IT'S VERY busy in Davao these days. There was the euphoria over the official state visit of Japan Prime Minister and his various activities in the city that included the adoption of Philippine Eagle Sakura with the Philippine Eagle Foundation, the visit at the Mindanao Kokusai Daigaku (International College), and the breakfast at President Rodrigo Duterte's residence at Dona Vicenta Teacher's Village in Matina, Davao City.
Then came the launching of the President's chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) on Sunday attended by hordes of Asean leaders and visitors.
On the people side, a group of students of Davao City National High School (DCNHS) are showing the world as well that Davao City has world-class talents as their short film. "Kapit-os" (Poverty) has been selected to compete in the 10th International Children's Film Festival - Bangladesh on Jaunary 24 to 30, 2017 at Central Public Library, Shahbagh, Dhaka along with 11 other venues throughout the foreign country.
Kapit-os had earlier won Best Film, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Production Design, Best Actor and Supporting Actor, and Best Poster in the regional Population Commission Adolescent Health and Development Film Festival, and was selected as third place in Best Film in the national finals aside from winning the first place in Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, and Best Director.
Over 500 films have been submitted in the International Film Competition Section to the Children's Film Festival Bangladesh this year and Kapit-os is among the Top 6 selected. Also in competition are the Popcom entries of Central Visayas and Central Luzon, Popcom information management and communications unit head Ching Bocanegra Amor said.
"Ang nauna ang atin," she said. "First time ang Philippines makapasok."
In the Popcom national finals, Central Luzon's "Malaya" won Best Trailer, while Central Visayas' "Dagan, Mira, Dagan" won Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress, and Second Best Film.
The Children's Film Festival Bangladesh is an annual film festival showcasing full length features, shorts, experimental films made for and by children, including fiction animations and documentaries, from around the world.
The film was produced as part of the DCNHS's Special Program for the Arts-Media Arts (SPA-MA).
Jamilla Rosslynne Natividad, the media arts adviser, said that the SPA-MA started in 1999 with the multi-media having different art groups -- visual, media, creative writing, and performance arts that is further subdivided into vocal, rondalla, dance and theater.
At the start, the program was focusing on publications, but the MA program found itself overlapping with the SPA-Journalism, thus Natividad said they decided to focus on filmmaking instead, which covers screenplay-making, scriptwriting, and acting.
The program's first film was produced in 2007 after their students joined the Guerilla Filmmaking and eventually showed their production at the Mindanao Film Festival.
"That was when we got top Mindanao editors to help us edit," Natividad said.
Asked what his major learning in the filming of "Kapit-os", film director Dave Andrew Conde said he realized that filmmaking is a very big and busy process.
"Before, I thought we just shoot this and shoot that, take one, take two," he said. "Yun pala, even as you are shooting, you are already thinking what's next and how the flow will be. You are actually playing the film in your mind."
The students also learned a lot from the location itself.
The film was shot at North San Juan village in Agdao District, in rickety house built on stilts above the waters.
"We saw how they live every day. About how it's such an effort even to take a bath. You have to walk around 15 steps outside the house then you pay to make use of the community facility," Conde said.
The house they chose despite its tiny size is home to three families, the elderly parents of the fisherman family, and the family of his sibling.
They first got acquainted with the family through another film project with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Davao Region last year and decided that it will be easier to make a film in a place where they already know the homeowner because they were trying to beat the deadline for the original Popcom competition.
Natividad said that they shared the cash they earned from the Bfar Davao Region film to the homeowner, JR, which allowed him to build a separate house for his family, although just as rickety. They still have to return to share their winnings from Popcom.
The students also saw how the pollution of the waters off North San Juan is forcing the fishing community to find other means of survival.
They learned that because the fish catch now is very low, the menfolk of the family look have shifted to being laborers in seasonal construction jobs.
Conde said their film was inspired by Lav Diaz's "Norte", where very few words were used and yet the images were enough to send the message. But, he attributes his learnings to filmmaker Charliebebs Gohetia, whom he said, gave a very instructional peptalk when they won in the Popcom filmfest.
"Didto ko naka-learn og daghan kay Direk Charliebebs (I learned a lot from Direk Charliebebs)," he said.
Main actor Victor Jay Suazo, an SPA-Dance Arts student, admits it was not easy to act, finding the scene with a gay actor as very awkward. He also recalled having difficulty in crying, especially because there were more female crewmembers than males.
"Awkward na daghan babae mutan-aw (It feels awkward to cry in front of many girls)," he added. But with the encouragement and instructions (and Vicks Vaporub) given by Conde, he was able to deliver.
Kapit-os is co-directed and edited by Kenneth Burcelis and aside from Suazo, also stars Gean Requina, Rica Mae Cavan, Kristoff Cancino, Rockford Dagohoy, Lawrence Saludes, Nicole Flores, and Shannah Epan.
Working behind the scenes are screenwriters Kyla Ericka Paulmitan and Antonette Grace Loyola; cinematographers Julia Ricci Alon, Lovely Jewel Baguilod, and Shenielly Paclibar; Production designers Emmanuel Arceno, Sheena Nalupano, Trisha Samson, CJ Marie Jagape, and Aleona Langbid; Lighting director Alydon John Villa-Abrille; Casting directors Alyssa Danielle Tabudlong and Trisha Menoy; Location managers Kate Cancino and Kyle Gepiga; and Layout artist Joshua Cister.
Their teacher and coach under the special program for the arts of DCNHS is Jamilla Rosslynne Natividad.
The short film tells the story of Buboy, a teenage fisherman who had to suffer the dwindling catch and thus tried to fend for his younger siblings by selling himself. He found himself in deeper trouble.
Natividad only had gratitude for Popcom 11 for helping them all throughout the production to the submission to the festivals.