Joseph Israel Laban’s “Mariana” (The Hermit Crab) and Seymour Barros Sanchez’s “Patron ng Laging Saklolo” (Patronage Politics) were officially selected in the full-length and short category, respectively, of the Documentaries of the World Section of the 36th Montreal World Film Festival held at the city of Montreal in Quebec, Canada from August 23 to September 3.
The festival aimed to encourage cultural diversity and understanding among nations, to foster the cinema of all continents by stimulating the development of quality cinema, to promote filmmakers and innovative works, to discover and encourage new talents, and to promote meetings between cinema professionals from around the world.
Aside from featuring documentaries around the world, it also included the following sections: World Competition, First Films World Competition, Hors Concours (World Greats, out-of competition), Focus on World Cinema (Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania), Tributes, Cinema Under the Stars, Our Cinema, and Canadian Student Film Festival.
“Mariana” is set in the middle of the traditional Moryonan rites observed every Holy Week on the island of Marinduque. Mariana receives devastating news from abroad – her sister, Magda, who was working as a domestic in Saudi Arabia is dead. Mariana and her mother then have to deal with the expensive process of repatriating Magda’s remains. Living on top of a mountain of mine tailings in an abandoned mining site, Mariana has very few options to raise funds. Her faith and determination are put to a severe test.
Meanwhile, Sanchez’s “Patron ng Laging Saklolo” explores the similarities between fiestas and elections in the Philippines, as well as the ambivalent role of religion and patronage relations in Philippine politics as a way of re-imagining and re-capturing the meaning of the EDSA events. It chronicles the activities during a typical election season in the Philippines, with a focus on patronage politics and the fiesta attitude of Filipinos.
Laban received his masters in journalism from New York University and has worked as a journalist for media in the Philippines and around the world, including the New York Times and GMA News. His first feature “Cuchera” was widely shown in several international film festivals.
Sanchez is a director and writer of Red Room Media Productions and a professor at the Far Eastern University and College of the Holy Spirit in Manila. He won the grand prize in the Viva – Pinoy Box Office Digitales competition for his first short film Lababo (Kitchen Sink) and in the screenplay category of the 2009 Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature for Hiwaga. His films have competed in Thailand, Indonesia, Greece, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
Founded in 1977, the MWFF is one of Canada’s oldest international film festivals and is recognized by FIAPF (Fédération internationale des associations de producteurs de films – the International Federation of Film Producers’ Associations) as the only competitive film festival in North America.