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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

entry arrow6:14 PM | New Cinematic Voices From Dumaguete

First off, I must extend my congratulations to the winners and participating filmmakers of the Third 61 Student Short Film Festival in Silliman University! It was an unexpectedly tremendous, jam-packed success—and now there plans afoot to make it bigger, perhaps even to expand the pool of talents beyond the College of Mass Communication.

Three years ago, when I was invited to be the Dumaguete representative for that year’s edition of the Film Congress of the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, I was asked during my panel at the Cultural Center of the Philippines whether there was a sizable filmmaking community here. And yet, despite my presentation declaring the city to be a cocoon for such filmmakers as National Artist for Film Eddie Romero, Seymour Barros Sanchez, Jonah Lim, Carmen del Prado, Ramon del Prado, and myself, there was not much you could consider to constitute a “community”—meaning there was no active active filmmaking scene, even of the independent variety, that churned out a regional cinema.

Later that year, in my film class for what was then the School of Commmunication, I challenged a group of students to make their own short films, and those who rose to the challenge—among them Anthony Gerard Odtohan (with Papa Mike and the Rainbow Village), Eliora Bernedo (with The Bird, The Bees, and All the In-Betweens), Karen Grace Yasi (with The Anniversary), and Marc Cabreros (with The Web Cam)—produced short films of a beginner’s variety: rough, but ultimately showing a promise of bigger and better things. That edition of what is now known as the 61 Short Film Festival showed us that things can happen, if we let them happen, of course with the attendant “pushing” that comes with any project. It showed us that Dumaguete was perfectly capable of creating its own regional cinema. Bacolod, across the island in Negros Occidental, was already leading the way. Dumaguete

Soon, we saw the trickling of filmmaking turning into a kind of flood. In 2011, SPI Global—a call center company in Dumaguete—ran a short film contest that yielded a filmmaker in Mark Duran. Also that year, North City Elementary School and the Negros Oriental State University also ran short film competitions that may have produced films short on either technological or story-telling considerations, but signaled more than just cinematic possibilities: they showed that Dumaguetenos—given the chance—were perfectly capable of becoming filmmakers. They have stories to tell, and they knew how to tell it in the specialized language of film. Soon, we got Stephen Abanto’s Suga, an animated horror film; Razceljan Salvarita’s I Am Patience, a nature film that is a meditation of Zen-like stillness; and Hersley-Ven Casero’s Paper, a kind of animation that utilized more than a thousand still pictures to create the story of a piece of paper as it journeys around the Foundation University campus. Suga and Paper became the city’s representatives to the 2012 CinemaRehiyon Festival in Bacolod City. The year before that, the city was represented by Carmen del Prado’s documentary Dumaguete—An Artists’ Haven.

This year’s festival crop is an amazing group that includes Jose Adrian Miraflor’s Voldemort Must Die, which won Best Film and Best Director for Miraflor. The film also won the Audience Choice Award, Best Supporting Actor for Von Colina, Best Supporting Actress for Abbie Sagucio—and then Best Editing, Best Sound, and Best Costume Design, all for Miraflor. Mahogany Rae Bacon’s Marry Me won the Jury Prize for Best Film, and also won Best Actress for Megan Alexandra Cariaso, Best Cinematography for Aris Ramiro, Cezar Galang, and Jerick Hernani, and Best Make-up for Nicole Villanueva. David Delantar won Best Actor for Crizza Almagro’s Submarino.

Best Screenplay went to Mariella Sagarbarria Bustamante and Shadid Sidri for Temperomine, which also won Best Production Design. Best Musical Score went to Jem Robert Talaroc for Kaiza Abaincia’s Mikaela. Best Poster Design went to Eunji Ha's The Haunted House.

Congratulations to the other student filmmakers Precious Grace Heradura (Party), Beverly Linao (Document1), and Grace Yang (Crossed Destiny) for a job more than well done. And thanks to our Jury composed of Ma. Cecilia Genove, Dessa Quesada-Palm, Annabelle Lee-Adriano, Greg Morales, Ian Manuel Mercado, Carmen del Prado, Hersley-Ven Casero, and Hope Tinambacan.

Let’s hope for even bigger things, cinematically-speaking, in the nearest future.

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