Filipino art films featured at National Gallery Singapore’s International Film Festival
Filipino art films were featured in the fifth edition of the “Painting with Light: Festival on International Films on Art” with the theme, “Interventions in Space,” held at the National Gallery of Singapore (NGS) this month.
Included among the 50 international films were those created by Philippine filmmakers, such as Rod Paras-Perez (Conversation in Space, 1961), Roque Federizon Lee, also known as Rox Lee (The Great Smoke, 1984; ABCD, 1985), Nonoy Marcelo (Tadhana, 1978), Victor Balanon (The Somnambulist, 2013), Janus Victoria (Mito ng Maynila, 2021), Don Josephus Rafael Eblahan (The Headhunter’s Daughter, 2022) and Carlo Francisco Manatad (Jodilerks Dela Cruz, 2017).
Curated under different programs, the film festival features a lineup of experimental animation films from Southeast Asia from the 1960s to 1980s, which include the world premiere of the NGS-commissioned 4K digital restoration of the silent film by Rod Paras-Perez entitled Conversation in Space, one of the earliest animations and experimental films from the Philippines.
Another featured silent film in the festival is Roxlee’s first solo film, The Great Smoke, a biting satire on nuclear destruction, comprising found footage, collage, and animated drawings. The film was made during the Cold War, conveying the anxieties of nuclear power at a tense time in history.
Based on the history book authored by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, the highlight among the roster of Philippine films is Tadhana, the first Philippine full-length animated film directed by the late cartoonist Nonoy Marcelo.
The highlight among the roster of Philippine films is Tadhana, the first Philippine full-length animated film directed by the late cartoonist Nonoy Marcelo. Commissioned by the former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, Sr. and based on the history book of the same title that he likewise authored, the film premiered on Philippine television during the sixth anniversary of Martial Law in 1978. It presented a satirical, humorous, and poignant view of the Philippines’ history of the Spanish colonization through highly original and surreal vignettes fusing art, mythology, and music.
A post-screening dialogue of Tadhana with prominent individuals from the Philippine film and animation scene, such as Ricky Orellana, director of the Mowelfund Film Institute of the Philippines and board member of the Animation Council of the Philippines and DengCoy Miel, Filipino visual artist and veteran cartoonist of The Straits Times, together with NGS Filipino curator Clarissa Chikiamco followed the screening of Tadhana.
To show support for Filipino art films, the Philippine Embassy in Singapore, led by Philippine chargé d’affaires to Singapore Emmanuel R. Fernandez, attended both the screening of Tadhana and its post-screening dialogue.
Photos from the Philippine embassy in Singapore