Philippines unlocks film financing deals with France under UN pact

REUTERS

THE Philippines has approved funding allowing it to participate in a United Nations (UN)cultural convention, unlocking future film financing deals with France, the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) said.

“This morning, the (Department of Budget and Management) approved the budget for (participation in the 2005 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization convention), so it means we’re on our way there to finally having a formalized co-production venture with France,” FDCP Technical Consultant Jose Javier Reyes said at a briefing organized by the French Embassy.

The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions makes productions here eligible for foreign funding by assuring funders that the Philippines subscribes to a common set of principles in supporting cultural projects.

“If it is ratified, we can access film financing from other countries, especially France,” FDCP International Relations Officer Marian Torre told BusinessWorld in a text message.

A co-production treaty between the Philippines and France can only be sealed once the UNESCO Treaty is ratified, as required by the French government.

“Right now, we are still in that process of trying to finalize the UNESCO treaty, which has to go through the usual (approval) process,” Mr. Reyes said.

“Since there’s a new administration, we’re back to square one, but in the meantime, we already have (preliminary agreements) with various French organizations,” he added.

Talks to sign on to the treaty have been ongoing since 2019. Following the 2022 Third Quarter Meeting and Planning Workshop, the accession package had been forwarded to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs for signing.

However, with the government transition, signatures must also be obtained from the new set of officials from 17 agencies, including the DBM, whose particular concern is ensuring that funding for participating in the convention is available from the national budget.

“This is not yet included in the NEP (National Expenditure Program) since it’s still undergoing the ratification process,” DBM Media Affairs Director Dennis Ting told BusinessWorld in a text message.

Should ratification take place after the 2023 budget deliberations, Budget Undersecretary Goddes Hope O. Libiran told BusinessWorld in a Viber message that the “funds will come from Contingent Fund, then in subsequent years included in the (Department of Foreign Affairs) budget.”

“The relationship of the Film Development Council and the French Embassy has been well-nurtured and has resulted in really profitable and great learning experiences for both sides,” Mr. Reyes said. “Many ventures, of which, both the Filipinos and the French provide grants and co-production incentives in order to foster a greater relationship.”

“Film is indeed the new language of the world. It is the medium that defines differences in language and culture and binds us together and the world as one,” he added.

Separately, the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) is expected to enhance cross-border interaction between individuals and businesses.

During the opening ceremony of the HCCH Asia Pacific Week Manila 2022 at the Makati Diamond Residence, HCCH Secretary General Christophe Bernasconi said international solutions “enhance legal cooperation and integration simultaneously with close neighbors and with countries further afield, whether within regional organizations or with third states.”

“Being able to rely on a uniform international legal framework is of particular importance in an area as vast and as diverse as Asia and the Pacific,” he added.

Asia-Pacific Week Manila 2022, which runs between Oct. 18 and 20, had as a speaker Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique A. Manalo, who highlighted “the remarkable role of the HCCH in shaping private international law and in fostering international initiatives in the areas of family and child protection law, transnational litigation and cooperation and international commercial, digital and financial law.”

“In these times of uncertainty and a changing global landscape, cross-border cooperation among HCCH States Parties in the Asia-Pacific region will provide an opportunity to expand areas of common interest and possible solutions to common issues,” he added.

The Philippines is a party to five HCCH instruments, the most recent being the Child Support Convention which entered into force for the Philippines on Oct. 1. To date, the Philippines is the only country in Asia to have ratified the convention. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan