PH screenwriter wins in Shanghai
Filipino filmmaker Shireen Seno won best screenplay for “Nervous Translation” at the Asian New Talent Award competition of the 21st Shanghai International Film Festival, held recently in China.
Seno told the Inquirer: “It’s a huge honor to be recognized amongst fellow filmmakers from Asia. It’s actually my first time to be recognized for screenwriting, which feels amazing.”
It was also Seno’s first time to present a film in mainland China. “I had no idea that Shanghai is such a cinema-going city,” she recalled. “There are theaters all over the place! I am also impressed with the festival audience’s devotion. I attended an 8:30 a.m. screening of a new documentary and was happily surprised to find the cinema full!”
Presenter Wu Ke-xi, a Taiwanese actress, pointed out in her speech during the awards ceremony: “The script is the soul of the film and where the dream starts.”
Another juror, Filipino filmmaker Raya Martin, agreed: “The screenwriter lays the foundation for the film, and a good screenwriter is someone who has a good understanding of human nature and is observant of the world around him or her.”
Seno explained: “When I was younger, I badly wanted to be an architect. I was in love with cities and buildings and spaces. But the more I studied architecture, the more I realized it isn’t about the spaces we inhabit, but about the spaces that inhabit us: childhood, memories, dreams, desires.”
An entry in last year’s Cinema One fest, Seno’s film focuses on a child growing up in post-Edsa Philippines, a turbulent time in our nation’s recent history.
She recounted: “I had a dream one night that I was told to go to my relatives and find the pen for nervous translation. When I woke up, I thought, how perfect that would be: To have a pen for nervous translation … as opposed to a nervous breakdown!”
That was how she came up with the idea behind her film.
“We grow up brainwashed by modern society to think that there are products to solve our problems, when in fact our problems lie in a disjunct between the world around us and the world within,” she remarked.
Seno’s Shanghai win comes quick on the heels of her recent Critics’ Prize victory at the Olhar de Cinema Curitiba International Film Festival, in Brazil.
Aside from Seno’s script, “Nervous Translation” was also nominated for best actress (child star Jana Agoncillo) and best cinematography (Albert Banzon, Jippy Pascua and Dennese Victoria) at the Asian New Talent tilt.
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