Six Degrees of Separation in Viva PBO Digitales 2

By: Seymour Barros Sanchez | Yehey.com
10 June 2008 | 9:04 AM

When Pinoy Box Office (PBO), Viva Productions’ Pinoy movie channel, announced the finalists to its Digitales 2 short film competition, I was not only delighted that my entry “Shorts” made it again to the finals after my first short film “Lababo” won the Digitales grand prize last year. What thrilled me more is the fact that the other six finalists are connected to me in one way or another. “Hiling” is directed by Patricia Lorraine C. Rosal, a student in my scriptwriting class at St. Paul University Manila. “Ambulancia,” where I worked as production manager, is helmed by Richard Soriano Legaspi, a classmate at Ricky Lee’s scriptwriting workshop for film and television. Ivy Universe Tayag Baldoza and Noriel M. Jarito, who directed “Walang Paraiso” and “OFW – Bagong Bayani o Baliw na Bayani,” respectively, were students of Armando Lao’s advanced scriptwriting workshop, which I organized for MLR Films. “Isa” is helmed by Ronald Espinosa Batallones, who graduated from the UP Film Institute’s digital production workshop under Ramon Bautista, who in turn was our director in the now-defunct ABC 5 show “Dokyu: Ang Bagong Mata ng Pinoy Documentaries.” Finally, “Kwidaw” is directed by Rosswil H. Hilario, a former officemate of my friends at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

Digitales 2, a project of PBO and Viva Foundation for the Arts, with media sponsor Viva Prime, awards P50,000 to the grand prize winner, P30,000 to the second prize, and P20,000 to the third prize. All finalists are shown randomly in between full-length features at the PBO cable channel.

Judging the entries were Lex Bonife and Jay Altarejos, the writer-director team behind Viva Films’ “Lalake sa Parola” and “Ang Lihim ni Antonio,” Robert Quebral, director of Viva’s “Sex Drive” and “Co-Ed Scandal,” Gil Tejada, director of GMA 7’s “Encantadia,” “Bakekang,” “Maging Akin Ka Lamang,” and “La Vendetta,” Keith Sicat, writer/director of independent film “Rigodon,” and Benedict Mique, writer of “Till I Met You,” “Co-Ed Scandal,” and “Liberated.”

“Ambulancia”

Set to compete at the fifth Naoussa International Short Film and Video Festival in Greece, “Ambulancia” is a short film which tells of a painful twist in an ambulance driver’s belief that a dying patient can be saved by running over stray animals on the streets. Starring Alan Paule and Nor Domingo, it won best short narrative at the first Quisumbing-Escandor Film Festival for Health. It was also screened at the Asian Film Academy Fellows’ Night in Busan, South Korea, Young Cinema Night of the 2007 Cinemanila International Film Festival, and the second CineVita filmfest at the University of Sto. Tomas. Director Legaspi is a faculty of the University of the East – Caloocan College of Fine Arts (UE CFA), teaching Advertising and Painting.

“Hiling”

A project of director Rosal under her Art of the Film class at SPUM, “Hiling” tells the story of a streetchild who wishes to eat a fried chicken meal at a famous fastfood restaurant. Working as a carwash boy and taking on other menial jobs in Quiapo to raise money to buy the meal, he suddenly finds himself at a loss when he wakes up one day without his hard-earned money. What follows is a series of heart-warming events which would test the child’s mettle in life.

“Isa”

A story of three years of forbidden relationship, “Isa” is the story of Diego, an overseas Filipino worker based in Kuwait. When his loved one Salome decides to go back to her family in the Philippines, Diego’s life suddenly changed. He is now living in illusion, struggling to overcome loneliness and emptiness. Diego’s life is one in 60,000 stories of around 60,000 Filipinos living in Kuwait. Director Batallones, also an OFW, is a medical technologist by profession, having graduated from the University of San Agustin in 1994. Ten years later, he won honorable mention for “Kalyehera” in the FSR Screenwriting Contest conducted by the Viva Foundation for the Arts in memory of the late actress Fermina Salvador-del Rosario, known as Mina Aragon.

“Kwidaw”

“Kwidaw” tackles the harsh treatment usually accorded to new employees of a company. It is that unfair treatment one gets that brought Divina to do horrible things to her officemates. Director Hilario is a graduate of Commerce major in Management Information Systems at the University of St. La Salle, Bacolod City, where he also took up units in Film Production and Director’s Apprenticeship. He started as art director for ABS-CBN Bacolod’s first Ilonggo TV series “Hulog Sang Langit,” production assistant for Erik Matti’s “Kagat ng Dilim,” crowd director for “Dos Ekis,” and script supervisor and continuity director for “Prosti.” His short film “Kananete” opened the 2007 Manila Pride Festival and will be screened at Q! International Filmfest in Jakarta, Indonesia. He has also directed and acted in many theater productions.

“OFW – Bagong Bayani o Baliw na Bayani”

Jarito’s entry “OFW – Bagong Bayani o Baliw na Bayani” is also the story of an OFW like “Isa.” The protagonist, also played by the director, struggles from the monotony of the evenings of his stay until he finishes his contract there. How many more evenings like this would he suffer before he reunites with his loved ones? Jarito answers this question based on his experiences as a graphic designer in international advertising agencies in Saudi Arabia. It competed at the 11th International Short Film Festival in Tehran and 19th Gawad CCP Film and Video Competition. It was also screened at the Jakarta Slingshorts and Australia’s Nice Shorts.

“Shorts”

My entry “Shorts” is a comedy shot in the form of a “mockumentary,” or mock documentary. It tells the story of Richard Marquez, 25, a young, hotshot copywriter/production designer of one of the country’s top advertising agencies who suddenly “snaps” or seems to have snapped as relayed by people close to him. He seems to be doing anything to make his new shorts dirty to the fear of everyone. While it is told in a humorous manner, “Shorts” is a serious commentary on how we tend to make conclusions but in the end, the joke is really on us. It stars Peejay Lanot with cameo appearances by actress Gina Pareño, directors Jeffrey Jeturian and Sockie Fernandez, former Yes FM DJ Edu Mansanas/Jobert Monteras and DZXL/Bantay OFW host Marvin Javier.

“Walang Paraiso”

Similarly screened at the Young Cinema Night of the 2007 Cinemanila, “Walang Paraiso” is a short film that tackles one’s paranoia with family members and how a person can find solace in an unforgiving city. In the story, a highly-strung businessman discovers his wife’s infidelity and decides to have her killed. Three years later, the killer-for-hire returns to him with news that his wife is alive and out to get him. Director Baldoza, an alumni of the Mowelfund Film Institute and a participant of the 2008 Berlinale Talent Campus in Germany, was also selected for the Script Station, a mentorship program under Franz Rodenkirchen of the Berlin Script House.

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