Reality bites back: Docus are inBy Bayani San Diego Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
On the second year of the Manila Film Financing Forum, reality took a huge bite off the top prizes.
The documentary “My Filipina Bride” and the historical drama “Gabriela” were the big winners in the pitching event. The forum is likened to a round-robin “blind date” between aspiring filmmakers and prospective producers, investors, distributors and financiers.
Organized by the Philippine Independent Filmmakers’ Multi-Purpose Cooperative (IFC), the latest forum attracted 15 filmmakers armed with film concepts that ranged from unconventional romantic-comedies (rom-com) to experimental horror and drama flicks.
This year, IFC invited Regal Films matriarch Lily Monteverde, who sat in the producers’ panel along with Girlie Rodis (representing the new production company Growl), Tony Gloria (Unitel), Ronald Arguelles (Cinema One), and indie filmmakers Paul Soriano, Emman de la Cruz and Monster Jimenez (new chair of IFC), among others.
Monteverde was thrilled to interact with the filmmakers. “It is part of my ongoing education. I learn a lot from young directors,” she said.
Doy del Mundo, IFC ex-officio board member, explained that Monteverde attended the pitching forum to present the Regal Prize and the Best Pitch honor—each with a P25,000 cash prize that she donated. The winners also received a post-production/editing package from SQ Film Lab and a scriptwriting workshop with Bing Lao.
“We thought up the Regal Prize to open the possibility of a project being produced by a mainstream company,” Del Mundo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Everyone at the forum expected Monteverde to pick horror, rom-com and other commercially viable concepts.
“Lo and behold, Mother Lily (as Monteverde is known in the biz) picked a documentary project for the Regal Prize,” said Del Mundo. It caught most of the participants and organizers by surprise, he added.
Docus are proving to be among the most exciting finds in cinema today, said Monteverde, who also attended a screening of the controversial and acclaimed docu “Give Up Tomorrow” during the recent Cinemalaya fest.
The Regal Prize went to “My Filipina Bride” —a docu by Baby Ruth Villarama. “It’s about a young gay Filipino who wants to marry his German boyfriend,” Monteverde related.
In preparing for the same-sex union, the Filipino “bride” must learn to speak Deutsch and confess the true nature of his relationship (with his German beau) to his clueless parents.
“This project is being developed by Baby Ruth for a docu workshop sponsored by the Goethe Institut Manila,” said Del Mundo.
Five projects, as chosen by the panel of producers, vied for the grand prize: Emir Khan R. Bautista’s “Dumbo at Helen: My Chubby Valentine”; Catherine May Jimenez’s “Miss Zombinator Manila”; Joanna Vasquez Arong’s “The Sigbin Chronicles”; Hannah Espia’s “Transit”; and Lee Meily and Sockie Fernandez’s “Gabriela.”
The Best Pitch or IFC Prize was awarded to “Gabriela”—a fresh, modern take on the life of Filipina revolutionary Gabriela Silang, said Del Mundo.
“Sockie and Lee also won in last year’s pitching forum (for the project ‘Mang Ben’),” he recalled.
One of the projects pitched in last year’s forum, Gino M. Santos’ “The Animals,” was eventually produced and fielded as an entry in this year’s Cinemalaya, Del Mundo noted.
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