- September 24, 2021 11:23
Seven student-filmmakers of Far Eastern University Film Society (FEU FilmSoc) were recognized after winning six distinctions in the Virtual Awards Night of Realifilm 2021 conducted last March.
The event is a nationally-recognized annual inter school competition organized by Silip@Lente-AdU, an accredited academic film organization of Adamson University (AdU).
Pioneered in 2016, it showcases the creativity of college filmmakers nationwide while serving as a platform in empowering films as a tool to stir up growth and transformation.
With the 'new normal' set-up, Silip@Lente-AdU re-envisioned its usual fest by conducting it online in collaboration with Benildean Film Works and 24 Frames with the theme 'Silver Linings: Peeking Through the Chaos'.
Fifteen qualified entries were made available for screening last March 6-7. The films were judged based on the following criteria: production quality, adherence to the theme, and originality and creativity.
Realifilm 2021: Major Awards
The major recognitions presented were the Award of Virtue for the fifth-best film, Award of Excellence for the fourth, and Realifilm Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards for the top three.
Rapid Eye Media's Shapeshifters directed by John Patrick Pangan took the lead by winning the Realifilm Bronze Award.
Shapeshifters revolves around the mystical quest of a young man who thirsts for answers behind the incessant killings in their town.
"Nakasentro ito sa bata na unti-unting namumulat sa nangyayari sa lipunan. Ang film na ito ay para sa mga biktima at, apart from direct killing of war on drugs itself, ‘yung mga naapektuhan lalo na ‘yung several children who suffered from psychosocial traumas (The film is centered on a young man who gradually gains social consciousness. This film is dedicated to the victims and, apart from the killing of war on drugs itself, the affected ones especially those several children who suffered from psychosocial traumas)," Pangan said to FEU Advocate.
He, then, added that the film ought to evoke the public to the occurring political and societal issues simultaneously with the rising number of devastated lives in the present administration.
Further, two representatives earned the Realifilm Award of Virtue. Among these is Ugoy ng Tanikala, a film narrating the surge of sexual exploitation of children amidst the nationwide quarantine.
According to director Lily Gomes, the film was inspired by one of Rappler's articles that featured the emerging number of reports regarding sexual exploitations as a coping mechanism in response to the loss of jobs caused by the pandemic.
Kurt Santos' Ang Dala ng Kawalan also received the award, portraying the story of farmers and their livelihood that is continuously challenged by capitalism.
Santos expressed his resentment towards the unheard voices of farmers and the injustices that prevail in their province in Ilocos Norte. According to him, he wanted to echo the farmers' cry for justice.
"Lingid din sa kaalaman na nagkakaroon kasi ng pwersahang pagbili sa mga lupang sakahan. Binibili ito para patayuan ng mga subdibisyon o kuhanin ng mga local government para patayuan ng mga establishing road (What the public didn't know was the implementation of authoritarian force that obliges the farmers to sell their lands. It is purchased for the construction of subdivisions while some were taken by the local government to establish roads)," said Santos.
Faced with the struggles of pandemic restrictions, the awardees admitted that the battling shortage of manpower and the tight protocols outside Metro Manila forced them to assume multiple roles in the production. Directors of Sa Ibayo ng Pagtangis and Ugoy ng Tanikala also mentioned that they had to guide their team virtually. Nevertheless, the young filmmakers recognized their craft as an avenue to spark a conversation about the narratives of the current society.
"…Mas nakakapag-spread kami ng awareness through our films. Feel ko ayon 'yung mas mahalaga, and also kung paano namin nare-represent ‘yung mga tao sa istorya namin. (Through our films, we were able to spread more awareness. For me, that, and how we represent the people in our story, are what's important)," Pangan said.
Realifilm 2021: Minor Awards
Silip@Lente-AdU also gave recognition to the Director, Actress and Actor, Supporting Actress and Actor, Cinematography, Sound, Screenplay, Production Design, Musical Scoring, Film Editing and Film Poster that reigned during the event.
Sa Ibayo ng Pagtangis (Beyond Mourning), a film depicting the personal and collective agony of women in the current society, took home the Best in Production Design award.
Directed by Francis Tavas, Sophia Casasola, and Le Anne Flores, the film aims to sharpen the critical minds of its audiences by implicitly narrating the pangs of its character.
