Archive for November, 2009
Bayani San Diego Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
November 29, 2009
Christopher Gozum, who works as a videographer and editor in an eye hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, won two top prizes in the recent Digital Lokal competition of the Cinemanila International Film Festival. “Anacbanua,” billed as the first Pangasinense film, won for Gozum the Best Director and Lino Brocka Grand Prize trophies. To think he started shooting with only P80,000—his cash prize as the Ishmael Bernal Award winner for “Surreal Random MMS,” an experimental short film he did in last year’s Cinemanila. “I adjusted the story, its style and other production aspects to suit that budget,” said Gozum. “I had to finish shooting in four days.” Lead actress Che Ramos recalled that she worked well with Gozum, though it was their first collaboration. Call time would be set at 2 or 3 a.m., but Ramos didn’t mind. “He worked quickly. He knew what he wanted,” she said. Armed with a Canon HV 30 camera, Gozum captured the varied terrain of Pangasinan before typhoon “Pepeng’s” devastation. “The landscape that defines the province is well-represented—from the Agno River to the Zambales and Cordillera Ranges,” he said. “Anacbanua,” which chronicles the homecoming of a Westernized poet, is told through visuals and Pangasinan poems called anlong. The film also serves as a tribute to Gozum’s late grandmother Marcela Quijalvo, a hilot, or traditional healer. “It’s important to tell this story because it’s a way of reclaiming what we have lost in our consciousness and identities as Pangasinenses,” Gozum said. “Non-Tagalog languages and cultures have been marginalized against the backdrop of a ‘national language.’”
by Philbert Ortiz Dy
October 26, 2009
Cinemanila Awards Night turned out to be a pretty lavish event. Following in the lead of the rather audacious opening, Cinemanila and the city of Taguig put on quite the show at the NBC tent, setting a new tone for the festival as it enters its next decade.
Giselle Sanchez and Albert Martinez hosted the awards night. The show opened with a tribute to the patron saints of Philippine cinema, Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal. The screens in the middle of the stage parted to reveal a string band, playing music from the films of the two masters as scenes flashed on the screens and dancers interpreted the themes. It was actually really well done, and a fine tribute to the filmmakers.
The first awards were for the International Competition. Best actor went to Alfredo Castro for Tony Manero. Tsilla Chelton was named best actress for her role in Pandora’s Box. The Jury Prize went to Sergei Dvortsevoy’s Tulpan, and the Grand Prize went to Steve McQueen’s Hunger.
The awards for the Southeast Asian section all went to Malaysian films. Focal Point won the prize for best short film. Best feature went to Yasmin Ahmad’s Talentime. A special citation was given to Woman on Fire Looks for Water for its sensitive portrayal of relationships across generations. Malaysian cinema has really come into its own in the last few years, and its wins in this competition are a great sign of things to come.
Remton Zuasola ran away with both prizes in the Young Cinema competition, and I have to say, it’s well deserved. Zuasola’s short To Siomai Love was clearly the best film in the section, a masterfully done little story that combined technical proficiency with a genuine grasp of storytelling. Like so many winners of this section, Zuasola came out of nowhere and just dazzled everybody with his film, and hopefully we’ll be getting to see a lot more of his work.
Anacbanua wins Best Director and Best Film
The Jury Prize for Digital Lokal went to Armando Lao for Biyaheng Lupa. The awards for best director and best film both went to Christopher Gozum’s Anacbanua. Gozum has quickly distinguished himself as one of the most original artistic Filipino voices, and Anacbanua deserves all the praise that it can get. Made for a pittance and shot with a skeleton crew over just five days, Anacbanua is as independent as it gets. And yet it features a depth of thought and artistic vision that just can’t be found in most productions nowadays. I look forward to the day that Gozum fully dedicates himself to filmmaking. We will be better off for it.
Cinemanila ended the night by honoring two more filmmakers. A lifetime achievement award was given to Paul Schrader, presented to him by National Artist Eddie Romero. And finally, the Indie Spirit award was given to Lav Diaz, just recently returned from the United States. Journey’s Arnel Pineda would come out to perform a couple of songs, but this night was always just going to be about the movies. For all the doom and gloom being spread about the industry, it’s difficult not to feel optimistic about Filipino film with the young voices that were honored tonight.
Submitted by Dino Manrique on Sat, 2008-10-25 01:57.
