13th Sinepiyu Film Festival: The Last Call

FEU Advocate
July 19, 2021 11:01

By Rafa Jane Galeon & Maria Leonora Roja

When the shuffling stopped, the last card was drawn. It flipped, and alas! it revealed the nearing end.

Another celebration of seeing life through the lens of young Filipino filmmakers has come to an end. Last July 12, 2021, the Far Eastern University (FEU) Film Society (FilmSoc) started their annual Sinepiyu event with the theme SINEPIYU XIII: Tuklasin Ang Misteryong Kaisipan at Hiwaga ng Sining. 

This film festival invites different schools and universities all over the country to participate and submit their works. This event allows aspiring filmmakers to showcase their crafts and skills when it comes to filmmaking.

Sinepiyu welcomes different genres exploring the vast variety of social realities. The film entries are divided into categories: narrative, experimental, and documentary. 

After releasing the results for the finalists, the narrative category for films boiled down to a total of 13 film entries. The next category close to that number of entries was the experimental with a total of eight film entries, and then the documentary with a total number of seven film entries.

Sinepiyu Finalists

Among the universities that joined the event and made it as finalists were; University of Baguio (UB), University of San Carlos (USC), University of Sto. Tomas (UST), University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV), Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU), Mindanao State University (MSU), FEU Institute of Technology (FEUTech), and University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD). 

However, the universities that joined and submitted most of the entries were De La Salle College of St. Benilde (DLSU-CSB), Far Eastern University-Manila (FEU MNL), Meridian International College (MINT College), and Mapua University.   

Drawing of Cards

This year’s announcement of winners was held via Facebook live on July 16, 2021. The competition was quite intense because of all the eye-opening film entries that premiered at a four-day film festival, most of these film entries stirred up conversations regarding present societal issues that we all currently face.

The awarding ceremony got pretty intense as the hosts announced that an entry for the Narrative category, entitled Gutab directed by Mary Andrea Palmares from UPV, bagged the award title “Best Narrative Short”, along with five other titles: “Best Director”, “Best Actress”, “Best Cinematography”, “Best Editing”, and “Best Sound.”

Followed by the film entry that won as the “2nd Best Narrative”, Silang Mga Naligaw Sa Limot, a film directed by Vahn Leinard C. Pascual from DLSU-CSB. It also won the awards for “Best Production Design” and “Best Screenplay”. 

Further, the film entry awarded as the “3rd Best Narrative” was Transfiguration of Saint Mike, directed by Jermaine Tulbo from Meridian International College. It also won the award for “Best Actor” along with the other film entry entitled Circa Now directed by Jaime Morados of Meridian International College as well.

The rest of the film entries that won awards under the Narrative category were Sakaling Makalipad directed by Rainner S. Cion of FEU for “Best Music” and Mga Salitang Inanod by Gabriel Carmelo of UST for “Best Poster” award.

Now, for the Documentary category, the film entry that won the award “Best Documentary” was Lingkis directed by Yvonne Salazar and Sita Valenzuela of ADMU. Followed by Anatomiya directed by Mike Cabarless of DLSU-CSB for “Honorable Mention”, and Art in Hustle directed by Nickey Zacate won the “Audience Choice Award”.

Lastly, for the Experimental Category, the film entry that won the award title of “Best Experimental Film” was When The Sea Turns Red by Ian Caacby of FEU. Then an “Honorable Mention” award title was given to Darryl Rafer, also a student from FEU, for his film entitled, Puhon.

Many Enchanting Stories To Tell

All of the film entries for this year’s Sinepiyu have opened the eyes of the audience and critics with the substantial issues that they successfully conveyed — but four filmmakers triumphed the night for leading the Experimental, Documentary, and Narrative categories. Their creative direction mesmerized everybody that resulted in a well-deserved win.

In an interview with FEU Advocate, Direk Caacbay shared that he is thankful and happy because his creation was hailed as the "Best Experimental Film." 

“The visual of the film is inspired from The Lovers II painting by René Magritte wherein two individuals covered in cloth are kissing each other. The artwork was introduced to me in our Art Appreciation class. While the content is based on the Scarborough shoal standoff. Now combining those two, When The Sea Turns Red was born," he explained when asked about the inspiration behind his film.

Caacbay stressed that every country, especially the Philippines, needs people who have the courage to speak out injustices to enlighten others on the reality we are enduring as the eyes are not enough to widen someone’s mind. “The film advocates to protect our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and hope that our sea wouldn’t turn red at all," he added.

For the "Best Documentary Film," Direk Salazar and Valenzuela teamed up to execute a revolutionary themed documentary that was made through mixed media animation. Due to the ongoing restrictions amid the pandemic, they resorted to animation to avoid risking their health and the outcome was great.

“Sinepiyu is the first interschool film festival that I have entered in, so to win the best documentary award is such a surreal feeling, especially considering the other amazing documentary entries. Initially, we just wanted our film to be recognized by a wider audience mainly because of the message we want to convey, and to receive an award along with this opportunity is definitely one for the books,” Valenzuela expressed.

The main inspiration of the film is the myth of Bakunawa in which people would produce noise to drive the serpent away. They used this narrative by relating it to the present administration and emphasizing the power of activism.

“Through Lingkis, we can realize that we are stuck in this endless cycle of corruption and violence, which raises the need for people to become catalysts of change. We want the audience to realize the overlooked importance and misconception of activism and civic engagement in our country,” Valenzuela pointed out.

Needless to say, Gutab by Direk Palmares is the highlight of the night for bagging six awards including the "Best Narrative Film." When asked about how she feels in winning the most recognitions in the event, Palmares answered that it felt empowering.

“As a first-time director and filmmaker from the region, I never expected to win any award. But it happened anyway, and it somehow provided hope to some regional and first-time filmmakers out there that still have so many compelling and uplifting stories to tell,” she admitted.

The film’s inspiration comes from the unsettling situations of women who are still subjected to harassment, inequality, and discrimination. This narrative aims to establish how imperative it is to validate the feelings and choices of women in a society that continuously restricts them.

“I wrote the main characters to represent two out of various situations of women in society, one being confined by different domestic roles and the other being objectified because of her look. I wanted this sincere narrative about two women who are both in pursuit of their dreams and freedom to open people's hearts and minds about the true concept of love. I want this film to shed light on the more profound truth that love knows no boundaries, and we are all allowed to love anyone we choose to love,” she stated.

Truly, the 13th Sinepiyu is a significant platform for young student filmmakers all over the Philippines to share the stories worth telling and to ignite their passion for filmmaking. 

Caacbay gave a piece of advice to aspiring filmmakers out there, "Start now. Do not be afraid of committing mistakes. Being a filmmaker is an endless exploration." 

The chance that has been given to the Sinepiyu participants can be yours too, you just have to play your cards right and have faith in the art of filmmaking. This year’s film festival may have reached its end, but the opportunity to grow through translating vision into moving pictures will continue to live on. 

(Photo courtesy of FEU Film Society)