Cinemalaya 2014: Personal Picks

I know that I have not fully did write ups on my reactions of the Cinemalaya films in competition.  Everything is back to normal now.  I am back to my normal blogging duty negligence.  Anyway, before the Cinemalaya fever dies down, as tradition I list down my favorites from the competition.  Although unlike last year I am not going to be able to include the exhibition films, this list will only include films in competition, feature length films and short films combined.

NOTE’: I will update this post one by one up until the list is complete

BEST SOUND

Best Sound: Bwaya

Best Sound: Bwaya

WINNER: Albert Michael Idioma, Bwaya.  Sort of athmospheric, you savor the silent moments, the moments where you just hear the environment.  Sound work is gorgeous it feels I can hear the characters breath.
2nd Placer: Andrew Milallos and Addiss Tabong,  Mariquina.   Overall sound work is gorgeous, never cluttered or distracting, just aurally yummy.
3rd Placer: Marc Locsin, Ronda.  Manila by night, silent, sinister lurking in the dark.
Runners Up:    Andrew Milallos, #Y.  Andrew Milallos and Addiss Tabong, Kasal.  Contemporary works rarely get attention in this category but these two works are quite remarkable feat.

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Best Original Score: Mariquina

Best Original Score: Mariquina

WINNER: Jerrold Tarog, Mariquina.  He has done it again, at least for me, while Tarog continues to make great films, he also continues to make great music as well, this time perfectly matching the shifting moods (and era) of the film.
2nd Placer: Richard Gonzales, Kasal.  I keep on thinking of the music that was in the film.  It is not grand yet it was powerful and very memorable and it complimented the film quite well.
3rd Placer: Erwin Fajardo, Bwaya.  A bit minimalist but the music was placed in all the right places to wonderful effect
Runners UpJorge Wieneke, #Y.  Mon Espia, Dagitab.  Both musical work compliments the mood and feeling of their films.  For #Y, the youthful angst sometimes angry but somber feel while the latter is a more sad  and mysterious.

 

 

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Best Production Design: Mariquina

Best Production Design: Mariquina

WINNER: Aped Santos, Mariquina.  A very well polished but really detailed work of differing timeline.  Simple yet strikingly gorgeous.
2nd Placer:
Whammy Alcazaren  and Thesa Tang, Dagitab.  I like the cluttered but very intricate and detailed finishings of the protagonists’ house.  Their house feels like it has a life of its own.
3rd Placer: Harley Alcasid, Kasal.  Contemporary works are oftentimes snubbed in this category as well.  The room alone was quite an achievement.  It acts as the supporting character to the film.
Runners Up: 
K’na, The Dreamweaver.  Fiel Zabat, Sundalong Kanin.
  It was obvious that these two period pieces had apt and fitting production work. The First one a more elaborate obvious winning work and the latter seems like money well spent and fitting for the time  the story was telling.

 

 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Best Cinematography: Bwaya

Best Cinematography: Bwaya

Runners Up: Mycko David, Kasal.  Kasal is beautiful to behold from start to finish.  The camera was a voyeur to what the couple was going through and it perfectly captured the emotions by the characters.  Albert Banzon, Ronda.  Even though there are lots of repetitive shots, but those tracking shots and static shots are well lensed.

3rd Placer: Sasha Palomares, Mariquina.  My favorite cinematography works this year are exciting because they are all visually exciting and masterful in their own ways.  The shift from one timeline to another and how they differ in look, from nostalgic to somber was beautiful.  Not to mention the composition in most key scenes are very well done.

2nd Placer: Rommel Sales, Dagitab.  Though predominantly static, there is no denying the beauty of the camera work in this film.  The wow moment was that beach scene.  I was left breathless.

WINNER : Neil Daza, Bwaya.  Among the films made by Pasion, this has got the be the most visually stunning.   Those aerial shots alone are to die for.
BEST FILM EDITING

Best Film Editing: Mariquina

Best Film Editing: Mariquina

 

Runners Up: Benjamin Tolentino, Dagitab and #Y.  The shifting of points of view were effortlessly done for both films.  The first one a more controlled work and the other a more jumpy, fast paced one.

3rd Placer:  Joselito Altarejos  and Zig Dulay, Kasal.  The film knows when it is going to be slow and and when it is going to be fast.  At first I had problems with the pacing, but as time pass, I have grown to actually admire it.  Weird eh?  I feel the same about the film.