2008 DEKADA CINEMANILA AWARDEES :YOUNG CINEMA: SHORTS & DOCS
(EDWIN, CHAIR; ARLEEN CUEVAS; TAN PIN PIN)
BEST DOCUMENTARY: MARLON (PHILIPPINES) BY RALSTON JOVER & JAMES AMPARO
We award the Best Documentary award to Marlon for giving a fresh look on the subject of blindness. We applaud the directors or their sharp eye for details, their patience and their restraint. They let the mundane details of the daily life of a poor blind boy speak to the audience directly but quietly… For trusting these details to resonate with the audience universally and ..for not exploiting a subject that could be easily exploited.
BEST SHORT FILM: TUMBANG PRESO (PHILIPPINES) BY ANTOINETTE JADAONE
We applaud the film Tumbang Preso for the clever use of one set of dialogue to contrast and parallel the world of Estong as a child and Estong as a grown-up. The director understands the short film medium and has the discipline to work within the limitations of it to produce a fun and very watchable short film.
ISHMAEL BERNAL AWARD: CHRISTOPHER GOZUM FOR SURREAL RANDOM MMS TEXTS PARA ED INA, AGUI, TAN KAAMONG YA MAKAIILIW ED SIKA : GURGURLIS ED BANUA (SURREAL RANDOM MMS TEXTS FOR A MOTHER, A SISTER, AND A WIFE WHO LONGS FOR YOU : LANDSCAPE WITH FIGURES) –
We found Christopher Gozum’s flm inspiring. He was able to combine the beauty of Carlos Bulasan’s poetry with minimalist and random images of LCD screens, daily life, creating rhythm light and sound from them to convey the longing and displacement of a Filipino working in the Middle East. Revelatory and humbling, we hope this award will encourage the director to continue his quest of mapping the human heart through film.
(DR. BIENVENIDO LUMBERA, CHAIR; TANJA MEDING; PAOLO MINUTO)
LINO BROCKA AWARD GRAND PRIZE : THE BAND’S VISIT (ISRAEL) BY ERAN KOLIRIN
The Band’s Visit is about a military band from Egypt that inadvertently land in an out-of-the-way community in Israel on its way to give a performance elsewhere. The discomfiture of the strangers is treated with humor that turns the tale into a warmly human account of a poignant encounter between two cultures as the prim-and-proper band leader gradually opened up to the straightforward woman-shopkeeper hosting some of the band members for the night.
GRAND JURY PRIZE : THE AMAZING TRUTH ABOUT QUEEN RAQUELA (ICELAND/PHILIPPINES/FRANCE) BY OLAF DE FLEUR JOHANNESSON
The film successfully combined fact and fiction to glimpse with respect and graciousness. The life story and aspiration of a ‘lady boy’ from Cebu who gets to realize his/her dream of seeing Paris, in the process allowing the viewers an insight into the heart and mind of its main character.
VIC SILAYAN AWARD FOR BEST ACTOR : KENNETH MORALEDA FOR LUCKY MILES (AUSTRALIA) : ANGELI BAYANI FOR MELANCHOLIA (PHILIPPINES)
VIC SILAYAN AWARD FOR BEST ACTRESS
SEA FILM COMPETITION
(WONG TUCK CHEONG, CHAIR; KENNETH MORALEDA; ANNA CAPRI)
BEST SEA SHORT : FROU FROU…SHH WAG MONG SABIHIN KAY ITAY BY MICHAEL JUAT
Clever appropriation of cinematic, media and cultural clichés done with finely tuned comedy. uses a glossy exterior and high production values to deceptively comment of notions of artistic expression and satirises everything from a cynical but biting point of view.
BEST SEA FILM : CONFESSIONAL BY JERROLD TAROG & RUEL DAHIS ANTIPUESTO
Clever excecution of the mockumentary style to comment on the art of fimmaking, personal relationships, politics, and culture. The film was well orchestrated in the use of film making production elements to support a point of view and engage the audience. Showed great ability in amalgamting seemingly disparate elements to a cohesive whole.
BEST ACTOR : MARIO MAURER FOR LOVE OF SIAM (THAILAND)
Mature acting choices within a wide range of situations. Beneath a calm and placid external demeanor his performance he displayed a rich inner struggle dealing with emotional burdens, with family, friends, his social circle and his romantic and sexual awakening.
BEST ACTRESS : ANITA LINDA FOR ADELA (PHILIPPINES)
A beautifully understaed performance rich in emotional nuances. Showing an great reflective understanding of the relationships between the different characters within the film’s microcosm.
