Joel Torre proud, emotional, but ‘very, very happy’
It was a banner year for the Philippines at the recently concluded Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan).
Erik Matti’s “On the Job” brought home two major prizes: Jury’s choice for the film and best actor for lead star Joel Torre.
“This one is for the Pinoys,” Torre, who attended the fest, told the Inquirer in a text message. “I feel proud to represent the country and emotional to be accorded such an honor. I am very, very happy!”
Matti considered the recognition in Korea’s top genre fest as a breakthrough.
“These awards will hopefully open doors for Filipino genre films to the international scene,” Matti said. “Hopefully, the world will focus on our films in the coming years.”
The victory was bittersweet for Matti. “I am proud to be awarded in a gathering of like-minded film enthusiasts and fellow artists from all over the world. But at the same time, I am sad that it took another country to recognize the value of my idiosyncratic work.”
Matti is one of the honorees in the first Inquirer Indie Bravo! Tribute held three years ago.
Matti pointed out that the PiFan prize was his “first award that was decided by a jury composed of highly respected artists, including (Singapore’s) Eric Khoo and (Chile’s) Brontis Jodorowsky.” Craig McGready noted that “On the Job” was “something Western action/thrillers could very well learn from.”
Next stop for “On the Job,” which opens in local theaters on Aug. 28, is the Fantastic Fest—the largest genre film festival in the United States, to be held in Austin, Texas, from Sept. 19 to 26.
In Puchon, the spotlight was on the country, said another Filipino filmmaker Rico Maria Ilarde, whose thriller “Pridyider” was also shown in the fest.
Ilarde related that a special section for the country (Project Spotlight: The Philippines) was held at the Network of Asian Fantastic Films (NAFF), the PiFan’s pitching forum.
Seven Filipino filmmakers, including Ilarde, participated in the forum.
“It was a fantastic experience,” said Ilarde. “We pitched to Hollywood executives.”
Ilarde summed it up as “mind-blowing for a veteran like me.”
“It was a thrill to see (Filipino filmmakers) Richard Somes and Tikoy Aguiluz pitch to a room filled with international bigwigs. It’s a lot like what we do here, for Star Cinema, but this time we met with executives from Fox, a former head of production from Tri-Star, the current president of the Producers Guild of America and many more. The market has grown in scope in six years.”
One of the seven Filipinos who attended NAFF brought home a prize. Khavn de la Cruz’s “Pusong Wazak” won the It Project Award, which comes with 10 million won (US$8,956).
Ilarde and De la Cruz were honorees in the first Inquirer Indie Bravo! Tribute as well.
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