Shower of awards
By Ma. Glaiza Lee, Contributor
Amidst the heavy rains and howling winds, the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival 2018 has finally come to a close on the night of 12 August with Kung Paano Hinihintay Ang Dapithapon, directed by Carlo Enciso Catu, being hailed as the Best Film and reaping several more awards in the crowd-drawing festival that started on 3 August.
The awarding ceremony was held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ (CCP) Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater) in Pasay City.
The film was cited for its “general technical excellence, its powerful ensemble acting by some of the most august names in Philippine cinema, and its sensitive depiction of decline and decrepitude.” The film tells about an old unmarried couple whose monotony of their daily lives is broken when the woman’s estranged husband reaches out to them, seeking reconciliation and forgiveness.
The full-length feature film, which stars veteran actors Dante Rivero, Menggie Cobarrubias and Perla Bautista, also received the Best Screenplay award for screenwriter John Carlo Pacala, who was cited for taking as subject matter a sector that is relegated to the margins of society and for its poignant take on old age and dying; and Best Production Design for production designer Marielle Hizon, who with her inspired art direction effectively complements characterization and evokes the wages of old age.
As Best Film winner, Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon received P350,000, a Balanghai trophy, a post-production package worth P600,000, a Canon camera, and a distribution grant worth P200,000.
Cinematographer Neil Daza received the Best Cinematography award for his effective employment of photographic resources to depict the decline of years and the waste of relationships, also in Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon. He won the same award at the 2014 Cinemalaya for the film Buwaya.
In the Short Film category, Carlo Francisco Manatad’s “Jodilerks de la Cruz, Employee of the Month” won the most coveted prize for its “vigorous satire on the problems in the Philippines.” The film stars Angeli Bayani, last year’s Best Actress awardee for her role in Bagahe.
Che Espiritu, who directed Pan de Salawal (The Sweet Taste of Salted Bread and Undies), was named the Best Director. Her film also received the Special Jury Prize “for its vibrancy and vigor, its sense of wonder and poignant humor, and its effective conjuring of a suffering world where miracles are possible.”
“Pan de Salawal is a film about the everyday miracles in the life of the people. I’m glad that the film has touched people, and inspired them to live,” said the first-time director who dedicated her full-length film to her high-school best friend who suffered from depression and chose to leave this world.
Best Director for the Short Film category went to Xeph Suarez, who brought to life the conflict between tradition and sexual identity in “Si Astri Maka si Tambulah.” The short film also received the Special Jury Prize for its sensitive take on the clash between steadfast tradition and sexual liberation.
Eddie Garcia won his third Balanghai trophy, after being named Best Actor for “his wickedly frightening portrayal — himself embodying the horrors of a dark past” in Benedict Mique’s ML. In the film, he portrayed an old, retired soldier who showed three teenagers the real horrors of Marcos’ Martial Law. The veteran actor has won the same award for roles in ICU Bed 7 and Bwakaw, both previous Cinemalaya full-length entries.
Comedian Ai-Ai delas Alas got the nods of the jury for her “very realistic portrayal of a hateful woman trying to retain a modicum of humanity in her” in School Service, winning for herself the Best Actress award.
Ketchup Eusebio and Therese Malvar won the Best Performance by a Supporting Actor and Actress, respectively. Eusebio impressed the jury with his effective portrayal of a loving son in Mamang, a film about a mother’s struggle against senility to be with her son.
Meanwhile, young actress Malvar received the award for “her very gritty portrayal in one film of a young woman of the streets” in School Service and for “her very sensitive depiction in another of a daughter with a troubled relationship with her mom” in Distance.
This is the first time that the award is given to one actress for two movies.
The jury took note of the strong performances by child actors who have starred in a number of movies in the 14th edition of Cinemalaya. Special Jury Citation for Outstanding Performance was given to child actors Miel Espinosa (Pan de Salawal), JM Salvado (Musmos na Sumibol sa Gubat ng Digma and Pan de Salawal), and Ken Ken Nuyda (Liway and School Service).
Director Christian Candelaria won the Best Screenplay for his short film “Sa Saiyang Isla” (In His Island). The film was cited for its compelling tale of a young boy in a small community facing an environmental disaster. Last year, the short film was one of the winning entries in the Ika-29 Gawad CCP Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video.
Best Sound went to Wild Sound (Musmos na Sumibol sa Gubat ng Digma) for its dynamic design that conjoins dialogue and music, sounds and silence that altogether powerfully evoke an environment otherwise driven by conflict and bloodshed, while Len Calvo (Pan de Salawal) won the Best Original Music Score for its clever adaptation of folk music that enhances the audience’s belief in an enchanted world.
Mikael Pestano received the Best Editing award for his deft montage of images that powerfully conjure the horrors of authoritarian rule in ML. This is his second Best Editing award in Cinemalaya; the first one was for Tulad ng Dati.
The audiences have spoken. Their choices were “Kiko” by Jojo Driz for the Short feature category, and Liway by Kip Oebanda for the Full-Length category.
“Every year, we carry a certain fear because Cinemalaya always falls during the typhoon season. We don’t know what to expect, in terms of the audience turnout. But based on the numbers, this is the biggest gathering. According to our front house, the counts have exceeded previous Cinemalaya gatherings, with about 25 percent increase. This is also the first time that two films have grossed more than 50 percent of all the top grossers in the past years,” said CCP artistic director Chris B. Millado who believed that this could usher in the “Third Golden Age of Philippine Cinema.”
Director Kip Oebanda also received a Special Jury Commendation for his film Liway, a true-to-life story about his mother who courageously fought for freedom and democracy during the Martial Law era. The jury commended the writer-director for bravely opening himself up to share with others his very revealing past.
“I did the film to start a conversation and urge other people to tell their own stories. With the Audience Choice Award, we now know that we have an audience who really know how to listen. When we started this film, we were full of fears and anxiety understandably because this is so personal and it could expose us to lots of risks. We hope our film gave hope to people. We need to have a real conversation about our history, and on where are we heading as a nation,” said Oebanda, who dedicated his film to all the victims of Marcos’ Martial Law.
A new component of Cinemalaya, Nespresso Vertical Shorts Competition also announced its winners. First place went to “SLN” by Brian Spencer Reyes, followed by “Braveheart” by Kevin Tuason and “Ako” by Jonel Revistual, taking home the first and second runners-up, respectively.
“This has been a good year. The lineup of films this year has sparked a wider interaction between filmmaker and audience, a rapport felt in all the theaters, which was nothing short of phenomenal. Tonight’s closing does not mean the end for the films in competition but a beginning, after their debut in Cinemalaya. We wish you all the best, as you find your audiences here and hopefully abroad through the right distribution,” said Cinemalaya Foundation president Laurice Guillen.
Now on its 14th year, Cinemalaya has supported and promoted the production of full feature independent films and short films. Many of these films have won awards in local and international competitions and festivals. Through the annual festival, Cinemalaya has showcased over 1,000 works by independent filmmakers including full feature films, shorts, documentaries, Filipino film classics and art films. Cinemalaya this year was held at the CCP and in selected Ayala Malls cinemas.
Cinemalaya is a project of the Cinemalaya Foundation and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Established in 2005, Cinemalaya is an all-digital film festival and competition that aims to discover, encourage and honor cinematic works of Filipino filmmakers.
For more information about Cinemalaya, visit www.cinemalaya.org, www.culturalcenter.gov.ph and the Cinemalaya Facebook page or CCP Media Arts at telephone number 832-1125 local 1704 and 1712 and the CCP Box Office at 832-3704.
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