Ferdy Lapuz given retrospective, lifetime achievement award in Portugal
Film producer Ferdinand “Ferdy” Lapuz has been given a lifetime achievement award at the recently concluded 2023 Fantasporto International Film Festival (IFF) in Porto, Portugal, where he was also honored with a retrospective of some of the most celebrated films he helped produce.
The festival’s 43rd edition ran from Feb. 25 to March 5.
“I didn’t expect the award. I only knew that I’d be receiving a citation because of the retrospective. I didn’t have any hint of it until a few minutes before the program when one of the festival organizers told me, ‘You better have extra space on your luggage because you’ll be taking home the last award,’” the Pampanga-based Lapuz told Inquirer Entertainment by phone days after he arrived home. “I later realized that the last three trophies that night were for lifetime achievement awards. I was really surprised. The first thing I thought was, ‘Pinagreretiro na yata ako nito!’ My guess was that it was because of my relationship with the festival that started more than 10 years ago. They deemed it proper to give me this award, para matigil na daw ako,” Lapuz quipped.
Lapuz said it was his first time to be given such an award, called Premio Carreira 2023. “It’s rare that producers get such a tribute, which is usually handed to directors and actors. I could be wrong, but I think this is the first of its kind. In the Philippines, I have yet to hear of a festival that honors producers,” he pointed out.
The following are the films included in Lapuz’s retrospective: Eduardo Roy Jr.’s “Bahay Bata,” Jun Robles Lana’s “Bwakaw,” Jeffrey Jeturian’s “Ekstra,” Jason Paul Laxamana’s “Magkakabaung,” Carlo Enciso Catu’s “Ari: My Life With a King,” Louie Ignacio’s “Area,” Joseph Israel Laban’s “Baconaua,” Perci Intalan’s “Distance,” Joel Lamangan’s “Rainbow’s Sunset” and Joji Alonso’s “Belle Douleur.”
Helping young filmmakers
Lapuz also participated in a producers’ talk with American filmmaker-actor John Landis (“An American Werewolf in London”), who is incidentally a member of the festival’s jury this year, he reported.
Lapuz said that, these days, he is considering laying low from film production and focusing only on handling the careers of his artists, such as Dolly de Leon (local bookings only), Sue Prado, Teri Malvar, Elora Espano, Timothy Castillo and Angeli Nicole Sanoy, among others.
“But to help young filmmakers get engagements in international film festivals will remain an advocacy,” declared Lapuz, who paved the way for then-first-time filmmakers, such as Brillante Ma. Mendoza (“Masahista”), Auraeus Solito (“Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros”), Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil (“Mga Pusang Gala”), Francis Pasion (“Jay”) and Mike Sandejas (“Tulad ng Dati”) to join A-list international film festivals.
Lapuz’s first film production gig was actually with Mendoza’s “Manoro,” which was released in 2006. “But the first filmmaker who credited me as a producer was Cris Pablo for ‘Duda’ (2003), because I was able to bring the film to different festivals around the world. The first film I helped bring abroad was Mario O’Hara’s “Babae sa Breakwater” (2003) and Maryo J. delos Reyes’ “Magnifico” (2003),” said Lapuz when asked to recall his humble beginnings.
One of the films he considered a milestone in his 20-year career is Mendoza’s “Masahista,” which won the 2005 Golden Leopard award at the Locarno IFF in Switzerland. Mendoza’s other film, “Kinatay,” is also significant because it won the best director award at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival in France. His “Lola,” starring the late Anita Linda, is also important because it competed at the Venice Film Festival’s main competition category, making Mendoza the first Filipino filmmaker to compete in two A-list film fests in one year.
Another milestone is Jun Robles Lana’s “Bwakaw,” starring the late Eddie Garcia. “It was my first time working with Direk Jun. The film became our Oscar representative that year. It was bought by (the Dutch production company) Fortissimo Films for distribution, and it participated at the New York IFF in 2012. This festival is so picky. It only gets 20 films in its slate per year,” Lapuz beamed.
“Ekstra,” starring Vilma Santos, is also special to Lapuz because it was a concept that he pitched to director Jeturian. “When I left production work, I became a talent supplier. Just like in the movie, we would ride a van from Angeles, Pampanga, all the way to Manila. This particular sector of our industry is really rich in interesting stories.”
Perci Intalan’s debut film, “Dementia,” is memorable to Lapuz because it was his first project with lead actress Nora Aunor; while Ignacio’s “Area,” about the misadventures of an aging prostitute, is a concept Lapuz thought of back when he was still in high school.
When asked to share his aspiration for the industry, Lapus said: “I wish for an Oscar award for us. I really thought we’d finally have one through Dolly. It’s fine. We still cannot disregard what she did for the industry. She helped make people know about the Filipino talent, as well as opened so many doors for us.”