(LAV DIAZ, CHAIR; PIMPAKA TOWIRA)
LINO GRAND PRIZE : IMBURNAL BY SHERAD ANTHONY SANCHEZ
Water as the greatest metaphor on the lifeblood of the Filipino – this film earnestly shows the experience is both harrowing and poignant.
LINO GRAND JURY PRIZE : NEXT ATTRACTION BY RAYA MARTIN
It is a strongly structured film and Martin’s work is showing us a new path for cinematic language
BEST ACTOR : CARLO AQUINO FOR CARNIVORE
BEST ACTRESS : JODI STA. MARIA FOR SISA
BEST DIRECTOR : ATO BAUTISTA FOR CARNIVORE
UN MDGs PRIZE : LAY-AN, CANDLES BURNING ON STILL WATER BY ROMMEL TOLENTINO
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD : PETE LACABA
Bayani San Diego Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
October 24, 2009
The film was the debut directorial work of former visual artist Steve McQueen.
Grand Jury Prize went to Sergey Dvortsevoy’s “Tulpan”—a German-Swiss-Kazakh production which tells the story of a sheep herder in search of a bride.
Tsilla Chelton won Best Actress for playing a grandmother on the verge of dementia in “Pandora’s Box” from Turkey-France-Germany.
Alfredo Castro won Best Actor for portraying a fiftysomething Chilean obsessed with John Travolta in “Tony Manero.”
In the Southeast Asian competition, top prizes went to Malaysian films: Yasmin Ahmad’s “Talentime” won Best SEA Film, while Best Short SEA Film went to Alizera Khatami and Ali Seifourri’s “Focal Point.”
It was a posthumous honor for Ahmad who passed away last July and was also honored with a retrospective in the Bangkok International Film Festival last month.
Special Mention in the SEA section went to the Malaysian-South Korean production, Woo Ming Jin’s “Woman on Fire Looks for Water.”
Jurors cited “Talentime” for “its wit, humor, joy . . . and calm fearlessness in confronting controversial issues” and “Woman on Fire Looks for Water” for “its deeply sensitive portrayal of the complexity of relationships.”
Cinemanila, now in its 11th year, also has a section called Digital Lokal for Filipino filmmakers.
Digital Lokal Lino Brocka Grand Prize went to Christopher Gozum’s “Anacbanua.” The section’s Grand Jury Prize was awarded to Armando Lao’s “Biyaheng Lupa.”
Gozum also won Best Director for “Anacbanua,” his tribute to Pangasinan’s art, poetry and culture.
“To Siomai Love” topped the Young Cinema section, winning both Best Short Film and the Ishmael Bernal Award for Most Outstanding Young Filipino Filmmaker for director Remton Siega Zuasola.
Lifetime Achievement honor was given to US scriptwriter-director Paul Schrader who presented his latest film “Adam Resurrected” in the 10-day festival being held at the Market! Market! mall in Taguig.
Schrader was honored for his “masterful storytelling and for his body of work, which is an unapologetic reflection of the human soul and psyche.”
The Indie Spirit award was bestowed on Filipino filmmaker Lav Diaz, for “his unwavering and steadfast commitment to independent cinema … his stark examination of the country and its people in his films … and for his uncompromising spirit … which challenges and inspires.”
The Cinemanila festival showcased at least 80 films from 30 countries.
Main Section jurors were Filipino filmmaker Brillante Mendoza and Indonesian critic Eric Sasono; Digital Lokal jurors were Sonja Heinen of the Berlin film fest, Un-Seong Yoo of the Jeonju film fest and Filipino filmmaker Sherad Anthony Sanchez; SEA section jurors were Filipino actor Ronnie Lazaro, US programmer Joel Shepard and Singaporean archivist Bee Thiam Tan; Young Cinema jurors were Thai critic Kong Rithdee and Filipino filmmaker John Torres.
Award of Warning By Nicola M. Sebastian / Photographs by / Art by Rom Villaseran Posted on Dec 15, 2008 / 0
By Nicola M. Sebastian / Photographs by / Art by Rom Villaseran
Last October, the 10th Cinemanila International Film Festival championed four movies from the more exciting names in independent cinema. Nicola M. Sebastian zooms in on the winners.
Director: Raya Martin
Award: Lino Brocka Grand Jury Prize
First Raya Martin gave us Now Showing, which premiered at Cannes Director’s Fortnight earlier this year. And now his Next Attraction takes us on an equally subtle and no less experimental journey into the world of cinematic storytelling.
