Astig (international title: Squalor), has received a Special Mention in the New Currents section of the 14th Pusan International Film Festival. The prestigious event took place from October 8-16 in South Korea.
According to PIFF organizers, apart from the Audience Choice, this is, so far, the highest honor the Philippines has received from the jury of this prestigious filmfest.
Comprising the Philippine delegation of Astig were director GB Sampedro, Noel Ferrer, and actors Dennis Trillo and Edgar Allan Guzman. Veteran actress Rustica Carpio and Kinatay star Maria Isabel Lopez were also spotted at the South Korean event.
Astig, which also stars Arnold Reyes and Sid Lucero, is an ensemble film about four men whose lives intersect in the streets of Manila.
According to supervising producer Noel Ferrer, the jury wanted to award a special mention to Squalor "for its boldness, in its form and its narration, and for its courage to approach without concession, the hard life of young Filipinos confronted to struggle to survive in an unequal society. By its acrobatic scenario, Squalor juggles with the story of several characters. Sampedro approaches the sexual commerce as a means to survive. His images are harsh, poignant and set the relationships between money and sex and the exploitation of women. Very inventive, Astig/Squalor is a politically correct film and by this Mention, the jury is determined to greet the director for its courage."
With regards to this honor, Dennis pointed out, "Ang galing talaga ng Astig, daming nakapansin at ang daming nagkagusto! Proud ako na ito ang first indie ko!"
Edgar Allan recalls his experience while in Pusan. "Sobrang honored akong humarap sa foreign audience sa Pusan. Nakakatuwa na pinalakpakan nila nang todo at nagtanong pa sila sa open forum. Interesado talaga sila sa Astig. At nakaka-inspire gumawa ng magaganda pang projects. Sana mabigyan pa ako ng chance tulad nito."
Last July, Astig bagged four awards at the Cinemalaya 2009: Best Director, Best Sound Recording, Best Editing, and Best Supporting Actor (for Arnold Reyes).
MABUHAY PINOY INDIE CINEMA. Aside from Astig, 14 Filipino films were selected for the Retrospective Section of the Pusan IFF. This section titled "Mabuhay Pinoy Indie Cinema" included classic films such as Manuel Conde's historical epic Genghis Khan (1950), Lino Brocka's melodrama set in the slums Insiang (1976) and Passionate Strangers (1966), directed by National Artist for Film Eddie Romero.
The other films were: Nick Deocampo's Oliver (1983), Raymond Red's Sakay (1993), Kidlat Tahimik's Perfumed Nightmare (1977), Ishmael Bernal's Manila By Night (1980), Mike de Leon's Itim (1976), Lav Diaz's Criminal of Barrio Concepcion (1998), Aureaus Solito's The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros (2005), Mes de Guzman's The Road to Kalimugtong (2006), Brillante Mendoza's Kinatay (2009), Raya Martin's Independencia (2009), and Mario O'Hara's The Girl at the Breakwater (2004).
Pinoy films also made the cut in other sections. The Cinema One Originals entry Yanggaw, directed by Ilonggo filmmaker Richard Somes, was screened as part of the Window on Asian Cinema section. The Gina Pareño starrer Baseco Bakal Boys, directed by Ralston Jover, was featured in the Wide Angle section.
Meanwhile, in the short films section, Blogog (directed by Milo Tolentino), and Bonsai (starring Angel Aquino and directed by Borgy Torre) were screened as well.