Cinemanila fest kicks off with 'Sparrow'

Filipino festival opens Thursday

NEW YORK -- The Philippines' 10th Cinemanila International Film festival kicks off Thursday with Hong Kong director Johnnie To's pickpocket caper "Sparrow," leading into seven films in a main competition and seven in a Southeast Asia contest.

This year's Director in Focus is Brillante Mendoza, whose screenings will include "Masahista," "Manoro," "Kaleldo," "Tirador and the Cannes 2008 official selection "Serbis."

The festival, held at the Gateway Cineplex in Arpanet Center, Cubao, Quezon City, also will honor Philippine screenwriter Pete Lacaba, who penned many of veteran local director Lino Brocka's best-known works. Planned are screenings of Lacaba's "Jaguar" (1979), "Orapronobis" (Fight for Us, 1989) and "Bayan Ko" (My Country, 1984), by Brocka, which will close the festival on Oct. 29.

The films in the main competition for the Lino Brocka grand prize of 150,000 pesos ($3,166) are: "The Band's Visit" by Eran Kolirin (Israel); "Lucky Miles" by Michael James Rowland (Australia); "Melancholia" by Lav Diaz (Philippines); "Night Bus" by Kiumars Pourahmad (Iran); "The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela" by Olaf de Fleur Johannesson (Iceland/RP/France/Thailand); "United Red Army" by Koji Wakamatsu (Japan); and "Vanished Empire" by Karen Shakhnazarov (Russia).

In the Southeast Asia Competition are "12 Lotus" by Royston Tan (Singapore); "Adela by Adolf Alix" (Philippines); "The Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly" by Edwin (Indonesia); "Confessional" by Jerrold Tarog and Ruel Dahis Antipuesto (Philippines); "Flower in the Pocket" by Liew Seng tat (Malaysia); "Love of Siam" by Chukiat Sakveerakul (Thailand); and "The Photograph" by Nun Achnas (Indonesia).

Also competing are six films in the local digital competition, 10 films in the Young Cinema competition and eight documentaries.