MNL—Two young Filipino-Australian filmmakers from Melbourne won recognition for their films which were selected as part of 2018 Sinag Maynila Film Festival. The festival is headed by Cannes award-winning director Brillante Mendoza and Wilson Tieng of Solar Entertainment.

Odin B. Fernandez and Matthew Victor Pastor entered The Duwende in the short film category and MELODRAMA / RANDOM / MELBOURNE! in the full-length feature category, respectively. Both writers/directors are graduates of the University of Melbourne/VCA.

Odin’s The Duwende won the Best Short Film Prize. It is a 10-minute and a half film which follows the story of Boyet, whose daughter has gone missing and believed to be taken by the duwende, a mythical being in Filipino folklore who snatches children from their homes. His investigation leads to a truth too difficult to bear. The Duwende was shot in the Philippines and produced as a Master’s graduate film.

Meanwhile, the film by Matthew, the 82-minute film MELODRAMA / RANDOM / MELBOURNE! won the Best Original Score in its category. The 29-year-old director presented his “ensemble narrative” in the feature film competition. The award-winning soundtrack was composed by his childhood friend, Fergus Cronkite (Andrew Tran). “He told me to bring a trophy back for him, and I did,” said Pastor in his acceptance speech. The film is the second part of his Filipino-Australian trilogy.

Presented in Glorious Cinema – O – ke!, a feminist documentarian, a pickup artist, and a virgin’s lives collide. Aries Santos is a Filipino-Australian feminist documentarian who is struggling to complete her new film. Her subjects are the male members of ‘TRU MALE DYNAMICS’, a company formed to teach men how to seduce women. Meanwhile, a sex worker named Melody slays into the night. The line between reality and fiction blurs, and blood is shed on the neon-lit streets of Melbourne.

Melodrama/Random/Melbourne! wins Best Original Score at 2018 Sinag-Maynila Film Festival
A scene from the film Melodrama/Random?Melbourne!

“Making movies is a great way to preserve our history and reflect our everyday struggles,” remarked Pastor, who also won Best Director (Masters) at the 2015 University of Melbourne/VCA graduation awards.

“I’m proud that we are finally telling our stories, there are a few of us in Melbourne who are passionate,” said Pastor, as he continues post-production on his new feature film Maganda! (or Pinoy Boy vs Milk Man) which he expects to release in the near future.

A third Filipino with links to Melbourne and a participant to this year’s Sinag Maynila Film Festival also had a victorious entry. Janine Santos, a Master of Cultural Economy student of Monash University from 2014 to 2016, won the Best Documentary for (Mahal, 2017) which she wrote and directed. She is now taking up Master of Cultural Anthropology and Development Studies at the KU Leuven in Belgium.

The 16-minute and a half documentary is an auto-ethnographic experimental documentary composed of shot and donated footages about a millennial ilustrado and her life as a scholar from the ‘Third World’ being confronted with ‘First World’ experiences. Seen from the point of view of the one who writes to a lover left behind, (Mahal, 2017) serves as a reference to the daily battles of a scholar who is burdened with the choice of reconciling the need to find solutions to the social problems of her country and the desire to live a reactionary life with the person she loves.

In her acceptance speech, she said that she offers the award to Filipinos who go overseas to work hard and live an uncomfortable life abroad just to support their families back home.

The Sinag Maynila Film Festival was established in 2015 to support Filipino independent cinema.

Official trailer | Melodrama/Random/Melbourne!

Stars Celina Yuen, Bridget O’ Brien, Rachel Javier, Khoa Le, Matt Furlani, Vlady T, Gregory Pakis, Kristen Condon, Elliot Ng, Charlie Dao, Louise Bremner, Aston Elliot, Jarrod Mayne.

Official trailer | The Duwende

PRINCIPAL CAST Coohleene Cabasag – Abby, Arnold Reyes – Boyet, Sue Prado – Tata, Joel Saracho – Policeman and Robert Asin – Duwende.

Official trailer | Mahal (2017)

PRODUCTED BY Cactus Productions | Isanamu Motion
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY: Janine Patricia Santos AWARDS Winner, Best Documentary  CREW Editor: Mari Jeanie Derillo Cinematographer: Hussein Butoyi



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