‘Neomanila’ actor, Laude docu win in LA fest
The Philippines scored two major awards at the recent 34th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, held in Southern California.
Timothy Castillo won best actor for Mikhail Red’s “Neomanila” in the international narrative feature competition, while PJ Raval’s “Call Her Ganda” won the grand jury prize for outstanding North American documentary feature.
The 23-year-old actor told the Inquirer: “I am speechless. Representing ‘Neomanila’ and Filipino films abroad gives me so much joy. I hope that this honor inspires other indie film actors to do their best in helping great Filipino filmmakers tell their stories here and abroad.”
On the fest’s website, critic Jeremy Gaudette describes Red’s film as a “noir-infused explosive thriller” and the filmmaker as “one of the most exciting young voices in Filipino cinema.”
Gaudette explains that Red’s “gripping” film, his follow-up to the critically acclaimed “Birdshot,” “takes an unwavering look at the people caught in the government’s” war on drugs.
Meanwhile, Raval is elated that “Call Her Ganda,” his documentary on the death of transgender Jennifer Laude at the hands of an American marine, has bagged the top prize in its category.
“It’s a huge honor,” Raval told the Inquirer. “To be awarded among such great company is humbling.” He is thankful for the opportunity to share the film with the fest’s viewers.
“At the screening, one person stood up and said the film is not just about Jennifer, but also tells the story of the Filipino people. We’re honored to receive this award because recognizing this film is also honoring Jennifer and those fighting tirelessly under her name,” Raval remarked.
On the fest’s website, Gaudette sums up Raval’s documentary as “powerful … a harrowing yet hopeful story. It shows how deeply embedded racial bias and [the United States’] own foreign policy coalesce into staggering human rights issues that can no longer be overlooked.”
Other Filipino productions in the festival are three short films—Kaj Palanca and Jared Joven’s “Contestant #4,” Odin B. Fernandez’s “The Duwende” (Australia-Philippines) and Mary Evangelista’s “Your Mother”—and a documentary, Aditya Thayi’s “Prison Food” (Indonesia-Philippines).
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