A diverse selection of stories that tackle the complexity of the Filipino identity awaits you at the QCShorts competition section of the 10th QCinema International Film Festival.
Ever since its inception in 2013, the QCinema International Film Festival (or QCinema in short) has been unwavering in its commitment to support local filmmakers. For ten years, QCinema has been awarding seed grants to Filipino storytellers in its competition sections for full-length feature and short films. This year, QCinema has funded six narrative short films for its QCShorts offering with production grants amounting to 350,000 pesos.
The competitive category is always a place to discover emerging Filipino talents as well as a platform for esteemed filmmakers to showcase their cinematic prowess in the short film format. And we’ll get to see just that—a mix of refreshing voices and rich visions—at QCShorts 2022 with stories that highlight the plurality of the Filipino identity.
Related: Catch These Filipino Actors In International Films At QCinema 2022
Melding reality with fantasy, Jaime Morados’ Ang Pagliligtas sa Dalagang Bukid (Saving the Country Maiden) follows the story of the protagonist Joaquin, who sees himself transported to the world of the silent film reel that he’s trying to save from a burning studio. The film is a reimagination of José Nepomuceno’s silent film, Dalagang Bukid, which was released in 1919 and is considered to be the first film produced by a Filipino. Dalagang Bukid is based on Hermogenes Ilagan’s widely popular zarzuela of the same name, which tells the love story between Angelita, a flower vendor, and Cipriano, a law student. There is no surviving copy of the film as it is believed that the film perished in the fire in 1921.
Hailing from Biñan, Laguna, Jaime has been making films since the age of 14. His recent works include the historical comedy Protacio and the Bum, which won the jury prize at the BINISAYA Film Festival, and his award-winning sci-fi short Aga-hiw, The Dreamer, which follows a star who falls in love with a human woman. Evident in Jaime’s filmography is his passion for Philippine history, using the cinematic form to revisit the past while also finding new meanings about the present. Starring Therese Malvar, Carlos Dala, and Juliane Esguerra, Ang Pagliligtas sa Dalagang Bukid promises us a magical experience that will give us a glimpse into the early days of Filipino cinema.
An award-winning writer, director, and production designer, Whammy Alcazaren is one of the uniquely resonant voices of Philippine cinema today. Having background in the advertising field, Whammy has worked as a production designer in numerous Filipino films including Giancarlo Abrahan’s Dagitab, Samantha Lee’s Baka Bukas, and most recently, in Carlo Francisco Manatad’s Whether the Weather is Fine for which he won a Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences Awards (FAMAS) award for best production design.
Whammy has been making films that are at once thought-provoking and genre-bending. Colossal, his philosophical debut, which stars the Filipino auteur Lav Diaz and deals with the complexity of grief, won the best cinematography award at the 2013 Gawad Urian and was a best picture nominee. Whammy’s third feature film, the controversial Never Tear Us Apart, features a provocative spy story shot on an iPhone, which also serves as a critique of the social media age. Originally titled as Fisting, the film went on to win the Best Director and Special Jury Prize awards at the Cinema One Originals Film Festival 2018.
For QCShorts 2022, Whammy takes us to an introspective journey with BOLD EAGLE, which follows BOLD, a middle-aged sex worker who is caught in the tangle of technology and social media while contemplating his place in the world and being stuck at home with his cat named Eagle. And by the looks of its painfully short teaser, Whammy offers us yet another trippy adventure that will surely tickle our minds and be the subject of our after-movie conversations.
An alumna of the University of the Philippines Film Institute (UPFI), Marikina-based filmmaker Rocky Morilla seeks to hero narratives about women and the environment and these themes’ interconnectedness. Together with other young filmmakers, she has co-founded Pothos Collective, a colorful group of storytellers, which aims to push the boundaries of filmmaking with emancipatory narratives.
Over the years, Rocky has been working behind the camera, serving as the cinematographer of different shorts which have toured in local and international film festivals. These include Hans Piozon’s An Eidolon Named Night, James Fajardo’s Looking for Rafflesias and Other Fleeting Things, which is an official entry at the 2021 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, and Kukay Zinampan’s award-winning queer film Nang Maglublob Ako sa Isang Mangkok ng Liwanag.
And for this year’s QCShorts 2022, Rocky takes the helm of her regional offering, Mga Tigre ng Infanta. Set in the superstitious town of Infanta, Quezon, the magical realist film follows Katrina who searches for the corpse of her grandmother that has mysteriously gone missing.
“Mga Tigre ng Infanta is about stopping for a second to remember who we are and the landscape we’re part of,” Rocky shares with NYLON Manila. “I hope that when people see it, somehow they remember how linked we are to the soil we’re moving in. Somehow sana maramdaman nila na they can take a second to not feel like machines, and that they can be as wild as they want!”
