Pepe Diokno triumphs at the 66th Venice Film Festival

by William R. Reyes
Sep 21, 2009
Engkwentro director Pepe Diokno holds up the Luigi de Laurentiis (Lion of the Future) trophy that he received during the 66th Venice Film Festival in Italy.

Ang twenty-two-year old Jose "Pepe" Diokno ang pinakabatang Filipino director and nagwagi sa 66th Venice Film Festival para sa kanyang pelikulang Engkwentro (Clash).

Nakausap ng PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) kamakailan ang celebrated director nang dumalo siya sa Gawad Urian awards rites na ginanap kamakailan sa Cultural Center of the Philippines.

The last time we saw him was at the awarding ceremony of Cinemalaya 2009 where his film was given a Special Mention award (by jury member Ms. Aruna Vasudev).

Now, barely two months after, ang pelikulang Engkwentro ang hinirang na winner of the Orizzonti Prize at ng Luigi de Laurentiis (Lion of the Future) trophy sa prestihiyosong Venice Film Festival sa Italy.

Gaano kahalaga kay Direk Pepe Diokno ang natamong parangal sa Venezia 66?

"Well, na mapasali lang kami sa Venice, napakalaking honor na no'n, eh," simula niya. "We weren't expecting an award at all. I mean, just to be a part of the oldest festival in the world... that [screens] some of the best films, talagang 'prize' na sa akin...

"So, icing on the cake siya, saka it opens doors for us," nakangiting sambit pa ng batambatang direktor.

Naiulat din na ang pananalo ng Engkwentro ng Luigi de Laurentiis Lion of the Future award ay may kasamang cash prize ($100,000 o humigit-kumulang na 5 milyong piso).

"It helps us make our next movie," pagtukoy pa ni direk Pepe. "Kasi, sa akin, I mean, for every movie that is made, ang daming nabibigyan ng trabaho dito--from camera operators, to electricians... (among others in the production)... so 'yun ang goal namin."

Gagamitin din ba ang ilang bahagi ng cash prize sa pag-improve, technically or otherwise, ng pelikulang Engkwentro? Marami kasi sa nakapanood ng 61-minute film ni Direk Pepe ang nagsabing napaka-dilim ng kabuuan ng pelikula, at talagang "very rough" ang pagkakagawa nito.

O ito kaya'y "statement" din ng direktor, patungkol sa halagang katumbas ng seed grant (P500,000) na kaloob ng Cinemalaya Filmfest; kaya ganu'n lang ang puwedeng maging "look" ng pelikula?

Nangiti si direk Pepe sa tanong (pati ang kasamang taga-production, si Ms. Bianca Balbuena).

"Engkwentro is as is, on the technical level," sagot niya. "We really made it as is (or as it is seen)."

Sa Orizzonti section ng Venice Filmfest ay tanging ang Engkwentro ang Filipino film entry. Si Direk Pepe rin ang sumulat ng screenplay ng pelikula, tinampukan nina Felix Roco, Eda Nolan, Bayang Barrios, at mga baguhang indie actors Zyrus Desamparado, Daniel Medrana at Moises Mag-isa; may special appearances dito ang mga direktor na sina Jim Libiran at Celso Ad Castillo.

Dagdag ni Direk Pepe: "Actually, there were two separate jury who gave us two awards; they all cited the technical aspects. We made it that way talaga. Kasi, if we had done it any other way, it might not have had the same effect."

Ipinagpapasalamat din ng direktor ang positive reviews na nakamit ng pelikula niya. "I mean, it's not necessarily (from the) jury... kahit isang tao lang 'yung pumunta (at manood) ng pelikula, at nagustuhan 'yung pelikula, prize na talaga ('yon)..." saad pa niya.


* * * * *

SECOND FILM
. With his inital success sa debut film niyang Engkwentro, tiyak na may binubuo nang plano si Pepe Diokno para sa susunod na ididirek ng indie project (na posibleng siya rin ang mag-produce, di ba?).

Ano na nga ba ang susunod na projects niya? "Unang-una, pahinga muna nang konti, tapos, dine-develop na po namin 'yung susunod na pelikula," sabi ng filmmaker na apo ng human rights advocate na si Jose Wright Diokno.

Sa Engkwentro ay naging matagumpay si Diokno sa pagtalakay sa totoong kwento ng karahasang nagaganap sa katimugan, partikular sa Davao province.

This time, "Babalik kami sa southern Philippines, [tungkol sa] mga bata naman. Wala pa itong title. Mga bata [pre-adolescent kids] who are in the middle of insurgency..."

Tulad ng una niyang pelikula, matindi ang kuwentong dini-develop ngayon ni Direk Pepe, mula sa nasabing konsepto. Hindi maglalaon at makikita na rin natin ang liwanag ng pagsasa-pelikula nito.

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Engkwentro director Pepe Diokno holds up the Luigi de Laurentiis (Lion of the Future) trophy that he received during the 66th Venice Film Festival in Italy.
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