The country's first UNESCO Creative City is set to establish itself as a cultural hub for independent filmmaking with the launch of the first Montañosa Film Festival (MFF) this February.
Drawing inspiration from the Spanish word montañosa, which directly translates to 'mountainous,' the festival will highlight the rich cultural heritage of the Cordilleras, its diverse creative forces blending together harmoniously through the melting pot that is Baguio City.
With the theme "Crossing Borders," the MFF is geared to dive into new creative efforts to open relevant avenues for discourse on the environment, health, peace, freedom, art, culture, heritage, political and social issues, and contemporary living, among others.
Ten exceptional narrative and documentary films from ten of the region's most promising independent filmmakers will be showcased from February 20 to 28, 2021 in a one-of-a-kind festival experience, crossing the borders and limits of traditional communication methods into the age of the new normal.
The ten finalists for the festival's films-in-competition category include Aliw Awards 2017 Best Director Angelo Aurelio; urban farm property developer and creative investment consultant Clint Taynan; videographer and vlogger Enrico Laoagan; JCS International Young Creatives Award 2017 finalist Giullienne Sanchez; Fridge Multimedia proprietor Hendrix Sanchez; SIX HOURS LATE FILMS founder Moises Soriano; experienced video and photo editor Karl Patacsil; seasoned instructor in theater and freelance theater artist Lynette Carantes-Bibal; veteran video editor and producer Nars Santos; and director of CineFilipino 2016's Best Online Short Film, Wilfredo Aquino.
Safe, smart, sustainable, and responsible recovery through film expression
This is not the first time that Baguio Creative City has held events under new safety and health protocols. September's Crescendo, an online concert celebrating Baguio Day, as well as the opening and closing events of November's month-long Ibagiw Creative Festival, have both been wildly successful in fusing online and physical platforms to build immersive and community-based experiences.
These events were both organized in line with a new concept of event management formulated by The Workshop for Infinite Media Inc. (TWIMEDIA), which mainly utilizes streaming technology to do live events. This concept manifests in the utilization of several streaming venues scattered across the city in which the event is live streamed, with only the performers and production team present at the main venue.
One of the proposed streaming venues for the upcoming festival is the Loakan Airport, where a drive-in cinema concept is planned. Another is at Burnham Lake, where viewers may be socially distanced with the use of the lake's swan boats. To help local businesses recover through local commerce, private viewings are also proposed to be held at various business establishments across the city.
The influx of viewers in all streaming venues will be controlled via pre-registration, and viewings will be distanced by screening schedules spread throughout the duration of the festival. Security and medical services will be made available at every location.
Reshaping the landscape of highlands tourism through film
Equally important to the goal of promoting the region's creative talent and traditions, however, is the paving of the road toward the Cordillera's economic recovery.
Riding on the wave of success film tourism has experienced in the past two decades, the festival aims to bring exposure to Baguio Creative City and re-ignite the city's tourism industry, which was brought to a standstill by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Baguio will then play a central role in bringing this revival to the rest of the Cordillera Administrative Region.
The MFF, which will also launch with non-competition and international categories, intends to establish itself as an annual event. By gradually opening itself up to both national and international participation, the MFF aspires to encourage independent filmmakers to follow in the footsteps of National Artist and Father of Independent Filmmaking, Kidlat Tahimik.
The first Montañosa Film Festival is presented by the Baguio City Mayor's Office, Department of Tourism and supported by festival lead partners - the Council for Baguio Creative City, the Baguio Tourism Council, 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, University of the Philippines Baguio and the Embassies of France, India, and Czech Republic.
The MFF is organized by The Workshop for Infinite Media, Inc. under the helm of Festival Director Ferdinand John Balanag, a multi-awarded film and theatre director.
The MFF's main beneficiary is GoodACTS (Artists, Craftspeople, and Tourism Support), a community initiative of mutual support among the city's artists amid the pandemic.
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