Young Pinoy Filmmaker Triumph in Venice Film Festival

by • September 15, 2009 • EntertainmentComments Off7518

Young filmmaker Pepe Diokno thus said after taking home two major awards at the 66th Venice Film Festival for his independent film “Engkwentro.”

Engkwentro, which depicts state-sponsored vigilante killings in the country, won the best debut film in the Orizzonti (New Horizons) competition as well as the “Luigi De Laurentis” award for debut film. He is the youngest Filipino director to receive the top prize at the Orizzonti category.

The movie was the 21-year-old filmmaker’s first feature-length film, and it was also his first time to join and win at an international major film festival.

‚ÄúAng daming magagandang [films] doon sa Venice. It‚Äôs one of the best film festivals in the world… Talagang na-surprise kami. Hindi ko na alam kung ano iyong sinabi ko noong tinanggap ko na iyong award,‚Äù he told ABS-CBN News in an interview upon his arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

He recalled that his “mind went blank” and there was a moment of disbelief when he heard the presenters called out his film. After all, he explained, those were major awards and there were more than 20 excellent debut films from different nations competing in the festival.

He added that the competition was very stiff. This year’s Venice Golden Lion for best film and the Silver Lion (best director) award were given to two debut films.

He also noted that his film had the smallest budget compared with other participants in the festival.
“Sinabi din sa amin ng mga taga-festival na magandang makita iyong literally walang budget na movie tapos na-appreciate,” he said.
Pinoy film industry Diokno’s feat came after the victory of Brillante Mendoza in another international film festival. Mendoza was named best director at the recently concluded 62nd Cannes Film Festival for “Kinatay.” Mendoza’s “Lola” was also screened at Venice Film Festival as a surprise entry.

Diokno said: “Talagang maipagmamalaki natin ang film industry natin dito. Just a few years, we thought patay na patay ang pelikulang Pinoy pero I think with all these recognitions around the world, nakikita natin na may future ang pelikulang Pinoy.”
“Sana with these awards… mas pupunta ang mga tao sa theaters at bibili ng tickets para sa Pinoy movies,” he added.

Diokno said Filipino filmmakers have the talent and skills to compete and be recognized in the international film arena.
Diokno and his crew also received $100,000 in cash prize. The filmmaker said the money will be used to settle debts that were incurred while filming Engkwentro. The rest will be used to make his next “bigger and better” film project.

Since the awards will “open doors” for him and his team, he will take advantage of this to create films that will tackle socially relevant issues. In Engkwentro, for instance, he raised human rights issues in the country. He said: “Para sa akin, bakit ka pa gagawa ng istorya kung ang dami-daming istorya na makikita sa paligid natin?”

Diokno’s passion to show the ills of the Philippine society in his creation did not come as a surprise. He is after all the grandson of the zealous human rights lawyer Jose W. Diokno. His grandfather was imprisoned during martial law. He was later named as the first human rights commissioner under the Aquino administration.

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