2nd Placer: Carlo Francisco Manatad, Bwaya.  Though glacially paced, the building of the tension up until the climactic middle to end was superb.

WINNER:  Benjamin Tolentino, Mariquina. There is a reason why Tolentino is probably the most hired editor this year, and it is because he has a keen eye for detail. And he excelled the most in this film.  The going back and forth in time was never dizzying, in fact it was fluid, and stunningly made.

 

BEST SCREENPLAY

Best Screenplay: Dagitab

Best Screenplay: Dagitab

WINNER: Giancarlo Abrahan, Dagitab.  In a way, the film is quite different from any Cinemalaya films I have ever seen.  Abrahan dug deep into the characters’ heads and created an awards worthy story.
2nd Placer: Jerrold Tarog, Mariquina. 
It was a toss up between this and my pick for the winner in this cateogry.  Tarog did it again, creating a very human story, this time about an unhappy mother leaving her family behind.  It was intricate, piercing and poignant.
3rd Placer:
  Joselito Altarejos  and Zig Dulay , Kasal.
  It was a different route from the usual films about gays, it was touching, heartfelt and very real.
Runner Up:
Sari Estrada, Asan si Lolo Me?. 
Of all the short films shown this year, this one stood out for me.  It was a funny take on death and grieving.  It was original, imaginative and fun.  Jeff Stelton, #Y.  For a closer look on the personal lives of the rich.  It is not entirely original, but it tells a differnt story, something that we are not accustomed to seeing.

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Best Supporting Actor: Martin del Rosario, Dagitab

Best Supporting Actor: Martin del Rosario, Dagitab


WINNER: Martin del Rosario, Dagitab. 
I was mightily impressed with del Rosario’s performance.  I knew somehow that he could act but I did not know that he could deliver such an intense performance, controlled without going overboard.  He got that sort of pompous arrogance of a teenager down, then see him mature in front of your eyes as the story progresses.
2nd Placer Karl Medina, Bwaya.
  Medina fully immersed in the character that I barely recognized him.  I really thought that I was watching a non-actor giving a very natural implosive performance.  It really was quite a transformation!
3rd Placer: Zachary Ezekiel Diaz, Asan si Lolo Me?  This young actor is quite a find, he was natural, funny even though he had small time in a short film.
Runners Up: Nicco Manalo, The Janitor, Has had better performances but there is no denying that he was the best in show in a film that was filled with wooden acting.  Ditto Dante Rivero, 1st Ko si 3rd.  He easily stood out in a cast of Batibot line delivering actors.

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Best Supporting Actress: Barbie Forteza, Mariquina

Best Supporting Actress: Barbie Forteza, Mariquina

WINNER: Barbie Forteza, Mariquina.  This is one of those Cinemalaya wins, that I was not expecting, but I predicted it anyway, because I was rooting for her so bad.  It was such a tremendous performance.  At the beginning I thought she would just be a passive character, but hey ho, the story provided her with so much, that in lesser actresses it would have become melodrama, but it did not and the end product was, Forteza gave her career high performance at such a young age.
2nd Placer: Chynna Ortaleza, #.  Though the time she was in was very short, She made the most impact in a cast that was generally good.  I kept on wanting to see more of her in the film, I wish she had more to work with, anyway, she was powerful in those few scenes she was in.  That breakdown scene, just on the phone talking, is definitely the highlight of her career.
3rd  Placer:  Bing Pimentel, Mariquina.  The last spots in this list is a toss up.  In varying moods, the ranking would differ.  Anyway.  After seeing Pimentel in last year’s “Kabisera”, I was not sold.  I thought that she was just OK in it.  Nothing memorable.  But after seeing her in “Mariquina”, I instantly became a fan.  She brought a whole new take (new in this context, not the regular Filipino Kabit) on being the mistress.
Runners Up: Jolina Salvado, Bwaya.  Just like any other actors in the film, Salvado gave a very memorable natural performance.  I kind of remember Arnalyn Ismael of Halaw in her.  Che Ramos-Cosio, Mariquina.  The film had a stellar cast and it was hard picking who gave the best who.  Ramos finally giving another worthy performance this year after being absent for years, and by absent I mean not giving a performance that is a par her greatness in “Mangatyanan”.

