The remarkable teamwork of the cast and crew of Layang Bilanggo paid off as the movie romped off with four major awards in the 6th Cinema One Originals awarding ceremony held last night, November 14, at the Dolphy Theater of ABS-CBN.
The family drama won Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Director for Michael Angelo Dagñalan, and Best Actor for Pen Medina.
The Jury praised Layang Bilanggo as "ang pelikulang sensitibo, buong-buo ang konsepto, Pilipinong-Pilipino ngunit tagos ang kaisipan at damdaming pang-mundo" and how its simple craftsmanship was suited to its theme.
The Best Picture award came with a cash prize of P200,000.
In accepting his trophy, Direk Mike acknowledged his cast members, especially lead actor Pen Medina, for contributing to the completion of the script.
"Binigyan po namin ng kalayaan na mag-improve ang aming mga artista. Naniniwala po kaming ang paggawa ng pelikula ay isang collective work," he said.
Pen, whose victory was by unanimous decision, reciprocrated by saying, "Bago po simulan ang pelikula, sabi ko, bigyan ninyo ako ng karapatan na aprubahan ang pagkasulat ng karakter ko at pag-develop ng emosyon."
He added: "Happy birthday kay Ronnie Lazaro! Makikiinom ako diyan!"
Veteran actor Ronnie Lazaro is, like Pen Medina, considered one of the finest actors working today. Ronnie played the lead actor in Ishmael, another Cinema One entry, but he was not present at the awards ceremony.
Pen's son Ping Medina, one of the hosts that night, quipped: "Congrats Tito Pen! Parang ako na rin ang nanalo."
The thrilling race for the Best Supporting Actor trophy ended with Marc Abaya emerging victorious. The band vocalist-turned-actor beat veteran stars Mark Gil and Pen Medina in this category.
Marc was clearly nervous when he went up the stage to receive his award for the horror film Dagim.
After calling his co-nominees "gods," Marc accepted the glass trophy for his role as the leader of a tribe of cannibals.
"I dedicate this to Johnny Delgado, my mentor, my master, my father," said Marc in his acceptance speech.
He later told PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) that he considered the late veteran actor as his father because Johnny taught him about acting through his acting workshops.
There was no award for Best Actress, as the seven films this year were centered on male leads.
This year's jury was composed of director Jose Javier Reyes, Hong Kong International Film Festival curator Jacob Wong, film producer Atty. Joji Alonso, film critic Roger Garcia, and Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino member Tito Genova Valiente.
Jodi Sta. Maria won the Best Supporting Actress award for Third World Happy.
Jodi told the press after the awarding ceremony, "Kahit sino namang artista ang makakuha ng award, masaya, e. Siyempre recognition ito sa trabaho mo, and ako, para sa akin, ito yung gusto kong gawin. Ito yung mahal kong trabaho.
"Yung mga ganitong klaseng award, sobrang bonus na lang ito para sa akin."
The star of Noah attended the event with her son Thirdy.
The Audience Choice Award, which came with a cash prize of P100,000, went to Astro Mayabang, a satire about a young Kapampangan who expresses his nationalism through his flag-themed clothes.
The stars of the movie, John "Sweet" Lapus and Arron Villaflor, accepted the trophy on behalf of their director, Jason Paul Laxamana, who says he is an advocate of regional cinema.
Sweet, one of the hosts of Showbiz Central, revealed that when they were making this film, Direk Jason Paul was actually aiming for the Audience Choice Award. Around 90 percent of the film uses the Kapampangan language.
The jury members decided to give citations to two films: Astro Mayabang and Ang Damgo ni Eleuteria Kirchbaum.
Ang Damgo ni Eleuteria Kirchbaum is the story of a young ambitious Cebuana who thinks that becoming a mail-order bride is her ticket out of poverty.
Director Remton Zuasola shot this film in one take lasting one hour and 30 minutes, as he followed the lead character Terya (Donna Gimeno) walking around the scenic island of Olango, near Cebu.
The Ronnie Lazaro-starrer Ishmael, directed by Richard Somes, bagged awards for technical excellence. These were the awards for Best Production Design (Adrian Torres), Best Cinematography (Alex Espartero), and Best Editing (Borgy Torre).
The horror film Dagim, directed by Joaqui Valdes, won Best Sound (Mark Laccay and James Tabin). Shot for seven days in a remote mountain, this film also stars Martin del Rosario and newcomer Samuel Quintana.
RECIPIENTS OF CINEMA ORIGINAL AWARD. Veteran director Celso Ad. Castillo and independent filmmaker Lav Diaz were the recipients of the festival's first CINEMA ORIGINAL Award.
Gloria Diaz, the lead actress of Direk Celso's 1975 film Ang Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa, introduced the director, whom she referred to as the "messiah of Philippine cinema."
When Direk Celso Ad. Castillo's name was called, the audience in the Dolphy Theater honored him with a standing ovation.
"Movies have become once again the medium of the movie director," said Direk Celso in his speech that night.
"Remember that movie-making is an art, but it becomes business when it's a good film. We must make ourselves understood with our chosen career, with the intricate art of filmmaking."
Lav Diaz, winner of the Orizzonti Grand Prize at the 2008 Venice Film Fest, urged filmmakers to fight for cinema.
Lav's past films include the 11-hour Ebolusyon ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino and the 8-hour film Melancholia. The award-winning filmmaker was unable to attend the awards night. He is currently in Vienna, Austria.
Indie film actress Mercedes Cabral read the speech of Lav on his behalf.
Part of message goes: "Mas maigi ang pilosopo kaysa isang gagong Tasyo. Magbiro'y mas progresibo kaysa Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Huwag kayong matakot lumaban sa mga institusyong feudal at pasista."
SIDELIGHTS. When Comedy Concert Queen Ai-Ai delas Alas presented the Best Director award, she told the crowd: "Pag indie ang ginagawa mo, feeling mo artist talaga.
"Gawan n'yo naman ako ng indie film, hindi yung nahuhulog na lang ako na naka-bra at panty! Ako na ang isusunod na ididirek, ha, kung sino man ito."
She then opened the envelope and read out the name of Layang Bilanggo director Michael Angelo Dagñalan.
When Mark Gil went up the stage, someone in the crowd shouted, "Purihin si Ama," a greeting used in his action-packed film Ishmael.
He addressed the young actress Ria Garcia by saying, "You scare me! But I hope I scared you more."
Yul Servo, Angeli Bayani, Felix Roco, Yas Neri, AJ Perez, and Martin del Rosario were among the presentors that night.
Megan Young, Rafael Rosell, Sid Lucero and Pen Medina also served as co-hosts of the evening.
Sam Concepcion took part in the energetic dance number that kicked off the awards night.
Other stars present that night were Mon Confiado, Hermes Bautista, and Gaby dela Merced.
Markki Stroem and the singing group Star Magic Glee wowed the crowd with their rendition of "Can't Help Falling in Love With You" and "Pyramid."
The seven films—Ang Damgo ni Eleuteria Kirchbaum, Astro Mayabang, Dagim, Ishmael, Layang Bilanggo, Third World Happy and Tsardyer—will be screened at Shangri-La Plaza, Mandaluyong until tomorrow, November 16.
CLICK HERE to view the screening schedule and synopses of these films.