Nairaos nang matiwasay—in austere rites—ang opening ceremonies ng 8th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival 2012 kagabi, July 20, sa Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo ng Sentrong Pangkultura ng Pilipinas, Pasay City.
Ito’y sa kabila ng masungit na panahon at karaniwang buhul-buhol na traffic sa Kamaynilaan at karatig-pook, dahilan para marami sa mga invited guests ng annual independent cinema event ay hindi makadalo.
Ngunit punung-puno pa rin ang Main Theater lobby ng CCP, sa pagbubukas ng palatuntunan. Kabilang sa mga CCP at Cinemalaya officials na naroon ay sina Dr. Raul M. Sunico, CCP President, Ms. Emily Abrera, member of the Board of Trustees, at Ms. Laurice Guillen, Cinemalaya Competitions Director.
Dumalo rin ang itinuturing na "Ama ng Cinemalaya" na si Mr. Antonio "Tonyboy" Cojuangco, kasama ang longtime actress-partner na si Gretchen Barretto.
Hindi nakasipot sa opening ceremonies sina Robbie Tan, Monitoring Head, at Nestor Jardin. Ang bagong festival director na si Chris Millado ay nagpaabot ng mensahe sa pamamagitan ng maikling video.
In-acknowledge din ang pagdalo ni Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera, National Artist for Literature.
Maraming mamamahayag at iba pang kinatawan ng local entertainment media (print and broadcast), kabilang ang PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal).
Tampok ang grupong Sipat Lawin ensemble na nagpalabas ng "awards skit" featuring talents na naka-costume ng iba’t ibang tauhang gumanap sa Cinemalaya at iba pang indie films.
Kabilang din sa nag-perform ang ilang miyembro ng Tanghalang Pilipino Actors’ Company katulad ni Sheenly Gener.
In a monologue, she reprised her role as Insiang, sa pagsasadula ng Tanghalang Pilipino in 2006.
Ang pinaka-highlight ng event kagabi ay ang pagpapalabas ng opening film na Babae sa Breakwater (2003) sa Main Theater, bilang natatanging pagpupugay o tribute sa yumaong aktor, manunulat at direktor na si Mario O’Hara.
Pinagkalooban ng Certificate of Recognition si O’Hara, sa pamamagitan nina Laurice Guillen at CCP President Dr. Sunico. Ang kinatawan ng pamilya O’Hara, na tumanggap ng parangal, ay si Heber O’Hara, pamangkin ng yumaong direktor.
Kabilang sa pamilya O’Hara na namataan ng PEP.ph sa CCP event ay sina: Peewee O’Hara, stage-TV-movie actress and professor, Heber, Emmanuel Espejo Jr. at Paolo O’Hara, mga pamangkin ng yumao.
Naroon din si Alan Magbojos, ang matapat na PA (personal assistant) ni Direk Mario; at ang actor-friend ng pamilya, si Lance Raymundo.
Pumanaw si Mario O’Hara noong June 26, 2012 sanhi ng sakit na leukemia. Siya ay 66 na taong gulang.
CINEMALAYA TRIBUTE. In her speech, Laurice Guillen acknowledged the many contributions of the late film auteur. Here’s the full text of Guillen’s speech.
"The thing that distinguishes Mario as an artist is that all that mattered to him was his craft.
"It was as filmmaker that I believe he was a complete artist. When he shot films, he created—and learned. He openly put himself at risk for his nonconformity.
"With Mario, the magic was between him and his work. In the entire process of filmmaking, it was in making the film itself where he was most alive and felt himself privileged and blessed.
"He didn’t care much for the other aspects of the trade—the publicity, the festivals, the controversies, the artists, the awards.
"And when he wasn’t shooting a film, he was an average student of life and of the characters he met, be they friends or strangers.
His imagination took him to places where his characters went.
"To him, all emotions are equal; all characters, fascinating. Every circumstance, worth exploring.
"And in his characters’ being, the emotions will be played up to their dark end, with passion and irreverence.
"Yet his visions, whether hatred, or violence, lust or tenderness... elevate them from the ordinary."
SILENT INFLUENCE. As a debuting filmmaker herself back in the early ’80s, Laurice Guillen in her speech also took note of the late filmmaker’s "silent influence" on her.
Laurice continued: "Mario, as a person and comrade in art, has been a silent influence and inspiration.
"Early in 1980, we once went to watch a film. And afterwards, we went back to my place to talk about it. I didn’t realize I had started to predict the film.
