PH Cinema Continues 100 Year Celebration at Busan International Film Festival

BY:  Rohn Romulo

AFTER last year’s incredible participation of the Philippine Delegation in Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) as Country of Focus, Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) continues the momentum with a powerhouse lineup in the BIFF 2019 starting this October 3.

The Agency once again leads the delegation at BIFF, as well as the Asian Film Market and its several programs like Asian Project Market and Platform BUSAN.



October 3 – 12, 2019

The latest film from Brillante Mendoza, a Lav Diaz film, an internationally-acclaimed film that will represent the Philippines to the Oscars and new wave independent films will compose this year’s Philippine entries for screening, world premiere and competition.


Mindanao (WORLD PREMIERE) directed by Brillante Mendoza.  Starring Judy Ann Santos and Allen Dizon.

The film, Mindanao will have its World Premiere at BIFF. It is the latest offering of Brillante Mendoza – one of the most prominent and important Filipino filmmakers today.

Synopsis: Saima is a mother to an ailing child of cancer, and wife to a combat medic deployed in an offensive war in the southern Philippines. The story is merged with the epic tale of the warrior brothers Raja Sulayman and Indarapatra against the two fire-breathing sea serpents. The heroes’ conquests and tragedy mirrors Saima’s harrowing reality. Death caused by an illness is ugly, death caused by a war is ugly, but when is death futile?

biff-ang hupa

Ang Hupa (The Halt) directed by Lav Diaz. Starring Piolo Pascual, Joel Lamangan, Shaina Magdayao, Hazel Orencio and Joel Saracho.

Known for the length of his films about the social and political struggles Direk Lav Diaz has garnered the admiration of the international festival circuit.

Synopsis:  It is the year 2034 AD and Southeast Asia has been in the dark for the last three years, literally, because the sun hasn’t shone as a result of massive volcanic eruptions at the Celebes Sea in 2031. Madmen control countries, communities, enclaves and bubble cities. Cataclysmic epidemics razed over the continent. Millions have died and millions have left.



Lingua Franca directed by Isabel Sandoval.  Starring Isabel Sandoval, Eamon Farren, and Ivory Aquino.

Isabel Sandoval is a New York-based Filipina filmmaker who has produced, written and directed two full-length feature films, including the Filipino-language “Señorita” (2011), which premiered in competition at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland. “Señorita” also won the Emerging Director Award at the Asian-American International Film Festival in 2012.

Synopsis:  Alex, recently back in Brighton Beach after a family-imposed sabbatical in Russia, finds work at a slaughterhouse while looking after his grandmother Olga, who suffers from dementia. He finds himself drawn to Olga’s Filipino caregiver, Olivia. When he realizes that she’s an undocumented trans woman, Alex must decide whether to help Olivia with her predicament.


Verdict directed by Raymund Ribay Gutierrez.

Trained well throughout his career by Brillante Mendoza and became his protégé, Direk Raymund as a screenwriter, is guided by the founder and teacher of “Found Story”; Armando “Bing” Lao – a unique storytelling that is applied in both his and Brillante’s films.

Synopsis:  Joy and her six-year-old daughter Angel live in Manila, with her husband, Dante, a small-time criminal. As so often in the past, Dante comes home drunk at night and beats Joy brutally. This time, he also hurts Angel. Joy grabs her daughter and flees to the local police post to finally get him sent to jail. Justice, Joy learns, takes time at best and is impossible to get at worst. Not without reason, she feels that she and her daughter are increasingly under threat.

Starring Max Eigenmann, Kristoffer King, and Jorden Suan.

biff-john denver


      John Denver Trending (International Premiere) directed by Arden Rod Condez.

Arden Rod Condez hails from Pandan, Antique, Philippines and has been a writer of ABS-CBN Corporation, the largest media conglomerate in the Philippines.

Synopsis:  A 14-year-old farmboy’s life is suddenly upended when a video of him brutally attacking a classmate went viral.

Starring Jansen Magpusao, Meryll Soriano, Sunshine Teodoro, Glenn Mas, and Sammy Rubido.



Basurero (World Premiere) directed by Eileen Cabiling

Eileen, Fil-Am writer-director-producer, has been described by AFI mentor Anna Thomas (Frieda, IFP Founder) as “an artist whose stories magically come to life like in a painting.” Her vision is to produce her own stories and those of other Filipino filmmaker’s for the global arena.

Synopsis: Bong, a Filipino fisherman, finds himself embroiled in a dangerous side gig. Wracked with guilt and fear, he searches for a way out.

Cast: Jericho Rosales, Althea Vega, Matt Daclan, Soliman Cruz, Yuna Tangog, Skyzx Labastilla, Shane Patrick Carrera



The Philippine Pavilion at the Asian Film Market will house the Filipino companies and Government agencies at Booth E-02 AT BEXCO Exhibition Center 2.

The following companies and agencies are Blacksheep, ABS-CBN Film Productions, Inc. (Star Cinema), Black Ops Studios Asia, CMB Film Services, Inc., Indiego Pictures, Go Motion, Insight 360 Consultancy Services, Inc., MPJ Entertainment And Productions, Rafa Ella Films International, Project 8 Corner San Joaquin Projects, Solar Entertainment Corporation, VY/AC Productions, Olemenak And Viva Entertainment, Inc.



