The Luna Awards is the result of a long and systematic process that starts with the selection of worthy films by the citers followed by the nominators chore of picking the five nominees in each categories and, lastly, the task of the 270 or so voters to choose the Luna Awardees. For the voters, composed of people in the movie industry, the eight-day screening (Aug. 14 to 24) of the 15 nominated films is like a reunion. Following are snippets about the people in my neighborhood.
Ana Capri lining up to get her ballot
FAP Director General Leo G. Martinez exhorted the voters to be careful, aside from being judgmentally fair, in selecting their best for the Luna Awards. “Nitong huling meeting, medyo nakapag-yabang ako,” Leo emitted a chuckle inside the UP Theater, “kasi sabi ko sa kanila peer awards itong atin kaya ito ang pinakamatindi sa lahat ng mga awards. Besides, wala ritong anomalya or anything dahil lagi tayong fair at maingat sa choices natin. So, nakikiusap ako sa inyo…”
From a veteran production crew, “Malaking bagay itong ginagawa sa atin ng Academy. Kahit paano binibigyan pa rin tayo ng importansya. Kaya lang sana yung allowance dagdagan naman. Yung mga hindi dumating, saan pupunta ang allowance nila? Sana parte-partehin na lang sa ating mga nagdatingan, ano? Aba, kung walang darating eh sino na ang boboto?” It is a sad fact that the 250 pesos daily allowance for the screening is considered a wealth by some voters especially by those who are jobless at present.
From a production designer, “Pag ganitong gathering, alam mo, parang nalulungkot ako. Tingnan mo, ang tatanda na tapos mukhang mga tuyot pa. Ang masama nito, wala silang kapalit, ano? Sino ang papalit sa kanila eh kahit tayo matatanda na rin, di ba?” A little less than half of the voters consisted of senior citizens. Several aged voters attended the screenings with their walking cane. Another production designer retorted, “Kaya nga dapat gumawa tayo ng pelikula para sa kanila. Yung pang home for the aged tapos sila ang gawin nating mga bida.” The one who last spoke seriously pointed to this writer to prepare a storyline (as if a producer would be willing to make the proposed film).
Voters take time out to eat
From SGP’s Enrico Villa and Ric Acasio, “Si Marvin ang best actor namin.” Like ordinary mortals, some voters tend to play favorites but they remain independent in their choices. From Nonoy Santillan, a film editor, “Sayang si Jennylyn, sa supporting lang siya nominated. Matindi ang performance niya kasi parang hindi si Jennylyn ang nakikita mo, yung character talaga niya ang napapanood, di ba? Ganun ang magaling na artista, natatabunan ang personalidad niya ng character niya.”
The most applauded among the nominated films was Ang Pagdadalaga Ni Maximo Oliveros. It was also the movie where the theater was fully packed, mostly by students. From an OSFILM member, “Magaling yung bata… Ano? Hindi ba bakla yun? Eh talaga palang magaling. Ano? Baguhan lang yun? Wala na kong masabi.” From a student in the audience, “Curious lang po kami kasi talk of the town ang Pagdadalaga. No, hindi po ako bading pero nagustuhan ko rin ang film. May redeeming value po kasi.”
The next popular movie was Exodus. It was the day when the UP theater was littered with children. From an unidentified viewer, “Nabalitaan ko libre kaya isinama ko ang mga anak ko. Sa hirap ng buhay hindi kami makapanood eh. Wala naman kaming DVD. Buti na lang mabait ang FAMAS.” She noticed her faux pas, eventually, when this writer showed her the scoring sheet. “Ay, Film Academy pala ang sponsor nito. Naku, sorry, ha? Wag mong sasabihin kay Laurice Guillen na nagkamali ako.” She bade goodbye, unable to hear the clarification that Leo Martinez is the head of FAP and not Laurice.
Kutob earned some gasps and a few screams from the audience. From a musical director, “Kahit alam mo na kung sino ang killer, nakakatakot pa rin. Subukan mong tanggalin ang sound, wala kang mararamdamang takot. Ganyan ka-importante ang sound sa pelikula. Pero mas importante ang music, di ba?” When queried on his best bet for sound and music, he replied, “Mas mabigat yung ke Claudine, yung Nasaan Ka Man. Palagay ko yun ang iboboto ko.”
