‘Imbisibol’ very visible at Sinag Maynila awards
Lawrence Fajardo’s “Imbisibol,” about undocumented Filipino workers in Japan, was far from invisible at the recent Sinag Maynila indie film fest inaugural awards at SM Aura, winning seven of eight trophies at stake.
“Imbisibol” won best production design (Fajardo, Roli Inocencio), cinematography (Boy Yñiguez), screenplay (Fajardo, John Bedia, Herlyn Alegre), actor (Allen Dizon), actress (Ces Quesada), director (Fajardo) and film. SM People’s Choice award went to Jim Libiran’s “Ninja Party.” Quesada tied with Alessandra de Rossi, who won for her work in Zig Dulay’s “Bambanti,” for best actress. Most of the trophies came with a P25,000 cash prize, but best picture carried P100,000 as incentive. Asked what he would do with the “unexpected” cash, Fajardo told the Inquirer: “I will share it with the cast and crew.”
Fajardo cited the team’s efforts throughout the three-week shoot in near-freezing weather. “All that work was validated,” Fajardo said.
Dizon, who was in Dublin for the Silk Road fest (where his film Jason Paul Laxamana’s “Magkakabaung” is competing) on awards night, told the Inquirer via e-mail: “I’d like to share the award with my coactors JM de Guzman, who was my roommate in Japan; Bernardo Bernardo and Ricky Davao. For me, they also deserve to win best actor.”
Among the jurors were scriptwriter Armando Lao, critic Tito Valiente, foreign fest programmers John Badalu and Paolo Bertolin and National Artists for Literature F. Sionil Jose and Bienvenido Lumbera.
Producer Krisma Fajardo put Quesada—who was on the set of her daughter’s thesis film—on speaker phone when it came time for her acceptance speech. Quesada quipped, “I am doing the dance of joy!”
She later told the Inquirer that “Imbisibol” was a “highlight” in her career: “Opportunities like this don’t come every day for a supporting actor in her 50s. I won my first best actress…at this stage in my career when the most interesting and wonderful roles are almost never given to veteran actors.”
Working with the team was prize enough, she said. “Collaborating with an intelligent and instinctive director like Lawrence is an actor’s dream. From the start, I was drawn to his creative process that regarded everyone as cocreators.”
De Rossi jested, “I think the jurors took pity on me.” She was the only major honoree outside of the “Imbisibol” team. Unlike her character in “Bambanti,” she was dolled up that evening. She said her role was extra challenging because of the Ilocano dialogue. “I couldn’t just ad-lib. I had to be totally committed.” As a mother who would do anything for her son, De Rossi turned to her own mother as inspiration. Though she has never given birth, “I know how deep a mother’s love is because of my mom.” She plans to display her Sinag Maynila trophy, designed by Otto Bjornik, beside her growing collection, which includes a Guyito and a plaque from the 2013 Inquirer Indie Bravo! tribute.
Wilson Tieng, Solar Entertainment head and fest cofounder, described Sinag Maynila’s maiden edition as a rousing success. “The reception from the public and our industry colleagues was very warm,” Tieng said. “We will definitely have another Sinag Maynila next year.”
Filmmaker Brillante Ma. Mendoza, fest cofounder, told the Inquirer: “We are accepting submissions for the second festival.” Tieng said entries will be upped from five to six in 2016, adding, “Like this year, we will give P2-million grant to each film next year.”
Mendoza said Sinag Maynila 2016 will open two weeks earlier next year, “maybe in late February, so we can tap the student crowd.” Meanwhile, this year’s Sinag Maynila films will go on an SM mall tour across the country, to attract more young people, “particularly in Pampanga, Cebu and Isabela, where three films in this year’s batch were set.”
Setting up this fest taught him that artists could work together, Mendoza said. “People think artists are difficult and temperamental, but it is possible to collaborate. From preproduction to editing, everything went smoothly. I hope this progressive mind-set will prevail in the entire indie community.”
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