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Thursday, January 19, 2012

SM Cinema Launches the 1st Bigshot Film Festival


In college, as a communications student, I went through the process of producing my own film (together with my team mates).  Though it was a difficult and tedious procedure, I enjoyed it a lot as I was able to learn film making in action, squeeze our group's creative juice and have fun and bond with our production team.  And I'm also happy to reminisce the glorious awards night when we won grand slam for that project in the student film festival where our movie was part of. 

And this is what I happily recalled when I attended the recent press conference of the first ever Bigshot Film Festival in the country.  The project which searched for promising student filmmakers was spearheaded by SM Cinema in its support to advance film literacy in the country and promote Philippine cinema as a vehicle to cultivate and nurture our cultural identity.   These students are so lucky to have been given this opportunity to produce their own films and have its commercial run in the country's largest theater network.  Not all good and promising students are given this chance!  I would have joined this project if there was already a Bigshot Film Festival during my time.  :)

The Bigshot project was conceptualized in 2010 after movie exhibitors including SM Cinema received a 10% reduction on amusement tax. The project was SM Cinema’s way of giving back to the film industry by means of supporting independent movies made by budding student filmmakers.

Using the theme "Modern Day Heroism", Bigshot received 50 script entries from various schools in throughout the country.  It officially kicked off in December 2010 with the announcement of the Top 15 student finalists at The Podium in Ortigas Center.  The said event was later followed by The Grand Announcement of the Top 3 Bigshots at the Director’s Club in SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City and bagging the coveted top three spotsare: Archie Dimaculangan of the University of the Philippines (UP) - Diliman for his entry “Balang Araw”, Bianca Catbagan and Jose Antonio De Rivera, both from the UP - Diliman, for “Suntok sa Buwan” and KrizzieSyfu of De La Salle University Manila for “Tahanan”.

SM Cinema together with The Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) and three of the most respected and prolific film practitioners in the country: Mr. Raymond Lee, writer-producer of award-winning films such as Ang Pagdadalaga ni MaximoOliveros, Zombadings: PatayinsaShokotsi Remington and Anak; two-time Palanca awardee and award-winning director Mr.Mark Meily; and film historian and director of Center for New Cinema Mr.Nick Deocampo screened and chose the top student film makers. As a prize for coming up with the best script-entries, the Top 3 Bigshots were awarded a generous P600,000 which aided them in producing a full-length piece. 

The Top 3 Bigshots, all budding young filmmakers, have impressive film credentials under each one’s belt.

KrizzieSyfu, director of “Tahanan”, is a New York Film Academy graduate and later a DLSU alumnus where she received a University Cultural and Arts Award for Film in 2011. “Tahanan” tells the story of college student Samantha Benitez who goes on a life-changing journey to find inner peace in the company of orphaned children. Written by KrizzieSyfu, Ramon Prieto and Jason Gloria, “Tahanan” stars young actress Lauren Young as Samantha Benitez alongside veteran actor Mark Gil who plays Samantha’s father. “Tahanan” also features child starsSabrina Man, MiguellTafelix and KhenAldovino, among others.

In the first 10 minutes of the film, Tahanan has the potential to capture Filipino hearts. I'm looking forward to knowing the kids in the movie and how their stories are weaved in.

Archie Dimaculangan of the UP Film Institute is a member of the prestigious UP Cineastes’ Studio, the first student film organization in the country. Dimaculangan’s film “BalangAraw” is about a petty crime in a convenience store which escalates and weaves the lives of a call center agent, an expectant mother, a working student and a neophyte thief that ultimately examines their notion of heroism. “BalangAraw” is co-directed by FranneCheska Ramos and Jono de Rivera with Ice Idananas the film’s Director of Photography. The film starsactor JaoMapa, TV actress AleeraMontalla, indie film actress Shielbert Manuel, beauty queen-turned actress Tarhata Rico and Alex Vincent Medina.

Balang Araw in its first 10 minutes seems to be daring in terms of shots, music and script.  I'm curious to see how Archie experimented in this film.

