EACH of us perhaps has heard or could share an urban legend, a ghost/horror story or a town tale.
I remember one late night, over bottles of beer with millennial friends, our conversation drifted into horror stories. One shared his ghost-hunting experiences at the Champaca Street haunted house, an abandoned bungalow in a lonely corner of Juna Subdivision (an apartment now stands in the area.)
According to the story, the occupants in the house were brutally massacred (some versions say the bodies were chopped into pieces by a Satanic cult), the house was abandoned and the ghosts of the deceased residents continue to haunt in the creepy looking house.
Amused at the urban legend, thru Facebook I contacted the former “champaca haunted house” resident, who used to be my sister’s classmate in Ateneo de Davao High. In reality, the family were not massacred but had relocated to Manila in mid-1990s. My sister’s classmate was shocked to hear the gruesome fate that had befallen her family as retold by the famous ghost story.
“We had so many tales of the supernatural, town tales and urban legends, which we could mine as stories for our films,” said BaganeFiola, filmmaker and founder of the Ngilngig Film Festival and its Film camp.
The Ngilngig Film Festival is held every November and features short films based on the supernatural and superstitions. The film camp, which was held last June 2 to 4, aims to capacitate participating filmmakers in making their films based on these town tales.
About 19 participants held a camp at the grounds of the Malagos Garden Resort where speakers composed of veteran local filmmakers taught them various aspects of film production like story development, scriptwriting, direction, cinematography, sound, editing and acting.
Amidst the evening bonfire, the participants shared their ghost stories and supernatural tales and were able to develop them into film ideas and were critiqued by established filmmakers.
In the latter part of the film camp, the participants were divided into production groups to make their own films.
The film camp started in 2015 at the Monfort Bat Sanctuary in Samal Island. It was in a hiatus in 2016 as Bagane Fiola was busy making his full-length Baboy Halas. The 2017 Ngilngig Film Camp aims to find the peculiar superstitions pervasive in one’s locality.
“One filmmaker in the camp told the story of a supernatural entity Balbal, who steals corpses and places in its stead a banana trunk, it was a story which he would hear from the old folks in his town,” Fiola said.
“One of our goals is to immortalize town tales and superstitions in its unique form thru cinema; hopefully it would sustain a movement that explores Davao’s unique identity of filmmaking. We also want to create a festival that provides a venue for Mindanaoan horror films,” Fiola said.
About four short films were produced during the film camp which then would be shown in the Ngilngig Film Festival slated on November. Some of the films will also be shown during this year's Mindanao Film Festival.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on June 19, 2017.
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