The Biennale College – Cinema winners of the third edition have been announced. The Biennale College has been one of the most interesting projects of Venice Film Festival. Each year three mini-budget films are selected in order to be produced and screened for the next festival. The selection has been made out of 12 previously selected projects. Each film will be funded with 150,000 euro and it will be screened at the 72nd Venice Film Festival.
One of the three chosen projects is:
“Blanka”, from the Japanese director Kohki Hasei and produced by the Italian Flaminio Zadra is now being shot in Philippines. The story of the film is about an 11-year-old girl that has been abandoned by her own mother decides to travel in order to find and buy a new one.
That was it. That’s how I came about meeting the handsome and chubby producer of the film Blanka, no less than Mr. Flaminio Zadra, a gentle Italian film maker who loved the beaches of Palawan and adores a filipino film director by the name of Brillante Mendoza. It was an afternoon of very artistic and highly intellectual talks, as the sudden outpouring of the rains outside a cozy bar in an M.H. del Pilar vicinity gave a more lasting impression and surreal depth in the bonding session of artists, mixed-in with bottles of beers, chips and a heavy mug of coffee (for the blogger).
“I can say I am a frustrated film director that’s why I ended-up as a producer”, Mr. Zadra joked-around. “But basically, I really love the cinema.”
It was not really a serious interview-session-type of a bonding. The afternoon went on just like a casual talk, as the blogger was just invited to mingle-in with them- through the courtesy of Mr. Don Gordon Bell, also an actor and part-time photographer. Together with them on that afternoon was Mr. Michael James, Don’s contemporary as a film actor doing international films in the Philippines way back in 1970’s.
If the outcome of the film Blanka (quality-wise) will be good, according to Mr. Zadra, the film will land in the Venice International Film Festival. The Japanese director of the film, Kohki Hasei, has done several prestigious films to his credits- that includes the film Gold Dog, which director Kohki shot in Smokey Mountain several years back.
“We are also planning to enter the film at Busan International Filmfest”, Mr. Zadra added. “They promised to give us extra support in the distribution of the film.”
The Asian Cinema Fund or ACF will provide the post-production services and added support to the making of the film Blanka. The whole staff, cast and crew of the film are now deep into work and most of the scenes are being shot in Hobbit House bar-restaurant along M.H. del Pilar in Malate, Manila.
Don Gordon Bell and Michael James appears in the film as tourist-victims of street-kids who pickpockets their wallets.
“Playing the lead role of Blanka is an 11 year-old girl named Cydel Gabutero”, Mr. Zadra said again. “And she can act! We discovered her on Youtube and she got an offer to sing at The Voice, but she declined it because of this film project. Her role here is that of a street kid who’s trying to look for her mother. She becomes distorted with so many things, including an adoption process, but finally, she meets a blind musician and she discovers a part of herself. She realizes she has a talent in singing and in the musical field.
“I told our director that the film must cradle more on the relationship of the girl to the blind musician”, he added. “We want to show here the beauty of discovering a part of yourself rather than show the ugliness and dirt of the city streets. Because that’s what the film is all about.”
Mr. Flamino Zadra also loves the Philippine Cinema. He knows Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal. And he hopes, the future of the Philippine Cinema will grow stronger soon.
Yes, that’s my afternoon with a handsome Italian, as I saw him more, rather than a handsome film producer, too.
(words by robert manuguid silverio)
GROUP PHOTO AND BLACK & WHITE SOLO PHOTO OF MR. FLAMINIO ZADRA, TAKEN BY: MR. DON GORDON BELL