AFTER failing to grab a balanghai trophy in the recent Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, Gutierrez Mangansakan II's film "Limbunan" will definitely ride high, literally, on a gondola after being invited as the closing film in the International Critics' Week of the Venice International Film Festival to be held from September 1 to 11, 2010.

"This is a great honor. This proves that I did something good," Mangansakan said upon hearing the news.

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Venice is considered the second most prestigious film festival in the world and is among the "Big Three" list together with Cannes and Berlin.

No Filipino film has ever been featured in the lineup of Venice Critics' Week. Seven to eight films are chosen every year from first time directors for this festival section.

Limbunan glimpses into the life of a bride-to-be as she is kept from public view prior to her wedding as tradition dictates. The film follows the ritual motions of the women in a Muslim family after 16-year-old Ayesah's betrothal to a man she barely knows. It was, arguably, the critics' favorite in the sixth edition of Cinemalaya.

"'Limbunan' is striking for its patience, and its graceful exploration of a culture that would otherwise face condemnation in the hands of a less nuanced and open filmmaker," noted Clickthecity.com's resident film reviewer Philbert Ortiz Dy.

"The film is just beautiful, both visually and thematically. Mangansakan imparts a dreamlike atmosphere to even the most mundane of actions, drawing a connection between past and present, family and culture, tradition and self-actualization," Dy added.

Critic Francis Cruz hailed its "stylized storytelling and its undeniable splendor, [the film] is most importantly, a very personal ode to his [Mangansakan's] often misunderstood and misrepresented cultural roots."

This is the second straight year that a film panned by the jury in Cinemalaya has made it to Venice. In 2009, Pepe Diokno's Engkwentro was invited to the festival and later won the Best Film in the Orizzonti Section and the Luigi de Laurentiis Award for debut film.

Limbunan will similarly be competing for the Luigi de Laurentiis Award which is given to the best debut screened in all sections of Venice International Film Festival. It comes with a cash prize of US$100,000.