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FEU, Mapua films rule Cinema Primera.

Two short films from Far Eastern University and a thesis film from Mapua University led the winners of the second Cinema Primera film festival recently held at the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Molino Campus.

'Pua Iyam' from FEU extended its winning streak as it bagged Best Film, Best Screenplay for writer-director Juan Pablo Pineda III, as well as Best Sound and Best Actor for Rowi Du. A member of the FEU Theater Guild, Du portrays the character of a young Filipino-Chinese student who confesses his true feelings to his childhood friend (Raphael Cruz) after discovering his inner self.

Mapua entry 'Ophelia' bagged second place, Best Director for Celina Mae Medina, Best Cinematography for Tricia Sotaso, Best Actress for Rea Molina and Best Supporting Actor for Soliman Cruz. The film tells the story of a depressed college student (Molina) who wants to seek psychiatric help but her parents (Cruz and Angelina Kanapi) have other plans in mind.

Cinema Primera festival director and multi-awarded filmmaker Arvin 'Kadiboy' Belarmino lauded 'Pua Iyam' for its richness 'in love in many different and in much deeper ways.' He added that its 'narrative flow went very beautifully, and it conveyed naturally and clearly the main message of the film in a different and colorful way where it inspires your emotions slowly but very efficiently.'

Belarmino also praised Medina for her handling of 'Ophelia' as she 'was able to execute every scene appropriately and accurately, in order to hone the message of the story. The flow of all the emotions were very effective and the tie or the links of each scene can be attributed to an excellent directing of the film.'

Medina, for her part, revealed that she 'wanted to tackle how it feels to have depression and what it feels like to be invalidated.' She decided not to show the main character in the last part of the film so as not to romanticize suicide. 'And I felt like it was more effective to leave the audience wondering what really happened,' she added.

Pineda is grateful that their film continues to earn accolades even after two years of wrapping up production. 'I still remember how I first fell in love and how I easily stopped from loving and chasing the characters I've created in my story,' he recalled.

'Pua Iyam' previously won Best Short Film and Best Performance for Du in the Dreamanila International Film Festival student category; Best Screenplay and Best Actor in a Lead Role at the 9th Largabista Film Festival in Tacloban City, Leyte; a special citation on gender sensitivity from the first Palawan International Film Festival; and Best Cinematography and another special citation from Piling Obrang Vidyo XIV.

The short film earlier nabbed the Cardinal Bronze Film Award, Best Film Editing and Best Cinematography at CineMapua's intercollegiate category; Gold Award for Best Picture, Outstanding Direction, Design Excellence and Technical Excellence awards in the Sibol category of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde's CineSB; and Best Film, Best Director, Best Performance and Best Poster at Sinepiyu's Black Reel category. It was screened as part of the Diwa Filipino Film Showcase at Seattle Center in the United States and competed at the ShanghaiPRIDE Film Festival in China.

Pineda and Du shared their awards with Indie-Go Pictures associate producer Maria Alanna Cargullo, production manager Lyka Valerie Dela Cruz, camera team members Karla Relis, Jose Miguel Ramirez and Amiel Ona, production designers Reina Rizz Esguerra and Kyla Lodriga, wardrobe and make-up artist Mickey Ponce, assistant director Zahara Depaling and script continuity supervisor Krystel Saguit.

'Pua Iyam' received a cash prize of 7,500 pesos while 'Ophelia' got 6,000 pesos for winning at Cinema Primera. Another FEU entry, 'Madison' by Jesus P. Singh III, brought home third place and 4,000 pesos.

'Madison' is a musical short film about a transgender student (Christian Vinas) who makes fun of other people. Strange things start to happen after she ignores and belittles an old woman (Raven Relavo) who is asking for help. Produced by Nota Productions, it also won third at Sinepiyu's Golden Reel category.

'Winning a film competition is not the goal or the desire of our production team,' Singh shared. However, the FEU Theater Guild alumnus welcomed different film competitions which 'invigorate young filmmakers to produce more films that will aid Philippine cinema.'

Frances Louise Giner's 'Touch Move' nabbed Best Production Design for Benjamin Cidro as his team transformed a classroom into a life-size chess set. With characters as chess pieces, it depicts the difficulty of moving on. The film was recently screened as part of the Luzon delegation to Cinema Rehiyon in Dumaguete, after winning last year at Pelikultura: The Calabarzon Film Festival.

Bellatrix Tan, who essayed the role of an older sister to a spectrophobia-stricken aspiring actress (Larissa Louise Alivio), won Best Supporting Actress for 'Estrella' directed by Jelen Tan. This is her second award of such nature for the film after winning at the fifth Urduja Film Festival in Lingayen, Pangasinan.

The Best Editing award also went to Du for his work on 'Pag-uwi' by Tee Cabiles. 'Touch Move,' 'Estrella' and 'Pag-uwi' are also from FEU like 'Pua Iyam' and 'Madison.'

Cinema Primera was originally conceived when Belarmino conducted a film talk with the MMA students of UPHSD Molino. 'As the seminar concluded, Director Belarmino encouraged the students to create films that would be presented in a festival,' Rolando Quirong, chair of the Multimedia Arts Department of UPHSD Molino's College of Arts and Sciences, recalled.

'The first Cinema Primera was held in February 2018 and although there were many challenges especially with the logistics of the festival, not to mention the students' problems in creating their full-length videos, the lessons learned allowed a more organized festival for short films and this year, 2019, the Multimedia Arts department decided to open the festival to all students nationwide,' Quirong explained.

The other finalists are 'Ang Huling Bucketlist' by Bibo Ebuen, 'Bukod Kang Pinagpala sa Babaeng Lahat' by Lyxen Nicolas, 'Retrospektib' by Daryll Jameson Apaga and 'Dama' by Trisha Marie Antonio, all coming from FEU, and 'Silakbo' by Dan Jaspher Martinez and 'Virtuoso' by Amiel Salao, both from the host school.

'Ultimately, the intent is to encourage students in making films that would showcase the best of the country, particularly the hospitality of the Filipinos, as well as the beautiful places in different regions. Part of the goal is to enhance students' creativity in presenting the different cultures and current perspectives especially of the young generation,' Quirong revealed.

'Finally, it is also the goal of Cinema Primera to promote film development in different ways, as it can become a tool or instrument in educating both the young and the older Filipinos with important knowledge related to having a better and more quality life for each one,' he concluded.
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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Article Type:Movie review
Date:Mar 31, 2019
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