Young and prolific. That's how Cannes Film Festival general delegate Thierry Fremaux describes Raya Martin when introducing the Filipino director prior to the screening of his latest film, Manila, an out-of-competition entry at this year's festival. Fremaux is spot-on. Martin, 24, has made eight films since his directorial debut in 2005. Manila, which he co-directed with Adolfo Alix Jnr, is one of two films he premiered at the festival, the other being Independencia, part of the Un Certain Regard competition. Martin's double whammy is the latest chapter in his emergence as a regular on the Croisette. In 2005, he was chosen for the Atelier, the festival's development project for young filmmakers. The following year his film Now Showing was selected for the edgy Director's Fortnight competition. With two films among the official selections this year, Martin has arrived. Independencia and Manila are joined by Filipino Brillante Mendoza's Kinatay, one of 20 films in the festival's main competition this year. It is by far the best showing for Filipino filmmakers in the festival's history, eclipsing even last year when Mendoza's Serbis became the first Filipino film to compete for the Palme d'Or since Lino Brocka brought Bayan ko: Kapit sa patalim (Bayan Ko: My Own Country) here in 1984. Martin says the presence of three Filipino filmmakers at Cannes this year 'solidifies' the existence of a vibrant independent filmmaking scene in a country overrun by Hollywood blockbusters and sappy local soap operas. The Filipino lineup at Cannes is the culmination of efforts by the country's non-mainstream directors on the film festival circuit. Martin credits Auraeus Solito's 2005 film, The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros, as key in creating interest in indie fare from the country. 'The Cannes selection is an affirmation that Filipino cinema is reinvigorated, and now we offer different kinds of films,' says Manila co-director Alix, 30. Certainly there has been a rush of activity in recent years towards harnessing the talent in the country. The Cinemalaya festival has provided independent filmmakers with increased exposure and financial support in the form of US$10,000 grants to 10 directors every year. Funding has, however, remained a problem for this generation of filmmakers. Those with a recognisable track record - such as Martin - can find overseas backing: Independencia is a co-production between the director's collective, Cinematographica, and French, Dutch and German companies. Manila came together largely thanks to the power of its lead actor, television star Piolo Pascual, who also serves as the film's executive producer. Mendoza's Kinatay counts a French company as its main backer, alongside Centrestage Productions from the Philippines. Government assistance has been minimal, says Martin. 'The institutions have opened up a little now that they know [our] cinema has something going [for it] - but it's more rooted in the thought that Filipino cinema is a [festival] fad, rather than a long-term thing. So [the country's Film Development Council] fly filmmakers abroad to festivals rather than help in producing films.' Ironically, the council does not have a steady presence at the festival's film market, despite the presence of three films here. The three Filipino films showing at Cannes are very different. Independencia is a black-and-white film about the dawn of American colonialism in the country in the early 20th century. Manila is an experimental piece comprising two parts looking at the struggles of a junkie and a bouncer (both played by Pascual) through very different narrative tones, while Kinatay is a gritty and gory account of the misdeeds of a murderous troupe of bribe-hunting policemen. Uniting the three is their active engagement with history or the social realities of the day, taking up the mantle of past Filipino greats such as Brocka, who was both a filmmaker and a frontline activist. But while festival programmers laud these films, Filipino mainstream audiences have been unreceptive. Martin says there now exists a 'strange apolitical situation where people complain about heavy films talking about revolutions or any kind of struggle, and tend to see romantic comedies'. It's a pain Mendoza knows well. His Foster Child was featured in the Directors' Fortnight competition at Cannes, but failed to gain an audience at home. Multiplex screenings were 'a waste of time and money', he says. 'I won't go through that again - the humiliation of the film being shown and nobody there to see it.'