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THE QCINEMA International Film Festival is back for an 11th year, further cementing its status as a major international festival with new sections and programs.
This year, its theme is “Elevated,” in line with offering more acclaimed films than ever. The festival will run from Nov. 17 to 26 and will feature 65 films, across 10 sections of full-length and short films.
QCinema, founded in 2013, was recently awarded Best International Event Hosted by a Local Government, given by the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines and the Department of Tourism.
“It is no longer just film critics and film reviewers who recognize QCinema as the number one film festival in the Philippines. Now, even the tourism sector acknowledges our good practices,” Quezon City mayor Joy Belmonte said at a press conference for the film festival on Oct. 24.
“Our once modest and intimate film gathering dedicated to helping boost the local film industry has now completely evolved into an international film event, highly anticipated by local and foreign cineastes and filmmakers looking for that one-of-a-kind film festival experience,” Ms. Belmonte added.
Opening this year’s festival on Nov. 17 is the Venice Golden Lion-winning dark comedy Poor Things by director Yorgos Lanthimos, which stars American actress Emma Stone.
The closing film on Nov. 26 is Singapore’s entry to the 2024 Academy Awards, The Breaking Ice by Anthony Chen, which previously premiered in Cannes.
ASIAN NEXT WAVEQCinema’s main competition section, Asian Next Wave, is back, showcasing 10 directorial debuts from Asian filmmakers.
Making the cut this year are Abang Adik by Jin Ong, which won multiple awards at Udine’s Far East Film Festival; Inside The Yellow Cocoon Shell by Thien An Pham, which won Best Feature Film at Cannes; Love Is A Gun by Lee Hong-chi, the first Taiwanese film to win best first feature at the Venice Film Festival; and Tiger Stripes by Amanda Nell Eu, which won the Critics’ Week Grand Prize at Cannes.
Also in competition are the Singaporean-Japanese film Last Shadow at First Light by Nicole Midori Woodford, the Korean film Mimang by Kim Tae-yang, and the Thai film Solids by the Seashore by Patiparn Boontarig.
The Filipino film competing in this section is Gitling by Jopy Arnaldo, which was Cinemalaya’s Best Screenplay winner earlier this year.
QCinema festival director Ed Lejano said that some of the Asian Next Wave competition directors may be attending their gala screenings.
SHORT FILMSAnother competition section is QCShorts. The films competing in this section are all Filipino, and they received production grants of P350,000.
The films are A Catholic School Girl by Myra Angeline Soriaso, Abutan Man Tayo ng Houselights by Apa Agbayani, Animal Lovers by Aedrian Araojo, Microplastics by Lino Balmes, Tamgohoy by Roxlee, and Tumatawa, Umiiyak by Che Tagyamon.
Meanwhile, a new competition titled QCSEA features 10 short films from Southeast Asia: Basri and Salma in a Never-Ending Comedy by Khozy Rizal, Buoyant by Toan Thanh Doan and Hoang-Phuc Nguyen-Le, Cross My Heart and Hope to Die by Sam Manacsa, Dominion by Bea Mariano, Hito by Stephen Lopez, I Look Into the Mirror and Repeat Myself by Giselle Lin, Kung nga-a Conscious ang mga Alien sang ila Skincare (The Thing About Aliens and Their Skin Care) by Seth Andrew Blanca and Niño Maldecir, The Altar by Moe Myat May Zarchi, and When You Left Me On That Boulevard by Kayla Abuda Galang.
EXHIBITION SECTIONSCinephiles also look forward to QCinema’s non-competition sections which give them a chance to catch titles that rarely see a theatrical release in the country.
One of these sections is Screen International, which showcases world-renowned directors’ films fresh from other distinguished festivals. This year the section will include Locarno Golden Leopard winner Critical Zone by Ali Ahmadzadeh and Special Jury Prize winner Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World by Radu Jude.
The section will also have Cannes winners Fallen Leaves by Aki Kaurismäki (Palme d’Or Jury Prize), Perfect Days by Wim Wenders (Prize of the Ecumenical Jury), and The Taste of Things by Trần Anh Hùng (Best Director). Venice Grand Jury Prize and FIPRESCI Award winner Evil Does not Exist by Ryusuke Hamaguchi will grace the QCinema screen as well.
Completing the lineup are Berlin Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize winner Afire by Christian Petzold, Andrew Haigh’s All of Us Strangers, and Sweet Dreams by Ena Sendijarević.
The festival’s New Horizons section features new directors and their acclaimed debut works.
This year, the films to be shown are City of Wind by Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir, Foremost by Night by Victor Iriarte, Scrapper by Charlotte Regan, Through the Night by Delphine Girard, and Women from Rote Island by Jeremias Nyangoen.
One of QCinema’s most distinctive sections is RainbowQC, which features movies with LGBTQ+ themes. The movies to be shown this year are: Mutt by Vuk Langulov-Klotz, Passages by Ira Sachs, Peter Von Kant by François Ozon, and Woman Of… by Michał Englert and Małgorzata Szumowska.
SPECIAL SCREENINGS AND MOREFilms to be shown in the Special Screenings section are Lav Diaz’s new film Essential Truths of the Lake, Irreversible: Straight Cut by Gaspar Noé, Karaoke by Moshe Rosenthal, Only the River Flows by Wei Shujun, Raging Grace by Paris Zarcilla, Saltburn by Emerald Fennell, and Strange Way of Life and The Human Voice by Pedro Almodóvar.
Another must-watch section is Before Midnight, which features four spine-tingling titles. They are: Hungry Ghost Diner by We Jun Cho, Femme by Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping, River by Junta Yamaguchi, and Red Rooms by Pascal Plante.
The Restored Classics section, a regular QCinema crowd-drawer, features newly restored versions of unforgettable films. To be screened this year are Wong Kar-wai classics Chungking Express and Fallen Angels, the Bruce Lee starrer Enter the Dragon by Robert Clouse, and the iconic A Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick.
This year also witnessed the rebirth of QCinema’s documentary section. Now called QCDox, it has three real-life stories: Divine Factory by Joseph Mangat, Nowhere Near by Miko Revereza, and National Anarchist: Lino Brocka by Khavn.
NEW PROGRAMSAside from the film screenings, QCinema is also introducing two new adjacent events this year. One is the QCinema Project Market, which connects promising projects from the Philippines and the rest of Asia with producers for funding. The other is the QCinema Film Critics Lab, which will gather a group of young Filipinos interested in creating content around film and offer them access to industry professionals to help foster their burgeoning careers.
To be held in conjunction with QCinema is the International Film Industry Conference, co-organized by the Film Development Council of the Philippines. The event features talks from experts and professionals.
“We know there’s a strong filmgoing market here. Yes, streaming is still most popular nowadays, but festivals are back with a vengeance,” festival director Mr. Lejano said of the film festival’s outlook.
Screenings will be held at the cinemas of Gateway Mall, Robinsons Magnolia, UP Town Center, Shangri-la Plaza, and Power Plant Mall.
Regular ticket prices for screenings are P300. For more information about QCinema, visit the website at qcinema.ph or follow its social media accounts — www.facebook.com/QCinemaPH, twitter.com/QCinemaPH, and www.instagram.com/qcinemaph. — Brontë H. Lacsamana