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Significant triumphs mark Inquirer Indie Bravo! Awards’ 10-year milestone

/ 12:05 AM December 08, 2019

Conclusion

It’s been a decade since the Inquirer Indie Bravo! Awards began honoring the triumphs of local filmmakers, actors and other film practitioners. On its 10th year, the Inquirer and its Entertainment section reiterate their support for award-winning artists with brave and bold ideas who continue to tell the Filipino story everywhere their films go. It’s a celebration, not a competition.

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Here are more of Indie Bravo’s awardees this year:

DIRECTORS

FEATURED STORIES

DENISE O’HARA

Filmmaker Denise O’Hara isn’t just happy to see her vision brought to life on the big screen; she’s just as pleased finding an audience that understands it.O’Hara’s directorial debut film “Mamang,” which premiered at the Cinemalaya film fest last year, won best feature film at the 17th Dhaka International Film Festival in Bangladesh.“I’m very happy that we were able to connect with an audience,” O’ Hara told the Inquirer upon learning of her win in Dhaka. “As a first-time female filmmaker, it’s very important for me to know that I was able to tell the story effectively, and that within that running time, I was able to make an audience empathize with our characters.”“Mamang,” starring Celeste Legaspi and Ketchup Eusebio, is about an old woman’s struggle against senility and her desire to be with her son.

“Empathy has always been at the core of this film,” the filmmaker added. “This award means that we are in the right direction.”
Last month, O’Hara helmed her sophomore film “Tayo Muna Habang Hindi Pa Tayo,” starring Jane Oineza and JC Santos, an entry in the 15th edition of the Cinema One Originals Film Festival.—RITO P. ASILO

KHAVN DELA CRUZ

For multihyphenate artist Khavn dela Cruz, filmmaking shouldn’t be a competition.

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“There should be no need for winning in the arts,” the director-musician was quoted as saying in a 2016 Inquirer interview.

“Awards condition people into thinking that art is a competition, that good cinema is prize-winning … that a filmmaker must win an award or two to be considered finance-worthy,” said Dela Cruz, whose movie “Balangiga: Howling Wilderness” won the Special Jury Prize at the 5th Bangkok Asean Film Festival in Thailand.

Meanwhile, in a 2013 interview, he pointed out that “independence is borne out of frustration and anarchy” … from “upsetting the apple cart.” “You call your cinema independent? First, tell me what your cinema is revolting against,” he said.—ALLAN POLICARPIO

BARBARA MIGUEL

Because Barbara Miguel doesn’t believe that her portrayals are good enough, she has never considered attending international festivals that showcased her films.

This year, she won best supporting actress at the Asean International Film Festival and Awards in Sarawak, Malaysia for her performance in the film “1-2-3.” And she’s kind of regretting not going.

“I have never accepted any of my international awards personally. We never really thought about going abroad, because I don’t have any expectations of winning. ‘Gastos lang,’ I would tell myself. But now I’m wishing I went,” she said.

Still, she’s thankful for the recognition. “I just got a call telling me I won. I was so surprised because I didn’t know that our film is still being entered in different competitions,” related Miguel, a two-time Indie Bravo! honoree.

Miguel, who was last seen in the GMA 7 drama series “My Special Tatay” said she felt fortunate that God gave her the acting talent and platform to show the realities Filipinos face to international audiences.

“Although I don’t get noticed as much here in our country, I’m proud that my efforts are being recognized abroad,” she said. —ALLAN POLICARPIO

DANTE RIVERO

“You don’t buy trophies. You get them because you inspire other people.”

This was actor Dante Rivero’s response to his grandson, who once asked him why he “buys” so many trophies and what does he do with all of them.

“I told him that I keep all the trophies because they are reminders that people appreciate what I do. My apo then said he would also want to have one for himself one day,” recalled Rivero.

His latest trophy was from the Inquirer, handed to him during the recent Indie Bravo! awards show, for his performance in Carlo Enciso Catu’s “Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon,” which earned for him a best actor honor at the 52nd Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival in Texas, USA.

