The Philippines expanded its profile at this year´s Berlinale with the German premiere of the documentary film “Motherland” (Bayang Ina Mo) and the participation by six young filmmakers in the Berlinale Talent Campus.
“Motherland” by Filipino American filmmaker Ramona Diaz premiered at this year´s Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) with a full house screening at the Cinestar Cinema in Potsdamer Platz, Berlin on 12 February 2017. It was followed by a Q&A with Ms. Diaz and her crew.
The documentary film Motherland took us into the heart of what could be the planet’s busiest maternity hospital located in the Philippines’ capital. The film’s viewer, like an unseen outsider dropped unobtrusively into the hospital’s stream of activity, passed through hallways, entered rooms and listened in on conversations. Three women emerged to share their stories with other mothers, their families, doctors and social workers. While each of them faced daunting odds at home, their optimism, honesty and humor suggested a strength that they will certainly have to summon in the years ahead.
On the genesis of her film which was shot exclusively on a cinéma vérité approach, Diaz said, “I started developing a film about reproductive rights and reproductive justice back in 2011. Initially I had wanted to follow the social and political drama swirling around the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill. While researching the film, I visited the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital…; it averages 60 births a day—and at its peak, as many as 100 babies within a 24-hour period. Fabella is the final safety net for very poor pregnant women, most of whom cannot afford either contraception or the delivery fee. The images I saw at the hospital – the nurses who did their best to tame the noisy chaos of Emergency Room arrivals, the crowded corridors, the premature births and cramped recovery rooms with double occupancy of single beds – gripped me and wouldn’t let go. It was soon evident that the story I was looking for, a story about reproductive justice and maternal and women’s rights, unfolded within the hospital walls.”
Ramona Diaz is an award-winning Asian-American filmmaker. Her other films include Spirits Rising, Imelda, and The Learning, Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey. Recently she was awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship and was inducted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Ramona has been a film envoy for the American Film Showcase, a joint program of the U.S. Department of State and the University of Southern California (USC) that brings American films to audiences worldwide. She has conducted master classes and production and post-production workshops all over the world, including in Iraq, Laos, Morocco, Qatar, Zimbabwe, Brazil, and throughout the United States.
Up and comping filmmakers from the Philippines were also in Berlinale, joining 250 participants from 71 countries in this year´s Talent Campus. The six Filipino participants were chosen to take part in the extensive summit program of master classes, workshops and panel discussions with top-notch experts. They are actor Aaron Rivera, Director Alyx Ayn Guerrero Arumpac, production designer/art director Monica Sebial, producer Tonee Acejo, film critic/journalist Richard Bolisay and production designer/art director and producer Popo Diaz.
Since 2003, Berlinale Talents has become an annual summit and networking platform of the Berlin International Film Festival for outstanding creatives from the fields of film and drama series. It is an initiative of the Berlinale and a business division of the Kulturveranstaltungen des Bundes in Berlin GmbH and funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, in cooperation with Creative Europe MEDIA, a programme of the European Union, the Robert Bosch Stiftung and Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg.
The Philippine Embassy continues to support Philippine participation in the Berlinale by way of promotion and constructive meetings with visiting delegations. This year, the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) Chair Liza Diño and Executive Director Don Gerwin Arawan attended the festival and the European Film Market (EFM) in preparation for the country´s participation at the EFM next year. Possible projects in line with the 100th Year of Philippine Cinema and the ASEAN Integration Festival were discussed during FDCP´s courtesy call with the Philippine Embassy. END