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TUESDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2014

Intruder as witness to the times JEWEL MARANAN,‘Tondo, Beloved: To What Are the Poor Born’

J

EWEL MARANAN SEES FILM- felt like the world has become larger. It’s a

welcome call to make my next film, more

making as “an attempt to ex- than a validation of the last one.” pand one’s language when Based in Brussels, Belgium, she is aware speaking and writing do not suf- of the winning streak of Filipinos abroad—a moment of “quantitative” growth. “It fice.” As in all creative endeavors, filmmaking is plagued by self-doubt. A filmmaker often asks herself: “Will I be understood? Will I wake up the audience’s senses?” In this light, “international recognition works like a marker,” she says. “It guides me, step by step, in my conversation with the audience. It also opens the possibility of reaching a wider audience.” Maranan won special mention for “Tondo, Beloved: To What Are the Poor Born?” in the Director’s Guild of Japan section of the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival last year. “I felt excited to do more. I

doesn’t just put the Philippines on the map,” she points out, “it somehow positions us not only as consumers and listeners, but as producers, barkers, reactors. It provides the condition for us to mature culturally.” Filipinos are now active participants in the discourse on cinema. “We have developed a level of enthusiasm in filmmaking and … we also possess enough human and social pain which, if we confront fearlessly, hold the depth of our cinema.” She insists, “Cinema cannot, and should not, be isolated in its circles, comforts and institutions. We should wrestle with the

questions, the whys and wherefores.” That is precisely why she persists in making movies. “There are questions that I need to ask, which the traditional institutions of knowledge are unable to tackle … We are increasingly isolated from the larger questions of life, existence, civilization and history.” As a documentarian, she sees her role in society as unique. “It gives me a reason to enter spaces, homes, work places, communities, situations and relationships where I would otherwise be considered an intruder,” she says. “It allows me to be a witness to the times we live in.” Bayani San Diego Jr.

‘An advocacy, vocation, responsibility’ BRILLANTE MA. MENDOZA, ‘Thy Womb’

M

ORE THAN A PROFESsion, Brillante Mendoza sees filmmaking as an advocacy, a vocation and a responsibility to tell honest and life-enriching stories. “Even if such stories are painful realities, the audience is still uplifted with what is real,” says the filmmaker, who headed the international jury of the Vesoul International Festival of Asian Cinema in France last February. The same festival also conferred on Mendoza the Vesoul Golden Cyclo of Honor for his exceptional body of work that includes the film “Kinatay,” which won for him the best director at Cannes in 2009.

He was proclaimed a Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government this year. Winning an international prize is a responsibility in itself, because with recognition comes expectations, he says. Mendoza considers awards as reminders to strive harder; to keep up with what they represent. Mendoza points out that the current success of Filipino films in the global circuit can help open doors to the international market. “In turn, it could generate financial gains for our local industry,” says the multiawarded director, who notes that the growth of indie films in the last five years has been promising and inspiring. For its part, Mendoza says, “the government has to come up with policies that will address the many needs of inde-

pendent film producers.” The emergence of indie films is one of the best things that happened to the industry, Mendoza says, because it created some muchneeded awareness that Filipinos, too, are more than capable of producing quality work. “The mere awakening of the moviegoing public that alternative films do exist is a good sign. That’s enough motivation for me ... to expand the indie market,” he says. Allan Policarpio

‘It’s about serving the oppressed’

P

UROK 7,” ABOUT A teenager dealing with an absent OFW mother, won in September the best full-length feature award at the Lucas Children’s Film Festival in Frankfurt, Germany. Director Carlo Obispo sees the recognition as both encouragement and challenge.

“My entire crew worked very hard; the award validates our dedication,” Obispo says. “It is also a challenge to do better in our next projects.” He is thankful for the conditions that in-

variably come with indie filmmaking. “They prompt our unique ways of telling stories but, more importantly, they lead us to explore stories within our own society that are most likely not told in mainstream cinema.” Obispo continues to observe improvements, audience-wise, as well: “The market is getting more familiar with the strengths of indie films. Local festivals draw more and more audiences [with] every edition. Although rarely, we now get to see indies in commercial cinemas. This is a good sign.” He is committed to making films that “truly uplift,” he says, since he remains “very positive” about what lies ahead for Philippine cinema.

ROMY HOMILLADA

CARLO OBISPO, ‘Purok 7’

“Filmmaking is about being a servant. I’d like to be the voice of the oppressed and [ignored]; I want to express their angst, pain and fears, for the whole world to hear.” Oliver M. Pulumbarit

‘Sweet gift from the universe’ NERISSA PICADIZO, ‘Astray’

W

INNING THE BEST INDIE producer award for “Astray” at the 2014 International Film Festival Manhattan gave director Nerissa Picadizo a bittersweet feeling.

KIMBERLY DELA CRUZ

It was a “sweet gift from the universe,” she says, for all that she went through to make the short film, which features Angel Aquino and Althea Vega. Too bad she couldn’t attend the awards ceremony in New York City last month. “I’m deeply grateful nonetheless,” says Picadizo, “for that affirmation—and motivation to keep believing in one’s dreams.” The awards that Filipinos have won in-

dicate that “our talents and skills are at par with the filmmaking standards of the world,” she says. “Filipino indie films are steadily growing and maturing. Filmmakers are becoming more savvy, in both the creative and business aspects.” “Technology played a great part in that growth,” she adds, recalling that she joined the industry in 1999 “when we were still using film stock. I saw how laborious and expensive that process was. Digital technology has greatly helped us create films easily and independently.” Much remains to be done. “We must develop models of sustainability,” she says,

“so we can continue to create films without falling into the black hole of bankruptcy.” She has continued to make movies “because it is my ultimate passion, and the one great love that I can’t live without.” Marinel R. Cruz

Reach out to, and develop viewers

A

S A STORYTELLER, MIKHAIL Red’s goal is to see the product of his imagination materialize onscreen, and create a film so affecting the moviegoers take with them the story, ideas and characters, as they leave the theater. “Nothing can compare to that experience. That, for me, is the magic of cinema,” he says.

That feeling must be twice as gratifying, especially when your work is being recognized not only in the country, but also in the international circuit. Such is the case with Red’s movie “Rekorder,” which won the special jury prize and best music award at the 31st Annon-

ay International Film Festival in France last February. Red is also extremely proud for receiving the Excellent Asia-Pacific Young Director Award at the Gwangju IFF in South Korea in September. The director relates that, after each victory, jury members usually approach him to discuss the movie, which delves on viral media, piracy and apathy. “They were impressed with the unique portrayal of urban Manila ... we depicted a modern cityscape juxtaposed against a thriving underworld ... we get to see the ills that plague a developing third-world society,” he says. Red’s most recent triumph came last October at the Vancouver IFF in Canada, where he won best new director, also for “Rekorder.” “It was a surprise for the whole team. We

were up against bigger productions,” he says. To further invigorate the local industry, he says, “we need to develop an audience in our country; we need to support the local film fests .” There is a need to give importance to the artists behind the content. “This means better ownership deals in the contracts from the grant-giving festivals, favoring the filmmakers and/or indie producers.” Allan Policarpio

KIMBERLY DELA CRUZ

MIKHAIL RED, ‘Rekorder’

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PDI celebrates 29th anniversary  

The Philippine Daily Inquirer marks its 29th anniversary today with simple rites at its offices in Makati City.

PDI celebrates 29th anniversary  

The Philippine Daily Inquirer marks its 29th anniversary today with simple rites at its offices in Makati City.