“I consider awards as inspiration. Like my grandson, they inspire me to work harder and improve on my craft,” declared Rivero. “That’s the effect of getting a trophy. The feeling never changes no matter how many times I go up the stage to get one.”

Working on “Dapithapon” has renewed Rivero’s passion and dedication to acting, he said. “The role is tailor-made for me,” he beamed. “I remember when Direk Carlo first showed me the script. He said the budget wasn’t too big but I should really read it first; and because I’m a director myself, I knew early on the message that the story wanted to convey. I said it was beautiful, I liked it.”

According to Rivero, it is about an old man named Benedicto, who is ill and is merely waiting for his death. “It was at this point when he realizes that he needs more time because he still has so many things to do. I like the story because it teaches the audience, especially those who are older, that time is always not enough and that one should always make the most of it,” he explained.

Rivero is currently working on the sequel of the action flick “OTJ,” with Erik Matti at the helm. “It’s a politically charged film,” Rivero shared. “I’m playing a bad character, which I enjoy. When people react to my character, even though negatively, that means my acting is effective.” —MARINEL R. CRUZ

PRODUCTION TEAM

MAC COSICO

“I was so nervous because I think this was the first time I got up onstage to receive an award,” admitted Mac Cosico, who won best cinematography at the Festival Internacional de Cinema da Figueira da Foz in Coimbra, Portugal for “Musmos na Sumibol sa Gubat ng Digma.”

The win was a big surprise, Cosico said, because he wasn’t even aware that the film was entered to the said festival.

“I wasn’t expecting anything. I did my work and moved on,” Cosico related. “I actually found out about my win only when someone tagged me about it on Facebook. I had no idea it was in competition.”

This achievement is particularly special for Cosico because he still considers himself as a “newbie.” “Winning an award for my first film abroad is surreal,” he said. “Solid!”

The award, he jested, doesn’t make him any more confident about his skills. “It’s an affirmation and I’m proud of it, of course. I get nervous all the time,” he said, adding that he’s hoping to land more movie projects in the future.

“Right now, I’m doing more television work, so I hope I get to work on another film soon,” he said. —ALLAN POLICARPIO

ERIC RAMOS

For screenwriter Eric Ramos, the success of “Rainbow’s Sunset” was all in the timing.

“People would tell me that if we hadn’t done the movie last year, we probably would not have done it anymore,” he told Inquirer Entertainment during the recent Indie Bravo! awards. “It’s the only time we could have done it considering the age and (health) conditions of our two lead actors.”

Both the film’s lead actors, Eddie Garcia and Tony Mabesa, died this year—less than a year after the movie was released.

Garcia played Ramon, a retired senator who decides to leave his family to take care of his true love—his childhood friend Fredy (Mabesa), who’s dying of cancer.

“It’s just remarkable to have a movie like this, to be able to work with these two great actors,” Ramos said.

He dedicates his win to Garcia and Mabesa, legends of Philippine cinema and Philippine theater, respectively.

“Makasama ko lang sila is such an honor,” he said, noting that this was Mabesa’s first win for his work in the movies.

Ramos was beyond thrilled when he learned he won his first international award, the Golden Remi Award for best story innovation at the 52nd

Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival.

“I’ve always wondered when I would be chosen and be deemed worthy,” he exclaimed. —BELLE BONDOC-ROBERTO

RODY VERA

It’s not all the time that you get nominated in festivals abroad, according to prize-winning writer Rody Vera.

“Mostly, categories for acting, directing and best film are in the spotlight, not screenplay, so I was shocked when they said that there’s a best-in-screenplay category,” he told Inquirer Entertainment.

“It is very seldom that they give out awards for best in screenplay unless pang-Oscars ka,” Vera laughed.

He said how thrilled and honored he was to receive the international award for Best in Script for “Signal Rock” in the 17th Dhaka International Film
Festival in Bangladesh.

