TO Farm Film Fest 2018 finalists revealed; one entry was supposed to be part of Cinemalaya

IMAGE Jocelyn Dimaculangan

Seven proponents will each receive P1.5 million to produce the 2018 TO Farm Film Fest entries.


From 119 submissions, seven finalists were chosen as the official entries to the 2018 edition of the TO Farm Film Festival Philippines.

Now on its third year, the film fest (which stands for The Outstanding Farmer) is slated to take place from September 12-19, 2018.

The proponents of the seven entries will each receive P1.5 million from Harvester International Inc. President and CEO Dr. Mila How who is the executive producer.

Bibeth Orteza serves as this year’s festival director while director Joey Romero is the managing director of this film fest that is a brainchild of the late director Maryo J. delos Reyes.

The entries were chosen by the Selection Committee composed of Raquel Villavicencio (chairperson), Krip Yuson, Antoinette Jadaone, Mario Cornejo, and Manny Buising.

Here are the 7 full-length entries of the 2018 TO Farm Film Festival:

1. 1957 - a historical drama written and directed by Hubert Tibi

2. Alimuom - a science fiction written and directed by Keith Sicat

3. Fasang - a period romance written by Charlson Ong (director to be announced)

4. Isang Kuwento ng Gubat (The Leonard Co Story) - a biopic written by Rosalie Matilac; and to be directed by Ellen Ongkeko Marfil, Rosalie Matilac, and Milo Paz

5. Lola Igna - a cultural drama written and directed by Eduardo Roy Jr.

6. Mga Anak Ng Kamote - a futuristic drama written by John Carlo Pacala, to be directed by Carlo Enciso Catu

7. Sol Searching - a dark comedy written and to be directed by Roman Perez Jr.


INSPIRATION BEHIND THE FILMS. During the press conference of TO Farm, PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) asked the proponents to narrate where they got the concepts for their films.

Some were based on true stories while there are two sci-fi entries that aim to depict the state of the Philippines in the distant future.

1. The period film 1957 revolves around a young man whose father used to be part of the Hukbong Laban sa Hapon (Anti-Japanese Army). 

According to Direk Hubert, they are in negotiations to have Carlo Aquino as the lead actor of this project.

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SYNOPSIS: A group of farmers in Bicol are at the mercy of Don Pepe, a strict landlord. Twenty-year-old Lucio, son of a former member of the Hukbalahap, pins hopes on the arrival of President Ramon Magsaysay in their area, for genuine land reform to take place. We know what happened in March 1957: President Magsaysay died in a plane crash on the slopes of Mount Manunggal, Cebu. 

2. According to Keith Sicat, he got the idea to create Alimuom when he had a simple conversation with Gil Carandang. The Fulbright scholar is considered to be the father of organic farming.

In an exclusive interview with PEP, Keith explained, the term alimuom is a Tagalog word that refers to "singaw na galing sa lupa pagkatapos ng ulan.

"Tagalog word siya na walang direct translation. Parang mist or vapor."

His science fiction movie will be set hundreds of years in the future.

Direk Keith also revealed, "May sister film ito na dinedevelop ko at the same time with Sir Ricky Lee.

"Outer Space Filipino Workers yung title ng isa pang movie.

"Alimuom yung earth-bound story then yung isa, cosmic. Para siyang sanga." 


SYNOPSIS: A futuristic Philippines with specific sections of the country under individual bio-domes. The OFWs are actually Outer Space Filipino Workers and the song "Bahay Kubo" is a distant memory that makes a young boy ask: “Ano ang singkamas?”

3. Through Fasang, Charlson Ong hopes that this film will help revive interest in Philippine literature.

Charlson said that he got the idea from a short story titled Tanabatha's Wife. 

"Tanabatha's Wife has been called the greatest Philippine love story but a lot of young people don't know about it which is a sad thing about our literature.

"I thought it's time na to be transformed into another medium and that could be the salvation of our literature. I'm thinking of other projects na maging film to save our civilization," disclosed Charlson.

