TIM Rone Villanueva’s dark comedy Santa Nena! slugs it out with 12 other short films in the Philippine shorts competition of the fifth Salamindanaw Asian Film Festival in General Santos City.
Villanueva’s thesis film at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde will compete with Aliens Ata by Glenn Barit, Contestant #4 by Jared Joven and Kaj Palanca, Daluhong by Don Senoc, Fish Out of Water by Mon Garilao, In the Middle of the Night by Bryan Brazil, Juana and the Sacred Shores by Antonne Santiago, Mga Bitoon Sa Syudad by Jarell Serencio, Nakaw by Arvin Belarmino and Noel Escondo, Processions by Steven Paul Evangelio, Recurrencia by Carmina Cruz, Sa Aking Katahimikan by Alyssa Suico and Touch Move by Frances Louise Giner. Short films tackling alienation, devotion, extrajudicial killings, human rights and forced disappearances and LGBT concerns dominate this year’s competition.
Santa Nena! tells the story of a miraculous patron saint who comes to life at night. One day, while talking to her friend, an angel, she received a message from God to look for the boy “with the golden balls” who will help her bring into the world the new Messiah.
Villanueva, who hails from Kawit, Cavite was inspired by Santa Maria Magdalena of Kawit Church or more popularly known as Santa Nena to Kawiteños.
His family is a devotee of the patron saint so he came up with “an offering to God for all the blessings he gave me. But I think, my film turned out to be an irony,” he said as it seeks to “challenge the boundaries of relationship between humans and religion, a picture that will show the uncontrollable power of the heart.”
The short film previously won the Best Narrative, Best Performance and Best Production Design awards at the Sinepiyu Film Festival intercollegiate category; Best Narrative Short Film, Best Director, Best Actor for Ross Pesigan and Best Script at the Ateneo Video Open; Maningning category Gold Picture Prize, Outstanding Direction, Outstanding Performance for Elora Españo and Technical Excellence awards at the CineSB7 Film Festival; and Honorable Mention in the short feature category of the 29th Gawad CCP Independent Film and Video Festival. It was also part of the official Luzon delegation at the Cinema Rehiyon 9.
Salamindanaw, organized by the Mindanao Center for Cinematographic Arts (formerly the Mindanao Center for the Moving Image), received a total of 927 entries of varying lengths and genres from all over Asia this year. It will run from November 27 to December 1.
Festival director Teng Mangansakan shared that aside from being a platform for films of diverse lengths and genre by new and established Filipino and Asian directors, the event will also feature parallel activities such as film workshops, master classes and forums.
Anchored on its mission to be a mirror (salamin) of peace (salam) in Mindanao, the festival aims to raise awareness and promote international cinema with emphasis on strengthening the cultural ties between Mindanao and its Southeast Asian neighbors, to support the nascent film movement in the host city and its nearby regions, to engage the public in both popular and critical discourse on art and cinema and their transformative power to shape ideas about society, and to create a development platform for emerging talents in Southeast Asia.