Veteran voters Ka Arnold and Ate Inday
From an OSFILM member, “Kita mo nga ang digital, ha? Ang liit ng screen. Iba talaga ang thirty-five (35mm).” From a cinematographer, “Talagang iba pag digital, hindi maganda ang kulay pati ang exposure ng subject.” From an SGP member, “Bakit ganun pag digital? Kokonti ang characters, kokonti rin ang setting. Eh paikot-ikot lang ang istorya sa kanila. Yung Mga Pusang Gala, bilang na bilang ang tao pati yung eksena ng lugar. Low-budget na low-budget ang dating.” Indeed, the digital film is still in the early stages, the reason why producers scrimp on the budget is because only few theaters are equipped to exhibit their masterpieces. But in terms of story and scripting, digital films can give the 35mm a run for their money. And in fairness to Pusang Gala, Ricky Davao was highly praised for his portrayal of a gay novelist.
Masahista, a nominated film by Brillante Mendoza, earned a lot of negative remarks. From a respected member of UFIMDAP, “Bakit ba nasama sa atin yun, para namang nakakahiya.” From a member of the Still Pictures Guild, “Grabe naman ang ginawa dun, pinalabas na cheap ang mga Kapampangan.” From some SGP members, “Nakakasawa naman. Walang tigil ang pakita sa mga cubicle. Parang porno na eh.” From a film editor, “Ang sagwa naman ng gawa. Naka-intercut yung romansa sa patay. Ipapakita yung sex ng mga bakla tapos biglang lipat sa morge. Ano ba yan!” Aside from earning brickbats, Masahista is also the shortest movie at 70 minutes running time.
From a veteran scriptwriter referring to Enteng Kabisote, Ispiritista and D’ Anothers, “Yan ang hirap sa comedy ngayon. Imbes na umasenso eh bumababa pa ang kalidad. Yun na lang PLDT girl, napansin mo ba? Lumitaw na yun sa Enteng tapos lumitaw rin sa Ispiritista. Baka bata nung director yun, a.” From a director, “Mahirap talagang gumawa ng comedy. Nasa script ang buhay niyan pero importante rin ang continuity. Pag nawala ang focus ng director, sira na. Yung Ispiritista eh multo, di ba? Bakit nagkaroon ng mga zombie?” From a young scriptwriter, “Corny, wala kang mapiga sa comedy ngayon. Ang masasabi ko lang, kumita nga sila pero corny pa rin.”
More about the screened comedy films, “Sumasakay na lang sa artista. Yung ke Vhong Navarro, pinilit isaksak si Toni Gonzaga, di ba? Kung tutuusin extra lang si Toni dun. Buti pa yung ke Bella (Flores) medyo malaman ang papel kasi sa ending, siya ang nag-ending eh.” The actor continued his litany, “Bakit kayong mga scriptwriter, hindi kayo makagawa ng original comedy? Ah, sorry, ibig kong sabihin yung mga scriptwriter nung napanood natin.” A camera shot ended the actor’s rantings.
The author casting his vote
From the people in the food queue, “Bakit last week okey ang pagkain? Ngayon, laging late, gutom na gutom na ang mga tao. Kita mo, o, ang haba ng pila.” The complaints department normally receives such remarks but, in fairness to the caterer, no one carped on the quality and quantity of the food.
From a veteran voter on the final screening day, “Bakit walang mga artista? Ano, mga artistang bago. Eh puro sila’t sila rin ang nagdatingan. Nung nakaraang taon pag voting day na ang daming bagong mukha, di ba? Saka bakit ordinaryo ang pagkain? Bakit walang lechon? Saka si Leo, hindi pa ba dumarating? Darating ba? Sabi ni Ana yung invitation darating. Eh si Leo, hindi ba sinabi kung darating? Wala ring coverage, ano? Ikaw lang ang me hawak ng camera. Saang guild ka ba, hijo?”
From Serge Lobo, “Bigyan mo ko ng kopya nyang mga kuha mo, ha? Alam mo naman kaming matatanda, napakahalaga sa amin ng ganyang mga… litrato. CD ba ikamo? Basta ireserba mo ko ng isang kopya, babayaran ko kahit magkano.” Majority of those who were asking for the souvenir album, of pictures and footages, were voters who could easily qualify for the geriatric wards. To show genuine sympathy, FAP is sponsoring the reproduction of the souvenir shots in the VCD format for distribution to the voters, free of charge.
The voting can be considered a success with the huge turnout of voters. The traditional gigantic ballot box was situated in front of the FAP secretariat for the convenience of the voters. Another convenience provided was the design of the ballot where the voter need only to put a check on their choices in each of the 12 categories. Malou Villarey, the External Auditor, was there to oversee the activity and also to guard the ballot box, maybe.
And, yes, FAP Director General Leo G. Martinez was a no show due to the taping of his television shows. But he was ably represented by William Mayo, a member of the FAP Board of Governors. The results of the voting will be known on September 16 during the 24th Luna Awards to be held at Casino Pilipino near the NAIA airport and to be shown on RPN-9. The producer this time is Eight Elephants Productions, owned by the couple Harlene Bautista and Romnick Sarmenta.
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