Indie fest in Laguna
CALAMBA, Laguna—“We look forward to greater participation not only of the citizens of Laguna, but also the whole country,” said award-winning film and TV director Maryo J. de los Reyes, who is festival director of this municipality’s 1st Buhayani Independent Film Festival, which was held from June 12 to 17.
The event, which featured three indie films written and directed by Calambeños, aimed to create awareness of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal. It carried the theme, “Rizal and His Advocacy for Peace.”
“Later on we can also invite filmmakers in the international scene and have stories about Rizal in Germany, in France, and in other countries that he visited,” De los Reyes said in his welcome speech during the awards ceremony held on June 17 at the SM City here.
“Talumpati,” a story on Rizal’s speech on peace, bagged the most number of awards, including the jury prize (considered as the festival’s best picture award) and best director for Alelie Nagpala. Its lead, Leandro Baldemor, won best actor, while Helen Abero brought home the best actress award.
“Talumpati’s” Yogi Contreras shared the best supporting actress honor with Ana Capri (“Ama Namin”). John Justin Bongapat of “Talumpati” copped the best supporting actor trophy, too. Nagpala’s film won all the technical awards—best art direction and production design, cinematography, script, sound and music.
Darwin Gecale’s work in Sammy Figura Grubanzo’s “Ama Namin” won for him best child performer. Ronan Vergara’s “Nasaan Si Crispin?” is the third indie entry.
“I commend Calamba for getting into this endeavor,” said De los Reyes, who was among the judges of last year’s Buhayani Short Film Festival. “This year, we developed the event into a full-length feature indie festival. We picked three films and gave them grants (P80,000 each),” the director explained.
De los Reyes then recalled a similar situation in Mindanao that happened in the early 1990s, wherein a workshop on filmmaking was conducted and all of its participants joined in as production people, directors or actors and created movies. “A film festival was organized and I was a judge there, too. The filmmakers were given a meager budget of P2,000 each. In order to finish the film, they had to beg, steal or borrow,” he said. “This was in Davao. Now, the city is the proud host of the Cinema Rehiyon Film Festival in Mindanao.”
De los Reyes suggested that, inasmuch as Calamba has already been training people to produce a film festival such as the Buhayani, the municipality can now ask the National Commission for Culture and the Arts if it can host the regional film festival for Luzon province. “What we’re doing here is actually a training ground for hosting and organizing festivals,” he pointed out.
De los Reyes added that one of the event’s goals was to “educate the people about our national hero. I don’t like Rizal as a propagandist, but [I like] his desire to bring peace and to liberate our country. Because of what he has done for us, I now support this festival so that he will be known by our citizens and the world.”
De los Reyes said he hoped for the festival to “extend and expand, through the support of the local government, and make more films. Hopefully, we can present other stories, not just about Rizal but of other heroes. It’s hard to sell historical films or films related to heroes but this is one great way to popularize their works and noble deeds.”
The festival coincided with the second Buhayani: Buhay ng Bayani, Buhay na Bayani Festival, which concluded on June 19 and was organized by the office of Calamba Mayor Marc Justin Chipeco.
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