Cinemalaya will not disqualify Mark dela Cruz’s Misteryo ng Hapis from its 2007 Short Films Top 10 despite allegations that it does not comply with competition guidelines.
The Cinemalaya selection committee has been criticized for including the film even though a rule states that, "works already in production phase prior to 15 December 2006 are disqualified." Mark started production 9 months before this for his undergraduate thesis at the University of the Philippines, Diliman.
But Laurice Guillen, chairperson of the competition, said that it does not apply to the short film category. "Since Cinemalaya does not give a seed grant to the Shorts category, we do not monitor their production. We do not require that they be produced specifically for Cinemanila," she explained in an email to William Reyes of People’s Insider Magazine.
In an interview with PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal), the veteran actress/director said the Shorts category "is not a contest. It’s a collaboration in the sense that they conceptualize and we select.
"I think that enough people know that Cinemalaya and the institution behind it are [there] to help young filmmakers. It is an advocacy; therefore we do not make rules to break it."
Film director Laurice added that Cinemalaya looked into granting seed money for the production of short films, but said that they "simply can’t afford it."
Meanwhile, Mark merely shrugs off criticisms on his film’s inclusion. "I don’t see any honest comments from these people on my film or Cinemalaya. Sana wala silang personal grudge dahil hindi sila natanggap. I’m inviting them to watch my film. Panoorin na lang nila kung ano talaga ang misteryo ng Misteryo ng Hapis."
This short film showcases the Filipino traditional ritual called Pa-siyam, wherein relatives pray for the soul of the dead for nine consecutive nights.
On the final night of prayers, Jay, a young theater actor who’s gay joins his mother in praying for the soul of his dead father for the first time. For every mystery prayed, all the painful past of Jay unveils. In the end, will all the mysteries of sorrow turn into mysteries of joy?
Other films included in 2007 Cinemalaya Short Films Top 10 are: Bynisha Alicer’s Doble Vista, Tara Illenberger’s Durog, Emman del Cruz’s Gabon, Lawrence Fajardo’s Liwanag sa Dilim, Hubert Tibi’s Maikling Kwento, Enrico Aragon’s Nine Ball, Alvin Yapan’s Rolyo, Ma. Solita Garcia’s Tagapagligtas, and Vic Acedillo’s Toni.