PH drug war film wins in Spain’s A-list fest
A film that tackles the Philippine President’s controversial war on drugs has won an award in an A-list festival in Spain.
The latest movie of Filipino filmmaker Brillante Ma Mendoza, “Alpha, The Right to Kill,” bagged the Special Jury Prize at the recently concluded San Sebastián International Film Festival held last Saturday.
The film, which picks up where the Cannes-winning director’s Netflix/TV5 series “Amo” has left off, topbills Mendoza veterans Allen Dizon as a corrupt cop and Baron Geisler as a drug dealer, and newcomer Elijah Filamor as a police asset.
Geisler, who had just finished a stint in a rehab center in Cebu, told the Inquirer via Facebook Messenger: “I feel that I don’t deserve [this]. I give back the honor to God.”
The Inquirer caught up with Geisler while he was on his way to church on Sunday. “I feel very blessed that I was a part of the ‘Alpha’ project and most especially that He was able to restore me to who I am supposed to be. I am praying to make more relevant and good quality projects with Direk Brillante and his awesome team!”
At the party after the awarding ceremony, Dizon was showered with congratulatory messages from fellow guests. “They kept telling me how good our film was … how amazed they were by Direk Brillante’s treatment,” Dizon recalled. “Nakakatuwa at nakaka-proud.”
Apart from the award, “Alpha” also scored a distribution deal with Paris-based Memento Films, Dizon, who was in Spain, related on Facebook Messenger.
Dizon explained: “This honor inspires me to do more significant films. I vow to work harder in future projects.”
Variety critic Guy Lodge describes “Alpha” as a “rough-hewn slab of social realism … a rumbling, street-pounding drug-war thriller.”
In his Sept. 28 review in the industry bible, Lodge points out: This “atmospheric” film “covers familiar ground, but does so with a potent, purposeful stride. There’s a bone-weary resignation to its world view that underlines its simple moral point all the more effectively.”
According to the fest’s website, the jury is “also free to grant a Special Prize to the film which it considers worthy of receiving the award for any reason.”
San Sebastián’s top award, the Golden Shell, went to “Entre dos aguas (Between Two Waters),” directed by Spain’s Isaki Lacuesta.
According to Instituto Cervantes’ Jose Maria Fons Guardiola, Lacuesta’s films were shown in past editions of the annual Pelicula, the Spanish Film Festival in Manila. “We screened ‘La propera pell’ (2016) last year. Way back in 2010, we presented ‘Los condenados’ (2009) and ‘La leyenda del tiempo’ (2006).”
This is Lacuesta’s second time to top San Sebastián, regarded as the biggest festival in the Spanish-speaking world. He first won the Golden Shell for “Los pasos dobles” in 2011. Guardiola hopes to screen Lacuesta’s latest San Sebastián winner in next year’s Pelicula.
Meanwhile, this year’s Pelicula will be held at Greenbelt 3 Cinemas, from Oct. 4 to 14; Cine Adarna in UP Diliman, from Oct. 15 to 16; and will end at Instituto Cervantes Intramuros on Oct. 20.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.