By Rica Arevalo
For the past three years, the Directors’ Guild of the Philippines (DGPI) has been organizing a film pitching event for producers and filmmakers to meet and do their “speed dating.” The aim is for these market-ready projects to have access to producers and executives who can finance their project.
This time, DGPI partnered with the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) for the 2018 DGPI – FDCP Film Pitch at the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino held last month at the Novotel Manila Araneta Center.
“The government has to come in to raise the production value of our films and to make the best versions of our films,” says FDCP chair Mary Liza Diño Seguerra. “I’m happy na nandito po tayo ngayon at nagsasama-sama para sa ikauunlad ng ating industriya (I’m happy that we are still here together to uplift the state of our industry).
The Best Film Pitch went to Ani (The Harvest) by Toni Zuniga, Kim Zuniga, and Sandro del Rosario.
Ani will fly to Singapore to attend a summit that will bring together the best feature film concepts from Asia and Europe. It’s a chance to meet with international co-producing partners, festival programmers, distributors, commissioners, and financiers.
“I have learned to speak our truth,” says Toni, reflecting on their winning pitch. “As young filmmakers, we always find it scary to share something new and bold to peers who have had more experience than us. The whole experience taught us that as long as we speak our truth and we come from a place of sincerity and openness, no theme, story, or idea is too big.”
Ani is about a nine-year-old boy who moves in with his estranged grandfather in the countryside. A malfunctioning robot comes to his aid to grant magical wishes.
The government has to come in to raise the production value of our films and to make the best versions of our films.
“As we start production of our film in time for the Cinemalaya 2019 premiere, we are excited to have the opportunity to build more connections and possible collaborations not just with our fellow film pitch participants but also in the Singapore Film Market (that’ll take place this December),” says Kim.“We really want to champion the unique voice of Filipino cinema in the international film arena.”
The FDCP Special Prize and Unitel Prize went to the documentary Miss Universe in Jail by Max Canlas.
“The FDCP Special Prize (participation at Platform BUSAN) will help us network and seek out opportunities for collaboration, and the UNITEL Prize (P20K) will help with the pre-production and production expenses, because so far we have only been self-financing this project,” says Max.
The documentary is about five gay inmates inside the Pampanga Provincial Jail, a place where, ironically, they feel liberated. “Aside from attending Platform BUSAN this October, we’re also heading to Germany this year to participate at the DOK Leipzig Co-Production Market to look for potential co-financiers. With hope, we’ll be able to finish the film by 2020,” says the UP Film Institute student.
The DGPI Prize was awarded to Arden Rod Condez for John Denver Trending. Past winners include Treb Monteras of Respeto and Carlo Enciso Catu of Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon.
Arden works as TV soap opera writer but will embark on directing soon. “I am fervently hoping that we can already complete our funds so we can shoot by November,” he says. The film tackles bullying in the cyberspace. When a classmate was brutally attacked, the video goes viral resulting in tragedy. I hope that I can finally find my lead actor. I need a 14-year-old boy with great screen presence who can speak (Northern Panay) Kinaray-a.”
CineFilipino festival director Madonna Tarrayo gave a prize to Micaela Rodriguez’ The Farmhouse. “It is familiar and accessible. It has a simple story that I think we can all relate to. It’s very current and resonates to the youth,” says the Unitel President and CEO. “It has a potential for good distribution as it is the most commercial among the pitches.”
The Farmhouse centers on a travel blogger and influencer who tries to detox herself from the digital world by working in a luxurious farmhouse. It also garnered the Central Digital Lab Prize for a color correction and DCP package.
There were other prizes. The TBA Studios Prize recipient was Nenok by Crisanto Aquino while the APT Entertainment Prize went to Judy Free by Che Tagyamon and the HPI Synergy Prizegoes to My Little Dancing Shoes by Bryan Kristoffer Brazil and John Denver Trending.