Featuring stories of trials, love, kindness, and hope, three films from Atenean filmmakers were showcased in the 19th Mindanao Film Festival (MFF) run by the Mindanao Film & Television Development Foundation Inc.
“Okay Ra Ko Sir,” “One Minute” and “Kalawakan” were among the films entered in the main competition of the festival, directed by Franky Arrocena and Giovanni Carillo.
Arrocena recently earned his Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies Minor in Media and Technology from Ateneo de Davao University, while Carillo is studying Electronics and Communications Engineering (ECE) at the same institution.
Both Arrocena and Carillo are members of Duwende Films, a group of young filmmakers from Davao City. Altogether, Duwende Films has four entries in the film festival, three of which were directed by Arrocena and Carillo.
Now in its 19th year, the Mindanao Film Festival marks the longest-running independent film festival in the country and the nation’s longest-running regional film festival. This 2021 is the second year that the MFF is held online because of the limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Arrocena and Carillo’s films are included in the 71 films that are featured in this year’s MFF, which consist mostly of films by Mindanao filmmakers. The audience can view the films on their YouTube channel until December 13.
Stories of pandemic trials and young love
The main competition entries for the MFF were divided into different playlists depending on the central theme of the films. Carillo’s “Okay Ra Ko Sir” and “Kalawakan” were piled under ‘Pandemic Pains’, while Arrocena’s “One Minute” was in the ‘Young love and friendship’ category.
In a live Q&A session with the filmmakers last December 8, Carillo shared the struggles he had experienced while making the films and their motivations for creating the movie.
“It was challenging because my camera don’t have a flip screen so I have to rely on auto-focus. But sa later part sa film, tinulungan naman ako ng pamangkin ko so pinabantay ko lang siya ng camera,” Carillo shared, referring to his film “Kalawakan.”
“Kalawakan” presents a conversation between two friends and is about finding hope despite the hardships caused by the pandemic.
Carillo also stated that he chose to star in his own film because it was his personal story and that no one could portray him better than he could.
“Kalawakan” was made when Carillo applied for the SAMAHAN Creative Team. According to him, he wanted to create something that would resonate not only with himself, but also with others.
“Honestly, I’m not really good at story making. So I [made] an initiative to find something that is very close to me,” he added.
Meanwhile, the short film, “Okay Ra Ko Sir,” depicts a student’s struggles during online classes, presenting how problems at home could interfere with a student’s education due to this setup.
Carillo mentioned that he and Arrocena edited the film on the same day that it was shot. This was because they were chasing the deadline for the competition the film was made for.
“Mahirap kasi ang main director, hindi nandoon sa set so we were trying to communicate while the shoot is going on online,” Carillo said.
While Carillo was editing the film, Arrocena was also composing its ending song entitled “Ulitin,” which was played for its duration.
Arrocena hoped that “Okay Ra Ko Sir” will give the audience a new perspective in approaching the compromise done during online classes, urging parents, students, and teachers to find the best ways to adjust in these trying times.
Initially created for Minute Burger’s short film competition last year, “One Minute” is a film centered on young love and family set during the Christmas season.
In the director’s message, Arrocena said that through the film, he wants to remind people that Christmas is in us and in the things we do, and in the moments we share with people.
“Our film actually wants to say that the Christmas season isn’t limited or boxed into certain traditions. We wanted to say that these traditions actually have meaning, and the meaning is something that can be found in almost everything like the things that you eat together with your family,” Arrocena said.
MFF director hopes for a back-to-normal future for films
In his short message during the opening program last December 6, festival director Mr. Rudolph Ian Alama expressed his hope of being back to normal once again. He hoped that one day people will be allowed to watch movies in cinemas and create films without strict regulations.
“This year, we again defy the limitations brought forth by the pandemic. I hope [that] next year that the world can contain this COVID-19 pandemic so that we can live our lives back to normal,” Alama said.
Alama also mentioned that more viewers could support the festival through online platforms, reaching a larger audience worldwide. This year will not be any different since the films are still posted online.
Alama ended his message by encouraging people to support the festival’s 71 films posted on their YouTube channel and Facebook page. He also formally declared the opening of the festival.