A capstone project from the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde School of Design and Arts film program recently bagged the Bronze award in the short film category of the 26th Annual Filipino International Cine Festival and Competition at the International Hotel Manilatown Center in San Francisco, California.
Alsen Estrella’s “Tahanan,” which tells the story of Sabel (Junyka Santarin) who searches for his younger brother Bert (Rein Matudan) as they escape from an evil entity inside their home, got the award from among 21 short films which were chosen as finalists to the competition.
Estrella shared that the story for his film was conceptualized during his first few years in film school. “It’s just a concept that I never got to shoot, because I haven’t figured out how to write the narrative for it just yet. When the time to shoot our thesis came, I was burnt out. It took me some time but eventually, it became a clear choice that I should use the concept for my thesis project.”
Arby and Christine Laraño’s “Liwanag,” Lawrence Fajardo’s “Memories of the Rising Run” and Ralph Quincena’s “Bisperas” won the Gold award, Juan Carlo Torobal’s “Nilalang” got the Silver, while King Abalos’ “Maria” shared the Bronze with “Tahanan.”
FACINE founder and artistic director Mauro Feria Tumbocon Jr. explained that the festival reconsidered its process of selection of awardees “as not exclusive to one film, but more than one, if need be, thus mitigating the idea of competition, but more of a continuing conversation. Hence, the categorization to levels of valuation – Gold, Silver, and Bronze, as the case may be.”
“Tahanan” was also nominated for Outstanding Writing for the Screen (Estrella), Outstanding Lead Actress (Santarin), Outstanding Supporting Actor (Matudan) and Outstanding Supporting Actress (Mari Joy Cacho).
This is not the first time that “Tahanan” was selected in an international film festival. The short film was also screened at the Bengaluru International Short Film Festival in the non-competition section and was also a finalist in the student short film competition of the Cebu International Film Festival.
The jury is composed of director, producer and Sacramento International Asian American Film Festival award-winning actress Kristine Geolaga, actor, director and media workshop facilitator Theophilus Jamal, and curator and cultural organizer Lian Ladia.
“The finalists were selected based on their overall artistic achievement, and among a rare few, for the formal innovations introduced,” Tumbocon revealed.
Estrella hopes to get his film screened in more venues. “I’ve submitted it to some festivals. It’s just a matter of getting accepted or not. Either way, my goal isn’t to win awards but rather reach an audience that appreciate the genre and its underlying theme.”
FACINE, the largest and longest-running event of its kind in North America, has been the premier showcase of new works and Filipino film classics in the United States for the past 26 years. It is organized by the Filipino Arts & Cinema International, non-profit media arts organization based in San Francisco that aims to promote and develop Filipino cinema from the Philippines and the Filipino diaspora.