Next Attraction is a meta-film that documents the shooting of a short film, trailing the director and the rest of the crew as they go about making movie magic. A supposed DVD special feature, Next Attraction is “behind the scenes” in the truest sense of the word: Unable to peek in on the short film’s scenes—which are being shot just outside the frame of the “documentary”—the viewer is forced to settle with eavesdropping on the actors giving their lines. The tease works: we spend the rest of the film struggling to make sense of the plot unfolding off-screen.
Luckily for us, in the end Martin rewards us for weathering out the long, static takes of crew and set with an unhampered viewing of the final product—only to cruelly rob us of its audio. And what we see is this: a young man (Coco Martin) fights with his mother (Jaclyn Jose), flees from his home into the streets of Cubao, where he gets picked up by a random guy (Paolo Rivero) and gets his first taste of the dirty, only to return home to an apologetic mother and a shower in which to ruminate on his deeds of the day.
The short film is strangely compelling in its unoriginality, and whether it is truly a climax worthy of all the purgatory, or just thankful release from an annoying limbo, is up to you. But with the film’s bagging of Dekada Cinemanila’s Lino Brocka Grand Jury Prize (Digital Lokal category), it’s safe to say that Next Attraction succeeds in stretching and distorting the cinematic form to contrast the drama that unfolds in front of the camera with the reality that drags on behind it.
Director: Sherad Anthony Sanchez
Award: Lino Brocka Grand Prize
Water, with its constantly flowing and ever-evasive nature, is the central image of Sherad Anthony Sanchez’s Imburnal. Its main characters, Joey and Allen, play their childhood away in Punta Dumalag, a place where the river meets the sea. And it is in these waters where the desires of its residents blossom, waiting to be satisfied by the flow of the tide. With its lingering, quietly beautiful shots and disjointed progression, Imburnal is a visual indulgence whose meaning is as fluid as the waters it reflects upon.
Director: Jerrold Tarog and Ruel Dahis Antipuesto
Award: Best Southeast Asian Film
Embittered small-time filmmaker Ryan Pastor, tired of the falsity in his line of work and in his everyday life, travels to Cebu to document the Sinulog festival. But what started out as an impulse brings him more truth than he bargained for: the confessions of Lito Caliso, an ex-politician with a very guilty conscience. Secrets, lies, ugly truths, and their devastating consequences: all are woven together and laid bare in the harshly illuminating Confessional.
Surreal Random MMS Texts para ed Ina, Agui tan Kaamong ya Makaiiliw ed Sika : Gurgurlis ed Banua (Surreal Random MMS Texts for a Mother, a Sister, and a Wife who longs for You : Landscape with Figures)
Director: Christopher Gozum
Award: Ishmael Bernal Award
Christopher Gozum’s short film blends the grand elegance of Carlos Bulosan’s poetry with the minimalist imagery of, as the title tells it, “surreal random MMS texts.” Words from Bulosan’s 1942 poem “Landscape with Figures,” translated into the Pangasinan tongue, are narrated over the digital images of daily life sent by a Filipino filmmaker in the Middle East to his family back home. The light and sound come together to capture the man’s loneliness in a strange land and his longing for the faces of his loved ones.
By Ria Limjap
October 24, 2009
I only saw Anacbanua (Children of the Sun) and I was extremely glad I caught it.
It is a dark time for The Poet (Lowell Kip Conales)—the words do not flow while he is in the Middle East, as if in exile. He returns home to his native Pangasinan or Caboloan where he encounters The Muse (Che Ramos) and immerses himself in the pure language and old traditions of the province. Written, produced, edited, and directed by Christopher Gozum, Anacbanua is the first film out of Pangasinan. Shot digitally in black and white by talented director of photography Joni Gutierrez, Anacbanua uses traditional Pangasinan poetry set to stark and stunning visual images and ambient music. (Side note: some of the music is credited to Moby—as in, “Why does my heart feel so bad” Moby? Must confirm.) This is not a plot-driven, classic three act movie about a wanderer who journeys home to rediscover his roots. Like the free form poetry that is used as a narration device, the film is non-linear and dreamy, surreal and metaphorical. (And at two hours long, it is not for those with short attention spans.)
A scene from the film, Anacbanua.
