Indie Bravo!

Audience picks PH film in French fest

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VINCENT Sandoval, an Inquirer honoree, won for “Aparisyon,” a Cinemalaya 2012 movie. PHOTO COURTESY OF VINCENT SANDOVAL

Filipino-American filmmaker Vincent Sandoval’s “Aparisyon” won the audience award at the recent 15th Deauville Asian Film Festival held in France.

Sandoval, who attended the event in France, told the Inquirer via e-mail that he was “ecstatic” over the honor.

According to Sandoval, “Aparisyon” is the first film to win the audience award in the Deauville fest’s 15-year history.

He described this latest citation as “a testament to the talent and hard work of the film’s extraordinary cast and crew.”

Last October, “Aparisyon” won the Netpac Prize (from the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) at the Hawaii International Film Festival. It earlier won best sound at the Cinemalaya film fest.

He called the French award “a sweet surprise,” as he “had already decided not to expect anything,” upon arriving in swanky Deauville, which is considered a “Parisian Riviera,” a fashionable holiday resort.

Deauville, he said, is “one of the most prestigious film festivals dedicated to Asian cinema.”

He pointed out that Deauville has attracted such luminaries as “Park Chan-wook (who directed “Oldboy” and “Stoker”), Wong Kar Wai (this year’s tribute honoree) and our own Brillante Ma. Mendoza.”

Sandoval recalled that audience reaction to “Aparisyon” was generally “positive.”

“After the screenings, some audience members stayed to personally thank me for bringing the film to the festival,” he recounted. “One lady even gave me a hug.”

As he walked the streets of Deauville, strangers would often greet him with praises like “Bravo!” and “Magnifique!”

“It was also a little embarrassing,” he admitted sheepishly.

Other winners were: Kamal KM’s “ID” (India) for best film; Boonsong Nakphoo’s “Four Stations” (Thailand) and Yoo Ji-tae’s “Mai Ratima” (South Korea), jury prize; and Vahid Vakilifar’s “Taboor” (Iran), critics’ prize.

Fides Cuyugan-Asensio, one of the film’s lead actors, told the Inquirer that winning in Deauville was “exciting.”

“I heard that the French loved our film,” Asensio said. “Imagine my being part of winners like ‘Aparisyon’ and ‘Niño’ at this point in my career and in my initial foray into indie films. How blessed can one be!”

Costar Mylene Dizon was astounded by the news. “I’m surprised because I haven’t been informed about it … but I’m not surprised that it won audience choice. And in Deauville, too! I’m jumping for joy!”

Another star Raquel Villavicencio said: “Our film has gone a long, long way.”

“Aparisyon” centers on a cloistered community of nuns whose peaceful existence is disturbed by a violent crime during the Martial Law years.

The Deauville website lauded the film for “its profound reflection on sin, guilt, faith.”

“Aparisyon” opens in selected theaters in Manila and Cebu on March 20.

Sandoval is one of last year’s Inquirer Indie Bravo! Tribute honorees.

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