“When the film was first screened, I was very excited. I told myself, ay mananalo ito. True enough, the film won in the Asean International Film
Festival,” he said.

The movie was also the Philippine entry in the best foreign language film category of this year’s Academy Awards.

“Signal Rock” tells the story of a small-town lad (Christian Bables) who went to the city to help his sister, whose marriage to a foreigner has turned toxic.

Director Chito Roño described the movie as a “passion project, a deeply personal film.”—BELLE BONDOC-ROBERTO

MILESTONES

EDDIE GARCIA AND TONY MABESA

Film legend Eddie Garcia and theater stalwart Tony Mabesa were joint winners in the best actor category at the 52nd Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival in Texas last April for portraying bestfriends- turned-lovers in Joel Lamangan’s gender-bending drama, “Rainbow’s Sunset.” They also won awards at the 2018 Metro Manila Film Festival for the same film, where Mabesa was adjudged best supporting actor and Garcia handed a special jury prize.

Mabesa, who was in Houston to pick up his award, told the Inquirer in an earlier interview, “It was such a great honor to be recognized at the
third oldest film festival in the US, where more than 72 countries participated. It’s also a big honor for the Philippines.”

Asked how it felt like to be sharing the award with Garcia, he pointed out, “Eddie deserves the award. He is the major protagonist in the film. We were all, in a sense, reacting to Eddie’s character.”

For his part, Garcia, who won best actor awards at the Asia-Pacific Film Festival and the Asian Film Awards for his performance in “Bwakaw,”
earlier told the Inquirer that awards are just icing on a delectable cake.

Last year, he won best actor trophies for his performances in three films: “Hintayan ng Langit” (at QCinema), “ML” (Cinemalaya) and “Rainbow’s
Sunset” (Metro Manila Film Festival).

Putting all his accolades in perspective, he told the Inquirer: “To me, moviemaking is just a job that should be taken seriously. Whatever role is assigned to you, you have to do it well, because it is the best recommendation for the next project. As an actor, I’m not very choosy. If the role is
good, it doesn’t matter how long the character’s screen time is.”

Garcia has been winning awards since 1957’s “Taga sa Bato” and 1958’s “Condenado,” and is best remembered for his portrayals in, among others,
“Tubog sa Ginto,” “Deathrow,” “ICU Bed #7” and “Bwakaw.” He is just as celebrated as a director (“Atsay,” “Pinagbuklod ng Langit,” “Sinasamba Kita,” “Magdusa Ka,” “Saan Nagtatago ang Pag-ibig?” and those teenage romances starring Sharon Cuneta).

But Mabesa and Garcia’s shared victory in Texas is bittersweet: The 90-year-old Garcia died in an on-set accident last June 20, while Mabesa passed away on Oct. 4 at age 84. —RITO P. ASILO

KRISTOFER KING

Kristofer King won best actor last May at the Asean International Film Festival and Awards (Aiffa) in Malaysia, for his searing performance
in director Howard Yambao’s “Kristo.” But the actor passed away in February at age 36, after he was rushed to a hospital in Manila.

Cannes-winning Filipino auteur Brillante Ma Mendoza calls King “my best actor,” having directed him in such films as “Ma’ Rosa” and “Serbis.”

“The [Aiffa] award celebrates Kristofer King’s legacy as an actor,” said director Howard Yambao, who accepted the trophy for the late actor in Sarawak, Malaysia.

Yambao calls King “a diamond in the rough,” an acknowledgment of the actor’s “immense talent and dedication to his craft.” He said he could not help but get emotional as he accepted the award on King’s behalf.

“I’ve known King for a long time, even before I became a filmmaker,” the director mused. “He was considered an underrated actor, but he was one of the country’s best. When you tell Kristofer that he was a good actor, he would just brush it off with a smile. And now, wherever he may be, I know he is smiling. And this is also to inspire Filipino actors to continue working hard on their craft.” —RITO P. ASILO

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