"Gusto ko lang sana ay mapaigting ang pagiging articulate nila. Inuudyok namin sila na mag-isip habang nanonood at tignan ang bawat detalye (I just want to amplify their articulacy. We encourage them to reflect while watching and pay attention to every detail)," Tavas stated.
Joyce Macalia, the actress and member of the production team, also shared her thoughts about the message of Sa Ibayo ng Pagtangis.
According to her, the film ought to uplift the victims of abuse by assuring them that they aren't alone in healing their wounds. Through their piece, they wanted to raise consciousness about the permanent trauma that these victims endure beyond mourning.
Macalia was also named as Best Actress for Ugoy ng Tanikala while Tavas gained the Best Film Poster Award for Waltz of Qualm.
Meanwhile, Casasola won the Best Cinematographer for Naraniag A Bulan, the fest's Golden Awardee which presents a poetic expression of fighting for the Philippines' sovereignty.
"Kahit marami tayong mga tinututukang problema sa loob ng bahay, sa labas din, brought by our government, mayroon tayong mga istorya [There are] actual human conditions from the margins that we have to focus on (Although we have our personal dilemma at home, there are also existing stories outside brought by our government. There are actual human conditions from the margins that we have to focus on)," Casasola said in an interview.
The team expressed their gratitude towards Mr. David Corpuz, Mr. Seymour Sanchez, Mr. Herwin Cabasal, and the entire FEU Department of Communication (FEU DepComm) for honing them to be competent filmmakers.
In an interview, Casasola stressed that beyond the pedagogies, FEU Depcomm syncs in molding them to be more visible in the industry. Aside from taking part in inter school competitions, they encourage them to be more engaged in the societal issues of today thus driving them to produce films that cater the untold stories of the marginalized.
The Film Industry Behind Art Prejudice
Assuming the lower levels of the professionalism hierarchy in the Philippines, the creative industry has always been oppressed and unprioritized by the system. Low financial support and exclusive opportunities dominate the field of filmmaking, putting the underprivileged artists in disdain.
As residents of film festivals, the Realifilm awardees of FEU FilmSoc expressed their attitude towards this bigotry.
According to Casasola, "[Iyong] ganitong kind of field of work, isa siya sa mga bihirang outlet or ideology-carrying instrument na may isang malaking kakayahan na i-challenge at kwestyunin ‘yung status quo (This kind of field of work is a rare ideology-carrying instrument that has a great ability to challenge and question the status quo)."
She added that unlike other jobs, the cinema isn't something that the public can acquire, purchase, or resist. This oppression becomes her drive to produce more films that contribute not only to the entertainment of its viewers but to the progress of the succeeding generations who can esteem the timeless films of today as sources of inspiration.
Sharing one of his initiatives, Tavas mentioned that as a young filmmaker, he particularly aims to change the discriminatory attitude against artists in the Philippines by creating films that incite purpose and learning, not just aesthetics and traditional narratives.
Aside from financial support from the officials, he also advocates establishing independent cinema houses to inclusively stage more regional and indie films nationwide.
"Andami nang umuusbong na naratibo na talagang tumataliwas sa kung ano 'yung nakasanayan natin. Hopefully, in the next five years, mabigyan na rin ng mas malawak at mas strong na boses ang regional filmmakers and young filmmakers like us (There are a lot of emerging narratives today that are diverse from what we are used to. Hopefully, in the next five years, the regional filmmakers and young filmmakers like us could also gather a more extensive and stronger voice in the industry)," Tavas added.
As of writing, Sa Ibayo ng Pagtangis, Waltz of Qualm, Ugoy ng Tanikala, and Ang Dala ng Kawalan were lined up as finalists on the 7th CineMandirigma, a fest organized by Silangan Film Circle, the student film organization of University of the East-Caloocan (UE Caloocan).
As part of the mechanics for the People's Choice Award, the films were made available for public screening on the YouTube account of UE Caloocan Silangan Film Circle.
Shapeshifters, on the other hand, can be viewed on the Facebook page of Likhang Mulat, a social advocacy initiative and platform of FEU DepComm.
-Mary Licel Biscocho
(Photo screenshot from the Virtual Awards Night/Facebook)