26th French Film Festival opening
Lifestyle,  Philippines

Stories That Transcend Cultures: The 26th French Film Festival Opening Day

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The 26th French Film Festival in the Philippines commenced last November 25, 2023, highlighting many cultural similarities of the Philippines and France and the promising potential of creative collaboration between the two countries. In a press conference during the film festival’s opening ceremony held at SM Director’s Club at S’Maison, the vital role of celebrating shared stories through French films was emphasized.

Present in the ceremony were Marie Fontanel (Ambassador of France to the Philippines), Steven Tan (SM Supermalls President), and Martin Macalintal (Cultural and Audiovisual Attaché of the French Embassy and Festival Director). The film festival aims to reach the younger audience, foster longer-lasting appreciation of differing yet related cultures, and promote a culture of collaboration as part of France’s “Make It Iconic” campaign in the Philippines.

26th French Film Festival opening
(Photo by Embassy of France to the Philippines and Micronesia)

Coinciding with the International Day to End Violence to Women and Children, the opening ceremony was followed by a roundtable discussion on protecting women and children against abuse. Moderated by David Celdran, present in the discussion were Ambassador Marie Fontanel, Senator Risa Hontiveros, Emmanuelle Béart (Actress and Co-Director of documentary film Un Silence si Bruyant/Such a Resounding Silence), Atty. Elaine F. Fallarcuna (DSWD Assistant Secretary for International Affairs), Ms. Laurence Ligier (Founder and Director of Cameleon Association Inc.), and Hannah Morillo (Psychologist and Director of MLAC Institute).

The discussion focused on incest as the main topic in the documentary film. It unveils the still-lingering stigma against victims and exposes the true nature of how children are abused, the assistance they need, and how the government and the general public should take part in breaking the cycle of trauma and victim blaming.

The day concluded with a short cocktail party and invitational screening of Acide/Acid Rain, a film about climate change. Here are Smash That Screen’s short reviews of the two films.

Un Silence si Bruyant (Such a Resounding Silence)

Directors: Emmanuelle Béart and Anastasia Mikova
Rating: 84/100

Synopsis: This documentary features the real-life project of Emmanuelle Béart and Anastasia Mikova in documenting child abuse and incest victims’ account of the assault/s towards them.

Review: The intricate interchange between voiceovers, victims, and Emmanuelle Béart was compelling. It was a difficult film to watch not because of the lack of technical marvel but because of the daunting stories of victims and how they cope after the abuse against them. With it being a documentary, it featured surprising statistics and characters that shatter and trigger emotions.

Acide (Acid Rain)

French Film Festival - Acid Rain

Director: Just Philippot
Rating: 77/100

Synopsis: A family three struggles to run away from the impending danger of abnormal acid rain that wreaks havoc throughout France. The determination of the father, Michal (Guillaume Canet), to protect his ex-wife Elise (Lætitia Dosch) and their daughter Selma (Patience Munchenbach) from danger and bring them to safety is tested.

Review: The film effectively projects fear out of a potentially hazardous natural phenomenon caused by climate change in the near future. The intense conflict among the characters was almost parallel to the buildups and sustained updates of the incoming thunderstorm. The scenes where the characters were interacting somehow mirror the weather depicted in the film. The most compelling acting performance was that of Patience Munchenbach as she significantly shifts the course of their plans because of her stance and insistence on doing what she thinks are morally right.

December 3, 2023, serves as the last day of this year’s French film festival, with six films shown at SM Mall of Asia and SM Megamall cinemas. For more information on the films, screening times, and tickets, check out the official Facebook page of SM Cinema, SM Mall of Asia, SM Megamall, Alliance française de Manille, and the Embassy of France to the Philippines and Micronesia.

This film festival is in partnership with the Institut Français and the Film Development Council of the Philippines.

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