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Cebu students’ ‘Swipe Right to Disappear’ makes it to MMFF short films semifinals list

Shabak Nolasco (from left), Mary Den April Cugtas, Ardinian Jaq Sanque, and Rhuther John Payales are the Cebu-based filmmakers who made a short film that made it to the semifinals of the Metro Manila Film Festival 2019 short film competition. | Contributed photo by Ardinian Jaq Sanque

CEBU CITY, Philippines — A short film made by young Cebu-based filmmakers is one of the semifinalists in 2019 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Short Film Competition. 

“Swipe Right to Disappear,” the lone entry from Cebu out of 16 semi-finalists is a collaboration of students from the University of San Carlos (USC) and University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu.

Ardinian Jaq Sanque, short film director, said they were delighted to be part of the 16 semi-finalists this year out of 125 applicants. 

“We became more motivated to make the film authentic and informative as much as it is visually appealing,” he told CDN Digital. 

MMFF is one of the biggest film festivals in the country which opens every December 25 or Christmas Day. 

Aside from full-length films, MMFF has also opened a short film competition for the students.

“Swipe Right to Disappear” is inspired by the legend of the lost city in Biringan, Samar and how it is set in the modern era of technology. 

The dialect used that will be used in the film is Waray.

This is Sanque’s story idea while Mary Den Cugtas, the film’s casting director and co-director who is also a Samar native translated the screenplay to Waray. 

The short film is topbilled by Mitchel Klaire Durango, who will play Corazon, a millennial uprooted from Cebu to Samar. 

The message of this five-minute film is that the Philippines has a rich culture of stories and legends that are sometimes underrated. 

“When they are done exploring the story, I hope they feel the need to share these legends and folklores to the present generation. Culture and Literature will be dead if it is not continually told,” he added. 


Sanque, 18, an Ormoc native, is currently taking up Bachelor of Fine Arts Major in Studio Arts at UP Cebu.

This is not his first time to join a big film festival in Manila. 

In 2018, his entry, “Bato Bato Pik,” won Best Short Film during the Sine Kabataan for Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP). 

The decision to collaborate with USC students this time is because they are Sanque’s close friends in senior high school.

Sanque was a former Arts and Design student at the senior high school department of USC. 

“I want to make a film and the few people I really trust creatively with my story study in USC,” he said. 

Aside from Sanque and Cugtas, completing the team from Cebu are namely Rhuther John Payales, cinematographer and editor; and Shanak Nolasco, the sound designer. 

Cugtas, Payales, and Nolasco are currently taking up Communication Major in Media, Literary and Cultural Studies with Creative Writing, and Fine Arts Major in Cinema, respectively. |dbs

TAGS: Cugtas, Nolasco, Payales, Sanque, Shabak, Swipe Right to Disappear
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