Liza Diño, first Filipino recipient of the highest civilian honor from France

Liza Diño, first Filipino recipient of the highest civilian honor from France

LIZA Diño, a staunch supporter of Philippine cinema who continues to espouse the cause of Filipino filmmakers even after her tenure at the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), was awarded by the French Ministry of Culture with the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (National Order of Arts and Letters). She was given the rank of Chevalier (Knight), a first for a Filipina in the field of cinema.

The former FDCP chairman and Sunday Times Magazine (STM) columnist was cited for her achievements in drawing the world’s attention to quality Filipino filmmakers and movies during her service at the council. In return, she promoted French and world cinema to the Philippine audience.

During the awarding ceremony at the ambassador’s official residence in Makati, French Ambassador to the Philippines Michèle Boccoz cited the many projects Diño led that benefitted both countries.

“On your first official trip to France to attend the Cannes Film Festival to accompany your Philippine delegation, you met with CNC (Centre National du Cinéma et de l’image animée or National Centre for Cinematography (CNC)) of France to discuss possible areas of cooperation and soon after, you signed a cooperation agreement” Boccoz said.

Boccoz also recognized Diño’s efforts to host the Policy Forum on Government Support on Film Productions in 2018 — showed Filipino legislators and stakeholders how the French levy fund created self-sustainable funding for the French film and audiovisual industry — for them to understand the possible assistance that can also be implemented in the Philippines.

The list also includes the Philippines’ participation in the biggest animation festival, the Annecy International Animated Film Festival (MIFA), and how Diño worked hand-in-hand with the French embassy and its regional attaché in Singapore to host an animation teaching workshop in Manila, with no less than the experts from Annecy.

To top it all, Boccoz cited the efforts of Diño in paving the way for the signing of the co-production treaty between France and the Philippines, which she said “would open doors for Filipino films to the grants and funding tools available to French films.” Though the treaty has yet to be finalized, the French ambassador thanked the former FDCP chairman for championing what could be a great achievement for Philippine cinema.

“You really worked hard for that, and the representatives of different agencies and CNC can all attest to your commitment,” Boccoz said.

“Your energy, your talent, your intensive work have been recognized by the French professionals and by all French institutions,” the envoy added.

In her acceptance speech [full copy of which is available today on her column “The Future is Creative,” on page C4], Diño said that the award acknowledges not only her work but also the power of cinema to connect people from different cultures.

“I believed that in forming authentic relationships with colleagues, partners, and collaborators, I could get them on board to help me in my vision of an empowered and strong film industry. This was how this fruitful collaboration with France blossomed into impactful cooperation that bridged Philippine and French Cinema together,” Diño said.

Advocates for the Philippine cinema — including award-winning directors Brillante Mendoza, Carlitos Siguion-Reyna and Bibeth Orteza; actresses Bela Padilla and Angel Aquino; and public servants and film industry advocates Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, Quezon City First District Rep. Juan Carlos “Arjo” Atayde, and Pangasinan Fourth District Rep. Christopher “Toff” de Venecia — witnessed Diño’s knighthood.

The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres is considered the highest civilian award given by France to individuals who have significantly contributed to furthering the arts in France and around the world.

Diño is the first Filipino chevalier awardee for cinema and is second only to Academy Award-winning actress Michelle Yeoh to be knighted in the field for Southeast Asia.

Source: Manila Times