8 student shorts receive grant from Manila film fest

8 student shorts receive grant from Manila film fest

/ 12:10 AM May 30, 2024

8 student shorts receive grant from Manila film fest

Student short filmmakers (from left) Vhan Marco Molacruz, Cedrick Labadia, John Pistol Carmen, Ronnie Ramos, Joyce Ramos, Miko Biong, Charlie Garcia Vitug and Adrian Renz Espino —MARINEL CRUZ

To spark curiosity and ignite passion in our youth,” said academician Ed Cabagnot when asked to identify the goal of The Manila Film Festival (TMFF) 2024, for which he currently serves as director and consultant.

This year’s edition of TMFF, which carries the theme “Manila in Me,” features eight student short filmmakers who each received a cash grant of P150,000 from the local government of Manila. They were picked from 100 hopefuls from different schools around the country.


The festival has also invited four “respected young filmmakers to create short films alongside the student entries,” Cabagnot reported during a recent media gathering held at the Manila City Hall.


The four professional filmmakers, whose short films will be produced by the entertainment production studio Anima are Pepe Diokno with “Lumang Tugtugin,” Sigrid Andrea Bernardo with “May at Nila,” Dwein Baltazar with “Nananahan,” and JP Habac with “Shortest Day, Longest Night.”

“I may not be part of the selection committee, but I was there to witness the students’ pitches. I was surprised when I noticed that there was just one thing on their minds—the desire to tell their stories,” said Cabagnot, who is also one of the founding members of the annual Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival.

“The strongest thing for me was their sincerity. Now that they’re part of the lineup, I hope they will stay humble and not let this get to their heads. And since these will be touring schools around Manila, I hope they spark curiosity in others, encourage others to create better films. That’s how it’s always been, right? You see something, you get inspired and aspire to come up with something better,” Cabagnot pointed out.

Joyce Ramos, from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, will compete with seven others under the Short Form category with “An Kuan.” Ramos explains that “it is about a mother and her queer daughter, and the former’s quest to find a ‘silent’ job, or work that does not require her to speak since she has just transferred to Manila and cannot speak fluent Tagalog just yet.”

READ‘About Us But Not About Us’ wins big at 1st Summer Metro Manila filmfest

Ed Cabagnot, The Manila Film Festival director and consultant

Ed Cabagnot, The Manila Film Festival director and consultant —CONTRIBUTED photo



‘Reclaiming one’s youth’

“Bahay, Baboy, Bagyo,” by Miko Biong (UP Film Institute), is about two young boys named Kulas and Gabo. “The boys are enjoying childhood within their small community, but since it is under the threat of demolition, it creates a threat in their relationship,” he said.

“Ballad of a Blind Man,” by Charlie Garcia Vitug (De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde), is about a young girl who tends to her father who’s starting to go blind. Vitug said, “It’s all about reclaiming one’s youth … about the blind man’s daughter and reclaiming her freedom.”

“Ditas Pinamalas,” by Adrian Espino (Adamson University), is about one’s experience with having either good or bad luck. “That had been my experience in making this film, as well. Since I was young, I believed that if you get rewarded, you are lucky; and if you fail to get what you aspire for, then you’re unlucky,” explained Adrian.

“Happy (M)other’s Day,” by Ronnie Ramos (UP Film Institute), tells the story of an elementary student who encounters a big problem in school. “Her predicament is figuring out who to invite to the Mother’s Day celebration because she was raised by two fathers,” Ramos said.

“Pinilakang Tabingi,” by John Pistol Carmen (Bicol University), is about two young boys who are fond of watching Filipino movies. “Since they cannot afford to watch in cinemas, they only watch DVDs, but aren’t aware that these are pirated copies. They’re convinced that the screens inside the cinemas are disproportional and lopsided,” Carmen said.

‘Love is weird’

“Una’t Huling Sakay,” by Marco Molacruz (Colegio de San Juan de Letran Manila), tells the “intersectionality of two habal-habal riders in Manila. It also shows the importance of the values we share with the people around us,” Molavruz said. “This film also examines the relationships of people and places.”

“threefor100: o ang tamang porma ng pag uukay at iba pang mga bagay-bagay, I think,” by Cedrick Labadia (iAcademy), is “essentially a romance film on love,” he pointed out. “It’s about a form of love that only exists in a lonely condition, a love that’s also absurd. Though this love is weird, its main point is that it’s still love.”

Meanwhile, Baltazar’s “Nananahan,” is set in Avenida, her favorite area in Manila. “It’s about a sad old man (Ronnie Lazaro) who works in a thrift shop and the souls that are trapped inside the antique items he’s selling,” she said.

Baltazar (“Oda sa Wala,” “Open”) said she was pleased that TMFF provided her with the opportunity to participate in the festival alongside her colleagues and student filmmakers. “A chance like this is very rare. Personally, it’s like me returning to my festival roots. Here, I will be able to create a project that (unlike her studio-produced films) I will be in full control of. The idea that everything will be my call excites me.”

Kren Yap, who heads Anima’s creative development, said he and the people behind their studio believe in “giving a voice and shining the spotlight on the voiceless, in providing a platform to new filmmakers. This is one of the dreams that we were able to fulfill this year,” he began. “We’re always on the lookout for young filmmakers. Because of this festival, we have eight new voices. Theirs were the stories that we also wanted to tell when we were just starting in the industry. Even if it’s not us who are working actively behind these stories, it feels like the fulfillment of our dreams.”

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The festival will open with screenings at the Metropolitan Theater on June 5 and will have its theatrical run from June 5 to June 11. The Awards Night, where 11 awards will be given, is on June 11.

TAGS: Ed Cabagnot, The Manila Film Festival (TMFF)

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