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Focus on the Philippines: Filipino films screen in Glasgow and Osaka

Two Filipino films are screening at this week’s Glasgow Film Festival, which opened in the Scottish city yesterday (February 15) and will run until February 26.

Lav Diaz’s acclaimed film, Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left) will screen as part of the festival’s CineMasters section, which features works by renowned veteran directors from across the globe.

Shot in black-and-white, The Woman Who Left won the Golden Lion top prize at last year’s Venice International Film Festival. Starring Charo Santos-Concio in her cinematic comeback after a 20-year break, the four-hour film tells the story of a woman released from prison 30 years after being framed for a crime she did not commit.

Bradley Liew’s Singing in Graveyards will also screen in Glasgow, appearing in the festival’s Sound and Vision section. In the movie, Filipino rock icon Pepe Smith plays an ageing singer who makes a living by impersonating a rock star.

Meanwhile, at the forthcoming Osaka Asian Film Festival, scheduled to be held from March 3 to 12, Jerrold Tarog’s latest feature Bliss has been selected as one of the 16 films in competition. Bliss, a psychological thriller starring Iza Calzado and Ian Veneracion, is Tarog’s follow-up film after his 2015 critical and box-office hit Heneral Luna.

Two other Filipino works are part of the competition section: Sigrid Andrea Bernardo’s I See You and Borgy Torre’s Tisay.

Sheldon Simeon advances to final of Top Chef

Filipino-American contestant Sheldon Simeon has made it to the final of the American reality cooking television programme Top Chef.

A son of Filipino immigrants, Simeon was raised in Maui, Hawaii, where he currently owns a restaurant with his wife Janice.

Simeon has consistently impressed the judging panel — comprised of Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons and Graham Elliot — with dishes that embody his Filipino and Hawaiian heritage. Simeon has often told his fellow chefs on the show that his cooking is inspired by recipes from his Filipino grandmother.

After 12 weeks of competition, only three of 16 contestants remain in the competition: Simeon, Californian chef Brooke Williamson and Chinese-American Shirley Chung. During the show’s final episode, which will air in the US on February 23, the remaining chefs will battle it out by cooking a multi-course meal for the panel.

“I am so stoked to showcase my Hawaiian cuisine and Filipino roots at the Top Chef finale,” Simeon said.

Simeon previously appeared on the programme’s 10th season in 2012, finishing in third place among 18 chefs and winning the “Fan Favourite” audience award. The current 14th season features eight returning contestants from previous editions competing against eight new chefs.

Filipino models stand out at New York Fashion Week

Three Filipino models walked the runways of New York Fashion Week, which was held from February 9 to 15.

Beauty queen and model Janine Tugonon, who was the first runner-up at the Miss Universe pageant in 2012, appeared at the shows of labels Malan Breton, Denibi Fashion House and Theatre Productions. This season marks her first appearance in the New York catwalks.

Valerie Weigmann, another former beauty queen who won the Miss World Philippines title in 2014, walked for the Ane Amour and Prom Girl shows.

Another Filipino model, Stephanie Retuya, appeared at the Prom Girl show. Retuya, who finished as the runner-up in the first season of the reality programme Asia’s Next Top Model, also walked the runway of the fashion label House of Perdreams.

Filipino producer wins first Grammy award

Filipino producer Jhett Tolentino took home his first Grammy at the 59th edition of the Grammy Awards, held in Los Angeles last Sunday. Tolentino won as a producer for the Broadway musical The Colour Purple, which was awarded Best Musical Theatre Album.

The musical bested nominees Bright Star, Fiddler on the Roof, Kinky Boots and Waitress.

Tolentino was born and raised in the central Philippine province of Iloilo before moving to America in 2004.

“It’s an honour to be nominated but, of course, to win is a totally different ball game,” Tolentino told ABS-CBN News. “Coming from the slums, of course not in a million years did I think about this.”

Tolentino previously won three Tony awards in 2013 and 2014 for producing A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (which won for Best Musical), A Raisin in the Sun (Best Revival of a Play) and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Best Play).

He said his dream project is to produce a Filipino musical on Broadway.

“I’m reserving all my resources and contacts. I’ve been going in and out of the Philippines to bring a big, big musical on Broadway and I’m hoping to collaborate with Filipino businessmen.”

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