Twenty-two-year-old filmmaker Pepe Diokno is the youngest Filipino director to bag the top prize in the Orizzonti (New Horizons) category of the 66th Venice Film Festival. His film Engkwentro was unanimously chosen to receive the Luigi De Laurentiis Award (Lion of the Future) for a Debut Film. It comes with a cash prize of US$100,000.
The Venezia 66 was held from September 2 to 12 with Oscar-winner Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) as the president of the jury. Direk Pepe personally received his award during the awarding ceremony held yesterday, September 12, in Italy.
The Orizzonti is a section that provides a spectrum of new trends in cinema. The Pinoy film was able to beat 24 other films chosen worldwide.
The Cinemalaya 2009 entry Engkwentro features young actors Felix Roco, Zyrus Desamparado, Daniel Medrana and Eda Nolan, as well as singer Bayang Barrios, and movie directors Jim Libiran and Celso Ad. Castillo.
Direk Pepe's film is inspired by actual "death squad" killings in some cities in the country, where, in the last decade, over 814 people have been murdered by hitmen allegedly sponsored by the state. Shot in handheld style, Engkwentro isa film noir and social commentary rolled into one.
The 11-day film festival screened more than 88 films from 32 countries. Hollywood stars who were expected to grace the event were Matt Damon, Michael Moore, Nicolas Cage, George Clooney, Oliver Stone, Charlize Theron and Sylvester Stallone.
SURPRISE ENTRY IN VENICE. Direk Brillante Mendoza's latest film Lola was chosen by Venice programmer Paolo Bertolin as a surprise entry to Venezia 66. The Venice Film Festival even called Direk Brillante as "the leader of the New Philippine Cinema." With the inclusion of his latest film, Lola, there were 25 films in competition this year, all in world premiere.
Lola is topbilled by Anita Linda (as Lola Sepa) and theater veteran Rustica Carpio as Lola Puring. Completing the cast are Tanya Gomez, Jhong Hilario, Ketchup Eusebio, Brian Jerome Go and the late Benjie Filomeno (the film is dedicated to him).
This marks the first time a Filipino film competes for the Golden Lion in 25 years, the last one being Mike de Leon's Sister Stella L. (presented under the title Sangandaan) in 1984.
In his director's statement, Direk Brillante had this to say about his new film: "Our humanity being weighed—and balanced—on the scales of justice. The crime serves to test the strengths and frailties of the two women. One proves weak, the other strong. This is so to keep the balance of humanity, as in the balance of nature, where the fittest survives and one's worth depends on his status in life."
Direk Dante and producer Ferdy Lapus will be returning from Venice on September 14 but they will leave again for Rio de Janeiro on September 16 to 21 for a full retrospective of Direk Dante's films at the Indie 2009 World Film Festival in Brazil. Then on September 24, they will go to the Bangkok International Film Festival where Kinatay (The Execution of P) will be screened.
Lola will have its Philippine premiere on September 22 and will open at Market Market on September 23 for a one-week screening. It has been chosen to open the 11th Cinemanila International Film Festival, which will be held in Taguig City.
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