Indie films continue to awards in 2014

(Continued from yesterday)

  LAST June, Diaz’s other film Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan dominated the 37th Gawad Urian Awards by winning Best Film, Best Actress for Angeli Bayani, Best Screenplay for him and Rody Vera, and Best Cinematography for Larry Manda at the Dolphy Theatre in Quezon City. The film later won the Audience Award at the fifth Festival International de Cine de Murcia in Spain and Best Film at the first Pančevo Film Festival in Serbia.

Meanwhile, Brillante Ma. Mendoza was awarded a Golden Cyclo of Honor for his body of work at the 20th FICA-Vesoul International Film Festival for Asian Cinema in France and was proclaimed a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters for his body of work by the French government. His film Thy Womb won the Audience Favorite award last June at the third New Filipino Cinema Festival at the Yerba Buena Arts Center in Los Angeles, California. 

Giancarlo Abrahan won the Youth Jury Award for May Dinadala at the 25th Singapore International Film Festival last December. Eduardo Roy, Jr.’s Quick Change brought home the Best Actor award for Miggs Cuaderno at the 20th Cheries-Cheris Film Festival in Paris, France on the same month and the NETPAC prize at the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival in Taiwan last November. The film also won the Lili Award for Best Feature Film at the 29th Mix Copenhagen Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Film Festival in Denmark last October and the Internet Press Award at the 20th Vesoul filmfest in France.

Last November, Francis Xavier Pasion’s Bwaya won the grand prize at the 15th Tokyo FILMeX in Japan while Joseph Israel Laban’s Nuwebe bagged the Internet Award for Best Feature at the 12th Tirana International Film Festival in Albania. Laban also won Honorable Mention—Best Director in the Narrative Feature section of the Queens World Film Festival in Long Island City, New York last March. 

Jeffrey Jeturian was honored with the Icono Precolombino Award at the 31st Bogota International Film Festival in Colombia and Maryo J. Delos Reyes’ Bamboo Flowers brought home the Audience Favorite award at the first Silk Road International Film Festival in China last October. On the same month, Will Fredo’s In Nomine Matris (In the Name of the Mother) won Best Feature Film and Best Actress for Liza Diño, Diane Ventura and Jake Cuenca were awarded Best Director Global and Best Actor for Mulat, respectively, and Nerissa Picadizo won Best Indie Producer for her short film Astray, among others, at the International Film Festival Manhattan in New York. Carlo Obispo’s Purok 7 also won Best Full-Length Film at the 37th Lucas International Kinderfilm Festival in Frankfurt, Germany. 

In addition, young filmmaker Mikhail Red shared the Best New Director award at the 33rd Vancouver International Film Festival in Canada last October for his psychological drama Rekorder. The 22-year old Red also won the Excellent Asia-Pacific Young Director Award at the 14th Gwangju International Film in South Korea last September. Ronnie Quizon, playing a former film cameraman-turned-movie pirate who unwittingly witnesses and records a terrible crime, earlier won the El Rey Award for Excellence in Acting in a lead role at the fourth Barcelona International Film Festival last June. The film tied for the Special Jury Prize and won Best Music at the 31st Annonay International Film Festival in France last February.

LAST September, Jun Lana’s Bwakaw won the Best Screenplay award at the 14th Pyongyang International Film Festival in North Korea. Lana also brought home Best Director of a Foreign Language Feature Film for Barber’s Tales at the third Madrid International Film Festival in Spain last July. The film received the Crystal Mulberry Award at the 16th Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy last May.

Sigrid Andrea Bernardo’s Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita (Anita’s Last Cha-Cha) won the Volunteers Choice Award at the 38th Frameline San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival last June. It also took home a Special Mention award at the Osaka Asian Film Festival in Tokyo where Siege Ledesma’s Shift eventually got the grand prize last March. 

Alvin Yapan’s Debosyon won Honorable Mention for Outstanding International Feature at the 14th Reel World Film Festival in Toronto, Canada last April. Sandy Talag took home the Best Actress trophy for Lilet Never Happened at the sixth Jaipur International Film Festival in India last February. Last but not the least, Vilma Santos won Best Actress for her role as a struggling bit player in the movie and TV industry in Jeturian’s Ekstra at the 13th Dhaka International Film Festival in Bangladesh last January.

Although indie films are breaking new grounds in other countries, these do not translate to box-office success in local cinemas. Many Filipino filmmakers have the talent to make better and more innovative films than their counterparts but they often lack the needed machinery to promote their works. There have been calls for the government to lower amusement taxes or give tax incentives, set up screen quotas throughout the entire year, and even help market films. However, the constant bickering, not just within the industry but also within the local political system, has prevented necessary reforms from being implemented properly. 

In the meantime, mindless comedies and formulaic rom-coms continue to lord over Philippine theaters. Concerned groups have been calling for fresh ideas and original styles, which are always significant in filmmaking, but the audience continue to patronize whatever the dominant movie studios are feeding them. Film outfits connected with major television networks usually dominate the box office as they bank on the constant promotion of their films on TV. This can also be attributed to our problematic educational system and widespread colonial mentality. As long as this situation persists, mainstream production companies will continue to make the same kind of stuff over and over again. 

Film scholars believe that we need revolutionary ideas and radical actions to help improve the existing system. It is possible to come up with a distinctive Filipino style and not just come up with poor copycats of Hollywood productions. Someday, it is hoped that there will be no more distinction between indie and mainstream films, but between good and bad films.

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