By Mike Baños
In a fitting tribute to the breadth and scope of Filipino short films, filmmakers from the north and south won the Golden Giant Fish Award for the recently concluded 3rd Cine d Oro Film Festival which ran from December 16-17, 2022 at the Karumata ni Bgy. Macasandig, Cagayan de Oro City.
“The Giant Golden Fish Award is given to the best film in terms of having a cinematic voice with its own artistic sensibility that announce the arrival of a Film Director through the work that is being assessed,” noted Moro writer/filmmaker Gutierrez “Teng” Mangansakan II, a jury member for the Narrative Category.
“Should the jury find the process of defining the best film contentious, they can opt to deliberate and have a Grand Jury Prize Award instead for the runner-up.”
“Special Mentions are reserved for films that deserve recognition for its certain elements, whether technical or not,” he added.
Trishtan Perez’s i get so sad sometimes was awarded the Golden Giant Fish Award in the Narrative Category “for its youthful visual style and intimate framing that capture a crucial issue of alienation and deep longing in the digital age, and for utilizing a very contemporary Binisaya which is specific to the place and generation the film portrayed, attesting to the filmmaker’s perceptive ear for vernacular language and its nuances” (jury citation).
Perez is a regional queer writer and director from Pagadian City. He is a graduate of the University of the Philippines with a degree in Film whose short films have screened in local and international film festivals.
His latest project, i get so sad sometimes (2021), was developed under the Objectifs Short Film Incubator (Singapore) in 2020 and eventually won Best Film at the QCinema International Film Festival. The film made it to CNN Philippines’ Best Filipino Films of 2021, was nominated for a Gawad Urian for Best Short Film, and received two nominations from the 38th PMPC Star Awards for Best Short Film and Best Short Film Director.
He is a fellow of the Ricky Lee Scriptwriting Workshop and Mindanao Film Lab and has been
listed as one of the Eight emerging Filipino directors to look out for by CNN Philippines. When not directing and writing, Perez works as an Assistant Director and a Production Associate.
Ozamiz-based Edmund Telmo was awarded the Grand Jury Prize in the Narrative Category for A Sabbath on the Longest Day of the Year.
“For its embodiment of the stark and desolate that teems with lost souls and wavering dreams, and for skepticizing the foundations of faith and reinforcing the complexities of man through bleak visual storytelling,” read the jury citation.
Telmo graduated Cum Laude with a degree of International Studies at Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan (Xavier Ateneo). He founded Ilustrado Films, a local group of artist-filmmakers in Ozamiz City. He is currently a film instructor in La Salle University – Ozamiz. His past films have competed and have been recognized in film festivals like Salamindanaw Asian Film Festival and Cinema One Originals.
His latest work, A Sabbath on the Longest Day of the Year, premiered at the Bangkok ASEAN Film Festival. Currently, it is a part of Kinosaurus Virtual Cinema in Indonesia.
Golden Bells by Kurt Soberano received a Special Mention “For a strong understanding of the various elements of film, such as cinematography, acting, sound, editing, production design, and how to effectively incorporate them into the language of cinema,” the jury said.
Meanwhile, Maria Estela Paiso’s It’s Raining Frogs won the Golden Giant Fish Award in the Experimental Category for “Its blast of psychedelic imagery never abandons the emotional turmoil its articulating, achieving poignancy with its surreal visual riot,” the jury citation reads.
Born in Quezon City, the Philippines in 1997, Paiso graduated with a degree in communication arts in 2016 and has worked in post-production since 2016. After several music videos and visual experiments, she made Ampangabagat Nin Talakba Ha Likol (It’s raining frogs) her debut film as a director in 2021.
According to the Film Development Council of the Philippines, it represented the Philippines at the 72nd Berlin International Film Festival on February 10-20, 2022 in Berlin, Germany, the only Filipino film selected to participate at the much-anticipated gathering of film professionals from all over the world screening various genres, categories, lengths, and formats for this year’s edition. The first-time director became the first Filipina director to join the Berlinale Shorts Competition and the fourth Filipino to represent the country in the said section. She described the whole journey as “a form of baptism by fire,” considering the technical challenges and the sensitivity of the subject matter.
Ampangabagat Nin Talakba Ha Likol, the film’s original title in Sambal, is
the first film in the Sambal language throughout the history of Berlinale. It
tells the story of Maya, a girl from the province of Zambales who confronts her
personal encounters with her haunted past.
The artistic and strong sense of individuality expressed in the work “It’s Raining Frogs Outside” painfully emits an isolation and uniqueness in its form and narrative that creatively challenges and celebrates what is vital in this recognition. This work inarguably transcends any form of misplaced alibis and propagandas and battles and victories. Letting a film be a film. Letting the work speak for itself. (QCShorts Competition 2021 Gender Sensitivity Award Citation).
The film was also screened at the 51st Edition of New Directors/ New Films Film Festival (ND/NF) on April 20-May 1, 2022 at Film on Lincoln Center and The Museum of Modern Art, in New York along with 26 full-length films and 10 other shorts from all over the world.
Timmy Harn’s One X One was awarded the Grand Jury Prize in the same category.
“Rather than be overwhelmed by its dense, strange, and evocative narrative, this film gains instead an arcane propulsion, energized by the limits it gives itself.” (jury citation)
Harn is a Filipino visual artist whose works are mostly based on the filmmaking process, and reflect personal experiences around his historic hometown of Manila.
Like most Filipinos, Harn had a strict Catholic upbringing which could be behind his eclectic interests in the mystical and occult to extra-terrestrial culture. Most of his influences are characterized by the Philippines as a cultural melting pot of its first nation peoples and later immigrants. His interest in the old also translates to the use of various filmmaking formats, from the analog textures of film celluloid and home videos, to the high-definition clarity of digital imagery, allowing him to merge historical timelines and define “the feeling of a future.”
Harn’s feature films include Dog Days (2018), which premiered at the 2018 QCINEMA and at the International Film Festival Rotterdam; and Reptilia in Suburbia (2013). Ranging from full-length to short and video installations, his works have been exhibited at the Palais de Tokyo, Echo Park Film Center, and in festivals such as Wavelengths at the Toronto International Film Festival, Singapore International Film Festival, Images Festival, among others.
Dodoy Megrino’s Jakol was given a Special Mention for “Expanding on its deceptively thin premise with an almost joyous, quite cinematic playfulness,” according to the jury citation.
The festival jurors for the two categories included filmmaker and writer Gutierrez “Teng” Mangansakan II, actor and producer Alywn Uytingco, and veteran artist Jojo Sescon for the Narrative Category; and writer/director Dodo Dayao, Davaoeño filmmaker Bagane Fiole and Roxlee, widely considered as the godfather of Filipino experimental cinema, for the Experimental Category.