This weekend I went to one of EIGASAI’s screenings. EIGASAI, the Japanese film festival, was rolled out in six major cities across the Philippines this year, with Bacolod as the final venue. With its 20th anniversary, the festival has become a symbol of Filipino-Japanese friendship.
After Japan’s world war II crimes, Japan’s relationship with the Philippines has been far from simple. But as a result of China’s rising territorial claims in the South China Sea and the unpredictability of U.S. commitment in this regard, the Philippines’ former president Benigno Aquino started building up a stronger South East Asian community. Since 2011 the ties with Japan have become tighter. Since, Japan has not only been the biggest source of development aid but also an essential provider of security aid and military hardware.
In line with this approximation, the Japan Foundation, Manila expanded EIGASAI screening to four additional cities in 2017, thereby promoting cultural exchange and strengthening cultural ties across the country. A list of 20 award-winning films was screened in Manila, Davao, Cebu, Baguio, Bacolod and Iloilo.
I watched the animated youth drama film “The Anthem of the Heart”, directed by Nagai Tatsuyuki. The fully packed cinema noisily empathised with the young girl. Jun Naruse, once a chatterbox, lost her ability to speak because of a traumatic incident in her childhood. I particularly liked the film because the protagonist overcomes her inner blockade through the magic of music and friendship.