FDCP To Launch 'A Curation of World Cinema' In March

The Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) will be screening a selection of critically-acclaimed international films—including Wong Kar-wai classics and the Oscar-nominated “Anatomy of a Fall.”

Filipino cinephiles are in for a treat this March, as the FDCP recently announced that it will be launching its “A Curation of World Cinema ” project on March 6, 2024. As its name suggests, it aims to screen critically-acclaimed films from around the world in select cinemas in the country. This is part of the organization’s Audience Development Program, which seeks to “keep the cinematic experience alive and make internationally renowned films accessible to Filipino audiences,” writes the FDCP in an Instagram post

FDCP’s official poster for “A Curation of World Cinema”
FDCP’s official poster for “A Curation of World Cinema”/Photo via Instagram @fdcpofficial

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The roster of films for the upcoming project include a number of beloved classics from renowned Hong Kong filmmaker, Wong Kar-wai. Palme d’Or winners and Oscar-nominated films, many of which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival 2023, will also be screening this March. Below is a list of movies the FDCP has lined up so far: 

Celebrating Wong Kar-wai 

The FDCP will be featuring 4K restored versions of Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love, Happy Together, Chungking Express, and Fallen Angels during A Curation of World Cinema. Wong Kar-wai is one of the greatest living directors today, and a favorite of critics and audiences alike. Many recognize him for his dream-like, saturated cinematography of urban landscapes and the lives of people who reside within them. 

In the Mood for Love 

In the Mood for Love is perhaps one of  the filmmaker’s most popular and influential films besides Chungking Express. The romance/drama came out in 2000, and received a slew of accolades both within and outside of the director’s native Hong Kong. These include Best Art Direction for the 2001 Hong Kong Film Awards and Best Foreign Language Film for the 2002 National Society of Film Critics

Its official IMDb synopsis reads: “Two neighbors form a strong bond after both suspect extramarital activities of their spouses. However, they agree to keep their bond platonic so as not to commit similar wrongs.”

tony leung maggie cheung in the mood for love
Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung star in “In the Mood for Love”/Photo from IMDb

The movie is filled with yearning glances and tender touches, but nothing is said or done explicitly—which makes it all the more heart-wrenching. Tony Leung plays the perfect leading man with his poignant and highly expressive portrayal of Chow Mo-wan. Maggie Cheung is also an acting powerhouse as the gentle and beautiful Su Li-zhen, especially with the subtle yet effective ways she expresses the depth of her character’s grief. 

Chungking Express

Romantic comedy-drama Chungking Express is another famous movie from Wong Kar-wai’s oeuvre, and one that’s also garnered a number of achievements including Best Picture in 1995’s Hong Kong Film Awards and nominations in the 1997 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards and 1994 Chicago International Film Festival

faye wong tony leung chungking express
Faye Wong and Tony Leung in “Chungking Express”/Photo from IMDb

Its IMDb description writes: “Two melancholic Hong Kong policemen fall in love: one with a mysterious female underworld figure, the other with a beautiful and ethereal waitress at a late-night restaurant he frequents.” 

brigitte lin and takeshi kaneshiro chungking express
Brigitte Lin and Takeshi Kaneshiro in “Chungking Express”/Photo from IMDb

Tony Leung also stars in the film, taking on the role of Cop 663, with Takeshi Kaneshiro as He Zhiwu or Cop 223. Meanwhile, Faye Wong stars as the charming waitress who captures Cop 663’s heart, and Brigitte Lin plays the blonde underworld femme fatale that Cop 663 shares a special yet unconventional evening with. 

Happy Together 

Happy Together is another romantic drama from the mind of the Hong Kong-based filmmaker, which won him the Cannes Best Director award in 1997. The film stars Tony Leung—after all, no Wong Kar-wai film is complete without him—who also earned his first major award for his role as Lai Yiu-Fai. 

tony leung and leslie cheung
Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung in “Happy Together”/Photo from IMDb

The story is also quite different from other works that the director has created, as it centers on two men in a queer relationship. Leslie Cheung plays the role of Ho Po-wing, the other half to Leung’s character. 

Its IMDb description reads: “A couple take a trip to Argentina but both men find their lives drifting apart in opposite directions.” 

