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Philippines pushes forward as a Spotlight Country in Locarno Open Doors

Philippine cinema’s presence will undoubtedly be felt at this year’s edition of the Locarno International Film Festival. In collaboration with the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), this year’s edition of Locarno, dubbed Locarno 2020 – For the Future of Films, features The Philippines as a spotlight country in its Open Doors program.


Spotlight Country

FDCP Chairperson and CEO Liza Diño will participate in Locarno's Open Doors

roundtable discussion.

From 2019 to 2021, Locarno Open Doors has chosen to spotlight films and projects in Mongolia and countries in Southeast Asia, namely, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, and The Philippines. Its three sections are Open Doors Hub, Open Doors Lab, and Open Doors Screening all of which serve to assist different aspects of the independent film industry.


Open Doors Head Sophie Bourdon spoke about how Open Doors “showcases the [Spotlight] region’s impressive inter-generational dynamism, presenting on the one hand the work of young talents, especially in the field of the short film in a variety of forms, and on the other a range of full-length features awaiting rediscovery, made by directors who over the years have established themselves on the international circuit.”

Isabel Sandoval, director of Open Doors Hub entry Tropical Gothic

As a spotlight country, the Philippines will have projects and participants in the three Open Doors sections. This year’s program will feature Isabel Sandoval’s Tropical Gothic and Avid Liongoren’s Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah vs the Amazonistas of Planet X in Open Doors Hub, six films from the Philippines in Open Doors Screenings, and Kyle Nieva of Screen Asia in the Open Doors Lab.


In addition, FDCP Chairperson and CEO Liza Diño will participate in a roundtable discussion with a panel of representatives from the various countries of the Open Doors focus region on August 11. She will be alongside Philippine filmmaker and representative Antoinette Jadaone as well as filmmakers Thu Thu Shein from Myanmar, Nandita Solomon from Malaysia and Mouly Surya from Indonesia. During the roundtable discussion, the panel will discuss the present situation of the film industry from their respective regions, the effects of the global pandemic on the industry, and the representation of women filmmakers in the film industry.

Avid Liongoren, director of Open Doors Hub Entry Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah vs the

Amazonistas of Planet X

Regarding the Philippines’ role as a spotlight country in Locarno, FDCP Chair Liza Diño said, “FDCP is looking forward to participating in Locarno as a representative of the Philippines and its status as a spotlight country. During these times, it is crucial to support our independent filmmakers. The Locarno Film Festival and its Open Doors program provides an excellent platform for that support. This year’s move to an online platform by Locarno is also innovative and continues the festival’s support of independent filmmaking amid the global pandemic. We are excited to bring the best of Philippine cinema to such a platform.”


Open Doors


Open Doors is the Locarno Film Festival’s platform for assisting independent filmmaking and showcasing directors and films from “the south and the east.” It features three sections: Open Doors Hub, Open Doors Lab, and Open Door Screenings.


Under Open Doors Hub, Tropical Gothic and Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah vs the Amazonistas of Planet X, alongside six other projects, will have the opportunity to meet with potential partners for international collaboration. From August 6 to 11, teams from the selected projects will be introduced to various international professionals to encourage collaborations via co-productions, funding, distribution, and professional training. In these six days, Open Doors Hub will provide a tailored program that includes pitching coaching, group discussions, one-to-one meetings, and networking activities with industry decision-makers and festival guests. 

Screen Asia producer Kyle Nieva will be participating in Open Doors Lab

Open Doors Lab, meanwhile, annually selects eight filmmakers for a six-day tailor-made program for the role of creative producer. Under this program, Open Doors aims to provide filmmakers with tools on how to approach the project development stage, work with international film professionals, and increase their entrepreneurial skills. Filipino producer and director Kyle Nieva, from production company Screen Asia will attend this six-day lab. Supatcha Thipsena, producer of the feature-length version of Babylon (a Philippines and Thailand co-production) will participate in the program as well. Through Open Doors Lab, the selected filmmakers will participate in group discussions, film screenings, individual consultancy meetings, and networking opportunities with industry decision-makers and festival guests. 


Open Doors Screenings offers a selection of short and feature-length films from the various Open Doors focus regions and aims to showcase the regions’ cinematographic landscape. Four feature-length films from the Philippines will screen under this section: Aparisyon (Isabel Sandoval), Engkwentro (Pepe Diokno), Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay (Antoinette Jadaone) and Masahista (Brillante Mendoza). Two short films, Keith Deligero’s Babylon and E. Del Mundo’s Manong ng Pa-aling will screen at Locarno under this section as well.

