Vets, fresh talents shine at CineFilipino awards
Actors are a very insecure lot,” confessed Jaime Fabregas, who won best actor, his first top plum after over four decades in the industry, at the recently concluded CineFilipino Film Festival.
Although he had amassed several trophies (for best supporting actor and best musical score), he surmised that winning best actor for Therese Cayaba’s “Delia & Sammy” could probably be the last time he would go up the podium.
So he took the opportunity to speak on matters close to his heart—specifically, the troubling state of our nation.
He asserted that “in a time of fake news,” the role of the artist becomes all the more crucial. “It is our duty as actors, writers, musicians to always strive to tell the truth,” he told the Inquirer during the awards show held at the Kia Theatre in Quezon City last Saturday. He shared the victory with fellow “truth-seekers.”
Another seasoned thespian, Rosemarie Gil, Fabregas’ Delia in “Delia & Sammy,” bagged the best actress award. Since the veteran actress was in the United States, daughter Cherie Gil accepted the trophy in her stead.
The elder Gil “couldn’t believe” that she had won. In a Viber message, she relayed that she was thankful and was dedicating her win to her children (Michael, Cherie, Marnie and the late Mark) whom “I love very much.”
The last time Gil won was 41 years ago, for best supporting actress, for her work in “Burlesk Queen,” at the 1977 Metro Manila Film Festival.
Relatively younger actors excelled in the supporting categories: Nico Antonio (“Delia & Sammy”) and Ritz Azul (“Mata Tapang”).
First-time winner Antonio related that collaborating with such experienced actors as Gil and Fabregas had taught him valuable lessons in “humility.” “Whatever happens, whether you win or lose, be humble. Focus on your craft. And, at the end of the day, camaraderie is the true measure of success.”
Azul, another first-time honoree, told the Inquirer in a text message that she got “shocked” upon hearing the good news. “I didn’t expect anything. Being part of the film and the festival was a huge enough honor for me. So winning is a bonus!”
Best ensemble was bestowed on the cast of Dwein Baltazar’s “Gusto Kita With All My Hypothalamus,” led by newcomer Iana Bernardez, daughter of 2013 CineFilipino best supporting actress Angel Aquino.
Bernardez quipped: “When I finally saw the film, I realized how good they all were.” During the shoot, she never got to see their scenes without her character, she recounted. “I felt I was learning from them as I watched the film. Everyone’s performance made a significant impact on the movie.”
The three best picture winners divided most of the awards.
Best film winner, Alec Figuracion’s “The Eternity Between Seconds,” brought home the best director and editing (for Figuracion), cinematography (Rommel Sales) and sound design (Junel Valencia) prizes.
Figuracion admitted that his film’s triumph was “unexpected.” “But the whole team is grateful because we all worked hard on this film.”
The newly minted best director said that “Eternity” lead stars TJ Trinidad and Yeng Constantino were “very happy for, and proud of, the entire production.” “I thank them both for their patience and for giving their all to this film, in spite of our extreme shoot in Korea,” he volunteered. They worked, from morning to night, in a bustling airport in Incheon for seven days.
Apart from best ensemble, second best film “Hypothalamus” also scored best production design (Marxie Maolen Fadul) and music (Myka Magsaysay-Sigua and Paul Sigua).
Third best film, “Delia & Sammy,” swept three of four honors in the acting derby. Meanwhile, best screenplay went to Alpha Habon for “Mga Mister ni Rosario.”
Onstage, Cherie Gil gave a rousing shout out to the two female filmmakers, Baltazar and Cayaba, who had topped the third edition of the tilt. Cayaba recalled that other fests had rejected her script countless times. Baltazar reminisced that it had taken seven years before her script made it to the big screen.
Head of competition Jose Javier Reyes noted that “stronger female voices,” with their “passion projects,” resonated during the weeklong fest.
Madonna Tarrayo, festival director, remarked: “It is very telling as to the type of viewers festivals usually have. That’s why it’s important to have a film for every kind of audience.”
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