10 Filipino Films to Screen and Compete at the Busan International Film Festival

If the zombies were coming in Train to Busan, it’s Filipino films that’s coming in the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF).

In this year’s run of the BIFF, an astounding 10 Filipino films are being screened or competing.

The festival is one of Asia’s most significant, and gathers new films from first-time directors, most especially in the region.

The lineup of Filipino films are a mix of works from emerging and established directors.

Below are the categories where the films will be screened or will compete:

The Wide Angle competition is “dedicated to showing outstanding short films, animation, documentaries, and experimental films presenting different and distinct vision via broader cinematic viewpoints”


Sheron Dayoc’s The Crescent Rising

Christians constitute over 90% of the population of Catholic Philippines. Historically, however, an Islamic dynasty had settled in the Philippines long before the Spanish invasion, which pushed the Muslims to Mindanao, in the southern part of the country. This documentary vividly shows the conflict area of the Philippines, little known to the outside world.


Baby Ruth Villarama’s Sunday Beauty Queen

In Hong Kong, more than 190,000 female Filipina immigrants work as house maids. They live in with their employers and provide 24-hour services six days per week, with just Sunday off. Twenty-nine-year-old Cherry goes to Chater Garden near Central Station to enjoy her day off after a tough working week. Cherry and her friends are busy rehearsing their dancing and catwalk model walking for a beauty contest.

The Asian Short Film competition


Phil Giordano’s Supot

In some provinces in the Philippines, boys are circumcised at 10 by a man called mang tutuli. When Rene-boy, the son of mang tutuli Itoy, flees his circumcision, his shame forces him to face the ultimate challenge: proving to his macho father that he’s a man.

The Asian Short Film showcase


Brillante Mendoza’s “Amorsolo’s Dream” in Art Through Our Eyes

Five award-winning ASEAN film directors celebrate Southeast Asian art through this collection of short films. As an omnibus of short films, is inspired by the art collection found at the National Gallery Singapore, Each of the five directors – Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Brillante Mendoza, Eric Khoo, Ho Yuhang and Joko Anwar – handpicked a masterpiece from the 19th and 20th century as inspiration for their short films.


Raymund Gutierrez’s Imago

On a humid night within the bustling slums of Metropolitan Manila, Inday, a 54-year-old single parent of a special child goes to her unusual work. As the first short film of Raymund who is an assistant director of Brillante Mendoza, it was invited the Cannes short competition 2016.

The Window on Asian Cinema, which “showcases brand new and/or representative films by the talented Asian filmmakers with their diverse points of view and style”

Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis JLC

Lav Diaz’s Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis

The film begins on the day before the execution of José Rizal, one of the national heroes of the Philippines. Starting from political propaganda movements to reform the Spanish colonial system, which had lasted more than three hundred years, nationwide independent revolution broke out. During the movement, many lives were sacrificed. Even worse, there were conflicts among activists. Eventually the first attempt ended in failure. Bonifacio, another national hero, was shot and left neglected so that his body hasn’t been found until today.

However, in this tragic era, a musical genre of lyrical serenades called Jocelynang Baliwag was born.


Bradley Liew’s Singing in Graveyards

Pepe has been an impersonator of legendary rock musician Joey Smith for thirty years. He ekes out a living by singing at a shabby bar, his performances gradually getting worse. Nevertheless, his heart is full of the rock n’ roll spirit and he feels like a celebrity. His acquaintances as well as his own family, however, seem to consider him worthless, a doddering old fool. Even his idol Joey Smith ignores him, treating him like he’s invisible. In spite of everything, Pepe triumphantly declares he’ll write a love song—a song so great that even his idol could never make.

WATCH The Trailer of Ma'Rosa, Brillante Mendoza's Cannes-Nominated Film, is Here

Brillante Mendoza’s Ma’ Rosa

In a slummy area where people can’t finish a sentence without swearing, Rosa is the de facto the head of the household, taking care of her husband Nesto and four children. She runs a small grocery store selling things bought at bigger mart, but it is not easy to earn a living in a backstreet area where credit is common. To make some extra cash, she secretly sells drugs. One day before her husband’s birthday, they are raided by police and arrested. The children left behind have no other option other than selling anything they can to make the “bail” the corrupt police demand.


Ato Bautista’s Expressway

A thriller about a contract killer who wants to retire. Ben used to have a wife and son but ended up lonely after living for decades traversing the dark underworld. He wants to make a clean break, not just from his employer but also the sorrow he feels over the death of his son. And, he thinks, retirement can do just that. Morris, a young, hothead with big ambitions, joins him for his last assignment. Morris has been killing people since he was twelve years old and seems to feel no guilt about his crimes. Constantly bickering with each other, the tension between them increases until it reaches a boiling point.


Anton Juan’s Woven Wings of Our Children

Woven Wing of Our Children is a good-hearted movie. The children living in a Philippines ghetto grow up too fast, dealing with the cruel world where they have to be responsible for their own lives. But they have bright, innocent and good dreams in their hearts. The reality on the streets of capitalism is, however, too harsh to hold on to these dreams. The film reveals that these children need practical help more than they need innocent religious beliefs.

The ten films were able to join the Busan International Film Fest through the help of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), which started a travel assistance program. According to the council, the delegates of the 10 films are the first recipients of the program.

Apart from funding their travel costs, the council will also join the Asian Film Market to find distributors for local films, and have produced a film catalog of films released in 2015 to 2016 and materials exclusive to the 10 delegates.

Have you seen any of these films? Share your thoughts below!

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