MANILA, Philippines – It was a Cinemalaya Awards Night like no other. In the first place, everyone involved was celebrating the festival’s 10th year – a milestone indeed -– what with the awards and accolades reaped by the grantees of the film festival both here and abroad in the last 9 years.
A pall of gloom, however, hung over the celebration, and this was apparent all throughout the program.
In a nutshell, the full versions of the films of Cinemalaya grantees in 2012 and 2013 were uploaded on YouTube by someone on the technical staff of Cinemalaya.
While the Cinemalaya Foundation’s initial reaction was to have the films taken down from YouTube, the foundation’s chair Tony Cojuangco yesterday revealed in his speech that they had recently been very concerned about the sustainability of Cinemalaya in the years to come.
A focus group discussion (FGD) in the last few months yielded the suggestion of posting the films on YouTube for free so that people who may have wanted to watch but have failed to do so would have access to the films and appreciate them – at least initially.
Before presenting the NETPAC award to “Hustisya,” Kanakan Balintagos (a.k.a. Auraeus Solito and Sigrid Andrea Bernardo) read the statement of the 1st batch of Cinemalaya grantees: “We love Philippine Cinema because of our passion, not because of money or fame. Gusto naming maabot ng mga pelikula namin ang higit sa nakakarami. Pero hindi sa paraang lalo pang sisikil kundi tuluyang kikitil sa sustainable na paggawa ng malayang pelikula. We believe in what Cinemalaya stands for. We are asking for dialogue and some reform. Para sa malayang paggawa ng sining. Para sa tunay na malayang Cinemalaya.”
While accepting the Best Screenplay award for Dagitab on Giancarlo Abrahan’s behalf, film producer Hannah Espia said the uploading of Cinemalaya films from her batch and the previous year (including her film Transit) was “a violation of our rights as filmmakers” saying that it was “a wake up call for…filmmakers to unite…as we cannot stay silent.”
The last word for the night came from New Breed category Best Film awardee Francis Xavier Pasion for Bwaya. Pasion said that he could only think of one word: “respect.” He said, “Cinemalaya must respect filmmakers, and filmmakers must respect Cinemalaya.”
Photo by Inoue Jaena/Rappler
The young and the restless
Clad in her boots and bonnet, Sari Estrada was giddy and nervous as she went up the stage to accept the award for Best Film for her short “Asan si Lolo Me?” Apart from thanking her cast, crew and family, she also thanked Goosey, the star goat of the short.
The filmmakers in the Short Feature category, many of them under 30, made sure that they took a selfie (a groupie?) with the audience in the background, after they had accepted their respective citations.
Young actress Barbie Forteza, who had just turned 17 two weeks ago, looked ecstatic when she went up the stage to receive her Best Supporting Actress Award for her performance as the young Imelda in Milo Sogueco’s Mariquina. She said she was only expecting to be “Best in Hair and Makeup.”
The recipient for this year’s Best Supporting Actor honors is Miggs Cuaderno for his performance as a young fighter in Children’s Show. He had also just celebrated his birthday two days before the awards and had just turned 10.
Sophie Albert, who portrayed the role of Lia in the movie #Y was so gratified that she received with the rest of the young cast of the movie the “Ensemble Acting award” in the New Breed category even if it is her first foray into movies.
Best Screenplay Award winner Aloy Adlawan (for his work on The Janitor) hopped on stage.
Although it took home only one award (the Audience Choice Award in the New Breed category), one of the most applauded winners was Sundalong Kanin, perhaps because many involved in the production (especially the O’Hara family) are members of the CCP-based theater group Tanghalang Pilipino.
Recipient Denise O’Hara said, “OK na kami dito. Masaya na kami sa Audience Choice.” (We're okay with this, we're happy with the Audience Choice award.)
Both Joselito Altarejos (Kasal) and Pasion – winners for best film in the Directors Showcase and New Breed categories – asked their entire cast and crew to mount the stage during the awarding of their respective prizes.
Bwaya producer RS Francisco kept wiping his tears while onstage. Pasion explained that when funds were running low, Francisco eventually plunked more resources into the project just so they could complete the movie.In their speeches, both Ida Anita Del Mundo, director of K’na, The Dreamweaver, and Pasion thanked the T’Bolis of South Cotabato, and the Manobos of Agusan, respectively.
The sacred songs of the Manobos were apparently recorded in caves in the area, resulting to the Best Music Score award for Erwin Fajardo, who scored Bwaya.
Last year’s Cinemalaya Best Actor Mimi Juareza referred to Superstar Nora Aunor as our National Artist, when Nora was announced as the Best Actress winner in the Directors’ Showcase category for her work as a trafficker in Joel Lamangan’s Hustisya. The cheers of Noranians and members of the audience were deafening.
Everyone had a field day taking photographs both in and out of the theater after the ceremonies ended.
The persistent question asked in whispers outside though was, “May Cinemalaya pa ba next year?” (Will there be a Cinemalaya next year?)
Everyone awaits the dialogue between Cinemalaya and the filmmakers with bated breath. Abangan. (Watch out.) – Rappler.com
Susan Claire Agbayani is a freelance writer, editor, media consultant, teacher, workshop facilitator, events organizer and concert producer. She writes fiction and nonfiction and is an alumna of several national writing workshops. She is finishing her MFA in Creative Writing at De La Salle University-Manila. She lives in Diliman with her son Gide.