MANILA, Philippines—Newcomers and veterans alike topped the first CineFilpino Film Festival held at the Genting Club of Resorts World Manila on Sunday night.
Best film was split between indie stalwart Mes de Guzman’s “Ang Kwento ni Mabuti” and debuting director Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo’s “Ang Huling Chacha ni Anita.”
De Guzman brought home the best director and screenplay prizes for “Mabuti,” a modern parable starring Superstar Nora Aunor as a Nueva Vizcaya healer who grapples with a moral dilemma.
Best actress went to 13-year-old Teri Malvar who portrays a young lesbian in the throes of first love in “Anita.”
Malvar said she “prayed” hard for her film’s victory.
Best actor went to another first-timer, Karl Medina who plays revolutionary Jose Ma. Sision in Sari and Kiri Dalena’s “The Guerrilla is a Poet.”
Medina is the son of award-winning actor Pen Medina and the brother of acclaimed actors Ping, Alex and Victor Medina. “It’s unexpected. This is my first movie,” Medina owned up.
The supporting players were considerably more seasoned. Angel Aquino won best supporting actress for “Anita,” while theater actor Bong Cabrera won best supporting actor for “Poet.”
In his speech, Cabrera dedicated his trophy to “those who are continually fighting for their beliefs.”
Aquino was not able to attend the awards show, but conveyed to her director Bernardo her happiness.
“Angel said she only wanted the kids to win.”
Aquino got her wish; best ensemble went to the cast of “Anita.”
The technical prizes were divided between the Dalenas’ “Poet” and Mike Alcazaren’s “Puti.”
Best cinematography (Robert Yñiguez), production design (Rious Caliso) and sound (Mark Laccay) went to “Puti.”
Best musical score (Datu Arellano) and editing (Keith Sicat and Kiri Dalena) went to “Poet.”
Ten short films also competed for prizes.
In the shorts category, third prize went to Jose Ibarra Guballa and Bienvenido Ferrer’s “Sangandaan”; second prize to Kim Ocariza’s “Logaritmo”; and first prize to Pamela L. Reyes’ “Ligaw.”
Among the jurors are Filipino filmmakers Jose Javier Reyes and Chris Martinez and actor Cherry Pie Picache; foreign critics Roger Garcia, Stephen Cremin and Max Tessier; and TV5 president Noel Lorenzana.
Lorenzana said that he was impressed by the high quality of films in the festival and described the current resurgence in Philippine filmmaking as “a defining moment in cinema.”
The CineFilipino Film Festival runs until Sept. 24 at the Newport Cinemas of Resorts World Manila, Lucky Chinatown Mall and Gateway Cineplex.
MediaQuest, Studio 5, PLDT-Smart Foundation and Unitel are the festival’s organizers.