Monday, August 22, 2011

Observations from a Semi-Starry, Starry Night

Observations from a Semi-Starry, Starry Night

It was a blind item coursed through an acceptance speech. Arnel Mardoquio, director of Sheika (2010), received the Urian Best Actress trophy for Fe Gingging Hyde, who was in Dubai and was unable to receive her award. The Mindanaoan director revealed that his film was then an entry for a local independent film festival and was removed precisely because Hyde was not famous enough to rake in publicists and moviegoers to be interested in the film. For Mardoquio, the Urian prize, like the NETPAC prize he won for the same film during the local independent film festival he was referring to, is sweet retribution. For some of us, Mardoquio’s speech reveals just one of the many concerns of the supposed “indie film” scene. For the rest, which probably consists of majority of movie-going Filipinos, the speech is nothing more than an ignorable anecdote that will do nothing for their hunger only for escapist cinema, whether locally produced or imported.

Ever since the international film community started noticing so-called indie films and bestowing upon them slots in prestigious film festivals and awards, the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino quickly took charge in promoting their successes by offering nominations and wins in their annual Urian Awards. It is ostensibly a worthy effort. The films needed to be seen in the Philippines. However, the sad truth is that these films’ existences are kept secret not by some grandiose conspiracy but by simple ignorance. The Manunuri and their much-coveted awards have saved up enough integrity and goodwill over the years to make their decisions a matter of public interest...

(Continue reading in Lagarista.)

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