“Limang Taon ni Lola” bested 16 other submissions to win the top award at the Sorok Short Film Festival (SSFF) 2014. With the theme KapwangGawa, the festival’s films featured people in our society who are in need, and the compassionate people who help them.
The SSFF Awards Night was held on October 25 at the iAcademy Theater in Makati City. It was attended by Jae Jung Jang, chairman of the Uni Group of Companies and founder of Uni Sorok Foundation, which runs the festival. Akbayan chairperson Risa Hontiveros was the guest of honor.
Produced and directed by Martika Ramirez Escobar, “Lola” is about remembering the elderly. It features great screenplay and cinematography, and the great Lilia Cuntapay as a grandmother who reunites with a grandchild she hasn’t seen for 5 years. The film is memorable with its opening sequence, which was made only of strong shots of their home; we don’t see anyone, but we hear two people arguing, and we learn why grandmother and grandchild parted ways. Their reunion was difficult but heartwarming.
The Special Jury Prize was awarded to “Ayuda”, a poignant film about the aftermath of the Zamboanga armed conflict in 2013. It reminds us that, while the society’s problems are complex and interconnected, helping is really very simple.
The Voter’s Choice, determined by the number of Facebook likes, went to “Lifeshots”, a film about a girl finding the fulfillment of her dreams in taking photos of people helping each other.
The Awards Night was marked by inspiring messages of charity and compassion, as well as creativity and talent. The 2014 festival is the first of the planned annual showcase of Filipino talent.
See below the list of all submissions, and the Nood.PH review for each.
Film is such a powerful platform for creativity and self-expression. When it’s mixed with social relevance, it takes storytelling to a completely different level and can potentially become an agent of change.
Earlier this year, the Sorok Short Film Festival (SSFF) Philippines called upon filmmakers to tell stories of kindness, compassion, and generosity. Their goal is create awareness about the many members of our society who live among us and need help.
SSFF is organized by Sorok Uni Foundation, a humanitarian foundation that has been doing a lot of programs for what they call the “forgotten neighbors” – the homeless, the sick, the abandoned.
The eagerness with which SSFF’s call for entries was received is inspiring. SSFF received a total of 17 submissions. The stories vary from people helping others in small ways, organizations doing inspiring work, or people in dire situations but don’t lose hope.
The winners will be announced on October 25, 2014. We will update this post with the winners.
See below info and our thoughts about the short films.
Producer: Jessica Mariazeta
Director: Miller Ursolino Selene
Super Piso is the story of a girl who, with the help of her mom, achieves her dream of becoming a superhero by saving up money and giving it to a family in need. The film boasts great cinematography, especially when we meet the family and see them fishing in the lake. The storytelling can be improved; the changing POVs is sometimes confusing. But overall it’s a great story for kids; the concept of being a superhero is apt. It also reminds us that every small act is heroic.
ACT OF RANDOM KINDNESS
PRODUCER: re:creation productions
Director: Joshua Cuadra
“Act of Random Kindness” is a story of, well, random acts of kindness. It doesn’t share a deeper meaning though, and doesn’t seem to capture the theme because it doesn’t comment on parts of our society who are in great need. But the message is to be nice and helpful for its own sake.
PRODUCER: Bright Lights Production
Director: Louies Parkash A. Gurung
This is the story of two sisters whose strong bond is threatened by a sickness that befalls one of them. The film does not quite present well how all its elements tie together. Voice-over is used all throughout and the script can benefit from copyediting and coherence.
PRODUCER: Southville International School and Colleges
Director: Benedict Nicolas
A student doesn’t care for their janitor at school, but changed her mind when he helped her one time. She started appreciating the janitor after that and uses social media to convince all the students to do the same. It’s a simple story that’s meant to inspire, but the message we get is that we should be good to people who are good to us.
Director: Stephen M. Migallen
This film takes the documentary style, with BJ interviewing residents of Purok 7. He asks them about what problems they face, and they enumerate a lot of things, but mostly about how far Purok 7 is from the town center and how this prevents children from going to school and people going to work. In the end, one does not know who the real hero or focus of the story is. The film also doesn’t offer some real, even practical solutions to the problems presented. But kudos to the cinematographers for the great shots and the distinct tone.
