INQUIRER ENTERTAINMENT

TELLING THE FILIPINO STORY TO THE WORLD

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2010

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AUGUST DELA CRUZ

Pepe Diokno

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FILM is your voice, it is a loud voice. Use it to say something worthwhile, or don’t make a film at all,” says Pepe Diokno, writer and director of “Engkwentro.”

Pepe’s “loud voice” was heard all over Europe, when he won two awards from the prestigious Venice International Film Festival (Italy) in 2009. “Engkwentro,” a film that exposes state-sponsored vigilante killings, won Best Picture in the festival’s New Horizons (Orizzonti) program. Pepe also took home the “Lion of the Future” award, or the Luigi de Laurentiis Award for Debut Film, with a cash prize of $100,000. The award was conferred on the film for its “bravery, novel storytelling and technical achievement.” Pepe, 22 at the time, became one of the youngest winners in the Venice

Biennale, the world’s oldest. “Engkwentro” premiered earlier at Cinemalaya 2009. It has since been invited to festivals in Greece, Holland, Spain, Austria, Taiwan, Slovakia, Norway and Singapore. Last year, it inked a deal with Shoreline Entertainment, which Pepe describes as “one of the most important US film distribution companies.” Pepe’s first movie, “ENGKWENTRO” “No Passport Needed” competed in the on his second full-length feashort-film category of Cineture, about “three child warmalaya 2006. His second proriors within the Islamic insurject, “Dancing for Discipline,” gency in the Philippines.” He is for which he spent a year touring jails around the country, has a senior Mass Communications student, majoring in Film, at been well-received by local the University of the Philipviewers as well as those in pines. Brazil, France and the United For Pepe, people who say the States. Pepe, now 23, is now at work local film industry is in the midst

PEPE DIOKNO: “The Filipino audience is as intelligent and discerning as any other.”
of a golden age are getting ahead of themselves. He explains, “[That] is for people 10 or 20 years from now to say. In the future, let’s look back and see the effect of this generation on the succeeding generations.” He stresses the importance of continuously “challenging ourselves as storytellers and craftsmen.” He points out that producers, directors and film workers should keep on “exchanging ideas, talents and experiences.” He adds, “Competition shouldn’t be based on who one knows or what technology one uses. It should arise only from the quality of our products. We are moving in that direction.” Pepe says making movies, specifically for foreign film festivals, is a “bad idea.” He clarifies: “It kills innovation in the same way that Regal Films [does because it] tailor-makes films for the so-called masa. Filipino audiences are as intelligent and discriminating as any other.” Marinel R. Cruz

Ralston Jover

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ALSTON Jover, whose film, “Baseco Bakal Boys,” continues to reap awards in film festivals abroad, says the country should exert extra effort to sustain the world’s interest. He urges, “Let’s encourage new and diverse talents through local festivals.”

showcase and promote Filipino films. This is similar to what the Koreans are doing in Pusan, and also the Japanese with their numerous digital film festivals.” He says government support through film grants is also imperative. “In Iran, once the cen-

sors approves a film, the grant follows in the form of film stocks given to the filmmaker.” Ralston also suggests creating a film market division in local festivals, where filmmakers will get the chance to meet buyers or distributors. “Plus, there

Ralston also insists that international fetes like the Cinemanila should be supported. “It has the best intentions—to

RALSTON JOVER: “Let’s encourage diverse talents through local festivals.”

should be film laboratories where emerging talents can sit down and learn from foreign and local masters—directors, writers, cinematographers, designers and producers.” A native of Iloilo, Ralston initially went to college at the University of Santo Tomas. A year later, he transferred to the Philippine School of Business Administration, where he eventually received his Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing. Before venturing into movie making, he wrote scripts for award-winning directors like Jeffrey Jeturian (“Kubrador,” 2006) and Brillante Ma. Mendoza (“Tirador” and “Foster Child,” 2007). Ralston’s first film, “Baseco Bakal Boys,” chronicles the lives of children who scavenge for a living in the murky waters of the Manila Bay. Since it pre-

“BASECO Bakal Boys”
miered at Cinemalaya 2009, it has won two local awards and six international honors from festivals in Canada, Greece, Italy, Japan, Spain and France. He observes. “After the validation from abroad, the local audience [is prepped] to watch the film ... this happens a lot all over the world.” Ralston cites Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa (“The Hidden Fortress,” “Seven Samurai” “Kagemusha”), who “didn’t get his fair share of audience in his own country, until he was noticed in Cannes and Hollywood.” To encourage Pinoys to watch indie films, he says there must be “film appreciation activities, especially among the youth.” Ralston adds: “Awareness through film festivals, forums and discussions, will also help.” Marinel R. Cruz

JOAN BONDOC

Raya Martin

RAYA MARTIN: “Watch old Filipino movies. We need a sense of history.”

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AYA Martin, whose romance with cinema began at an early age, firmly believes filmmaking is about ideas and images.

“I have loved the camera since I was young. I love images,” he says. “At age 6 or 7, I watched Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Dreams’—my parents used to rent foreign films from the neighborhood video club. I have undying love for Mike de Leon and the horror films of Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes.” The past five years, Raya says, have been marked with a “revival of passionate filmmaking. Before that there was a slump. Now, we are a bit more critical in what we do. It had a domino effect.” Has the digital technology really democratized filmmaking?”

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“It’s an illusion—filmmaking still costs money,” Raya says. “But those who used to be marginalized are now represented.” This young man with big ideas, the first Filipino to be accepted in the Cinéfondation Résidence of Cannes, has been amply rewarded in festivals here and abroad. His 2009 film, “Independencia,” won top prizes in the Bangkok (Thailand) and Valdivia (Chile) fests. “Next Attraction” won the Grand Jury prize at Cinemanila 2008. A year earlier, “Autohysteria” won Best Director and Best Picture at Cinemanila and Special Mention at the Marseille fest. He is one of four Filipino filmmakers included in the Phaidon book “Take 100.” Raya is wary of labels like “golden age” and “new wave.” There is a boom in quantity, he concedes. “I would rather have less films but those that enable us to discuss something relevant, thoughtful—films that would make us smarter.” By raising the bar, he says, local filmmakers can sustain world interest. “We must elevate our standards, not just in terms of technical abilities, but also in terms of aesthetics and film language. The world is not interested in ‘polished.’ We have Hollywood for that. What we need are competent, stimulating ideas.” He implores young filmmakers to not forget the past. “Watch old films and read. The one thing that Philippine cinema needs right now is a sense of history.” Bayani San Diego Jr.

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