First Cordi filmfest opens

ROSE A BLOOMING. Burnham Park’s Rose Garden will be one of the venues in the screening of entries to the Montanosa Film Festival. The garden was opened Friday, a day before the opening of the filmfest that was already delayed by a month due to the declaration of GCQ last month in Baguio and the region. Photo by Neil Ongchangco / PIO Baguio

It will be the first-ever Montañosa Film Festival at the Baguio Convention Center tomorrow, March 20, though it will be in style with only a few to be there due to the Covid-19 which actually delayed its staging by a month.

Due to health protocol, only 100 persons will be allowed to be present during the opening rites, among them are personalities from lead festival partners like the Department of Tourism, the Tourism Promotions Board, the Film Development Council of the Philippines, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the University of the Philippines-Baguio, and representatives from the embassies of France, India and the Czech Republic.

National Artist Kidlat Tahimik’s film Balikbayan #1: Memories of Overdevelopment Redux III will be screened during the gala opening and will be graced by performances from Ballet Baguio and Timpuyog Ti Gangsa.

The public can watch the event via livestreaming on the MFF Facebook Page.

The MFF launching comes a day after the reopening of Burnham Park’s Rose Garden, where thousands of roses will by then be in full bloom.

Said garden will be venue for the screening on March 20 and 21 for MFF’s TBA Studios Collection of films at the Rose Garden. Also to be shown is the French children’s film Kirikou et la Sorcière (Kirikou and the Sorceress).

Burnham Lake will be the venue for the March 27 and 28 screenings using the observation deck as screen, with boats allowing a limited number of viewers to enjoy the films while observing social distancing.

Other MFF film collections such as Euro Cine, Cine Asya, the Luzviminda Collection, and Cine Cordillera, will be available for viewing courtesy of the MFF’s various screening partners across the city. Venues include the Baguio Country Club, Grand Sierra Pines Baguio, Holiday Inn Baguio City Centre, Le Monet Hotel, and The Manor at Camp John Hay.

Another major venue partner for the MFF is the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and the Management of the Loakan Airport. The Loakan Airport will be venue for the March 25 to 28 drive-in theater concept. However, only 50 cars of maximum of four people per car will be allowed within the audience at any given time.

It will be from dusk until before midnight at airport where featured films include Musiklamon Food and Music Fair featuring local musicians and local culinary experiences. Screenings will start at sunset and conclude at least two hours before midnight.

The airport is the venue for the premiere of the MFF’s Films In-Competition category.

There will be 10 films, trimmed down from a total of 46 entries that were submitted to the MFF late last year. These were produced by 10 up-and-coming independent homegrown filmmakers from the Cordilleras. The filmmakers were provided a P40,000 grant each to produce their respective films.

The filmmakers were also provided with trainings to help them realize the full potential of their films.

Mentorship experiences with some of the biggest names in the industry were provided by Pitch Lab with scriptwriter Emman Dela Cruz; a one-on-one mentorship activity with scriptwriter Moira Lang and director Dean Colin Marcial; and the FDCP-sponsored FDCP Film Talks, which featured producer Gale Osorio, scriptwriter Fatrick Tabada, director Sheron Dayoc, and cinematographer Martika Escobar.

The finalists will be given even during the festival proper with the continuation of the MFF Film Lab series, which will be held at UP Baguio’s Teatro Amianan.

The series will feature a two-part editing lab with Dean Colin Marcial and editor Abi Lara on March 22 and 25; a pitch lab with Emman Dela Cruz, and a pitch lab for international co-productions with producer Alemberg Ang (both on March 24).

CCP President and NCCA Chairman Arsenio “Nick” Lizaso will also grace the MFF for the picNICK Finalists’ Picnic on March 26. There the finalists will have the opportunity to chat with Lizaso and also to “pick Nick’s brain.”

The festival will have its closing and awards night on March 28 at the Loakan Airport.

The MFF is an official City event supported by Executive Order No. 6, Series of 2021 issued by Mayor Benjamin Magalong, which designates March 20-28 as MFF Week. The event is spearheaded by the Baguio Tourism Council, through TWIMEDIA under the helm of Festival Director/ Filmmaker Ferdinand John Balanag.

The festival is co-presented by the Department of Tourism, along with partners the Tourism Promotions Board, the Film Development Council of the Philippines, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Local lead partners include the Department of Tourism – CAR, and the Baguio Tourism Council.

The international film component of the festival is fueled by the support of various embassies, including those of France, India, and the Czech Republic.



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