MANILA, PHILIPPINES — A refreshingly diverse program of themes and styles is in store for all viewers in QCinema’s 10th year, which will blaze the big screens in November.
This year’s winning short films examine cinema and interrogate space created, recreated, and destroyed through it. Its roster covers a range of concerns — from a reflexive attempt to save a silent film reel, an introspective search for meaning by an online sex worker, contrasting issues of migration both set in Cagayan Valley, to a psychological journey in a Quezon forest, and to a surreal one set amidst the backdrop of a decaying Pasig river.
These films are Ang Pagliligtas sa Dalagang Bukid by Jaime Morados, BOLD EAGLE by Whammy Alcazaren, Luzonensis mula 7 hanggang 9 by Glenn Barit, Mga Tigre ng Infanta by Rocky De Guzman Morilla, Ngatta Naddaki y Nuang? (Why did the Carabao cross the Carayan?) by Austin Tan, and sa ilog na hindi nagtatapos by JT Trinidad.
For this exciting breed of filmmakers, their personal testaments form a collective vision that forges on to a crossroad for cinema that seeks resuscitation through fresh initiatives.
Ang Pagliligtas sa Dalagang Bukid (Saving the Country Maiden) is set in 1921. Sixteen-year-old Joaquin attempts to save the film reel of the first movie he’s ever seen in the midst of a studio fire. The film is Morados’ first QCinema entry. His previous works include Protacio And The Bum (2021), which won the Jury Prize at the Binisaya Film Festival, and Aga-Hiw, The Dreamer (2022), Montañosa Film Festival 2022’s Best Picture.
BOLD EAGLE is the story of Bold, an anonymous online-sex worker who seeks validation from his cat as he wonders if he can amount to something more than just a pretty face. The film’s director, Whammy Alcazaren, had his first QCinema spotlight in the film Death Of Nintendo by Raya Martin, which had an in-person screening in 2020. His third feature film, Fisting: Never Tear Us Apart, won Best Director and Jury prize at the Cinema One Originals Film Festival 2018. His production thesis and first feature, COLOSSAL, was awarded Best Cinematography and was nominated for best film at the Gawad Urian 2013.
In Luzonensis mula 7 hanggang 9, a “neanderthal” man named Luzonensis is about to leave for work abroad. He discovers that his passport is missing hours before departing. Together with his father, they retrace their path back to find it.
Glenn Barit, a Filipino director, sound designer, and scorer from Cagayan, is a familiar name in QCinema. His debut film, Cleaners, swept awards at the 2019 Asian Next Wave Competition of QCinema 2019, which includes Audience Choice, Best Picture, and Best Screenplay.
Mga Tigre ng Infanta follows Katrina’s wild hunt deep into the psyche of her grandmother, whose corpse has gone missing. The film is set in the colorful town of Infanta where superstition is said to be alive in community life.
Marikina-based filmmaker Rocky Morilla, is particularly interested in narratives involving women and the environment. She co-founded Pothos Collective, which focuses on creating emancipative narratives that push boundaries.
Ngatta Naddaki y Nuang? (Why did the Carabao cross the Carayan?) tracks Oyo’s return to his hometown in Cagayan in search of a carabao, before he finally migrates to another country, while memories of a flood and sights of industrialization fill him.
Austin Tan, the film’s director, is another filmmaker from Cagayan. His short films mostly tackle political and social topics through concepts dealing with memory and death. Aside from Ngatta Naddaki y Nuang?, he is also working on his first feature project, which received project development support from Locarno Open Doors, Full Circle Lab, Film Development Council of the Philippines, and EAVE Ties that Bind.
Lastly, sa ilog na hindi nagtatapos, is the story of four individuals which unfold through Baby, a middle-aged trans woman. She becomes a vessel to fill in their void as her own desire grows in the capital of fleeting relationships. The film is set in the surrounding areas of the decaying Pasig River, where an expressway is being constructed.
The director, JT Trinidad is a filmmaker from Manila. Trinidad’s hybrid short, as if nothing happened, competed at the BAFTA-qualifying London Short Film Festival 2020 and was included in CNN Life Philippines’ list of Best Filipino Films of 2020.
These films were chosen from close to 160 entries after a difficult screening process.
Members of the selection committee are QCinema Monitoring Head and actress Kristine Kintana, Festival Director Prof. Ed Lejano, writer and director Pam Miras, producer Armi Cacanindin, film critic Jason Tan Liwag, and director and editor Carlo Manatad, who joined the pitching via Zoom.