Boldstar directed by Antoinette Jadaone

Direk Antoinette Jadaone is an award-winning Filipina filmmaker and household name in both the art-house and mainstream film industry. Her debut feature, Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay (2011), traveled to several international film festivals, including Busan International Film Festival 2012. She considers Boldstar a means to return to her independent cinema roots.

Bianca Balbuena is a producer, writer, and co-founder and CEO of Epicmedia Productions Inc., and the recipient of the Asian Film Commissions Network Producer of the Year 2018, and the youngest awardee of the Asia Pacific Screen Awards FIAPF Award for Contribution to Asia Pacific Cinema.

Dan Villegas is a producer, director, cinematographer, and CEO and President of Project 8 corner San Joaquin Projects.

Synopsis: A wild celebrity sex tape has leaked, starring former bombshell Ginger Paloma. Now living in a destitute tenement with two kids, it’s a second shot at fame and fortune for Ginger at last. She has to do it, admitting that she is the woman in the video. Except that she isn’t. Everything seems to be going well, as she and her family enjoy their easy money, until the real star of the sex video turns up. Majesty Zamora is younger and fresher, and she’s here to claim what’s rightfully hers. Not willing to let go of her new life, Ginger has a brilliant idea. She makes a new sex tape.


      Golden directed by JP Habac

JP Habac (Jaime Habac Jr.) is a filmmaker and also an alumnus of the Asian Film Academy, International Documentary Masterclass – Serbia, Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival’s Fantastic Film School, and Generation Campus – Moscow.

Omar Sortijas has produced several Filipino films over the past years, one of which, Die Beautiful (Jun Lana, 2016), won the Audience Choice and Best Actor Awards at Tokyo International Film Festival 2016. One of his most recent projects, Waiting for Sunset (Carlo Catu, 2018), won Best Film at Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival 2018, and he is currently the Creative Director of TBA Studios.

Producer Daphne O. Chiu studied filmmaking at the International Academy of Film and Television in 2008. Working as an in-house producer, and Executive Vice President and General Manager of TBA Studios which produced the historical

biopic Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral (Jerrold Tarog, 2018).

Synopsis:  Fresh from Japan, Amparo – is excited to see all her gay senior friends whom she hasn’t seen for so many years now. As she comes home, she’s surprised to find the house locked, and the Golden Lolas are not there. Amparo searches for them one by one. She finds Rica, Noelito, Alicia, Beni, Lola Rey, Mon, and all of the other homeless Lolas. Now that they are reunited, they are faced with the real problem – where will they stay? Amparo tells them that maybe it’s time for them to go back to performing, to relive their drag queen days, but the worried Lolas tell her that they’re aging, going deaf, sickly, and dying. Amparo tells them that they will never achieve anything if they won’t even try!


      Nightwalk directed by Ron Morales.

Direk Ron Morales has found his voice as a director by blending moral complexities with brutal shades of reality into compelling narratives. He directed his award-winning feature film Graceland (2012), which won Second Place Audience Award from Tribeca Film Festival 2012 and Best Narrative Feature Award from San Diego Asian Film Festival 2012.

Rebecca Lundgren is a multifaceted independent filmmaker, who produced the critically-acclaimed independent feature film Graceland (Ron Morales, 2012). Over the years Rebecca has held numerous positions in the industry and worked on high profile productions, like Men in Black III (Barry Sonnenfeld, 2012) and J.J. Abrams’ Person of Interest.

Joshua Sobel was Co-Executive Producer of Ron Morales’ Graceland (Ron Morales, 2012) and went on to Executive Produce Adrian Garcia Bogliano’s Scherzo Diabolico (2015) and Black Circle (2018).

Synopsis: Dawn Jennings, a foreign journalist, partners with a local confidant and colleague to investigate several murders in the Philippines. Her world is changed irrevocably, when she witnesses the execution of her only lead along with a gun for hire vigilante in a local drug den. Now a witness, Dawn escapes into an adjacent maze of shanties controlled by a decorated Police Captain covering up his involvement in corruption and drug trafficking. He orders his men to find and kill her. Covertly, the Vigilante had a partner who ends up rescuing Dawn from the pursuing police squad. But instead of saving her, Dawn is used as bait. Amidst the deadly game of cat and mouse, somewhere on the edge of desperation, Dawn manages to stay alive agreeing to help the partner seek revenge. Together, this mismatched duet develops a peculiar relationship, culminating in the revelation of secrets that will have both of them questioning their lives.

biff-send off

FDCP Chairperson and CEO Liza Diño is more than happy with the representation of the Philippines to Busan.

      “This year, we bring again a strong lineup in Busan in terms of films, film projects and Filipino companies. Our goal to bring the Filipino content in Asia and to the world is slowly happening and with that, FDCP stays true to its goal that we will be supporting them every step of the way as part of our legacy for the next 100 years,” she said.

The Busan International Film Festival will run from October 3 to 12, 2019 in Busan, South Korea.

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