De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde inches its way closer to a grand slam of the country’s oldest existing student film competitions by dominating the annual interschool tilts by Mapúa University’s School of Media Studies and University of the Philippines Film Institute-based student organization UP Cinema.
This after student filmmakers from DLS-CSB ruled the 20th CineMapúa International Student Film Short Film Festival awards night at the Mapúa University Gymnasium in Intramuros last March 16 and UP Cinema’s Piling Obrang Vidyo (POV) XIX at UP Cine Adarna last March 24.
“Saan Aabot ang Dapithapon?” (Where Do Sunsets Go?) bagged the Cardinal Gold Film Award, Best Performance of an Actress for veteran singer-actress Celeste Legaspi, Best Production Design for Paurine Shibata, and Best Sound Design for Orion Flynn at CineMapúa 2023’s intercollegiate category.
Written and directed by Benildeans Trixie Vertera and Carissa Sierras, “Saan Aabot ang Dapithapon?” tells a story about life, death, and finding meaning to it. The grand prize winner revolves around a grandmother (Legaspi) and her granddaughter (Kat Galang), as they search for a missing spark plug in a garage filled with mementos to bring an old car back to life, and into the streets again.
Unique Lola Role for Celeste Legaspi
Talent manager Girlie Rodis attended the CineMapúa awards night and read the acceptance speech on behalf of Legaspi. “Saan Aabot ang Dapithapon” was a surprise for me. I found myself delighted at the twists and turns of the story. Always the scenes in the film were challenging and engaging,” she said.
“I have lately been playing a string of lola roles. A series of unique lolas. A lola with dementia affecting the love life of her favorite apo. A lola so masungit and nasty because of losing her family in a tragic accident. A lola who helps her apo accept his desire to dress up as a girl. In “Saan Aabot ang Dapithapon,” I get to be a lola who reverts to the 70’s, jumps to the 80’s, and finally wins a beauty contest. So perhaps this lola is the most unique of my Celeste lolas. I was able to work with young filmmakers whose ideas were fresh, unafraid, and exceptional. It was an honor for me. I think we all learned from each other,” Legaspi wrote as she thanked Vertera, Sierras, Shibata, and Galang, makeup artist Sam Cruz, production manager Jeanne Jessan Aguilar, and the rest of the production crew.
“And I thank the board of judges for choosing me for this award and CineMapúa for putting this festival up to encourage young filmmakers. These young filmmakers are the future of Philippine cinema.”
Strong Finish for Benilde Films
“Pig’s Game” written and directed by fellow Benildean CM Bautista made it a 1-2 finish for DLS-CSB at CineMapúa by bringing home the Cardinal Silver Film Award, Best Performance of an Actor for James Ramada, and Best Screenplay for Bautista and co-writer Tristan Aguilar. The second placer centers around a run-of-the-mill theater actor caught up in an audition for a government propaganda.
Meanwhile, “Alingasngas ng mga Kuliglig” (The Gossips of Cicadidae) written and directed by Vahn Pascual, also from DLS-CSB, garnered the Cardinal Audience Award and Best Original Music for Karl Arthur Javier and Benilde Film alumna Nik Rosacay.
In Pascual’s silent film, a boy who is forced by his father to become the next folk healer of their town, secretly despises his conventional boring life. This until he falls in love with a tikbalang, a Philippine mythological creature with the head and hooves of a horse.
More Benildeans as CineMapúa Finalists
Other short films also from DLS-CSB, namely “Makoko sa Baybay” (I am Going to the Beach) by Mike Cabarles and “Lilip” (Hem Stitch) by Diane Rochelle “Yanie” Cruz, also made it to the list of finalists which were all screened onsite at the newly constructed 150-seater Mapúa Cardinal Cinema, Cervantes Hall, and MPO508 at the Makati campus, and the audio-visual and seminar rooms at the Intramuros campus from March 13 to 18, and online at www.yfilms.ph from March 22 to April 5.
“Si Oddie” received the Cardinal Bronze Film Award and Best Direction for Maria Kydylee Torato of UP Visayas. It focuses on a rider who embarks on a delivery to a customer who cannot be located. “That Night the Moon Shined” by Xzy Dumabok of UPFI got Best Cinematography for Moore Minglana, while “Pempem at ang Bomba Magasin” by Migs Ruallo of Far Eastern University won Best Editing for Gene Francis Sayson. “Siya na Iba Sainda” (She Who is Different from Them) by Joshua Doce of Bicol State College of Applied Sciences and Technology nabbed People’s Choice awards for poster and teaser.
With the theme “Festivity of Global Cultures through Visual Storytelling,” CineMapúa, “the longest-running student film festival in the Philippines” received a total of 2,892 film entries from 108 countries. Fifty entries were selected as finalists, with 15 of them competing in the intercollegiate category, five in the high school division, 10 in the all-Mapúans group, and 20 in the World Film section.
Building a Winning Tradition
Over at UP Diliman, Benildeans continued their win streak by topping POV, an interschool film contest established in 2004 by UP Cinema, as well as its corresponding Narrative and Documentary categories.
Last year, “Pig’s Game” brought home the POV Jury Prize, Best Screenplay, and Best Performance. This year, “Kokuryo: The Untold Story of Bb. Undas 2019” by Diokko Dionisio emerged victorious as it went on to bag POV XIX’s Best Film, Best Narrative, Best Screenplay, and Best Production Design. In the short film, two best friends scour through the town of Gapan in Nueva Ecija one midnight while searching for the house of a person they believe stole half of the prize they won in a gay beauty pageant.
In addition, “Balde at Brotsa,” which recounts the personal struggles of three artists with different forms of societal oppression, clinched Best Documentary for fellow Benildean filmmaker Josh Mutia. In the documentary, the artists must find purpose in what they make to understand what they need to do.
“Alingasngas ng mga Kuliglig” extended its triumphant ways from Mapúa to UP by securing Best Direction for Pascual, Best Music/Original Score for Javier and Rosacay, and the Cinemasters’ Choice, an award given to the film selected by majority of the members of UP Cinema.
“The Secret Band of Thebes” by Augustine, also from Benilde, earned a Special Citation for Animation. In the film, nude photos and videos of a man masturbating were leaked at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. How was he able to cope with the spread of these photos and videos?
Another Dominant Showing at POV
Other Benilde films such as the experimental work “People Fade as Colors Do” by Josef Edward Tafalla, and two other documentaries, “Elehiya para sa mga Memorya” by Ryan Miguel Capili and “Ang Paghahanap kay Dalagang Bukid” by Leia Amidala Santos, also made it to the chosen few of only 12 POV finalists, four films for each category, which were shown online at cinemata.org from March 14 to 23.
The FEU film “Pempem at ang Bomba Magazine” was also hailed Best Editing at POV after its victory at CineMapúa, aside from winning Best Performance for Dada Garcia and the Viewer’s Choice prize. Fellow FEU entry, “Mind Body” by Josh Van Ulric Campo, was awarded the Best Experimental Film prize.
“Itom Nga Bugas Kanaryo Nga Ugat” by Leonard Ian Billones of UP Visayas received the Jury Prize and Best Sound Design, while “Self-Portrait” by Daphnee Ferrer of UP Diliman won Best Cinematography.
It remains to be seen whether Benilde student filmmakers will also stand out in the interschool division of Sinepiyu XV, the annual film festival of FEU which runs from May 2 to 7. One thing is for sure, though. DLS-CSB is strongly making a case to be one of the best, if not the best film school in the country.