The Philippines' advocacy-driven film festival, TOFARM, returns for its third year despite the untimely passing of its founding festival director, Maryo J. delos Reyes.
This year's theme is “A Tribute to Life: Parating Na,” and will be the first time that the festival will feature short films in competition.
TOFARM, which stands for The Outstanding Farmers of the Philippines, will run from September 12 to 18, 2018.
Screenwriter Bibeth Orteza will serve as this year’s festival director, while director Joey Romero was appointed as managing director. Rounding off the team is Laurice Guillen, who acts as a consultant.
Aspiring participants to the film fest sponsored by Dr. Mila O. How of Universal Harvester Incorporated and Landbank of the Philippines may submit screenplays until the deadline on April 20.
All submitted screenplays should be based on true stories of Filipino farmers, livestock raisers, fisher folk, and other individuals working in agriculture.
Dr. How explains, “Gusto naming ipakita sa ating population ’yong buhay ng mga farmers. Kasi medyo nakalimutan na sila. Madami diyan hindi nakikita kung ano ang ginagawa nila, yong hirap ng mga tao.”
As a tribute to the late festival director, one feature film will be awarded the Maryo J. delos Reyes Special Jury Award.
Even before he passed away, Maryo had convinced Bibeth to participate in the festival. She narrates that he approached her at a Christmas party and said, “Hoy, bakla, sa first TOFARM nandon ang asawa mo, artista ni Dennis Marasigan. Sa second TOFARM nandon anak mo [referring to Rafa], sa Baklad, artista ni Topel Lee. Bakla, kelangan next year andon ka na sa TOFARM.”
Indeed, Bibeth ended up working on TOFARM. However, she clarifies that she is not Maryo’s replacement. “Even in our first set of meetings, we avoided using the word ‘replacing.’ Those are big shoes to fill.”
Says Dr. How, “Direk Maryo was the captain who steered us through the rough shores of show business. We have to continue TOFARM Film Festival dahil very noble ang ating advocacy and this is really for the farmers of our country. We can assure you that we will have a new batch of films that can reap recognition here and abroad.”
Some TOFARM films that earned accolades from overseas film fests were Pauwi Na (Golden Goblet Award at the Shanghai Film Festival), Pitong Kabang Palay (Best Children’s Film, Dhaka International Film Festival), and Paglipay (Best Heritage Film, Urduja Film Festival).
DIREK MARYO'S HABILIN. Screenwriter Raquel Villavicencio, who was in last year’s committee, is helping in the transition team.
Raquel says Direk Maryo was keen to improve the relatively young film festival but the death of his partner Jake Tordesillas sapped his motivation.
She recalls, “He was very down and depressed. He didn’t seem up to organizing something yet. But we really have to do it kasi commitment. But he said, 'I want to make some changes. Like it’s going to be a screenplay competition. Not necessarily that the one who submitted it is going to direct it.'
“Kasi last year ganon. Ikaw ang nagsubmit, ikaw ang magdidirek. That’s why we had some directors who were first-time directors because they submitted the entry at sila 'yong naka attach na writers don.
"He said, ‘I feel we need some names, yong talagang veteran directors to push the film.’”
This was confirmed by Dr. How. Says she, “Kunwari hindi siya [the screenwriter] marunong magdirek, bibigyan namin ng director.”
Vision and craftsmanship will serve as the criteria for choosing the finalists.
Prizes for the feature film category are as follows:
Third prize - Php 300,000 plus a trophy
Second prize - Php 400,000 plus a trophy
First prize - Php 500,000 plus a trophy
Meanwhile, prizes for the short film category, with the theme “A Slice of Life: Eto Na” are:
Third prize - Php 30000, trophy, smartphone, steadycam rig
Second prize - Php 40000, trophy, smartphone, steadycam rig
First prize - Php 50000, trophy, smartphone, steadycam rig
To know about the complete rules, visit www.tofarm.org