PRODUCER: Project pearls
This film starts with some facts of economic success in the Philippines, alongside images of depressing poverty. The contrast is striking. The film then continues for several minutes to enumerate all the ways in which the poor live in terrible conditions. We then learn about Project PEARLS, an organization that does various programs for the poor. This video is inspiring, but is more of an an AVP rather than a short film with a story.
PRODUCER: JV Digitals & Mushroom Productions
Director: Julnazar Umih Halili
The story is supposedly set in the aftermath of the Zamboanga Siege, Julz, a local, is himself besieged with memories of that struggle. He meets a family who is going through a struggle of their own. The film could do with a tighter edit to tell the story. With its lengthy conversations, it tells rather than shows. In spite of these, its point still finds its way home to the audience, meandering as it is.
LIMANG TAON NI LOLA
PRODUCER: Martika Ramirez Escobar
Director: Martika Ramirez Escobar
Lola Mena pretends to have Alzheimer’s disease so she does not have to face the granddaughter she raised but pushed away five years ago. Lilia Cuntapay played Lola Mena graciously. The film captured the melancholy and regrets of old age with its sombre yet restrained tone.
This is one of our favorites. It’s the story of an unlikely friendship that develops between a street kid named Bobot and the security guard at the store where Bobot and his friends steal recyclable items, which they sell. It uses Filipino language in its script (sadly, the subtitles don’t capture the wit). The musical score stands out as an effective tool to guide the shifts in emotions. It’s also able to subtly make a commentary about politics. This is a film that is inspiring without being preachy.
In order to provide for her child, a mother leaves so she can work as a “yaya” (nanny) and take care of another child. It’s the tragedy of nannies. This film is a light take on that subject. I do know that people will have better appreciated of nannies after watching this film.
Director: Roni S. Benaid
This is the shortest submission, at just a little over 2 minutes. It’s also the most professional-looking, which is good, because this film doesn’t have dialogues. Two girls meet and connect because of charcoal. They it so the girl who goes to school can write on concrete and share her learnings to the other girl. Two minutes is not a lot of time, but this film achieves a lot in this period.
Barya tells the story of a janitor who started a fund-raising campaign for typhoon victim. It’s saturated with guitar music from beginning to end, possibly in a vain attempt to tell an inspiring story without dialogue. The film can do with tighter editing and better visual presentation. Though quite simplistic, it has managed to tell the “moral of the story.”
PRODUCER: Kubo Production
Indi Kinaugaligon is a first person POV of a volunteer in a leprosarium. It gives the audience a glimpse of the lives inside the center. The film feels more like a personal essay or commentary than an actual story-telling. What would have helped to direct the audience’s empathy is less spotlight on the aspirations of the volunteer and more of how exactly society has forgotten those inside the leprosy compound.
‘TE CHE TEACHERAN
PRODUCER: PATAY-SINDI Productions
Another one of our favorites. It’s a film that touches on one of the unsung heroes of our country: the teachers. Che works at a copier stand and has stopped going to school. She befriends a teacher and sits in her class. She learns that the teacher worked hard to be where she is. Che decides she needs to continually improve herself and help others. This film has a great story and script, uses good actors, and uses musical score that stands out.
PRODUCER: Unzip Productions
A hard-working girl sympathizes with a man stricken with leprosy begging at an overpass. She then proceeds to handout flyers to get people to understand that leprosy is now a curable disease. The film experimented with its visualizations of the lead’s thoughts but what came out was a confused style that did not give proper coherence.
Directed by: Jovelyn Mayuga
Producer: RH RAK Sabaw Production
Some Juan shows Noel skateboarding towards the children’s home he came from. He’s now a teenager but he remembers his childhood in every street kid he meets along the way. This short is a simple story of remembering and how it’s always good to look back to where you “skated” from. It used a cliche opening and used unnecessary music throughout but its simplicity and single-minded direction showed merit.
Directed by: John-John Mariano
Production: Momogee Production
A first-person accounting of how an indigenous boy from the mountains who sells vegetables in the lowlands became an educated man with the help of a caring soul. The film leans towards the soap-operatic, needs a tighter edit, and a better screenplay. Its saving grace is the charming boy who played the lead.