According to Rocky, the story is inspired by her own experiences of seeing the transformation of Infanta from being such a beautiful respite to a completely different landscape where natural resources like mountains and rivers are getting disturbed by so-called development, which for her, feels more of a “degradation.” One of her inspirations is the highly contested plan of turning the Kaliwa River into a dam. “They’re planning on bombing the mountains for the dam—if rationality has failed let’s operate on the realm of emotions na!” asserts the young filmmaker, who is the only female director at this year’s selection. “High time to get mad and to pour our hearts into being insane if it stops their madness!”
Rocky is also grateful for the platform that QCinema freely gives to emerging artists like her, where they can banner the causes they hold firmly. “I feel like QCinema is a beautiful avenue,” she says. “Making films is eternally hard, and seeing projects like these spark hope talaga. [I am] proud of QCinema always for helping stories that can move mountains come to life!” Mga Tigre ng Infanta stars Dolly de Leon, Adrian Alandy, and CJ Lubangco.
Returning to QCinema is Filipino director, sound designer, and film scorer Glenn Barit. After making some short films like Aliens Ata in 2017 and Nangungupahan in 2018, Glenn premiered his much-celebrated first feature film Cleaners at QCinema in 2019. A photocopied, handpainted, stop-motion picture, Cleaners tells the story of high school cleaners who face societal pressures and discover the trivialities of life and the world.
The film would then take home a lot of accolades including the best picture awards at QCinema and Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino in 2020 (where it bagged six trophies), a FAMAS best screenplay award, and at some point made the highest-rated film list of Letterboxd, a social platform for movies. It even toured in prestigious film festivals abroad like the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea, Torino Film Festival in Italy, and Athens International Film and Video festival in Greece, making Glenn one of the most exciting cinematic voices in the country.
He gets back to his short film roots with the natural science-fiction, Luzonensis Osteoporosis. Headlined by Nicco Manalo, the film follows Luzonensis, a prehistoric hominid who searches for his lost passport as he is about to leave overseas. In his journey of finding it with his father, Luzonensis muses about his identity and his place in this country. Through a speculative genre, Glenn Barit offers us a new lens to look at the Filipino themes of diaspora and family.
Another emerging, regional filmmaker is Austin Tan who’s from Tuguegarao City, Cagayan. His works delve into the political and social and usually play with the subjects of memory and death. His short drama Happy 2023rd Birthday, Mylene! was part of the CineFilipino Film Festival and North Luzon Film Festival in 2018. He is also the production designer of Gilb Baldoza’s Cinemalaya winner Kontrolado Ni Girly Ang Buhay N’ya. Austin is also currently developing his first feature film RA 8491 or How We Recall Lost Memories in Transit which has received support from the Full Circle Lab and the Film Development Council of the Philippines.
With his QCShorts entry NGATTA NADDAKI Y NUANG? (Why Did the Carabao Cross the Carayan?), Austin Tan offers us another regional tale depicting a story of migration and the effects of industrialization, poverty, and natural calamity. It follows the 23-year-old Oyo as he searches for an elusive carabao before he migrates to Canada. Tackling the uncertainties of life, Austin Tan’s coming-of-age short packs a story that weaves familiar themes of loss and leaving which will surely resonate with a lot of Filipinos.
Known for their ruminative stories that bring the political in the personal, JT Trinidad has become one of the most promising cinematic talents in the archipelago. Their growing filmography includes their mystical culinary short In Case You Forgot To Return, which won the best film prize at the 2021 CineKabalen Film Festival, the wheels have stopped from rolling, which was part of the SeaShorts Film Festival in 2022, and their introspective documentaries even if cities would vanish, we will remain and Like People, They Change Too. Their hybrid short as if nothing happened, which traveled in the festival circuit local and abroad, was considered one of the best Filipino films of 2020.
JT, a student filmmaker, competes at this year’s QCShorts with the river that never ends. Produced by Ma. Sophia Sibal and Gale Osorio, it follows Baby, a middle-aged transwoman who juggles her job as a companion-for-hire for strangers and her responsibilities to her father, with the backdrop of a decaying river and a stagnating city.
In the past two years, JT Trinidad, who was born and raised in Pandacan, Manila, had been developing the river that never ends and was met with a lot of rejections in their journey towards realizing their film. “We were able to learn a lot in the process and empathize more with the community I belong to,” JT tells NYLON Manila. “This empathy is what I want to impart to the audience. I want them to look around them and be aware of the changes that happen. To question if these developments are inclusive or are just serving a small and specific population.”
Currently a film student at the UPFI, JT makes for a rare example as a student grantee of the film festival. “I think QCinema’s initiative has been helpful to a lot of amateur filmmakers like me,” they share. “I hope that in the future, they will consider getting more students into their program.”
The QCShorts 2022 will have its Gala Premiere on November 19, 2022 at Gateway Cineplex. Head over to QCinema’s website for more details about the schedule.
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