Fallen Angels

Last in the list of Wong Kar-wai films for FDCP’s upcoming project is the more edgy crime-noir Fallen Angels. The 1995 film won several Hong Kong Film Awards, including one for Best Cinematography and Best Original Film Score. 

The film asks the question: what if a hitman doesn’t want to kill anymore? Enter Leon Lai’s character Wong Chi-Ming, a hitman who’s tired of the life he’s been living and wants out after a series of incidents. The film focuses on his inner turmoil, as well as his odd partnership with a woman he calls his “partner” (played by Michelle Reis). 

leon lai and michelle reis
Leon Lai and Michelle Reis in “Fallen Angels”/Photo from IMDb

Of course, many of Wong Kar-wai’s serious films still sport a hint of humor with their eccentric characters in absurd situations. Yet at the core of every story are themes of love, loneliness, and generally human connection—and one can expect the same from Fallen Angels

New Award-Winning Masterpieces 

Then there’s the more contemporary films that recently premiered in last year’s film festivals and are nominees in this year’s award shows. 

Anatomy of a Fall

Justine Triet’s mystery-thriller Anatomy of a Fall currently holds a 96 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes from critics with an 89 percent rating from audiences. It recently won the BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay, the prestigious Palme d’Or in the 2024 Cannes Film Festival, and emerged as the Best Foreign Language Film in this year’s Critics Choice Awards. In other words, it’s a masterpiece that both cinephiles and casual moviegoers shouldn’t miss. 

swann arlaud and sandra huller anatomy of a fall
Swann Arlaud and Sandra Hüller in “Anatomy of a Fall”/Photo from IMDb

“When Sandra Voyter (a transfixing Sandra Hüller), a writer who turns the material of her life into autofiction, is put on trial for the suspicious death by defenestration—or was it suicide?—of her husband, it opens up an inquiry that will turn a troubled home inside out,” writes the film’s official Criterion Collection description “Tapping into the minimalist intensity of a chamber drama—and using intricate, elliptical editing—Triet constructs a mystery that is ultimately less about a death than about the hidden lives we lead.”

Those who’ve seen the film recommend interested viewers to step in completely blind and simply experience the gripping suspense of it all themselves. 

How to Have Sex

Next in FDCP’s lineup of international films is Molly Manning Walker’s coming-of-age drama How to Have Sex, which won the Un Certain Regard Prize for Best Film in last year’s 76th Cannes Film Festival, and earned Walker a Best New Director award at the 68th Valladolid International Film Festival. The film currently holds a 96 percent critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 65 percent audience score. 

Enva Lewis, Mia McKenna-Bruce, and Lara Peake in “How to Have Sex”
Enva Lewis, Mia McKenna-Bruce, and Lara Peake in “How to Have Sex”/Photo from IMDb

Its official MUBI description reads: “Three British teenage girls go on a rites-of-passage holiday, drinking, clubbing and hooking up in what should be the best summer of their lives. As they dance their way across the sun-drenched streets of Malia, they find themselves navigating the complexities of sex, consent, and self-discovery.”

What many critics praise the film for is its honest and realistic depictions of the messiness of teenhood, which gives it the ability to not only strike a chord, but also remind viewers of their own youth in various ways. 

Only the River Flows 

Last in the selection of FDCP’s contemporary films (thus far), is Wei Shujun’s Only the River Flows, a Chinese neo-noir film that also made waves in various film festivals, including last year’s Cannes and Chicago International Film Festival. At present, the film holds a 91 percent critic score on Rotten Tomatoes

yilong zhu in only the river flows
Yilong Zhu in “Only the River Flows”/Photo from IMDb

Its official IMDb description reads: “Chief police investigates a series of murders in a riverside town in rural China in the 1990s. An arrest is made quickly, clues push the policeman to dive deeper into the hidden behavior of the locals.” 

Yilong Zhu stars as Ma Zhe, the troubled officer that audiences follow throughout the story, and one who eventually loses himself in the chaos of the case he’s investigating. Jessica Kiang of Variety describes the film as “a witty, convoluted China-noir that is less whodunnit than whodidntit.” 

Banner photo via Instagram @fdcpofficial.

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