SM CINEMA LAUNCHES STUDENT FILM FESTIVAL


(From top) 'Suntok sa Buwan,' 'Balang Araw,' and 'Tahanan' depict Bigshot's theme for this year, 'modern-day heroism' (Stills grabbed from Syfu’s and ‘Suntok sa Buwan’’s official YouTube page, and ‘Balang Araw’ on Vimeo)

JULIEN MERCED C. MATABUENA Reports : MANILA, Philippines – SM Cinema has officially named the three full-length films that comprise the lineup of the 1st Bigshot Film Festival.The announcement was made on Jan. 17 at the SM Mall of Asia’s Director’s Club. These are “Balang Araw” by Archie Dimaculangan of University of the Philippines-Diliman, “Suntok sa Buwan” by Bianca Catbagan and Jono De Rivera, also from UP-Diliman, and “Tahanan” by Kryzzie Syfu from the De La Salle University.

The top three finalists were selected by SM Cinema, its partner Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), and Bigshot mentors Raymond Lee, Mark Meily and Nick de Ocampo.

The student filmmakers said their works were written specifically for the competition.

“We had to come up with it after we submitted films to SM and we were narrowed down [from more than 50 contestants] to the top 15. The top 15 were asked to write sequence treatments about modern-day heroism,” Catbagan explained.

Her film “Suntok sa Buwan,” which follows the story of two boxers that would face each other in the “defining” bout of their lives, is about “fighting the good fight and never giving up.”

“Modern-day heroism isn’t about just the big names now, but it’s also taking it down to the level of every Filipino who’s also a hero who should also just keep fighting hanggang makalabas sila sa kahirapan,” Catbagan said.

On the other hand, Dimaculangan’s idea of modern-day heroism is, as he puts it, “May pagkakataon lahat ng tao maging hero and it’s just a matter of choice kung pipiliin mo ba maging hero or hindi.” His film centers on a petty crime that happened inside a convenience store one night and the people that find themselves involved with it.

Meanwhile, Syfu pictured the modern-day hero as someone who’s more human. Thus, she put a well-off college student who goes on an immersion in an orphanage as her lead character.

“It need not be great acts of heroism like dying for your country; it just has to be a person going out of his or her way to do something good for someone else,” she explained.

The three filmmakers were given Php 600,000 each for the production of their respective films, with the Php 500,000 coming from SM Cinema and the rest from the FDCP.

The filmmakers admitted to experiencing financial constraints despite getting said amount, but agreed that this served as a lesson to all of them. As De Rivera put it, “Those are the things that we don’t learn in school necessarily. We thank SM for helping us learn this lesson.”

For his part, Dimaculangan shared, “The most important thing that I learned [from UP] was ‘making something out of almost nothing.’ Gawa ka nang gawa ng pelikula pero wala ka ng budget. So parang in a way, na-prepare kami dito.

“Sobrang diskarte [ang kailangan], kailangang kumembot nang kumembot kung saan-saan,” he added, laughing.

According to a press release, Bigshot “was conceptualized in 2010 after movie exhibitors received a 10% reduction on amusement tax.” It officially kicked off on Dec. 2 last year with the announcement of the top 15 finalists, followed by the declaration of the winners just days after.

SM Cinema Marketing Head Sahara Guernica said that Bigshot is part of the company’s goal “to encourage and pave the way for promising filmmakers to produce films.”

“We understand that we have a lot of talent [in our filmmakers]; it’s just that they have limited resources,” she added.

But more than anything, Guernica explained that the festival is a “collaboration” between SM and FDCP, together with the filmmakers, the writers and the viewers to reach the common goal of uplifting the Filipino film industry.

FDCP Executive Director Mike Dela Rosa said that their agency decided to support Bigshot because such projects are “part of the education and development program of the FDCP,” and therefore “is one initiative that deserves to be supported by the government.”

Note that unlike its contemporaries, the SM Bigshot Film Festival won’t be having an awards ceremony since SM has put all its effort on the commercial exhibition of the three films. The movies will be screened from Jan. 25-31 at the following SM Malls: Megamall, Mall of Asia, North EDSA and Cebu.

Aside from the Bigshot winners, films by the mentors will also be shown, namely: “Endo” (Lee), “Donor” (Meily), and “Cine/Sine” (De Ocampo).

Meanwhile, indie film and TV actor Joem Bascon, one of the stars of “Suntok sa Buwan,” said that working with student filmmakers allowed them to experiment more in terms of the overall production.

“With the students kasi, new ideas ‘yung mas tinatahak nila. With the veteran directors, medyo may ano na sila eh, parang template na alam nila kung ano ‘yung gagawin.

“Pero with this, lalo na with the independent filmmakers na students, mas nage-experiment kami. Iba ‘yung shots, so mas nage-explore kami. Mas may nalalaman kaming mga bagong themes, mga stories,” he related.

Bascon co-stars with Bulacan Vice-Governor Daniel Fernando, whose reason for accepting the project was to help budding filmmakers and, more importantly, “para po mai-angat natin ang industriya ng pelikulang Pilipino.”

Other actors present during the press conference were newbies Carlo Cruz from “Balang Araw” and Khen Aldovino from “Tahanan.”

“Balang Araw” also stars Jao Mapa, Aleera Montalla, Shielbert Manuel, Tarhata Rico and Alex Vincent Medina; while “Tahanan” is topbilled by Lauren Young, Mark Gil, and 11 other child actors.

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