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Best regional films show unity in diversity

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WINNERS ALL (From left) “Malan” writer Agustin Pagusara; “Huling Biyahe” directors Racquel Zaballero-Sanchez and Sigfreid Barros Sanchez and their son Seth; best actor Deuel Raynon Ladia; and “Anac ti Pating” director Martin Masadao

DAVAO—Quite fittingly, a film set in northern Luzon, Martin Masadao’s “Anac ti Pating,” won the top prize in a national tilt held in Mindanao.

It clearly showed how cinema could bridge the islands, said Briccio Santos, chairperson of the Film Development Council of the Philippines, which organized the second Sineng Pambansa.

“We aim to highlight the cultural distinctions of each region, while emphasizing our common bond as a people and presenting new perspectives in filmmaking,” said Santos.

During the awards night held at SM Lanang on Saturday, Davao Mayor Sara Duterte similarly encouraged young indie filmmakers from the different regions to continue telling the Filipino story.

Powerful real stories

Proving just how powerful real stories are, all three finalists in the documentary section proved to be winners.

Special mention prizes were given to Lauren Sevilla Faustino’s “Ang Babae sa Likod ng Mambabatok” and Sheron Dayoc’s “Chasing Fireflies.”

Faustino’s docu, which tells the story of a Kalinga tattoo artist, was lauded by jurors for its “engaging subject matter … and captivating central character.”

Dayoc’s docu, which tackles human trafficking in Zamboanga, was praised by jurors for “its creative interplay of cinematographic elements.”

The main documentary prize went to “Ang Pagbabalik ng Bituin,” directed by Sherbien Dacalanio and written by Sheryl Manalastas.

A “charming” road movie that recounts a house helper’s 46-hour RORO journey from Manila to Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte, “Bituin” was hailed by juror, acclaimed documentarian Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala for “introducing us to an unfamiliar world.”

Citations in the full-length section were given to: Waldee Oasan, music, for “Huling Biyahe”; Tessie Tomas, actress, “Huling Biyahe”; Deuel Raynon Ladia, actor, “Anac ti Pating”;  Benjie Garcia’s “Malan,” special jury prize; Sigfreid Barros Sanchez and Racquel Zaballero-Sanchez’s “Huling Biyahe,” grand jury prize; and Masadao’s “Anac ti Pating,” grand festival prize.

Although some entries were not able to have screenings at SM Lanang due to technical issues, the entries’ variety and craftsmanship impressed the jurors.

DOCU makers Lauren Sevilla Faustino, Sheryl Manalastas and Sheron Dayoc brought home a trophy each.

Juror Christian Merer, cultural counselor of the French embassy in Manila, described the lineup as “diverse, interesting … We had comedy, drama, action films.”

Coming-of-age film

Juror Jose Maria Fons Guardiola, deputy for cultural affairs of Instituto Cervantes, called “Anac ti Pating” a “lovely coming-of-age” film. “It has been done so many times before, but the director found the right hero in lead star, 12-year-old Ladia, who won best actor.”

Guardiola related: “All the finalists gave us a good perspective of Philippine culture, expressing what the country is all about.”

Juror Rolando Tolentino, dean of the UP College of Mass Communication in Diliman, remarked: “This second lineup has greater potential for a popular audience and circulation in international film festivals.”


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