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Starting young

/ 12:36 AM February 08, 2012

In this age of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, a Filipino teenager sought to put his message across in a traditional (if antiquated) medium for his peers: short film.

Still, 18-year-old Lance Katigbak harnessed new media, through his own blog (http://directedbylance.wordpress.com) and YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/DirectedByLance), to spread the word about his award-winning short.

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“Fine Dining,” which won the people’s choice honor at the Manhattan International Film Festival in New York, bested entries from the United Kingdom, India, Belgium, United States, among other countries.

“Filmmaking is the best way to tell a story,” he told the Inquirer in an e-mail interview shortly after the victory.

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He encourages other young people to pick up a camera. “If a young person wants to reach out and touch lives, try filmmaking.”

His own journey started early.

“Making movies was always something I enjoyed back in high school,” he recalled. “One summer, I took a workshop under Jill Ramos, a product of the New York Film Academy and a professor at Assumption College.”

He had such a grand time at the workshop that he decided “to be a filmmaker for the rest of my life.”

The idea for “Fine Dining” hit him, quite oddly enough, while eating in a posh restaurant.

“I noticed the fancy setting and thought of recreating the same elaborate set-up, but using plastic utensils and instant noodles instead,” he recounted. “I told my mom about the concept and we soon ended up drafting a rough story line.”

Simple goal

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He had a simple goal in telling this particular story.

“I wanted to show an example of human dignity in an environment that seemed almost contradictory,” he noted. “I think it’s important for people to remember that we are human. It’s up to us to live and love as humans.”

As luck would have it, the World Youth Alliance sponsored a festival that espoused the same values and advocacy as Katigbak’s five-minute film.

“A friend informed me about the competition on films about human dignity,” he related.

After learning that he had made the final cut, he rushed his US visa application so that he could attend the fest. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It was amazing.”

He got to interact with artists from all over the world, attend a master class with Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Zanussi and, to top it off, he brought home a prize. He considers the award “a great affirmation.”

As bonus, “Fine Dining” will be screened at a cultural event, to be held at the United Nations head office in New York in April, he reported.

“I really just want more people to see the film,” he said. “It would be wonderful if it went viral on the Net. It currently has 26,000 views on YouTube. I hope to hit 100,000 soon. I also plan to enter a couple more film fests.”

In the works is another short film, he volunteered. “Maybe it’ll be a bit longer this time. I also hope to join the Cinemalaya fest next year with my cousin Michael.”

He dreams of expanding his art as well. “I want to make a full-length feature film, too … although I don’t know when I’ll have time for that.”

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TAGS: “Fine Dining, ” people’s choice honor, Lance Katigbak, Manhattan International Film Festival, New York City
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