A film which follows the lives of nine children across five years, growing up in dire rural poor conditions, bagged Best Picture, Best Direction and Best Cinematography during the awards night of the second Maginhawa Film Festival last December 9 at Ground Central (formerly Central Park, in front of Cinema Centenario), along food hub Maginhawa Street, Quezon City.
Directed by Victor Tagaro and Toshihiko Uryu, “Yield” bested nine other full-length films in the Main Competition, including winners from Cinemalaya, Cinema One Originals, QCinema, CineFilipino and ToFarm Film Festival. An ethnographic inquiry on children forced to live without much hope of change, it previously won Best Documentary Film and Best Editing from FAMAS and Best Documentary from Gawad Urian this year.
“Yield” focuses on the lives of Jomar, who silts the ocean for gold; siblings April, Ariel and Rommel, who are stonecutters; Alex and Glady Mae, who are both afflicted with hydrocephalus since birth; Essam, who is training to be a child warrior; and Edralen and Jason, who harvest and transport vegetables, with the latter even being crippled with spinal problems from their work.
“Aside from the very commendable technical aspects of the film, it has also effectively presented different struggles of children, who have been denied any moment of freedom in their continuous efforts to address their everyday needs. The film has thoroughly exposed and slapped us in the face with realities that we have chosen not to know and to set aside,” the Youth Jury explained.
The Youth Jury is composed of Mapua film and communication lecturer Kristine Camille Sulit, industry practitioner and media faculty Jaerold Ramos, DLSU-Manila communication arts major and The LaSallian senior correspondent Eternity Ines, Asia Pacific College interdisciplinary and multimedia arts student Maricor “Coy” Capuyan and UP Visayas faculty Teddy “TJ” Tan, Jr.
Sulit, who also served as deputy festival director of the recently concluded Quezon City International Pink Film Festival, praised “Yield” for “its bravery in handling the subject matter with its unusual narrative, without resorting to ‘poverty porn’ and by merely following the lives of the children and seeing their transformation.” She added that the documentary won for its merits as “it could go head on with other films and managed to stand out in the competition.”
Meanwhile, Whammy Alcazaren’s “Never Tear Us Apart” won the Maginhawa Choice Award or Special Jury Prize, Best Production Design for Thesa Tang, and Best Editing for Ilsa Malsi. Shot entirely using iPhones and framed in a vertical format or 9:16 aspect ratio, the film is about an aging spy, a delusional wife, and a promiscuous son as they face the terrors caused by a monster known as The Shadow. Ricky Davao, Meryl Soriano and Jasmine Curtis-Smith star in the film, which previously took home Jury Prize, Best Director, Best Music, Best Editing, Best Production Design, and Best Cinematography at the 2018 Cinema One Originals Film Festival.
Angeli Mariano bagged Best Sound Design and Music for Keith Deligero’s “A Short History of a Few Bad Things” (Cinema One Originals) while Dwein Baltazar won Best Screenplay for “Gusto Kita With All My Hypothalamus,” which she also directed for CineFilipino.
Ybes Bagadiong brought home the Best Male Performance for his role as Michael Jordan Ulili, the son of a black basketball player and a Filipina, in “Dog Days” by Timmy Harn (QCinema).
On the other hand, Junyka Sigrid Santarin bagged the Best Female Performance for her character as Eshal, a young Muslim girl who finds herself torn between love and violence, in the middle of a clan war in “Musmos na Sumibol sa Gubat ng Digma” (Unless the Water is Safer than the Land) by Iar Lionel Benjamin Arondaing (Cinemalaya).
The other full-length film finalists in the Main Competition are “Aria” by Carlo Enciso Catu (Center for Kapampangan Studies, Holy Angel University), Cinemalaya audience favorite “Liway” by Kip Oebanda, ToFarm Film Festival big winner “Tanabata’s Wife” by Choy Pangilinan, Lito Casaje and Charlson Ong, and Mindanao Film Festival Best Documentary winner “Sa Palad ng Dantaong Kulang” (In the Claws of a Century Wanting) by Jewel Maranan.
In the Best Short Film race, Lady Vicente of Mapua University edged 11 other finalists for “effectively showing how a woman struggles to free herself from the dictates of the society” in “Ang Pagtuklas sa Pagiging Maria Clara” (The Discovery in the Realm of Being Maria Clara).
The experimental film won over fellow Mapuan finalist “Yujin” by Eugene Torres; “Bahay-Bahayan” (Playhouse) by Colegio De San Lorenzo alumnus Brian Spencer Reyes; “Heist School” by Julius Renomeron, Jr. of University of Santo Tomas; “Huli” (The Last One) by Coco Oei of De La Salle University-Manila; “Nangungupahan” (Who Rents There Now?) by Karl Glenn Barit of University of the Philippines Film Institute; “Sa Gabing Tanging Liwanag ay Paniniwala” (Belief as the Light in Darkness) by Francis Guillermo of Far Eastern University; “Wala’y Humayan sa Tanglad” by Neil Angelo Briones of University of San Carlos; “In-Tay” by Leyvie Anne Santos and “Delta” by Eluigi Macalintal and James Garcia, both from De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde; “Ngiti ni Nazareno” (The Smile of Nazareno) by Luisito “Louie” Lagdameo Ignacio; and lone animation entry “Jepoy” by Avid Liongoren.
Maginhawa Film Festival director Hector Barretto Calma, stressed that Cinema Centenario, the event’s main organizer and of which he is a part-owner, decided to empower the audience and differentiate itself from other film festivals by coming up with a Youth Jury in determining the winners. “By being part of the jury, they also represent the voice of their generation,” he said.
The festival started last year as an exhibition of some of the best local films and as part of the efforts to drum up support in celebration of the centennial of Philippine cinema. “At first, we just wanted a bigger audience by developing more interest to watch these films. The competition can really help promote the films aside from the usual support that a festival gets. We also want to offer something different for our anniversary aside from screening films,” Calma explained.
The Maginhawa Film Festival awards night was hosted by Jun Sabayton and actress Elora Españo. It also featured band performances by Better Days, Gracenote, Mojofly and Moonstar88.
The competing films will be shown at the 65-seater Cinema Centenario and other alternative screening venues UPFI Videotheque, Pineapple Lab and Cinema Silencio until December 30.
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