I WAS on a night-out with friends, when I received a Facebook message from newly-appointed Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) chair Liza Diño-Seguerra who asked me about the Mindanao regional filmmaking community.

Through our chat, I gave her a brief situationer about the regional film movement in Mindanao and re-articulated my concerns particularly on the issue of ratings with the Movie Television and Ratings Classification Board (MTRCB) whose present set-up is not conducive to a growing regional filmmaking movement.

The chair assured me that there would be a synergy of efforts from government agencies involved in the film industry/movement like the FDCP, the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the MTRCB. She told me that I would just worry about the festival as they would be helping us on our respective concerns. She also wanted to reach out to other regional film communities in Mindanao.

By the morning, I immediately contacted lawyer Karen Santiago-Malaki, the festival director of the Nabunturan Independent Film Exhibition (Nabifilmex) and told her about my evening chat with Ms. Liza hoping I could connect Nabifilmex with the new FDCP chair.

In the following days, with the help of Cinemadayaw group under Ms. Chona Ongkingco and Kristine Cruz, we were able to hold the FDCP regional summit in Davao City last August 27, where we were able to get on a course of action.

The convergence and synergy of efforts brought about by the active leadership of Ms. Liza, with the equally dynamic support of the NCCA, the regional office of the Philippine Information Agency-11 and the City Tourism Operations Office of Davao City has brought to us a bigger 12th Mindanao Film Festival.

We had 61 short films and feature-length movies which were shown in Gaisano Mall Cinema 6. We had a bigger number of audience compared to the previous years due to audience development efforts and convergence of government agencies such as the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRDP), the Population Commission (Popcom) and Non-Government Organizations like the Forum ZFD and the Anak Mindanao Partylist.

Students from schools like Ateneo de Davao University particularly the Senior High School program and the University of Mindanao also came in droves to watch the films. Some of the films were made by faculty and students from the schools.

It is very heartening to note that the efforts of the Mindanao Film and Television Development Foundation Inc., the organizer of the Mindanao Film Festival, are now being complemented by this convergence. This augurs well for regional filmmakers who will benefit from bigger film festivals and other related activities such as film workshops, film screenings, and film-a-thons.

Apart from the Mindanao Film Festival, the biggest news in the side of town is the successful bid of Nabunturan to host Cinema Rehiyon, the country’s largest film festival which will feature over a hundred films from different regions in the country.

The request of the Nabunturanons to have a cinema on their own will soon be a reality with the soon-to-be constructed Cinematheque in the town proper.

Back to the Mindanao Film Festival, we were able to gather another set of distinguished panel of jurors. We had Sheron Dayoc whose documentary "Crescent Rising" won the Busan International Film Festival Mecenat Award (the only Filipino film to win an award in this year's prestigious South Korean film fest).

We have also noted film professor Ed Cabagnot, who was one of the organizers of Cinemalaya and is currently an execom member of the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival and Yam Palma, a UP Film grad who had worked in several indie film productions. She used to teach film at Philippine Women’s College of Davao where she had mentored several promising filmmakers here.

“Entre Medio Del Fin.” (In the middle of the End) a Chavacano-language short film helmed by Ryanne Murcia won best film in this year’s MFF.

“The Soil of Dreams” a full-length documentary from Cagayan de Oro which details the lives of river sand gatherers in the Cagayan de Oro River also won the best documentary prize and the NCCA’s Sulyap Kultura Award.

“Ako Bahala sa Imo.” A short film shot in Tagum City during the Davao del Norte Film-A-Thon, a 24 hour filmmaking race, won best Guerrilla Filmathon film. It also won several awards (Best Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Production Value).

“Makaakar” a film about tunnel gold miners also had its lead actor Gilbert Lloren Nunez won a Best Actor Award. The film’s director Jelford Teves, a high school teacher in Monkayo got the Best Director prize.

“Ma’am La,” A college thesis film shot in Cagayan de Oro, won Best Sound, Best Musical Store and Best Student Film for student filmmaker Vince Sevillano. Tearjerker “Dear Mama” won Best Production Design, while gang-war drama “Panun” won Best Actress plum for lead actress Maria Laura Parapina. Filmathon short “Amboy” won best original song for “Fly By”.

Animated short “Anito” was given Special Jury Citation for its impressive 3D animation which highlights the potentials of 3D animation in Mindanao while a Comval film “Panggaw” by school teacher/filmmaker Mary Ann Gabisan was also given Special Jury Prize.

A special thanks to the men and women of the Mindanao Film Festival for making the event a success. To our friends and supporters who came to help. To the audience, the filmmakers, Liza, FDCP executive director Will Fredo, NCCA, Director Efren Elbanbuena of PIA-11, Ms. Gene Rose Tecson of CTOO, Forum ZFD, Anak Mindanao, Population Commission, DA-MRDP, and the schools, thank you.

Ultimately this synergy and convergence will benefit our regional filmmaking community. Until our next collaboration.