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Pinoy stars shine in Paris
The Balzac Theater along the posh Champs Elysees in Paris was the venue of Paris Cinema's Night of Philippine Stars with Piolo Pascual and Judy Ann Santos (who arrived hand in hand with her fiance Ryan Agoncillo).
The cool crisp weather seemed to kiss everyone's faces as they beamed with happiness and infectious smiles while waiting patiently in the long, long queue. The Filipino Channel (TFC) was covering the event and the crowd, a merry mix of excited Filipinos and curious foreigners, were being thanked for their presence as they were interviewed. Many were ecstatic to see their favorite Filipino stars, watch Filipino movies and feel one with the Philippine community and filmmakers.
Piolo's film Dekada '70 was screened by a tumultuous crowd at 7:30 p.m. on July 5. Before the film, Piolo gave an introductory speech, welcomed the crowd and invited them to the Filipino fiesta taking place the next day. The fiesta was organized by the gracious Ambassador of the Philippines in France Jose "Toto" Zaide, Consul Angela Ponce and the gracious staff at the Philippine consulate in Paris who zealously coordinated with the many Filipinos who reside and work in the City of Lights.
Ploning was the second film screened around 10:30 p.m. that night. Right before the film started, Sharon Cuneta arrived as the crowd went wild with excitement. Juday and Sharon are good friends and it was touching to see how they support each other.
Paris Cinema is made possible through the magnanimous efforts of the Film Development Council of the Philippines headed by Rolando "Jacky" Atienza, and the Philippine Embassy in Paris helmed by Ambassador Jose "Toto" Zaide (Jacky's college classmate at the Ateneo). The two brilliant and accomplished gentlemen welcomed the crowd and shared their delight for this nouvelle endeavor of bringing Pinoy cinema to the world.
Martin Macalintal of the French Embassy in Manila told the audience that the French Embassy in Manila has been organizing French film festivals in Philippines for many years. Bringing Philippine films to France fulfills their goal for mutual understanding, cooperation, fostering bilateral ties between the two countries whose love for the cinema is insatiable.
The day before, we had the ParisCine Campus Roundtable discussion that I took part in, held at the beautiful MK2 Bibliotech Theatre where a lively discussion focusing on Philippine Cinema took place. Topics tackled included the projects of the Film Development Council of the Philippines, the Cinema Evaluation Board as well as financing, production, distribution, exhibition and the progressive plight of the mainstream and independent films in the Philippines. Speakers included director Chito Roño, Ric Camaligan who is president of the National Cinema Association of the Philippines and Macalintal of the French Embassy in the Philippines. Paris Cinema consultant Jeremy Segay was moderator.
From the enlightening talk, I rushed to the Philippine Gala cocktail reception, held at the romantic, historic and neo-classical Hotel de la Monnaie located in the heart of the city of Paris. The successful cocktail reception would also not be possible without the generous support of Tourism Secretary Ace Durano and Undersecretary Edu Jarque.
Sharon, Judy Ann with Ryan were stars who graced the event. Luminaries from the Philippines exquisitely dressed in Filipiniana attire included Santiago (chair of Paris Task Force Cinema) with my fellow members Manet Dayrit, Wilma Isleta and Lali Suzara, Mowelfund's Boots Anson-Roa, Regal Films' Mother Lily Monteverde, Roselle Teo, SM Cinema's Mr. and Mrs. Ric Camaligan, The Philippine Star's Butch Francisco, Bulletin's Crispina Belen and Inquirer's Bayani San Diego.
Paris Cinema executives Segay and Aude Hesbert among many others also enjoyed the festivities as overflowing Paradise Mango Rum Liqueur flown in from Manila was served to a delighted crowd. President of Destileria Limtuaco & Company Olivia Limpe-Aw, who sponsored the delicious mango brew, enthused that the cocktail drink served on ice is very popular all over the world. As champagne flowed endlessly, we added some mango rum to the champagne to make mango bellinis. It can also be served as mojitos!
The delectable fusion of French and Philippine cuisine prepared by youthful Chef Aaron Isip, a Filipino who is currently studying at the Cordon Bleu Culinary school in Paris, prepared a gastronomic spread - my favorite of which were the shrimp creviche with garlic, exquisite French pastries, colorful macaroon de Paris and the yummy ice cream the Philippine Embassy served from their ice cream cart designed by artist par excellance Manny Baldemor.
From Monnaie de Paris, we proceeded to the largest 650-seater cinema at the MK2 Bibliotheque complex to screen the certified box-office film Caregiver with Sharon. Judy Ann showed her support for her dear friend as she watched the film as well. Consul Angela Ponce announced due to popular demand, a second screening for Caregiver has been scheduled for friday, July 11 at 5 p.m. at MK2 Bibliotheque.