“GUSTO kong ibigay ito sa lahat ng mga ‘Eric’ na inalisan ng bibig at hindi nakapagsalita, para sa inyo ‘to. Nandito kami, nakikinig,” says Director Carl Papa of “ITI MAPUKPUKAW” (The Missing) that won the Best Film Award at the 2023 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival.
“Iti Mapukpukaw” is one of the three films on gay and lesbian issues that bagged major awards in the 19th Cinemalaya held from August 4 to 13, 2023 at the PICC.
Aside from the Best Film Award (Full-Length), “Iti Mapukpukaw received the NETPAC Award while Dolly de Leon won the Best Supporting Actress Award
“HULING PALABAS” won the Best Director Award for Ryan Machado while Bon Andrew Lentejas won as Best Supporting Actor.
“ROOKIE” by Samantha Lee got the Best Actress Award for Pat Tingjuy as well as Audience Choice Awards and the Best Editing Award.
“Iti Mapukpukaw” was awarded best film “for boldly taking on the challenges of technology in crafting a very engaging narrative of a young man confronting the demons of his past, and for its overall cinematic experience.”
It is the first full-length rotoscope animation film in Cinemalaya that follows Eric’s life as a mouthless young animator at the intersections of grief and trauma.
Rotoscope is a method of animation that’s created by tracing over frame by frame of live-action footage.
Eric untangles memories from his childhood in the wake of his uncle’s death. An alien abducted him from Earth which left him power as the destined ruler of the planet.
The death triggered Eric to remember his past as a child victim of sexual abuse by his uncle. He stopped talking as his uncle told him to remain silent. His co-worker Carlo (Gio Gahol) is his love interest and his shock absorber.
Dolly de Leon was recognized for her “pellucid performance of an affectionate mother helping her son confront the demons of his past.” She said that the film is a way of healing, embracing trauma, and getting over it as a young individual.
Machado got the Best Director Award for “Huling Palabas” as he effectively summoned “the resources of art to come up with a deeply personal film that evokes fond memories of pre-digital cinema while paying homage to one’s small-town roots, and how all of this contributes to fashioning self-respect and self-identity.”
“Huling Palabas” is a coming-of-age movie that tackled themes of identity formation, abandonment, friendship, and folklore.
Like the transition of entertainment technology from VHS to VCD, the sexual orientation of Andoy (Shun Mark Gomez) also transformed.
In search of his long-lost father, a young boy’s reality becomes mystified when two movie-like characters appear in his hometown in Romblon — Ariel, a hairdresser, and Isidro, a mysterious, long-haired man who owns a VCD player.
Lentejas got the award for his “engaging portrayal of a young man trying to understand his best friend’s difficult ways as the latter comes of age.”
Tingjuy of “Rookie” won the Best Actress Award for “her refreshing portrayal of a young girl coming to terms with her sexual identity as she comes of age in the exciting world of volleyball.”
“Rookie” is a romantic comedy about young queer love and volleyball. An awkward six-footer teen Ace (Tingjuy) is forced to learn and play volleyball half-heartedly in the Catholic school she transferred to. Everything changes when she meets their star player Janna (Aya Fernandez).
Lee said that queerness in sports is rarely explored: the film deals with the sensitive yet timely issues of gender inequality and objectification of women in male-dominated spaces.
The film also showed how officials of all-female schools normally address sexual harassment issues involving male teachers, professors, and coaches. In order to protect the school’s reputation, the culprits are just transferred from one school to another without legal cases filed against them or without public statements made condemning their actions.
I saw several Cinemalaya films revolving around LGBT issues including “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros” when it premiered at the First Cinemalaya in 2005.
Set in the slums of Manila, the coming-of-age comedy-drama film by fellow UP alumnus Auraeus Solito is about a gay teen (Nathan Lopez) who is torn between his love for a young cop ( JR Valentin) and his loyalty to his family.
Although it did not win the Best Film Award in 2005, it became one of the icons of indie films and has been included in various lists of best gay films. It was the Philippines’ official entry to the 79th Academy Awards.
Transgender Mimi Juareza won the Best Actor Award for Quick Change in the 2013 New Breed.
De Leon is also part of “Ang Duyan Ng Magiting” that received a special award for Best Ensemble and Special Jury Award.
The other films with citations in the full length section include “Tether” for Mikoy Morales who got the Best Actor Award and for sound design; “When This Is All Over” for cinematography, production design and original music score; and “Gitling” for screenplay.
(Peyups is the moniker of University of the Philippines. Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 09175025808 or 09088665786.)