The local film festivals serve as springboard for local filmmakers to aspire and compete with the more advanced and progressive countries in the field of film making. Thus, films winning in local festivals invariably ended participating in more prestigious and established film festivals abroad.
In one instance, a film which was literally snubbed by the Metro manila Film festival proved the MMFF screening committee wrong when it won awards in festivals overseas. This controversial film was Magnifico , produced by Madame Violeta Carreon-Sevilla’s Violette Films Production and directed by ace director Mario de los Reyes which failed to make it to the 2003 Metro Manila Film Festival placing no.12 in the selection based on finished screenplays (and not on finished films). This Mario de los Reyes movie, written by Michiko Yamamoto, achieved a rare grand slam feat of winning all local film awards before going overseas ands collecting two best film awards in the Berlinale in Germany and another award in Rome in 2004. The following year, the Violett Films-De Los Reyes-Yamamoto triumvirate again submitted an entry to the MMFF and once again, failed to make it. The project was Hugos , about the Loboc Childrens Choir of Bohol whioch won in an international competition in Europe . Undeterred, Madame Violet submitted three scripts to the 2005 Metro Manila Film Festival, hoping against hope that one of her films will at last be given fair attention and be included in this year’s film festival. Another rejection came her way. The good madame is still optimistic the MMDA-MMFF will be fair and give her a chance next year.
Inspite of this, more Filipino films are making waves in international film festivals. Ang Pagdadalaga ni MaximoOliveros won the best film award (the Golden Zenith) in the recent Montreal First Films World Festival after competing in Switzerland .
Masahista (The Masseur) won the Golden Leopard award in the Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland . The same movie will be shown also in films festivals slated in Vancouver (Canada), Vienna (Austria), Flanders and Ghent (Belgium), Sao Paolo (Brazil), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Tessalonika (Greece) and Hong Kong.
After winning the Golden Leopard Award in Switzerland , film director Dante Mendoza and lead actor Coco Martin made a courtesy call at Malacañang Palace . The movie was shown locally in Metro Manila theaters last month and turned in encouraging gross receipts.
Minsan Pa of MCR Films, which previously won acting awards for stars Ara Mina and Jomari Yllana represented the country in the first Asian Marine Film Festival in Makuhari City , Japan , and won an award. Earlier, it was also our official entry in the Tokyo Film Festival’s Panoramic Selection, which was held on October 22 to 30, 2005 .
In previous years, Lav Diaz’ Ebolusyon Ng Pamilyang Pilipino , a 10-hour movie, became the only Filipino movie which made it to the Toronto Film Festival.
Carlitos Siguion-Reyna’s Ang Lalaki sa Buhay ni Celia with Rosanna Roces, Ricky Davao ands Allan Paule, and PARAISO NI EFREN, starring Anton Bernardo, Allan Paule playing a gay role and directed by Mario J. de los Reyes also made it to festivals abroad.
Allan Paule’s first movie, Macho Dancer in 1990, directed by Lino Brocka, was the first Filipino movie to make it to the Toronto festival. Allan failed to join the entourage with Director Brocka as his passport was only released after the deadline for the trip. Brocka nonetheless went to Toronto without Allan Paule. Thus, after 15 years, Allan made sure and submitted his travel papers earlier for his visa application. Allan is also in the cast of Masahista with Coco Martin and this time Allan finally made it to Toronto for the festival. In preparation for the trip, Allan begged off from being cast in Mulawin , the Movie to be able to go to Canada , even requesting his good friend designer Danilo Franco for his formal filmfest wear.
It was different in the case of his friend Jaclyn Jose, (both managed by Ed Instrella, together with actor Gardo Versosa). In her first trip for an overseas festival, the Amiens filmfest in France , Jaclyn’s three best actress-winning films were shown in the 10 day-festival, from November 4 to 13, 1994 . The movies were Takaw Tukso , Itanong Mo Sa Buwan and’. Jaclyn was given a sort of tribute by the organizers and made her the guest of honor in the opening night. She was given the star treatment by the festival organizers and paid for her travel and hotel accommodations at the Hotel Universe, the best hotel in the city. She was also given interviews and pictorial and a guided tour of the city and suburbs.
In her early 30′s then, new star discovery Jaclyn Jose, won acting awards in as many films she appeared in.