BEST ACTOR

Best Actor: Ricky Davao, Mariquina

Best Actor: Ricky Davao, Mariquina

Winner: Ricky Davao, Mariquina.  It was hard ranking the four performances   I selected for this category.  But I had to go for the performance that I thought was one of the highlights of the festival.  Davao is a Cinemalaya regular.  But I have never seen him in such great form before.  And of all the performances that I have seen from him, this might be his best, to date.
2nd Placer: Nonie Buencamino, Dagitab.  Like Davao, Buencamino is a Cinemalaya regular.  Buencamino is an underrated actor, he should have a heap of awards by now.  His work in Dagitab keeps you guessing.  It is not trivial, it is just that it seems that he is thiking differently from the way he acts.  That line reading scene was quite heartbreaking (del Rosario and Buencamino square off, WOW).
3rd Placer:Arnold Reyes and Oliver Aquino, Kasal.  Both actors giving their A-games to the table.  Reyes the obvious more veteran of the two peaked in this film while Aquino giving a brave breakthrough (or was it a sort of comeback?) performance.
Runners Up: The kids of Sundalong Kanin.  The film truly was an ensemble work, so singling out one of them was a task.  Year end wise I think I may end up selecting one or two of them, but for now, I am selecting the ensemble.

 

BEST ACTRESS

Best Actress: Eula Valdez, Dagitab

Best Actress: Eula Valdez, Dagitab

Winner: Eula Valdez, Dagitab.  Valdez is a great actress and it is not up until now that she was given more to work with and she was just amazing,  In my book, there was no real competition for her, she was in all whole new league.
2nd Placer: Angeli Bayani, Bwaya.  We all know how great she is.  And you can add her performance in “Bwaya” in the that list of great Bayani performances.
3rd Placer: Coleen Garcia, #Y.  Of the four leads, she obviously stole the show from them.  She was memsmerizing and you wish that see more of her.
Runners Up: Sheen Gener, Nakabibinging Kadiliman/Asan si Lolo Me?  Mara Paulina Adlawan Marasigan, Nakabibinging Kadiliman.  Here are two young actresses that I think will and should be highlighting feature films in the near future.  Gener previously showcased acting chops in past Cinemalaya films and she continues to excel.  Marasigan was all sorts of amazing even though even though her characters is deaf/mute, she utilized her body and facial reactions to their fullest potential.

 

BEST DIRECTOR

Best Director: Joselito Altarejos, Kasal

Best Director: Joselito Altarejos, Kasal

WINNER: Joselito Altarejos, Kasal.  OK so I have decided, after days of thinking, that this is the best and my favorite Altarejos work to date.  He has the right material in hand and he executed it to its fullest potential.  It was also very easy to go to the sentimental or preachy even with the story that he had, instead he kept it grounded, real and sincere.
2nd Placer: Milo Sogueco, Mariquina.  Without a doubt his work in Mariquina was leaps and bounds better than “Sanglaan”.  It is a very polished yet intricate storytelling, simple yet complex.
3rd Placer: Sari Estrada, Asan si Lolo Me?  Estrada showcased his full potential as a director even with a short film.  He balanced the funny, with the sad and the weird in a small amount of time and the end product was just a delight to watch.  I can only be excited for Estrada’s venture into feature filmmaking.
Runners Up: Gino M. Santos, #Y.  Giancarlo Abrahan, Dagitab.  Both young directors making a splash in this year’s festival.  Santos continues to prove that he is one director to look out for after creating a much more accomplished work that his previous Cinemalaya effort.  Abrahan delivers an outstanding breakthrough.  He clearly has a different voice and it is refershing to him tell the story in his own masterful way.
BEST FILM

Best Film: Mariquina

Best Film: Mariquina

Winner: Mariquina.  By miles, my favorite Filipino film of the year so far.

Remaining 9
2.  Dagitab.  Powered by brilliant performances, awesome script.
3.  Asan si Lolo Me?  Darkly funny, memorable and witty.
4.  Kasal.  Sincere, heartfelt and honest.
5.  Hari ng Tondo.  Kind of spontaneous fun, a bit didactic, but good nonetheless.
6.  Bwaya.  Technical ace of a film with powerful perfromances.
7.  Nakabibinging Kadiliman.  Wow lead performances.  Tugs all right hearstrings.
8.  #Y.  My favorite Santos film to date.
9.  Eyeball.  Undervalued short film, short but got me hooked.
10.  Ronda.  Controlled, subdued, but kind of memorable albeit limitations.

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