Members of the global film community gathered once again as the first ever World Premiere Film Festival held its awards night last July 2, 2014, at the Mall of Asia CenterStage. The event was graced by diplomats and ambassadors from countries such as Iran, Laos, and the US, as well as the film makers from the participating countries. Eight films competed for the top awards, namely the Grand Jury Award and the Grand Festival Award, while nine films competed for the CINEVERDE Award.
Kicking off the opening night was a folk-rock performance by the Filipino band Kalayo. Host Izza Litto introduced the members of the Jury: John Vandalur McTallan from Indonesia, Benjamin Ilo from France, and Hong Kong International Film Festival head, Roger Garcia.
Comprising the Cineverde jury were Jennifer Lao of the Taipei Film Commission, Christian Miller from Bangkok, and our very own Kara Magsanoc Alikpala.
Best performance by an actress was given to Romantic Nostalgia’s lead star Mitra Hajjar, while the Best performance by an actor was awarded to Rene Pastor of Open Wound. The cast of Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon received the Best Ensemble Performance award.
Winning the Best Artistic Contribution award was Crusteceans (Spain), directed by Vicente Perez. The film exuded excellence in cinematography, editing, sound, and production design. Coast of Death (Spain) won the Cine Verde Award for Best Environmental Feature.
Open Wound (Ecuador) bested the main competition by receiving the Grand Jury Award and Technical Grand Prize. Director Alfredo León León was left almost speechless upon receiving the awards, “I don’t know what to say anymore. Thank you very much.”
Open Wound was León León’s first feature film. “It’s about the struggles of growing up. [It’s a] very honest film, full of human drama,” he said, adding that he gave great attention to technical aspects and cinematography. He also said he would love to make a film here in the Philippines. “[We have] similar people, culture, and customs. We share a lot of history.”
Meanwhile, Mula Sa Kung Ano Ang Noon, by internationally-acclaimed Filipino filmmaker Lav Diaz, won the Grand Festival Award. The films explores the horrors of Martial Law. “Kwento ng bayan natin ito,” said Lir Dela Cruz, production manager and art director of the film.
Dela Cruz shared how they were able to produce the almost 6-hour film in a matter of 40 days. “Si Lav kasi, if he doesn’t feel it, he won’t shoot. And hindi siya yung hanggang madaling araw nagshoo-shoot,” he said, noting that their shoots would usually finish at 8pm.“Lav is a Human Rights Advocate. Ayaw niyang masyadong napapagod yung mga nasa set.”
Lir revealed their strong commitment to art, and that filmmaking to them is not just an industry. “We are cultural workers. We use the cinema to convey our message.” He also defined Lav Diaz’ art as ‘free.’
“You know, when Lav’s Norte was screened, critics were saying that they did not feel the 4 hours. Tayo kasi sana’y tayo sa mga 2-hour film eh,” he said.
Shortly after the awarding ceremony, the winner of the Grand Jury Award Open Wound was screened.
The WPFF will now be held annually and will be hosted by the Philippines, said Briccio Santos, Chairman of the Film Development Council of the Philippines. “This night is only the beginning.”