by Nickie Wang
A comedy about misguided ambitions, the art of making art and the romantisizing of poverty, that is what Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank ia all about and these are the same reasons why the jurors at the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival chose the comedy feature as this year’s best full-length film, a misnomner, since it’s only a video.
Ang Babae sa Septic Tank was also the big winner in the annual indie film event that took place at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theater on July 24. And the brightest star of the night was Eugene Domingo who won her first Best Actress award for the title role in the comedy feature.
“I had to eat shit just to win this,” Eugene jested during her acceptance speech but suddenly shifted to being seriouis, “I don’t believe in the stars, I believe in the actors and the directors sharing the same dream. Let’s do this together.”
The 40-year-old has won six best supporting actress plums in the past including a Cinemalaya Best Supporting Actress award for the film 100 (2008) starring Mylene Dizon. Eugene considers the Cinemalaya recognition a major achievement in her career.
“I asked my friends for their support and prayers because there are so many deserving people for the award. I saw most of the films competing in this year and I must say that it’s quite hard to predict who’s going to win so this came to me as a surprise. But of course masarap manalo,” Eugene told the press right after the three-hour awarding ceremony.
Apart from the Best Actress and Best Film trophies, Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank also bagged the Audience Choice Award, Best Director for Marlon Rivera and Best Screenplay for Chris Martinez.
Meanwhile, Edgar Allan Guzman bested veteran and season thespians in the Best Actor category. The 21-year-old star, known for winning Eat Bulaga’s “Mr Pogi” a few years back, was recognized for his outstanding performance in the sexy comedy Ligo Na U Lapit Na Me.
“It’s a great honor to win this award and it inspires me to do more indie films. I just hope na sana ito ay maging daan upang mapansin din ang aking talent sa mainstream,” Edgar said.
Other competing features recognized at the event were: Amok that won Best Sound Recording and Best Editing; Niño that went home bagged the Best Production Design award, Special Jury Prize, Best Supporting plum for Sharmaine Buencamino, and Best Supporting Actor trophy for Arthur Acuña; and Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa that snatched the Best Cinematography and Best Original Music Score recognitions.
On the other hand, Jeffrey Jeturian’s Bisperas, topped the Director’s Showcase category for winning Best Film, Best Actress for Raquel Villavicencio, Best Supporting Actress for Julia Clarete, Best Cinematography for Roberto Yniguez and Best Production Design for Rodrigo Riccio.
Completing the list of winners in the Director’s Showcase category were: Jaime Pebangco, Best Supporting Actor for Patikul; Bembol Roco, Best Actor for Isda; Benjamin Tolentino, Best Editing for Isda; Diwa de Leon, Best Original Musical Score and Best Sound both for Busong; and Aureaus Solito, Best Director for Busong.
Joel Lamangan’s Patikul also won Audience Choice Award for the Director’s Showcase category and Best Film for Children.
Even bigger Cinemalaya
A total of 31 digital movies in competition, plus more than a hundred in exhibition, new sections, and a second festival venue all made Cinemalaya bigger this year. Cinemalaya reached a wider audience in its 7th edition being held in two places at the same time. The addition of Greenbelt 3 as a second venue for the festival is part of the vision of Cinemalaya organizers to make the festival more accessible to the growing number of audiences that attend Cinemalaya.
According to festival director Nestor Jardin, the Philippine media have found something substantial about the festival that is why it sees better growth each year.
In 2009, Cinemalaya attracted 38,000 people. It is about 10,000 more audience compared to the number of attendees in 2008. Last year, 42,000 trooped to the venues at the CCP to watch the films in competition, and this year, the festival expected at least 50,000 audiences.
“As of 3 p.m. today (July 24, which is the last day of the festival), the exact number of attendees has reached 53, 611,” Jardin gladly announced.
Another good news to all indie film buffs is, Jardin revealed, that the organizers are currently in talks with Gateway Mall. They plan to take the festival to Cubao in 2012.