“MANA,” a film set in Negros and partly shot here, won the Best Film award at the 2015 Madrid International Film Festival last Saturday. It’s the highest honor of the annual film festival dedicated to independent films.
Its lead actress, Cherie Gil, also won the award for Best Actress in a Foreign Language Film.
“Mana” director Gabriel “Gabby” Fernandez and Gil personally accepted the awards.
Fernandez writes a column, “Of Snapshots and Zeitgeists” for the Lifestyle section of Sun.Star Bacolod.
“Mana” (subtitled “Inheritance”) tells the story of the siblings of a dying matriarch who are forced to come to their hometown in Negros to deal with issues of inheritance, tradition and the family legacy.
It showcases an ensemble cast that includes Jaime Fabregas, Tetchie Agbayani, Ricky Davao, Epy Quizon and the late Mark Gil, Cherie’s brother.
Gil dedicated her win to the memory of her brother Mark, while Fernandez dedicated the Best Film award to all the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) working as servicemen and women all over Europe.
Gil bested seven other actresses from other countries while “Mana” won over 14 other entries across the globe.
“Mana” was produced by the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde for its Silver Jubilee in 2013. It features some of Bacolod's top industry practitioners like Manny Montelibano and RJ Lacson - both working in various production roles.
Fernandez said he never thought it was going to happen.
“I told my producers, our best bet is to win (the) Jury Prize. They're going to give it (to) a Hollywood indie for sure," Fernandez told Sun.Star.
"It's all just overwhelming but I feel proud for all the Filipinos who can stand proud that our work is at par with the world's best," Fernandez added.
Fernandez is a graduate of the University of Saint La Salle and has taught at the Negros Summer Workshops and Bacollywood Workshops for the past 25 years. He was also the director of the much -beloved and now-defunct comedy improv group, the Kinengkoy Comedy Express.