Castlemaine State Festival 2017 presents The Philippines
17-26 March 2017

By Virginia Balanon

An exciting and historic event for the Philippines, the biennial Castlemaine State Festival to be held from 17 to 26 March, will feature The Philippines – its history, arts and culture – in a variety of activities including film, arts exhibits, forum, historical walking tour and theatrical show. 

Festival Director Martin Paten stated, “The Philippines could be seen as an unusual choice of country to feature, but it’s a fitting choice…Australia has extremely strong connections with the Philippines.  There are more than 400,000 Filipino-Australians, of whom almost a quarter live in Victoria.” Paten added that Australia knows little about the Philippines and about their Filipino community.  The festival is an opportunity to explore the Filipino culture and discover the talents of its people through their arts and music. 

The Philippine program at the festival will celebrate the prolific collaboration between the Philippines and Australia, showcasing the creative works of outstanding Filipino artists carefully curated for the festival. 

A visual arts symposium titled “Mutable Truths: Perspectives on Philippine Contemporary Arts Practice” presents rare and inspiring insights into contemporary Filipino art, participated in by ten world-class Filipino artists (Poklong Anading, Martha Atienza, Lyle Buencamino, Charles Buenconcejo, Buen Calubayan, Marina Cruz, Kawayan De Guia, Mark Salvatus, Ronald Ventura and Leeroy New).  These artists, who are winners of the prestigious Ateneo Arts Award and recipients of the Ateneo de Manila-La Trobe University’s Artist Residency and Exhibit Exchange Program Grant, will also have a group exhibit of their fascinating works at the La Trobe Art Institute in Bendigo from 15 March to 30 April. 

Capturing the beauty and the real-life drama of the Filipinos and the Philippine society, Crossroads showcases six award-winning Filipino films (Himala, Thy Womb, Crying Ladies, Dekada 70, Ang Babae sa Septic Tank and I Do Bidoo Bidoo) which will be screening at Castlemaine’s Theatre Royal from 18 to 25 March. 

One of the highlights of the Festival is the temporary sculptural installation of Leeroy New’s La Puerta del Labirinto (The Door to the Labyrinth), specially commissioned for the State Fest and will feature a unique creation from local recycled materials. New’s work combines visual arts, fashion, film and theatre and will be displayed at the Castlemaine Art Museum. Leeroy New is a remarkable Filipino young artist, recipient of the prestigious Ateneo Art Award and whose past masterpieces include a special commissioned work for Lady Gaga. 

A must-see and highly-recommended event at the Festival is Carlos Celdran’s “Walk This Way”, an extraordinary one-man work walking tour which takes the audience to an exploratory journey into the Philippines history, society, politics, arts and culture. 

Compiled by a multidisciplinary artist-run initiative 98B COLLABoratory, periSCOPE features amazing video works and moving images from across the Philippine archipelago. Gobyerno, an interactive theatrical performance by Sipat Lawin Ensemble and the students of Castlemaine Secondary College, provides a different theatre experience which will challenge the audience to re-imagine social institutions and create ideals and alternatives. Cultural activist Carlos Celdran and Philippine/Austalian author Merlinda Bobis will join participants over coffee in a highly stimulating and passionate conversation/session “7@11: Storytelling home and away: Nation, Community and Diaspora (The Filipino Perspective)” at the Theater Royal Courtyard on 23 March. 

Dr. Trevor Hogan, Director of Philippines-Australia Studies Centre of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at La Trobe University encourages everyone to join in the celebration, saying “The 2017 Castlemaine State festival is going to give us a hearty sample of the richness of Pinoy talent and their ineffable, joyous embrace of life and community.”

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