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Young director learns, shows that heroism is no kid stuff

/ 07:25 PM January 29, 2012

Budding filmmaker Krizzie L. Syfu confesses that she’s always had a soft spot for children.

“That’s why I enjoyed working with the 12 child actors in my debut film,” Syfu says of Tahanan, one of three movies included in the Bigshot film festival, SM’s first-ever search for student filmmakers.

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Apart from Syfu’s Tahanan, the two other films in the fest are Bianca Catbagan and Jono de Rivera’s Suntok sa Buwan and De Rivera, Archie Dimaculangan and Franne Cheska Ramos’ Balang Araw.

The digital film fest’s theme of “Modern Heroes” inspired Syfu to make a movie that redefines popular notions of selflessness, family and a happy home.

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“Family will always make us feel safe,” she asserts. “And family isn’t necessarily people we are associated with by blood, but those who we love and who love us.”

She explains that, through her film, she wants to show that “even an average person can be a hero. Heroism isn’t limited to great acts of nation-building.”

Simple, random acts of kindness can qualify as heroism, too.

Close to home

“The Virlanie Foundation’s Gabay Buhay Home is near the house I grew up in,” she recounts. “Virlanie houses street children and gives them a chance to go to school and live a better life. I realized that I had to write about something that’s very close to my heart.”

Tahanan, she relates, is the story of a once-sheltered student (Lauren Young) whose eyes are opened after volunteering in an orphanage.

Since the film tells the stories of abandoned and orphaned children, Syfu had to cast in pivotal roles actors aged 6 to 12.

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Early cut-off

Working with a such a youthful cast posed unique challenges for the neophyte director, a Communication Arts and Marketing Management student at De La Salle University.

(She also took up an intensive filmmaking course at the New York Film Academy.)

“Our young actors had an early cut-off. They couldn’t work too late,” she says.

Most of the time, she shot on weekends. But when push came to shove, she was forced to ask the schools for more time with the kids. “We talked to their teachers and principals so that some of the kids would be allowed to shoot on schooldays.”

The children’s tight schedule allowed Syfu to hone her creativity, too. “Whenever needed, I revised scenes on the spot, usually when some of the children were unavailable. I wanted the kids to be as comfortable as possible on the set.”

Little pros

All told, she was awed by the kids’ professionalism. (One of them, Khen Aldovino, says he wanted to be part of the film because becoming a performer has always been his dream.)

Syfu also had the chance to work with veteran actor Mark Gil. “Considering that I’m just a student, it was hard to demand certain things from the pros … but it felt like a genuine collaboration in the end. It wasn’t difficult at all because they really got into their characters.”

The festival is ongoing at five SM malls—Manila, Megamall, North EDSA, Mall of Asia and Cebu—until Tuesday. SM plans to screen the films in different schools and cities nationwide in the next two years.

E-mail [email protected]

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TAGS: cinema, Entertainment, Film, Filmmaker, Krizzie L. Syfu, Tahanan
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