"Tirador" and "Queen Raquela" win top honors in Berlinale

Coco Martin (left) and Dante Mendoza (right) attended the Berlinale from February 8 to 13 for the European premiere of Tirador at the Colosseum Cinema. Dante's movie about petty criminals operating in Quiapo bagged The Caligari Award, considered to be the most important distinction of the Berlinale section—International Forum of New Cinema.

Two Filipino films won top honors in the 58th Berlin International Film Festival held from February 7 to February 17 in Berlin, Germany. Tirador and The Amazing Truth about Queen Raquela bagged the Caligari Award and Teddy Award for Best Feature Film, respectively, at the Berlinale. The Caligari Award comes with a cash prize of 4,000 euros while The Teddy comes with 3,000 euros.

The Caligari Award was sponsored by the German Federal Association of Communal Film Work in cooperation with the film magazine Filmdienst (Film service). This year's jury was composed of Andreas Heidenreich, Dagmar Kamlah, and Julia Teichmann. They lauded Tirador for its "breathless handheld-camera, de-saturated colors and pulsating sounds of the city that equally create and catch an atmosphere of urban unrest, imparting a vivid cinema experience without exploiting the slum as exotic scenery."

This is the second international award of Tirador after winning the Special Jury Award in the 7th Marrakech International Film Festival in Morocco last December.


From February 8 to 13, Tirador director Brillante "Dante" Mendoza attended the Berlinale with actor Coco Martin, executive producer and creative consultant Armando Lao, and Ferdie Lapuz of Ignatius Films Canada.

According to an article from the BERLINews of Fr. Adonis Narcelles Jr. SVD, chaplain of the Filipino community in Berlin, Dante "spoke before the international audience after the first screening, the European Premiere of his film at the Colosseum Cinema in Berlin on February 9, 2008. He worked on three cameras to shoot the scenes in the dangerous areas of Manila, particularly in Quiapo in order to capture the life and operation of poor small-time crooks, the ‘little criminals' who do dirty tricks to earn money."

Coco tells PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) that he got starstruck when he was able to see international actress Penelope Cruz during the Berlinale. "Kahit maliit ang bayad, tingnan mo na lang, mas matindi pa ang bawi ko, because I get to travel. Hindi nagagawa ng ibang artista 'yon na nakakaikot sa iba't ibang film festivals abroad. Yun na lang ang consolation ko, aside, of course, from the artistic fulfillment," he says with conviction.

In the movie, Coco plays a petty criminal who snatches bags to earn money for the payment of his pedicab. The movie's title Tirador refers to somebody who makes a hit (tira), which can stand for a hired killer, drug addict, thief. This Centerstage Productions movie also stars Jiro Manio, Kristoffer King, and Nathan Lopez, with the special participation of Jaclyn Jose, Simon Ibarra and Julio Diaz. Ralston Joel Jover wrote the script.


HAIL THE QUEEN. Meanwhile, the Philippine-Icelandic film co-production The Amazing Truth about Queen Raquela was cited by the jury "for its ability to address race, gender and poverty in an entertaining way, while also playing with audiences' expectations of form."

Iceland-based director, Olaf de Fleur, shot the film in Cebu, with an entirely Filipino crew composed of producer Arleen Cuevas, cinematographer Butch Maddul, production manager, Beverly Tanedo and production designer Alexis Yap. The movie also incorporates footage from Thailand, Denmark, France and the United States. Queen Raquela also features Filipino non-actors Raquela Rios of Cebu, Olivia Galudo, and Brax Villa.

The Teddy Awards are given to films with gay and/or lesbian content. This is the same award given to Auraeus Solito's Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros in 2006.

SYNOPSIS. Raquela is a transsexual—or "ladyboy"—from the Philippines who dreams of escaping the streets of Cebu City for a fairy tale life in Paris. In order to make her dreams come true, she turns from prostitution toward the more lucrative business of Internet porn. Her success as a porn star brings new friends, including Valerie, a ladyboy in Iceland, and Michael, the owner of the website Raquela works for. Valerie helps Raquela get as far as Iceland. From there, Michael offers her a rendezvous in Paris. Will Paris be everything she dreamed of? And will Michael turn out to be her Prince Charming?


The Amazing Truth about Queen Raquela will be screened in the Philippines by June or July.

Aside from Tirador and Queen Raquela, four other Filipino films screened in the Forum section were Jim Libiran's Tribu (Tribe); Mes de Guzman's Balikbayan Box; Khavn dela Cruz's The Muzzled Horse of an Engineer in Search of Medical Saddles; and John Torres' Years When I Was a Child Outside.


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