By Tim Henares
It should go without saying that Jaclyn Jose’s unprecedented win for Best Actress in the Cannes Film Festival is a cause for celebration for Philippine Cinema. This was a monumental first, to say the least, yet it is only one of the many firsts Philippine Cinema has demonstrated over the course of its involvement in the Cannes Film Festival. There have been many more, and here are just a few of them.
8. Genghis Khan
In 1950, “Genghis Khan” was the first Asian film ever shown in the Venice Film Festival, helmed by Manuel Conde. It was such an impressive feat at the time that America adapted it as “The Conqueror,” featuring John Wayne in the title role, which leads to the unmistakable trend of whitewashing of Asian roles in American Cinema which happens to this very day.
Not the Cannes, yes, but definitely a starting point for Philippine Cinema’s recognition in the international scene.
In the year 2000, ANINO, a short film by Raymond Red, was the first Filipino film to win the Palme d’Or. This was a direct response to the dramatic decline of Filipino cinema in the face of Hollywood competition, giving birth to the country’s bustling, oft-ridiculed, yet unrelenting independent film scene.
Officially, this was the first ever Filipino film screened during the Cannes festival.
5. Roger Ebert
Thanks to the infamous film “Kinatay,” of course directed by Brilloante Mendoza, Roger Ebert experienced his first foray with #PinoyPrayd when he got a ridiculous amount of hate mail and accusations of racism for slamming the said film. This was the first time a negative review of a film has been conflated with a negative review of a country in the late film critic’s decades-long career.
Speaking of “Kinatay,” it was also the first time a Filipino would win Best Director, and Brilliante Mendoza, despite Ebert’s obvious disagreement, took this win.
Brilliante Mendoza is on a roll here, as this was the first Filipino film that competed for the Palme d’Or since 1984’s “Bayan Ko: Kapit Sa Patalim.” This was also the first time Coco Martin was given the awkward task of talking about a film whose title he can barely pronounce in front of an international audience.
2. The French
Long story short, the first people to recognize Lino Brocka’s genius internationally, which led them to bringing his films all over the festival, were the French.
1. Lino Brocka
The late great Lino Brocka was perhaps our first director to get noticed by the film festival. “Insiang” was his first screened film, but his first film competing for the Palme d’Or was none other than “Jaguar.” A total of 5 movies from Brocka were screened by the festival. 4 of them starred Philip Salvador.
What other Cannes Pinoy firsts do you know about? Share away in the comments below!