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FDCP Chair Liza Diño-Seguerra wants to be the Best Government Worker

Chairperson Liza Diño-Seguerra in her FDCP office

At this point in time, Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) Chairperson Liza Diño-Seguerra is obviously ecstatic about her work in the agency which ensures, according to its mandate, that the economic, cultural and educational aspects of film are effectively represented in the country and abroad. In this premise, Liza finds herself in the thick of things, making many areas of the organization work for her personal vision apart from the objectives of the office, looking at the success of every project and decision she has to render in the development of the Filipino film industry locally and internationally. She sees to it that the hardworking in her suffices. In other words, a big challenge is still posed before her.

Despite the hurdles, Liza says she is steadfast in playing her role.

“I want to be the best government worker there is,” Diño-Seguerra declares.

No matter the criticisms, Lisa goes on what she feels and thinks is right. “Sabi nila, travel lang ako nang travel. Punta ako nang punta sa mga international film events. Labas daw ako nang labas ng bansa (They say that I travel a lot. That I have been attending international film festivals no end. They say that I always go out of the country),” she echoes the complaints she has been hearing.

She answers them: “Precisely. I travel a lot because I want to learn more how to make the Philippine film industry successful.

“I really did spend my first year in FDCP going around and understanding what’s happening outside the country in terms of global trends in filmmaking. Kaya pag hindi mo maintindihan (If you don’t understand) you just tend to be judgmental.”

In attending international film fests, Liza gets to learn more about the temperament of the outside world and how they respond to our films. In this case, she says, she is able to see what kind of Filipino films appeal to the foreign audience.

“Look at what happened to ‘BuyBust.’ This is the first time that such a Filipino film is able to penetrate the commercial international film circuits. For one, it offers a different view of the drug problem. Second, it is a genre film and genre films appeal to universal audience,” she explains.

In going to world film events, Liza adds, she is able to learn more how to market the local cinema. She attends film markets, seminars, conferences, symposia, film screenings, distribution workshops, archiving and other learning curves the foreign filmmakers and audience can teach to a state head of filmmaking as a business enterprise apart from its creative fronts.

Diño-Seguerra is also aware of the causes of problems why most Filipino films don’t get enough commercial exhibitions in foreign theaters unlike our counterparts which are being eagerly patronized by the overseas market.

“Ang sabi nila, ang gaganda ng mga stories natin. Daig natin ang mga ibang bansa sa narratives natin. Bow sila sa atin kaya lang, (They say that we have good stories. That we are richer and more daring in our storytelling than the foreign filmmakers. They take off their hats on us but they say that our presentation) is kinda not exciting to them,” she observes.

Excitement to the ordinary moviegoers in other countries is one aspect Liza is trying to discern and to draw from the local films.

“Kung hindi ako lalabas ng bansa, paano ko mapupulsuhan ang taste ng mga tagalabas (When I don’t go out of the country how would I pulse and determine the taste of the foreign market),” she asserts.

Meanwhile, in the home front, Liza sees to it that the regional filmmaking in the country is also vibrant and being supported by the FDCP.

“I go around the country. I attend regional film festivals. I support them. I support our regional filmmakers. I try to understand them. I see to it what the condition of regional filmmaking is. What the gaps?” she quips.

FDCP Chairperson Lisa Diño-Seguerra chats with Boy Villasanta

It amazes her how good are the regional filmmakers, say from Mindanao or from the Visayas or even from Luzon.

This prompts her to ask: “How come it’s always been Manila-centric? But there are a lot of regional filmmakers who are creating strong voices in their works.”

Diño-Seguerra is amazed at how the subjects of regional filmmaking are being presented.

“There stories are very unique compared to what we have here now (in Manila). Their stories there so different from ours. I mean, the social realities here, napakagrabe na (already common or grave). Pero sa kanila, ‘yong mga issues nila, ‘yong mga topics nila (But there issues, their topics) are still so exclusive and so unique to their locality and we need to champion that,” she notes.

Liza admits these regional filmmakers lack support so she comes up with the idea of backing them up like sending deserving filmmakers to enhance their filmmaking school in the country or abroad.

“They need workshops, exposures. I mean, ang akala nila, kailangan pa nilang pumunta sa Maynila lagi, parang gano’n (They thought they always need to go to Manila to advance their art of filmmaking),” she clarifies.

Globalization is one approach Liza thinks of so that these regional filmmakers can expose themselves to the international market. “From their regions, they can invade the global market.”

In partnership with foreign film schools, FDCP selects film artists from the regions. “They are our priority so that they don’t have to come to Manila for filmmaking but to nurture the craft in their respective regions,” she qualifies.

At the moment, FDCP has two scholars to subsidize their studies of filmmaking abroad. One of them is Jarell Serencio, a Davaoeño filmmaker whose work “Siyudad sa Bulawan (City of Gold)” was a contender to the Best Short Film in the recently concluded 14th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival. Jarell is in the 2018 International Film Business Academy of Busan Asian Film School. FDCP helps finance their tenure of an eight-month fellowship by paying for their board lodging, for instance.

“Meron din kaming isa (We also have one) from Manila, si Gale, girlfriend ni (of filmmaker Keith Deligero) who is from Cebu,” informed Liza.

In her term, Diño-Seguerra has still many programs to implement.

“Ang dami pang gagawin (There are still many things to be done). Like, FDCP has the power on policymaking in the film industry na hindi nagawa pero ngayon (which wasn’t done in the past but now), we are doing many things for the interest of the local movie industry,” she says.

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