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Maranao filmmakers have many stories to tell about Mindanao

/ 09:21 PM July 06, 2011

YOUNG BLOOD (From left) Najib Zacaria, Sittie Dicali and Doss Pacasum won Sineng Pambansa’s first short film competition. BAYANI SAN DIEGO JR.

MARAWI—For the first time, Sineng Pambansa included a short film competition in its program. It was propitious that the inaugural tilt (with the theme “Peace Is…”) was held in this Lanao del Sur city, home of Mindanao State University (MSU), last week.

Three young Maranaos, all from MSU and all in their 20s, competed: Doss Lucman Pacasum (with “Renek” or “To Be at Peace”), Najib Alyhar Benito Zacaria (“Margas” or “Rice”) and Sittie Ayeesha Dicali (“Pagari” or “Brothers”). “Margas” emerged as winner; “Renek” and “Pagari” sharing second honors.

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They are the future, not only of regional cinema, but of indie filmmaking, declared Briccio Santos, head of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP).

The jury, led by Venice film fest consultant  Paolo Bertolin, hailed “Margas” for its “immediacy and straightforwardness.” “Renek” and “Pagari” were commended for “technical achievement” and “thematic development,” respectively.

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Cultural counselor Christian Merer of the French embassy, also a jury member, lauded the winners: “They all have something to say … they are passionate about the craft.”

The governor’s wife, Raifa R. Adiong “encouraged and challenged” the youth to come up with more films.

In an interview with Inquirer Entertainment, Zacaria, Pacasum and Dicali said  they had no formal training in filmmaking. Zacaria is a management graduate; Pacasum is on his third year in international relations; Dicali is on her fourth year in zoology.

Pacasum’s producer and scriptwriter Abdul Ghaffur Mitmug is taking his master’s in nursing, also at MSU.

DIRECTOR Emman de la Cruz  helps Venice Film Festival consultant Paolo Bertolin into a malong at the party after the awards. BAYANI SAN DIEGO JR.

DIRECTOR Emman de la Cruz helps Venice Film Festival consultant Paolo Bertolin into a malong at the party after the awards. BAYANI SAN DIEGO JR.

It was the filmmakers’ first time to watch the indies shown at Sineng Pambansa’s Lanao leg. Mitmug said “it was cool to watch films with different concepts.”

Dicali noted, “There are no movie houses in Marawi. We can watch only mainstream movies on DVD or download clips from YouTube.” She learned editing online, she said.

Zacaria was an activist in school—a member of the Free the Bangsamoro Movement. “I want to show to the whole world what’s happening in Mindanao,” he said.

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Misconceptions

There are a lot of misconceptions about the region in mainstream media, the three agreed. “In the past, the Mindanao story was told by outsiders,” Dicali said. “It’s about time we told our stories.”

A movie buff and bassist of the local band OC, Pacasum has done music videos. “But making films is serious business,” he said, adding that he was hesitant to approach relatives for financial aid, because “they might laugh at me.” A few helped out, nonetheless.

The three winners valued their interactions with Manila-based filmmakers led by Cannes winner Brillante Mendoza, who flew in for the fest. They attended a lecture of young indie director Sherad Anthony Sanchez, who discussed the appropriation of Mindanao culture in cinema.

“This is only the beginning,” said Santos. “We plan to bring more workshops to the provinces.”

In his acceptance speech at the awards ceremony in Marawi Resorts Hotel, Zacaria revealed that he and his family had just fallen victim again to “criminality,” the main issue tackled in his film. As Bertolin pointed out, these young filmmakers know only too well the “harsh realities” depicted in their works.

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TAGS: Cinemas, Entertainment, films, Maranao, Mindanao, Sineng Pambansa
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