence at one of the most talked about festivals in the world, but it will also give local cinema a big platform and exposure to a global audience, which it deserves.
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