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December 08, 2009

MR. JASON PAUL LAXAMANA

Six directors shone in the first Sinukwan Kapampangan Film Festival, spearheaded by Foundation for Lingap Kapampangan, Inc. (FLKI), Holy Angel University Center for Kapampangan Studies, and Kalalangan Kamaru.

Formerly launched as Cinekabalen, the Sinukwan Kapampangan Film Festival aims to encourage Kapampangan filmmakers in and out of the province to explore the field of film and use the medium to preserve, promote, and develop the Kapampangan identity, culture, language, and artistry.

Aside from its cultural significance for the Kapampangan community, the event was conceptualized as both a response and contribution to the growing number of films created outside the National Capital Region. It has been observed that despite the proliferation of Kapampangan cinematic talents in Manila, films that actually tackle the Kapampangan experience and make use of the Kapampangan language are few in numbers compared to those from other provinces.

Two-day celebration

The first day of the film festival was held at the Sicangco Hall of the Holy Angel University last December 5. It screened to students non-competitive Kapampangan short films and documentaries such as ‘Balangingi’ (Nosebleed), ‘Ing Bangkeru’ (The Boatman), ‘Pupul’ (Harvest), ‘Ding Musa Ning Minalin’ (The Muses of Minalin), ‘Sexmoan Adventures,’ ‘Kutewu’ (List of Winning Bets), and ‘HG.’ Atty. Louie Calvario and Atty. Precious Leana of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines also delivered a presentation about intellectual property and copyright.    The event was attended by teachers, students, and artists.

The second day took place in the 250-seat Cinema 6 of Robinsons Starmills in San Fernando. In an actual moviehouse, entries to the short film competition were screened, along with other exhibition films. Lord Fray Francis Musni of the HAU Kapampangan Center also gave a visually-aided lecture on the Kapampangan luminaries of the Philippine entertainment industry (from television and cinema) based on HAU Kapampangan museum curator Alex Castro’s research to inform the audience of the admirable contribution of Kapampangans in the said industry.

After the successful film runs in the morning and in the afternoon, the cinema gave way to the grand Awarding Ceremonies and screening of the controversial film ‘Kinatay,’ the film that made a Kapampangan director the first Filipino to bag such award in the prestigious Cannes Film Festival—Brillante Mendoza, who also graced the historical event and acted as judge along with screenwriter Agnes De Guzman and NCCA Cinema Committee Vice Chairman Teddy Co.

Best Picture

While most of the competition participants came from either Angeles or San Fernando, it was Kragi Garcia, the sole participant from the Municipality of Macabebe, who went home with a Best Picture title and a 30,000-peso cash prize for his short film ‘Balikbalen’ (Homecoming), on a man revisiting his hometown while contemplating on what has changed and what has remained.

‘Balikbalen’ also won the following titles: Best Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Editing, Best Direction, and Best Cinematography.

Winning the Special Jury Prize (the second best picture) title and a 20,000-cash prize is a tragic tale involving a poor man and his flagellant friend, ‘Ing Magdarame’ (The Flagellant), a film by John Vincent Trinidad of the University of the Assumption, which also received the CLTV 36 Regional’s Choice Award for garnering the most number of text votes in the TV airing of the entries. The lead actor of the film, Kevin David, also took home the title of Best Actor.

The other awards went to the following: Best Sound and Music for April Fronda’s ‘Maglalawe’ (Look) and Best Actress for Maureen Gozum of Garcia’s ‘Ing Talapangatul’ (The Referee).

What’s Next?

The Cinema Rehiyon is the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Cinema Committee’s offering during the National Arts Month. It’s a non-competitive film festival that features works created by filmmakers in the provinces, decentralizing the Manila-centric concept of Philippine Cinema. In 2009’s Cinema Rehiyon, Pampanga did not have its own block unlike Davao, Baguio, Naga, Iloilo, Cagayan De Oro, Cebu, and other regions/provinces. The sole Kapampangan film shown was ‘Ing Bangkeru’ (The Boatman) categorized under “Other Parts of Luzon.”

With the success of the Sinukwan Film Festival, the province was able to secure an exclusive Kapampangan block in 2010’s Cinema Rehiyon, making Pampanga and Samar the new blocks in the festival. Among the entries to the Sinukwan short film competition, ‘Balikbalen’ and ‘Ing Magdarame’ were picked by the NCCA to represent the Pampanga block in the second Cinema Rehiyon in February at the Cultural Center of the Philippines along with the following: ‘Sexmoan Adventures’ (a documentary by Kalalangan Kamaru), ‘Ding Musa Ning Minalin’ (a documentary by Diego Marx Dobles), ‘Pupul’ (a short film by Nicolette Henson), and ‘Balangingi’ (a short film by By Jason Paul Laxamana).

NCCA’s Teddy Co says that the Sinukwan Film Festival was remarkable for a first-time regional film festival. Roly Rodriguez of the FLKI was also delighted with the outcome of the event, realizing how film can indeed be a tool to preserve, promote, and develop culture.

With the success of the event, people are looking forward to next year’s Sinukwan Kapampangan Film Festival. Hopefully, more films from different filmmakers from different municipalities and provinces would be submitted in the following years, which would eventually create a sustainable and solid Kapampangan film scene.