By Seymour Barros Sanchez
A SHORT documentary made by De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde Digital Filmmaking students won Best Direction at the Istorya ng Pag-asa (Stories of Hope) Film Festival gala night and awarding ceremony held last June 12 at Glorietta, Makati City.
Winning the award for their short documentary “Pamilyang Bernardo” are Anna Mikaela Quizon, Alda Dalisay and Jocelyn Frago. Two members of the Bernardo family from Looc, Romblon are suffering from ectrodactyly, a condition which causes malformation of their limbs and makes life difficult for them. Despite this, they find strength in their own home.
Florence Rosini’s “Ang Biyahe ni Marlon,” an inspiring tale of an Uber driver with Tourette Syndrome, which manifests through involuntary movements, got the INPFF Best Film trophy, a cash prize of 50,000 pesos, a DSLR camera and a Samsung S8 cellphone.
First runner-up winner Margaret Serranilla brought home 30,000 pesos for her entry “Tago,” which tells the story of Nelson Gonzales, drummer and owner of Tago Jazz Café, a small jazz joint in Cubao that serves as a place for budding musicians to hone their craft.
Kelsy Lua’s “Gawilan,” about a disadvantaged Filipino swimmer named Ernie Gawilan who faced hardships that forced him to battle his insecurities before making it to the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, won second runner-up and 20,000 pesos.
Aunell Ross Angcos’ “The Climbing Puppeteer,” about a BPO employee-cum-ventriloquist who climbs mountains to help local villagers, won Best Cinematography, while Demy Cruz, Jr.’s “Ang Gahum Sang Daku Nga Handum,” about a member of an indigenous tribe who has to face challenges to selflessly pursue her dream, got the Best Script award.
Aside from her documentary with Quizon and Dalisay, Frago has another entry which made it to INPFF’s list of 15 finalists, “Liham Pagmamahal Para sa Kasalukuyan” (Love Letter to the Present). It tells the story of Lola Lita Vinuya and how she, and other members of Malaya Lolas, an organization composed of former “comfort women” or victims of sexual slavery, survived the cruelty of the Japanese imperial army during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War II. This serves as their voice and a love letter to the present.
Their fellow DLS-CSB film majors Matthew Pelayo and Gian Arre were also selected as INPFF finalists from among 73 submissions all over the country.
Pelayo’s “Overdrive,” follows the life of Mel Majadas, a female Uber driver, as it shows what it is like for Mel, a mother who works hard for her family, to drive around Metro Manila.
On the other hand, Arre’s “Mclaine” is based on the life of Mclaine Buatis, a student confronting complaints for his disruptive behavior. When his high school teacher warns him that he might get expelled from school, Mclaine reveals his innate desire to graduate and pleads for one last chance.
The other short film finalists are “Alkansiya” by Sandra Fajardo, “Ngiti” by Rhycie Anne Custodio, “Dealing with Healing” by Alyssa Bernardino, “Liwanag” by Kimberly Ilaya, “Dibuho” by Erri Rojo and “Person with This Ability” by Tala Reyes.
Acclaimed screenwriter Clodualdo “Doy” del Mundo, Jr., Film Development Council of the Philippines Chairperson Liza Diño, award-winning filmmakers Quark Henares and Dan Villegas, and veteran actress Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino served as INPFF judges. Actor Dingdong Dantes hosted the event.
Vice President Leni Robredo, whose office organized the nationwide film competition together with Ayala Foundation, described the entries as “extraordinary stories of ordinary people, and we are very, very proud of them. We wish that there are more that we can discover, and we vow to continue looking for them.”
The INPFF was held to celebrate the first year of Istorya ng Pag-asa, an initiative that aims to inspire and empower the nation through extraordinary stories of the Filipino people. It seeks to promote hope and inspiration on a wider scale, with positive real-life stories that feature the triumph of ordinary Filipinos over life’s adversities.
The winning short films are currently being screened at Ayala Malls Cinemas until June 30.