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SYNOPSIS: Set in the 1920s, this film is based on the classic Philippine short story Tanabata's Wife, and will feature a Japanese actor. Tanabata-San is a successful Japanese immigrant farmer in La Trinidad Valley in Baguio, where the Japanese have been known to pioneer the planting of salad greens. Middle-aged and lonely, he hires a young feisty Bontoc woman, Fasang, as farmhand, and falls in love with her. They get married and have a son, but Fasang is attracted to the city lights of Baguio that is now taking shape, and to someone else.


4. Writer Rosalie Matilac explained that the biopic Isang Kuwento ng Gubat will depict the life of a prominent Filipino botanist.

"Leonard Co is the rock star of Philippine biology," declared Rosalie.

"Talagang kilalang-kilala siya ng mga scientists sa Pilipinas at sa buong mundo pero hindi siya siguro kilala ng masa.

"Alam niya ang lahat ng halaman sa ating kagubatan. Sa kanyang pagkamatay, sobrang tragic. Ang daming umiyak kasi hindi natuloy ang trabaho niya.

"TO Farm is about a celebration of life kaya ito ang magiging celebration ng buhay ni Leonardo Co."

SYNOPSIS: This is a biopic and homage to the great Filipino botanist slain together with a guide and forest ranger in the forest of Kanangga, Leyte; government troops claimed they were caught in a crossfire between the military and the NPA, but two of the survivors said there was no gunfight and that they were apparently mistaken to be NPAs.


5. The cultural drama Lola Igna was supposed to be part of Cinemalaya 2012 and 2017. 

Direk Eduardo said about his film, "Personal story ito ng kawalan ko ng koneksiyon sa aking lola. Inisip ko, 'what if naging maganda yung relasyon namin at mas nakilala ko siya?' Ito ang kuwento ng mga hindi nagawa ng isang apo para sa kanyang lola at isang lola para sa kanyang apo."

In an exclusive interview with PEP, Direk Eduardo revealed, "Actually, dalawang beses siya dapat nag-Cinemalaya. Yung first yung budget then yung second kasi nagkasakit ako. In-advice ako ng doctor na magpahinga muna."

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Direk Eduardo got the idea for the movie five years ago when he reflected on his relationship with his 80-year-old maternal great-grandmother who was living in Sagada. She passed away six years ago.

"Fictional character siya but inspiration ko tungkol sa relationship ko with my great-grandmother.

"Tribute ko kasi hindi ako nagkaroon ng chance na makilala siya ng maigi kasi nasa malayo siyang province. Ito yung 'what if nagkakilala kami?' 'what if nag-bonding kami?'

"Ito yung paano nagkakilala yung old and tradition versus the bagets and the modern."

According to Direk Eduardo, the young boy who will go to Sagada represents himself.

SYNOPSIS: Set in Sagada. Lola Igna is 115 years old. Will she get to be the Guinness Book of Records’ oldest living person and become a tourist attraction to benefit the farming community close to the cliff of the hanging coffins? What will her possible winning or losing do to the warring factions of her immediate family?


6. Mga Anak Ng Kamote is a futuristic drama that has its roots in a true story.

Writer John Carlo Pacala recalled how he got the idea for this sci-fi movie:

"Nagba-browse ako sa Internet, may nabasa akong news na may multinational company na gustong i-patent ang fennel flower. Pag pinatent mo ang halaman na yun, hindi na siya puwedeng gamitin ng ibang tao.

"Dun na nagsimula ang 'what if' ko. What if hindi na puwedeng gamitin ng ibang tao yung kamote?' From that concept, umusbong na yung kuwento."


SYNOPSIS: Set in the Philippines, 2052, when the planting of kamote has been outlawed and those caught planting and selling kamote is put in jail, no thanks to the Kamote Planting Regulation Act.


7. The dark comedy Sol Searching is actually based on a tragic true story.

Roman Perez Jr. narrated, "Hango ito sa isang kuwento ng isang teacher, co-teacher ng mother ko, na hindi mailibing dahil palipat-lipat ng buburulan at walang pondo.

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"Teacher siya sa Visayas. Personal ko na nakuha yung kuwento at nakausap ko din ang pamilya."


SYNOPSIS: Teacher Sol is dead and cannot be buried because there are no funds. How will the community come forward to put her to rest, this strict and no-nonsense teacher of grade school students and farmers who need to be taught scientific farming methods?




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