Lastly, the duo of Bianca Catbagan and Jose Antonio de Rivera, both of UP – Diliman, are prolific film competition veterans.Catbagan was a recipient of UP-Diliman’s 2010 Film Institute Excellence in Narrative Awardee while de Rivera was previously awarded the Gawad Mag-aaral by UP-Diliman’s College of Mass Communication. Their winning Bigshotmovie “SuntoksaBuwan”, a drama which centers on the defining bout of two boxers—one, young and talented; the other, older albeit passionate, is co-produced by Digitank Studios. The production team of “SuntoksaBuwan”, which stars award-winning actors Daniel Fernando, Nonie Buencaminoand JoemBascon,has celebrated film director Jim Libiran on tow as its creative producer.

The first 10 minutes is an establishing phase but the story of Suntok sa Buwan looks very compelling.  I want to witness how the conflict and complications in the lives of the two boxers will evolve.

Bianca Catbagan

Jose Antonio de Rivera

Joem Bascon from Suntok sa Buwan said that these student film makers are more experimental and he admires such creativity.  Veteran actor Daniel Fernando also from Suntok sa Buwan on the other hand expressed support about the Bigshot Film Festival.  He mentioned that while the budget for their film is small, he accepted the project as a sign of his commitment to support the Philippine movie industry.  He may have differences with the young filmmakers since these students are too passionate about their craft, and would require more takes even if they already had good ones, Daniel however sees the potential of these filmmakers and looks at them as the next Lino Brocka, his mentor discoverer director, of this country. Carlo Cruz from Balang Araw shared that ideas of the student directors are fresh while Khen from Tahanan said that he learned a lot from them.

Joem Bascon

Daniel Fernando

SM Cinema recently launched the 1st Bigshot Film Festival, an event which will showcase and celebrate the final masterworks of the Top 3 Bigshots. After the press conference last January 17at the SM Mall of Asia,   film screenings will happen from January 25 to 31 at tSM Megamall, SM Mall of Asia, SM North Edsa, SM Manila and SM Cebu.

SM Cinema's Marketing Head Sahara Garnica explained that the Bigshot Film Fetival is part of the goal of SM Cinema to encourage and pave the way for film makers to produce films.  This is SM Cinema's way of giving back to the Filipino families; by supporting these filmmakers and instilling values as theme of the movie to be produced and witnessed by the audience.  FDCP Executive Director Mike de la Rosa on the other hand mentioned that with their council as the lead agency for the development in the country, Big Shot is an initiative that deserves to be supported by the government.

Sahara Garnica of SM Cinema

Mike de la Rosa of FDCP

Apart from the works of the Top 3Bigshots, the 1stBigshot Film Festival will also feature the masterpieces of the three Bigshot mentors: Mark Meily’sCinemalaya 2011 entry under the Director’s Showcase entitled “Donor” (2010), a film about a desperate woman who resorts to selling her kidney so she can afford to work abroad and completely break away from poverty and her do-nothing lover; “Endo” (2007) of Raymond Lee, winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Cinemalaya 2007, is a film which tackles short-lived romances, the sick cycle of impermanent jobs and the connection between the two. Lastly, Nick De Ocampo examines the origin of Philippine cinema relayed through three dimensional story-telling in his Cine/Sine (2009), the country’s first full-length 3D animation documentary. Furthermore, in its efforts to engage students and young cinephiles in supporting up-and-coming young filmmakers in the local independent film industry and to promote film literacy among the youth, students are entitled to a special discounted rate of PhP per ticket. Moreover, SM Cinema is coming up with a special Bigshot promo from January 1 to 31, 2012 where lucky moviegoers who purchase a Bigshot movie ticket have a chance to win exciting prizes.  Bigshot was also supported by DCinema, Mentos, Chupa Chups, Picture City and Digitank. 

The companies, institutions and personalities mentioned above did their part to help uplift our Philippine movie industry by discovering and supporting promising new talents.  And it's time that we do our share.  Let's support the Bigshot, let's see the three featured movies in the film festival!  :)

To know more about the 1stBigshot Film Festival, the Top 3 Bigshots and their respective winning films, please visit www.smcinema.comand SM Cinema’s Facebook Fan Page.

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