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3 awards for PH cyberbullying drama in France

/ 12:05 AM February 22, 2020
Jansen Magpusao in “John Denver Trending”

Jansen Magpusao in “John Denver Trending”

“This only proves that our subject is universal,” said Arden Rod Condez on his debut film “John Denver Trending” bagging its first international trophies at the 26th Festival International des Cinemas d’Asie de Vesoul in France.

The film, a cautionary tale on cyberbullying, was given the Special Jury Prize ex-aequo, the Critics Award, and the Audience Award for a Fiction Film during the awards ceremony that Condez attended on Wednesday.

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“We’re happy to have been given the awards. I was happy with one, but they gave us two more. It was very rare for the festival to do this,” Condez told Inquirer Entertainment on Wednesday night (Manila time). “This is special because this is our first outside the country.”

Condez pointed out that the Vesoul victory for “John Denver Trending” proved that “the misuse of social media is indeed a worldwide concern.”

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From left: Director Arden Rod Condez, Meryll Soriano and Magpusao

From left: Director Arden Rod Condez, Meryll Soriano and Magpusao

The film tells the story of a high-schooler (Jansen Magpusao) who finds himself the target of a social media witch hunt as a video featuring him beating up a schoolmate goes viral. He is accused of stealing the iPad of this schoolmate.

While bringing home three major awards was important, the experience was also “very exciting” for its producer, Sonny Calvento. He explained that “the most exciting part is the possibility of screening the film to high school students in France. An education official saw the film, and he is now pushing for this to happen.”

Calvento added: “As a producer, I hope this happens. I have always believed that the film has an important message, especially to students and educators, not just in the Philippines, but all over the world.”For Condez, the trip to Vesoul was fun because “some of my kababayan (in Pandan, Antique) went from Switzerland and Austria to attend one of our screenings. One of them was my godmother, who I had not seen for years,” he said.

Condez found it amusing that during the Q&A section of the screening, “people still asked where the missing iPad is. There were also those who shared their experience about social media and cyberbullying.”

The director also reported that “cyberbullying is also a hot topic to the French because one of their politicians running for mayor in Paris has a sex scandal. Also, the organizers scheduled a talk for me with a high school class. The kids asked about filmmaking and the Philippines. I then made them try eating dried mangoes,” he said, laughing.

Calvento said “John Denver Trending” will be competing at the 2020 CinemAsia Film Festival in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, from March 5 to 9. It will also be under the Netpac Winners Section of the 2020 Bengaluru International Film Festival in Kamataka, India, from Feb. 26 to March 4.

Back home, the film is currently touring schools, each with talkback sessions with guidance counselors and psychologists, Calvento reported. It will also be participating in this year’s Cinema Rehiyon Film Festival in Naga City from Feb. 24 to 29.

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TAGS: Arden Rod Condez, Indie Bravo!, Jansen Magpusao, John Denver, John Denver Trending, Meryll Soriano
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