The feat is now repeated in the case of new actor Yul Servo, winning five acting awards in five films he made in a span of five years. Yul is not the most popular actor in this generation, but he is the only Filipino actor who could boost of winning two best actors received from festivals abroad.
I remember five years ago when I first saw Yul Servo at the birthday party of Director Maryo de los Reyes held at Peppeton’s along Mother Ignacia St. in Quezon City. I was talking to Zoltan Amore whom I recommended to Direk when Yul approached to talk to Zoltan. That was the first time I saw him in person. Very simple, quiet and unassuming. He seldom talked, sitting silently in one corner with a ready smile for everyone passing his way. He was not even in the movies that time, just hanging around with Direk Mario for possible inclusion in his project. He’s very likeable and I never thought that he would make it in the movies and win awards for his acting. Yul Servo is the least written about and there was no controversies involving him. The last time I saw him was in front of Ospital ng Maynila where I brought Walter ‘Markova’ Dempster Jr. for his cataract operation. He was riding in a car bound for his way home in Parañaque and was waving at me with the same happy smile.
Yul Servo started in the movies in the late 90′s with Batang West Side which was shot entirely in the U.S. After five years in the movies, Yul now have five acting awards in the five movies he made in the span of five years. I cannot remember any actor past and present with this record achievements. Maybe I can be wrong on this observation, but I cannot remember any record in local show business that an actor or actress achieved what he did.
He won his best actor trophy at the Brussels International Film Festival in November 2002 for Batang West Side . Before the Brussels Film Fest, Yul won his first acting award in the Cinemanila International Film Festival in June 2001. He won another best actor award in the 2004 Manila Film Festival best film winner Naglalayag with best actress winner Nora Aunor as his leading lady. Naglalayag was also the best picture in the same festival. That was his fourth best acting award. He was the best actor in the Star Award in 2003 for his role as the provinciano in the city for Laman .
In the last Film Aacdemy of the Philippines Luna Awards, Yul Servo was also nominated in the best actor category for his role in Naglalayag . It was a difficult decision for me to make since I was caught between Yul and Dennis Trillo in his role as a gay lover of Jay Manalo in Aishite Imasu . Both delivered sterling performances. In the last day of review, we will finally cast our votes for the best in all categories for the award. I saw both films before the Luna awards but I decided to see them again at the U.P. theatre.
In Naglalayag , I felt Yul was not “acting”. He was the character, he was the role. The way he talked, the way he walked. It was him; it was Yul Servo like I was watching him in real life. Dennis Trillo on the other hand was neither “acting” his role. It was him, so convincing you would believe he is gay. But I considered the difficulty of the role of gay for Dennis which he is not (I hope). It required more concentration, double effort to put himself into the character although in some scenes, he did not shave. I considered the big difference in his role as Vinya, thus Yul became my second choise as best actor. In the awards night for the Luna Award, I was convinced I did the right decision. Dennis Trillo won. But that did not make Yul Servo a lesser actor. To me, he is still one of the best, depending on his role and who his rival is.
Yul Servo could have become a policeman if showbiz did not beckon him. John Marvin Cruz in real life, Yul finished his college studies at the Philippine College of Criminology in 1998. Now Yul Servo is trying a new field in cinema, the digital film. He has finished a digital film Ilusyon for Viva films with JC Parker. He plays the role of a fake painter. He started another digital horror film with Julia Clarete, Sa Ilalim ng Kugon with Rico Ilarde directing. To start filming soon is Pagkagat Ng Dilim .
The December Film Festival is on the way and producers are now busy preparing their entries. I wonder if the other production outfits are not complaining against Regal films. In 2004, they had four entries in the festival. This year, Regal is again taking the lion’s share having three entries plus another one, Mulawin, the Movie a joint venture with GMA. But I plainly remember that MMDA filmfest officials conferred with various representatives from the film industry who recommended unanimously to allow one production outfit just one film entry to give other production companies the chance to participate. What happened? Why was the recommendation just set aside?
Inspite of everything, I still think that film festivals are here to stay. Good quality films will still come out once too often. We cannot deny the fact that best film winners in the annual December filmfest invariably ended up vying for honors in the best picture derby year in and year out. But what is this we hear that there will be no best picture award in the MMFF this year. The top grossing film will automatically be proclaimed the best picture. I cannot say amen to this. Just scrap the awards altogether. Lording it over the box-office can never be the sole criterion of making a film the best of the lot.