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Local indies reap five new international awards

/ 12:20 AM May 19, 2021

Elijah Canlas in “Kalel, 15”

Even while battling a pandemic, the past weeks had been hectic for the local indies with five new international awards in the bag, Inquirer Entertainment learned.

The latest award was handed to Elijah Canlas at the 2021 Harlem International Film Festival in New York, for his compelling performance as a teenage HIV-positive patient in Jun Robles Lana’s “Kalel, 15.”

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This is Elijah’s fourth award for the said coming-of-age drama. He won the same at the 17th Rome Asian Film Festival in Italy, and locally from the organizers of the 43rd Gawad Urian and the 2020 Film Academy of Movie Arts and Science (Famas) Awards (tied with the late Kristofer King for “Verdict”).

When asked whether or not it still excites him to receive an acting award for the same project, Elijah answered with the affirmative. “Of course it still does! Winning awards used to be just a dream, and now it’s become a reality. I will never take for granted, especially blessings like these,” he told Inquirer Entertainment over the weekend.

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“I’m really grateful and proud to be part of such an important film. It still surprises me whenever I get recognized for my performance, but I admit I feel an enormous sense of fulfillment after all the hard work and passion the whole team put into making Kalel and his story so engaging and real,” the actor said.

As to which experience while making “Kalel, 15” did he find unforgettable, Elijah said he found it really hard to choose because he has learned so much while doing the film, and still uses these lessons up to this day.

Grateful

“I remember (the late) Tito Eddie Garcia’s last day of shoot. It was his last sequence and I took the opportunity to thank him and tell him how honored I am to be working with him. He chuckled and just shrugged off my giddiness and then proceeded to give me the rules he lived by to gain success and have longevity in this industry,” Elijah recalled.

Elijah added that he was grateful to costar Jaclyn Jose for sharing with him her “process” as an actress. “She also shared stories about her family, children, and experiences in the industry, like her memories when she won the best actress award in Cannes (for Brillante Ma Mendoza’s “Ma’ Rosa”),” said Elijah.

“I will always have so much love for the both of them,” the 20-year-old actor said. “But to be the lead actor in a Jun Robles Lana film, to act alongside this amazing cast, to work with people in the team that I just dreamt of working with before are the memories I’ll never forget. I have formed a bond with them that I will treasure forever.”

“Kalel, 15”—produced by Cignal Entertainment, IdeaFirst Company and Octobertrain Films—might have gotten Elijah critical acclaim, but it was Cairo, his character in the boys’ love series “Gameboys,” that turned him into a household name. Elijah said he doesn’t mind this at all. “It’s an honor to be a part of ‘Gameboys’ as well and it will always hold a special place in my heart,” he declared.

Elijah further said: “You know, I’m very blessed to have been given the chance to portray totally different characters and work with filmmakers who are collaborative and are open to exploring ideas. That’s what’s fun about what we do. That’s why I’m so passionate about it. It gives me excitement and makes me the happiest. There’s still an infinite range of characters out there to portray and I’m excited to explore, delve deeper, and discover more about my craft.”

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Allen Dizon in “Latay”

Meanwhile, Allen Dizon has received the Award of Excellence in Acting from the jurors of the 7th Art Independent Film Festival in Bangalore, India, for his performance in Ralston Jover’s dramatic film “Latay” (Battered Husband). The film, released in 2019, also features Lovi Poe.

Frencheska Farr in “Harana”

Marie Jamora’s short film “Harana,” starring Frenchescka Farr, won the US Narrative Short Competition Prize at the 2021 Sarasota Film Festival in Florida. The film is set in 1995 in Las Vegas, where a homesick cover band singer writes an original song to connect with her daughter who is growing up in the Philippines without her.

Earlier this month, Frencheska won the outstanding dramatic actress award from the Micheax Film Festival in California, for the same film.

Mylene Dizon in “Belle Douleur”

The romantic drama, “Belle Douleur,” directed by Josabeth Alonso, won the awards for best feature and best screenplay at the Red 2021 Red Movie Awards in Reims, France. The May-December romance story features Mylene Dizon and Kit Thompson as leads.

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