Gay and lesbian  films dominate 19th  Cinemalaya

By: ATTY. DENNIS GORECHO - Columnist/CDN Digital | August 15,2023 - 06:30 AM

Gay and lesbian  films dominate 19th  Cinemalaya. The winners of this year's Cinemalaya, | Contributed

The winners of this year’s Cinemalaya, | Contributed

“Gusto kong ibigay ito sa lahat ng mga ‘Eric’ na inalisan ng bibig at hindi nakapagsalita, para sa inyo ‘to. Nandito kami, nakikinig,” says Director  Carl Papa  of “ITI MAPUKPUKAW” (The Missing) that won Best Film at  the  2023 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival.

“Iti Mapukpukaw” is one of the three films  on gay and lesbian issues that bagged major awards in the 19th Cinemalaya  held from August 4 to 13, 2023 at the PICC.

Aside from Best Film (Full-Length), “Iti Mapukpukaw received the  NETPAC Award while Dolly de Leon   won as Best  Supporting Actress.

“HULING PALABAS” won Best Director for  Ryan Machado while Bon Andrew Lentejas won  Best Supporting Actor.

“ROOKIE” by Samantha Lee won Best Actress for Pat Tingjuy as well as Audience Choice Awards and Best Editing.

“Iti Mapukpukaw” was awarded best film  “for boldly taking on the challenges of technology in crafting a very engaging narrative of a young man confronting the demons of his past, and for its overall cinematic experience.”

It is the first full-length rotoscope animation film in  Cinemalaya that follows Eric’s life   as a mouthless young animator at the intersections of grief and trauma.

Rotoscope is  a method of animation that’s created by tracing over frame by frame of live-action footage.

Eric untangles memories from his childhood in the wake of his uncle’s death. An alien abducted him from Earth which  left to him power  as the destined ruler of the planet.

The death triggered  Eric to remember his past as a child  victim of sexual abuse by his uncle. He stopped talking as his uncle told him to remain silent.   His co-worker Carlo (Gio Gahol) is his love interest and   his shock-absorber.

Dolly de Leon  was recognized for her “pellucid performance of an affectionate mother helping her son confront the demons of his past.”  She said that the  film is a way of healing ,  embracing trauma and getting over it as a young individual.

Machado won Best Director  for “Huling Palabas” as he effectively summoned “the resources of art to come up with a deeply personal film that evokes fond memories of pre-digital cinema while paying homage to one’s small-town roots, and how all of this contributes to fashioning self-respect and self-identity.”

“Huling Palabas”  is a coming-of-age movie that  tackled themes of identity formation, abandonment, friendship and folklore.

Like the transition of entertainment technology from VHS to VCD, the sexual orientation of  Andoy (Shun Mark Gomez) also transformed.

In search for his long-lost father, a young boy’s reality becomes mystified when two movie-like characters appear in his hometown in Romblon – — Ariel, a hairdresser and Isidro, a mysterious, long-haired man who owns a VCD player.

Lentejas got the award for his “engaging portrayal of a young man trying to understand his best friend’s difficult ways as the latter comes of age”.

Tingjuy  of “Rookie” won the Best Actress award   for “her refreshing portrayal of a young girl coming to terms with her sexual identity as she comes of age in the exciting world of volleyball.”

“Rookie” is a romantic comedy about young queer love and volleyball. An awkward 6-footer teen Ace (Tingjuy)  is forced to learn and play volleyball half-heartedly in  the Catholic school she transferred. Everything changes when she meets their star player Janna (Aya Fernandez).

Lee said that  queerness in sports is rarely explored:  the film  deals with the sensitive yet timely issues of gender inequality and objectification of women in male-dominated spaces.

The film also showed how   officials  of  all-female schools  normally address   sexual harassment issues involving male teachers, professors, and coaches.  In order to protect the school’s  reputation, the culprits are just  transferred from one school to another without legal cases filed against them or without public statements made  condemning their actions.

I saw several Cinemalaya films revolving on the LGBT   issues including  “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros” when it premiered at the First Cinemalaya in 2005.

Set in the slums of Manila, the coming-of-age comedy-drama film  by fellow UP alumnus Auraeus Solito is about a gay teen (Nathan Lopez) who is torn between his love for a young cop (JR Valentin) and his loyalty to his family.

Although it did not won the Best film award in 2005,  it became one of the icons of indie films and  has been included in various lists of best gay  films.  It was the Philippines’ official entry to the 79th Academy Awards. Transgender Mimi Juareza won as Best Actor  for Quick Change in the 2013 New Breed.

De Leon is also part of “Ang Duyan Ng Magiting”  that received Special Award for  Best Ensemble   and Special Jury Award.

The other films with citations  in the full length section include “Tether” for Mikoy Morales  as Best Actor and  Sound Design;  “When This Is All Over”  for Cinematography, Production Design and  Original Music Score;  and “Gitling” for  Screenplay.

(Peyups is the moniker of University of the Philippines. Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, e-mail, or call 09175025808 or 09088665786.)

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TAGS: Cinemalaya, Iti Mapukpukaw, rookie
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