3 PH films win awards in international festivals in Romania and US
The dramatic piece “Silip sa Apoy,” which tackles marital abuse and toxic masculinity, won the best director award for McArthur “Mac” Alejandre at the recent 2022 Wallachia International Film Festival in Romania.
The film, starring Sid Lucero, Paolo Gumabao and Angeli Khang, is a peek at the life of an unhappy housewife who finds passionate love from her neighbor. It is written by Ricky Lee.
“Ricky and I were in sync from the concept level. His screenplay is very powerful and was physically, psychologically and emotionally demanding, especially for the actors. Every shooting day was also a test of stamina,” Alejandre told Inquirer Entertainment when asked how challenging it was to be the film’s director.
“Shooting during the pandemic was a challenge. It was December of 2021 and I was very cautious. I didn’t want anyone involved in the film to catch the virus,” he recalled. “Finding the right location was tough. My production designer, Ericson Navarro, found an abandoned building in Pampanga and had the brilliant idea of building the neighborhood set at the rooftop. So the main set where more than half of the film was shot was a creation of our PD and his team.”
Alejandre said there were days when shooting had to be stopped for an hour or two because of the rain. “Water was dripping from the roof. We had pails and basins ready to catch dripping rainwater so that the area wouldn’t get flooded. It was an inconvenience but we learned to have fun while waiting for the rain to stop by singing or eating away the time,” the director shared with Inquirer Entertainment.
Alejandre said work was made easy for him by his brilliant creative team. “Ricky’s screenplay is so powerful that it provided a very clear vision for the film in my mind. I had a definite visual design in mind that Ericson and our DOP (director of photography) Daniel Uy worked on brilliantly,” he said.
He then pointed out that the “graphic sex scenes” found in the movie were representations of abuse and toxic masculinity, which is a major theme of the project. “It was, therefore, essential for the actors to commit to the demands of their roles. We had several talks and meetings on characterization and execution of the scenes. I will always be grateful to our three leads, Angeli, Sid and Paolo for their trust and confidence in me and the material,” Alejandre said.
“Because our vision for the film was clear; because the actors, production staff, and even the editing, sound and music people were all brilliant and dedicated; even though creating ‘Silip sa Apoy’ was too laborious, work wasn’t as difficult as it should have been,” the director pointed out.
Meanwhile, Myra Aquino’s short film “Beauty Queen” won the Jack Larson Southern California Filmmaker Award from the 2022 KCET Fine Cut Festivals of Films held in California, United States, in September.
Aquino said she was surprised and honored to be included with other award winners, and that it will be screening at this year’s Newport Beach Film Festival on Oct. 20.
“Thanks always to the family of Kumander Liwayway and to the cast and crew of ‘Beauty Queen,’” said Aquino, whose film focuses on the true story of Remedios Gomez, a beauty queen-turned-guerilla commander during the Japanese occupation in the 1940s.
“Beauty Queen” was named best film at the 2021 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival.
Dexter Hemedez and Allan Ibañez’s “The Reliever” bagged the best drama short film at the recent 2022 Glendale International Film Festival, also in California.
“The Reliever” is a heartwarming family drama about a Filipino father (Roy Allen) and his Filipino-American son (James Cretan).
On his social media accounts, Hemedez expressed his gratitude to the festival organizers for “putting up a great platform for independent artists and filmmakers around the world… This film is for all the hardworking caregivers and relievers out there who continue to work hard even in the most unfavorable situations,” he shared. INQ