They are starting early.
Two Filipino students won for their short films at the Manhattan International Film Festival, held in New York from Feb. 22 to 24.
“Tanglaw,” directed by Adrielle Esteban of the University of the Philippines and “Man of Squares,” directed by Inshallah Montero of De La Salle University-College of Saint Benilde, were among the top five winners from all over the world at the youth fest. The other winners were Timothy Reckart’s “Head over Heels” (United States), Anita Rivaroli and Irene Tommasi’s “A Summer Tale” (Italy) and Christian Manzi’s “Yes, I’m Gary” (United States).
Last year, another Filipino student, Lance Katigbak, won people’s choice for his short “Fine Dining” at the Manhattan fest, which is organized by the nongovernmental organization World Youth Alliance.
Esteban, 21, told the Inquirer that the winning films were to be screened at the United Nations headquarters in New York in April.
She said she had a blast at the fest. “Meeting people from other countries and learning about their cultures through their films gave me a better understanding of the world and our responsibility as human beings. It was an eye-opener and a milestone.”
Montero, whose trip to the United States was made possible by a grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, agreed: “Attending the fest felt amazing and humbling at once. I met a lot of other young filmmakers and got to share ideas with them. It was great to interact with people who readily embraced my work. It made every challenge we encountered during filming worthwhile.”
Esteban recalled that she likewise encountered all sorts of obstacles during the shoot of her under graduate thesis in Montalban, Rizal—ranging from inclement weather to rowdy residents.
Still, she persevered.
“I experienced the film’s message first-hand during the shoot,” she explained. Her film, which tackles the urgent issue of child trafficking, urges Filipinos not to lose hope, she said.
“We must maintain our child-like optimism even when we grow old,” Esteban remarked. “We were born young, passionate and vigorous. We should not lose those traits. Imagine a nation populated by people who are always inspired. Imagine the developments and inventions in such a country.”
Montero, 30, also wishes to address her peers with her undergrad thesis, which dissects consumerism in today’s materialistic society.
Montero pointed out that today’s generation should be “reminded of the things that truly matter in life.”
Money makes the world go round, she said. “We can’t live without it. But wealth gives us false happiness. We spend our earnings on material possessions instead of investing it on memories shared with loved ones.”
Shooting their shorts taught both of them valuable lessons in life and art, they said.
Montero admitted: “Filmmaking isn’t easy. You can never be a filmmaker without the passion. But the process taught me a lot. Now, I understand that film is a collaborative art form. I don’t know if it changed me, but it taught me how to work with a team.”
Esteban concurred: “Apart from my skills, my character was tested as well. I’ve matured as a filmmaker. I thought of myself only as a film editor and colorist before, but now I want to tell more stories. I’ve realized the power of film as a medium.”