URIAN'S BEST. Best Actors Jason Abalos and Sid Lucero; Best Actress Cherry Pie Picache; Best Supporting Actor Emilio Garcia
The Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino has gone full circle. After annual awards held in various venues since the early part of the eighties, the prestigious film critics body on Wednesday evening went back to it original venue, the Little Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines , where it began its annual awards in 1976.
The first few years of the awarding were simple, straight, direct, uninterrupted. Despite these, they were mostly anticipated and watched. As what Boots Anson Roa, one of the emcees, with Manunuri Butch Francisco, said on Wednesday night: “It was déjà vu. I was also the emcee on its first awards night right here at the Little Theater.”
With the advent of many live telecasts, the Gawad Urian inevitably aired over commercial TV. Proceedings would last until the wee hours of the morning because of heavy TV ads. Too many commercial interruptions eventually irked the public.
“Mas gusto ko nga na walang TV coverage para hindi mawala ‘yong concept namin. At nasusunod ang script. In this year, ako ang sumulat ng script,” volunteered MPP member, playwright, teacher, book author, screenwriter, historian, scholar and researcher Nicanor G. Tiongson.
“Kasi, pag may TV coverage, ang hinuhuli nila sa pagbibigay ng awards, ‘yong best actor at best actress. Mas mahalaga ang best picture kasi ito talaga ang essence ng kung ano ang dapat panoorin ng mga tao,” Tiongson explained.
RUSTOM PADILLA was a scene-stealer: the openly gay actor (former husband of actress Carmina Villaruel) presented one of the awards in drag; the look on co-presenter Mark Gil's face is priceless
The 2008 Urian Award paid tribute to the proliferation of indie or independent filmmaking through digital productions.
“Halos lahat ng mga nominado sa taong ito ay karamihan digital films at naipalabas sa iba’t ibang panig mundo at binigyan ng karangalan sa maraming international film festivals,” said Bro. Miguel Rapatan, a Manunuri member from the De La Salle University.
Among this year’s outstanding nominees for best picture are “Confessional” by directors Jerrold Tarog and Ruel Antipuesto, produced by Creative Programs, Inc. through Cinema One Originals and Oddfield Productions; “Death in the Land of Encantos” directed by Lav Diaz, produced by Cine Olivia Pilipinas; “Endo” by filmmaker Jade Castro from ufo Pictures; “Tirador” by internationally acclaimed film artist Brillante Mendoza, produced by Centerstage Productions; “Tribu,” directed by Jim Libiran for 8 Glasses Productions and the only 35mm nominee, “Foster Child,” directed by Dante Mendoza for Seiko Films.
Cherry Pie Picache, who won the Best Actress award for her performance as foster mother, is an advocate of indie filmmaking. “I could sacrifice my talent fee just to do a very good indie digital film,” Picache assured.
Underrated and low profile actor Jason Abalos and “prince” of indie films Sid Lucero brought home the Best Actor plum in “Endo” and “Selda” of Star View Productions, respectively.
Mendoza, a forerunner of award-winning digital works in the local film industry, unfortunately, is in the 13th Pusan International Film Festival in Korea where he is attending the fete and teaching directing at the Asia Pacific Actors Network, clinched the Best Director award for “Tirador.”
Meanwhile, “Tirador” won Best Picture for its gripping presentation of poverty in the city and showing the contrasts and similarities between smalltime crooks and politicians and religious leaders who give nothing but empty promises.
The surprise of the evening sprang from a nebulous bold starlet, a veteran of indie movies, Angela Ruiz, who won the Best Supporting Actress in “Tirador.” Everybody in the hall was busy buzzing, who in the world is Angela Ruiz?
“Nasa abroad po si Angela kaya hindi siya nakarating ngayong gabi,” informed her talent manager Boy Pilapil.
According to Pilapil, her ward is in Singapore working as a model. “Magaling si Angela umarte,” complemented movie writer Dennis Adobas who conducted an acting workshop for her before she faced the cameras for which Pilapil thanked Adobas no end. “Nang makita ko siya sa acting exercises, ibang klase siya,” added the acting coach.
Character actor and erstwhile sexy star Emilio Garcia won Best Suppporting Actor.
Most of the remaining winners are indie filmmakers in the creative and technical departments—Jade Castro, Michiko Yamamoto and Raymond Lee (Best Screenplay for “Endo”), Lav Diaz and Dante Perez (Best Production Design for “Death in the Land of Encantos”), Jeffrey de la Cruz, Brillante Mendoza, Gary Tria and Julius Villanueva (Best Cinematography for “Tirador”), Aleks Castañeda (Best Editing for “Tambolista”), Francis de Vera (Best Music for “Tribu”) and “Ditoy Aguila and Junel Valencia (Best Sound for “Tirador”).
To promote short films, the Urian also recognized the artistic and technical gifts of the filmmakers and this year the award went to Alvin Yapan for “Rolyo.”
And to highlight the Manunuri’s support to the moving spirit of indie filmmaking, the organization gave this year’s Natatanging Gawad Urian, a lifetime achievement of sort, to the pioneer in aesthetic independence in film, Kidlat Tahimik. His was an unconventional acceptance of the award when he performed as an indigenous Ifugao in G-string who graduated from filmmaking and wanted to pursue independent moviemaking. Kidlat Tahimik stole thunder from the show, freely.