Three out of the 12 entries in the Film Development Council of the Philippines’ Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino were honored with special awards during the Thanksgiving Night of the ongoing film festival held Sunday at Whitespace in Makati.
During the event, three special awards were handed out. Mikhail Red’s internationally acclaimed police procedural drama “Birdshot” was honored with the festival’s Critics Choice award, recognizing Red as an emerging new voice in Philippine cinema.
Jason Paul Laxamana’s romantic drama “100 Tula Para Kay Stella” won the Audience Choice award. The film earned over P60 million in its first five days, drawing comparisons to the commercial success of Sigrid Andrea Bernardo’s surprise blockbuster “Kita Kita.” “100 Tula Para Kay Stella” is headlined by Bela Padilla and JC Santos, who until this film had yet to prove their mettle at the box office.
Originally, only two awards were scheduled to be given at the fiesta-themed Thanksgiving Night but the selection committee composed of screenwriter Ricky Lee, film editor Manet Dayrit, actress Iza Calzado, critic Oggs Cruz, cinematographer Lee Briones, and directors Jose Javier Reyes and Erik Matti decided to give an additional Jury Prize award to Victor Villanueva’s laugh out loud comedy, “Patay na si Hesus.”
Honored for its very Filipino and regional sensibilities, “Patay na si Hesus” is the sleeper hit of the festival and has ranked second behind “100 Tula Para Kay Stella” in the box office. An entry in last year’s QCinema Film Festival, the film was that festival’s winner of the Audience Choice and Gender Sensitivity awards.
“Patay na si Hesus” was also the initial presentation of the InterAksyon Cinema Club that was launched last May. Since the PPP’s Jury Prize award was given only at the last minute, a trophy had not been made for the film but Diño assured that it would be sent to the producers soon.
The other entries were “Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B” by Prime Crisologo Cruz, “AWOL” by Enzo Williams, “Bar Boys” by Kip Oebanda, “Hamog” by Ralston Jover, “Paglipay” by Zig Dulay, “Pauwi Na” by Paolo Villaluna, “Salvage” by Sherad Anthony Sanchez, “Star Na si Van Damme Stallone” by Randolph Longjas, and “Triptiko” by Miguel Franco Michelena.
In explaining the rationale for giving out only special awards instead of a full line-up of honors, FDCP chair Liza Diño said that the PPP was more of a celebration than a competition and that all 12 entries were equally deserving of a Best Picture award. Reyes added that the 12 was selected from a total of 45 submissions.
As part of the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, the National Youth Commission chaired by Undersecretary Aiza Seguerra, Diño’s husband, organized the Sine Kabataan short film competition for young filmmakers.
The winners of the Sine Kabataan were also announced during the PPP Thanksgiving Night and as adjudged by a selection committee composed of NYC Commissioner Percival Cendaña and filmmakers Raymond Red and Carlitos Siguion-Reyna.
Ar-Jen Manlapig’s “Ang Unang Araw ng Pasukan” won Best Picture. Two shorts, Lance Maravillas’ “Pahimakas” and Don Senoc’s “Delayed si Jhemerlyn Rose” both won the Jury’s Prize award while Anya Zulueta’s “Ang Kapitbahay Ko sa 2014” and Romnel Rivera III’s “Fat You” won the Amazing by Choice special awards.
As part of her closing speech, Diño also revealed that as of Saturday, the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino had a total box office gross of 65 million. In an interview with InterAksyon and other media following the ceremonies, Diño said the current gross is on track with the FDCP’s target figure. Such turnout is encouraging enough to merit the staging of the PPP next year.
She also conceded that they were considering trimming down the full length entries for next year’s festival from this year’s 12 to around six to eight. Given that many malls only have a maximum of four cinemas, a streamlined number of entries will allow for a more even distribution of cinemas and let each film earn more at the box office.