"And he interrupted me with the suggestion, ’Why don’t you direct your film?’ he said.
"’How do I begin?’ I said.
"’I’ll send you a box of some stuff I’ve written. Some of them are scripts, some are treatments and some are synopses. Go through them and pick one you think you feel confident you can direct.’
"’I don’t have experience with the technicals,’ I said. ’That’s no problem,’ he said. ’Get the best technical and production people and you won’t have a problem. You can concentrate on directing.’
"He then recommended their names to me. ’Who will produce the film?’ I asked him.
"He also suggested the producer I should approach. The following day, the box of scripts arrived. Most of them were ’very Mario stuff.’
"And I found one that I would fit into. It was titled ’Bukas Ang Kasal.’
"After choosing the script, I did exactly as he had advised— inspired and encouraged by his confidence in me.
"That’s how I got to direct my first film and transition to being a director. I owe them to Mario..."
Isang malakas na palakpakan, bilang pagtanggap, ang sumunod matapos ang bahaging ito ng talumpati ni Direk Laurice.
Sa mga masugid na tagasubaybay ng pelikulang Pilipino, at sa mga manunulat at tagapag-saliksik ukol dito sa makabagong panahon, ang kontribusyong nabanggit ni Direk Laurice, mula kay Mario O’Hara, ay hindi nga matatawaran.
Agad na nagkaroon ng puwang sa industriya ang pagiging female director ni Laurice Guillen, sa pagsisimula niya sa larangan bilang filmmaker, sa pamamagitan ng kanyang Kasal? (1980), na ginawang mas "intriguing" na title ng ’Bukas Ang Kasal,’ ang screenplay ni O’Hara.
Tungkol sa apat na magsing-irog (Hilda Koronel, Christopher de Leon, Mia Gutierrez, Jay Ilagan), at sa isang misteryosang babae (Chanda Romero) ang buod ng kuwento ng pelikula, kasama ang mga beteranong aktor at aktres, tulad nina Bobby Ledesma, Johnny Wilson at Ms. Gloria Romero. Kumita sa takilya ang Kasal? isang independently produced sophisticated romance drama na ni-release ng Trigon Films.
NOT LOSING FAITH IN CINEMALAYA. "It is this same inspiration that helps me, personally, not to lose faith in Cinemalaya—in Cinemalaya’s vision.
"Hopefully, that same spirit will be generated by the new breed of filmmakers."
Laurice then went on to share another anecdote on O’Hara, about the latter’s participation in the Director’s Showcase competition, which was launched in July 2010.
"At the closing ceremonies of the 6th Cinemalaya Film Festival, when his (O’Hara’s) film, Ang Paglilitis Ni Andres Bonifacio, had not won a single award, Mario said, ’Ako na yata ang pinaka-bobo rito...’
"He shared with fellow director, Joel Lamangan, his admiration for the new breed of filmmakers.
"’Ang galing nila, ano? Laos na tayo. Pero bakit parang hindi para sa Pilipino ang mga pelikula nila?’ he wondered.
"’Dapat gumawa pa rin tayo nang gumawa...’
"After ...Bonifacio, he wanted to do several more films, based on historical events and characters.
"But, suddenly, Mario died, quietly and unexpectedly, before all of that can happen.
"Tonight, Cinemalaya breaks tradition by showing not the new film, but Mario O’Hara’s Ang Babae Sa Breakwater, the film he made [in 2003] after a long hiatus—and screened at the Directors’ Fortnight of Cannes [International] Film Festival, the first Filipino film to do so in more than two decades."
Prinodyus ng isang independent film outfit, ang Entertainment Warehouse, Inc., sa panahong nagsisimula pa lamang mamukadkad ang indie cinema sa bansa, ang Babae Sa Breakwater ay nagtampok sa dalawang baguhang aktor (Kristoffer King) at aktres (Katherine Luna) na tulad ng iba pa ay hinubog ang talino sa pag-arte, sa pamamagitan ni O’Hara.
Nagkamit ng maraming nominasyon at parangal sa bansa at international filmfests ang isa sa mga huling obrang pampelikulang ito ni Direk Mario.
BRAVO. "If this is the only way and our only opportunity to honor a colleague, who didn’t think he was such a big deal; that in death he preferred to merely disappear into the wind...
"What remains with his loved ones are memories of his humility, his kindness, and generosity which belie the great talent, yet unencompassed by his films.
"So, thank you, Mario. Ang bravo!" pagwawakas ng talumpati ni Laurice Guillen, kasunod uli ang masigabong palakpakan.