Aparisyon will be one of six Filipino films to screen at Open Doors Screenings

This selection has been curated to provide a showcase of Philippine cinema’s best. Speaking to FDCP, festival programmer and Open Doors consultant Paolo Bertolin described Open Doors screenings as an “opportunity to re-discover a host of surprisingly diverse films. They were met with acclaim and won awards at the time of their releases, both domestically and internationally. However, with the passing of time, these South East Asian gems became quite hard to find. Remarkable films risked of  falling into oblivion; a risk that questions the notions of preserving and renewing the visibility of independent cinema. The Open Doors Screenings 2020 give these ten films a 'second life', offering them to a new generation of global viewers. With the hope that this online re-run will have a positive impact, for the films and for their directors.”


The Films After Tomorrow


Apart from Open Doors, two Philippine projects will compete in the festival’s The Films After Tomorrow section. This program, which was conceived by Locarno 2020 “to offer proper support to filmmakers who had put productions on hold because of the lockdown” received over 545 submissions from 101 countries. Only ten international projects were selected from these submissions. The selections included Lav Diaz’s Kapag Wala Nang Mga Alon and Miko Revereza’s Nowhere Near. Under the program, both projects will compete for the 2020 Pardo, the Locarno festival’s grand prize.

A still from Miko Revereza's Nowhere Near, one of the two Philippine projects to

selected in Locarno's The Films After Tomorrow section.

According to Locarno Festival Artistic Director Lili Hinstin, The Films After Tomorrow features “both benchmark directors in new world cinema” as well as “promising new voices” to create a “line-up that speaks of the range of problems encountered by independent productions in very different regions of the world” combined with Swiss cinema that reflects the country’s vibrant creative scene and its “special rapport with its own history and the rest of the world.” The program is designed to be a “year zero” with its foundation being the “great digital Piazza that is the worldwide web.”


A Journey in the Festival’s History


In a special program designed for this year’s edition, twenty films from the Locarno Film Festival’s history will be screened as a chance to rediscover the past of the Locarno film festival. These twenty films were selected by the filmmakers from each of the participating projects in The Films After Tomorrow to create a program aptly titled A Journey in the Festival’s History. 


 Following their initial invite to Locarno, the aforementioned filmmakers were provided a list featuring thousands of films, from which they chose one film that “that struck them, impressed them, fascinated them” or “inspired them.” Among these selections, chosen by filmmakers Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, is Mababangong Bangungot (Perfumed Nightmare) by Filipino filmmaker and national artist Kidlat Tahimik.


Pardi di domani


The Locarno Film Festival’s Pardi di domani section is described as a “crucible of future talent” and specifically screens short and medium-length films from independent filmmakers and film students who have not yet made a feature-length film. Filipina filmmaker Joanne Cesario’s short film Here, Here will screen under this section as part of a lineup of 43 selections out of 2,200 submissions. 


Here, Here will compete with the other short films for the “Pardino d’oro” award for the best international short film as well as the “Pardino d’argento” best international short film. The jury, meanwhile, will include Filipina filmmaker and visual artist Kiri Dalena among other notable figures.


Online Edition

Kidlat Tahimik's classic Mabangong Bangungot (Perfumed Nightmare) will screen at

Locarno's A Journey in the Festival's History

This year’s edition of the Locarno International Film Festival will be moved online outside of its traditional physical form. The festival, which usually takes place in Locarno, Switzerland, will consist this year of a series of dedicated initiatives offering special content on a range of platforms. As part of this move, the twenty films scheduled to be screened at Open Doors Screenings will be screened online for free throughout the festival’s run from August 5 through August 15. They will screen on the website of the Locarno Film Festival with an accompanying conversation with the directors of the respective films for each screening.


Joanne Cesario's Here, Here will screen at Locarno's Pardi di domani section.


Joanne Cesario's Here, Here will screen at Locarno's Pardi di domani section.

Further information and regular updates on Locarno 2020 – For the Future of Films will be published via their official website at www.locarnofestival.ch and their other communication channels.

See the list of projects and films below.


Open Doors Hub

Tropical Gothic (dir. Isabel Sandoval)

Zsa Zsa Zaturnahh vs the Amazonistas of Planet X (dir. Avid Liongoren)


Open Doors Screenings

Aparisyon (dir. Isabel Sandoval) 

Engkwentro (dir. Pepe Diokno) 

Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay ( dir. Antoinette Jadaone)

Masahista (dir. Brillante Mendoza)

Babylon (dir. Keith Deligero)

Manong ng Pa-aling (dir. E. Del Mundo)


The Films After Tomorrow

Kapag Wala Nang Mga Alon (Lav Diaz)

Nowhere Near (Miko Revereza)


A Journey in the Festival’s History

Mababangong Bangungot (Kidlat Tahimik)


Pardi di domani


Here, Here (Joanne Cesario)



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