Christopher Gozum, whose background is in theater, shot his first feature length film on location around Pangasinan in five days with a skeleton crew, hardly any lights, and a tiny cast. Borne out of his advocacy to keep the Pangasinan language alive, Gozum’s film encourages the youth to remember where they come from and speak their native tongue. There are echoes of Rizal, certainly, but Gozum’s medium is much more evocative and accessible for today’s audience. Gozum uses ancient names for places (like Binalatongan, renamed San Carlos by the Spanish) and shows traditional industries (like brick making and bagoong production) in a deeply poetic way. Anacbanua has apparently generated good reviews, but the thirty year old director has his priorities straight. Currently working as a videographer for a pharmaceutical company in the Middle East, Gozum wants to show his movie on buses that travel to and from Pangasinan, so that commuters can watch it on the bus.
This is the face of Filipino cinema I have been longing to see. It’s not about the slums. It’s not about poverty, violence, or desperation. It’s not a schmaltzy love story or yet another melodrama. It isn’t like anything out there. Gozum fuses the digital format with vernacular poetry, telling a story that is personal and communal. The Anacbanua, the dark skinned children of the sun, honor Pangasinan’s proud heritage with the blood of the “red breasted” noblewoman Urduja flowing through their veins and the eternal words of the poets.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Language functions primarily as a tool for communication. Thus, when roads and bridges were built to connect provinces, when ships and ports were constructed to connect islands, and when planes and airports were invented to connect continents, communication has turned into a worldwide commodity to the extent that the abundance of languages and dialects has turned into a hindrance to prosperity in this severely connected age. Several languages and dialects that have been rendered superfluous by this inevitable shift in perspective are forced to extinction. The native dialect of the province of Pangasinan, is one of the victims of this widespread epidemic. The dialect’s native speakers, who naturally prioritize economic survival to cultural identity, homogenize with the rest of the country as a result of governmental policy in education, migration, assimilation and a general lack of interest by their younger generation.
However, language is not a mere tool. It emphasizes a cultural soul, a facet of an intertwined populace that connects them to the land, their history, their livelihood and themselves. The deliberate extinction of Pangalatok, a dialect that has evolved a vast literature throughout the centuries of its existence, is especially painful because along with it disappears a legacy, the thread that attaches a person with a proud people but has eventually been rendered into a mere facade, a regional label, a curiosity in the midst of a language that encroaches on virtually everything in the name of globalization.
Gozum, like his film’s poet, struggles with the opposing needs of making himself financially viable (by taking a contractual job as a videographer in Saudi Arabia) and of creating pertinent culture (by making films that dictate this internal struggle). His short film Surreal Random MMS para kay ed Ina, Agui tan Kaamong ya Makaiiliw ed Sika: Gurgurlis ed Banua (Surreal Random MMS for a Mother, a Sister and a Wife Who Longs for You: Landscapes with Figures, 2008) makes use of a shocking images of a human eye being punctured with interspersed images of a foreign land captured from a cellular phone that were sent by the director to his loved ones in the Philippines to tell more of the numbing disconnect of a displaced Filipino than the landscapes he so evocatively captured using his meager resources. It is this duality in Gozum’s artistic personality that makes his films unbelievably fascinating. Anacbanua, as it is, is a rousing statement on a dying language. With Gozum at its helm, the film becomes a different thing altogether. From the possibility of being an inert advocacy film, Anacbanua blossoms into a grandiose canvass that is painted with something as gargantuan as the loss of an entire cultural heritage to something as intimate and personal as the multi-layered confusion that is consuming him as an artist (while he is from Pangasinan, he is also a Filipino, a Filipino who is working in Saudi Arabia; these tiers of conflicting identities make his efforts more taxing and his film more resonant).
It really is a powerful film. Emotions whirlwind as Pangasinense poetry is recited granting unreserved depth to the different landscapes, the obscure livelihoods, the unraveled historical, cultural, and religious implications that are depicted with unnerving aesthetic assuredness. As the camera lingers extensively on the monochrome dioramas of supposed rituals of rebirth set in different locations, we are eventually drawn into the imagery, feeling the flowing waters of the Agno river wash away the dregs of cultural imperialism, smelling the refreshingly pungent aroma of fish fermenting to perfection, relaxing to the warmth of bricks baking in an ancient kiln, and numbing to the unbearable cries of pain of cattle being slaughtered mercilessly. This immersive experience punctures the wall that separates the recited poetry and the fascinating visuals, forcing the viewer to not only understand the recited words through their intended and literal meanings (as facilitated by the English subtitles), but also to regard these words as significant and indispensable components of a culture. Remove the poetry from the film, and the haunting imagery will inevitably lose its soul, beautiful to look at but flat and meaningless. Remove the language from the province, and an entire people, an entire culture will lose its identity, surviving as inutile labels of a neglected ancestry.