‘Baseball Player’, ‘Blue Room’ directors stress importance of Cinemalaya


Posted at Aug 18 2022 12:11 PM | Updated as of Aug 18 2022 12:31 PM

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MANILA -- Directors Carlo Obispo and Ma-An Asuncion-Dagñalan are still in disbelief after their respective films won in this year's Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival.

Obispo's film "The Baseball Player" was named Best Film, while Dagñalan's "Blue Room" bagged five awards, including Best Director. 

"Masaya kasi the first time I joined Cinemalaya hindi ako nanalo. This is my first time to bag a Best Film award. I am just so happy, it's so magical. Hanggang ngayon hindi pa nagsi-sink in sa akin. Sobrang saya lang," Obispo said on ANC's "Rundown" on Thursday.

"I feel so ecstatic and at the same time overwhelmed because I really never thought that we're going to get these awards, especially Special Jury and Best Director, since it's my first time joining Cinemalaya," Dagñalan said.

In the interview, the two directors talked about their respective films and the inspiration behind it.

"When I decided to become a filmmaker I asked myself what kind of stories I want to tell. And I decided to make films about Filipino children, those stories that are not usually tackled in mainstream cinema. So when I was in college kasi may all out war na nangyari in Mindanao. In 2016, I decided to take a closer look at the conflicts in Mindanao so I started developing my scripts. So most of my films so far tackle Filipino children," Obispo said of "The Baseball Player," about a Moro child soldier who dreams of playing baseball player amid an all-out war.

Meanwhile, "The Blue Room" is about a rock band composed of "privileged teenagers who are caught due to drug possession and they are brought to VIP room called Blue Room. That's where they are going to have a difficult decision between buying their freedom and standing up for what they believed in," Dagñalan said.

"It's inspired by true events because in 2010 when I had my workshop under Sir Bing Lao called 'Found Story,' we are required to look for a true story and fortunately I have a friend who knows this band. So I wrote this and then unfortunately it didn't make it in 2010 Cinemalaya," Dagñalan recalled.

"In 2018 when I had my workshop under Sir Ricky Lee the concept that I was writing, which I submitted to Sir Ricky for some reason I got stuck up and I can not finish it so I thought of why not continuing or finishing 'Blue Room.' So I told Sir Ricky that I'm changing the story that I submitted. So, the rest is history."

The two filmmakers also noted the importance of Cinemalaya in shedding light on the grim realities that some people are dealing now.

"Right now making films is very challenging. Aside from pandemic kasi ay nagkakalat din ang fake news. ...That's why I mentioned being filmmakers we really have to be more responsible. Gumawa tayo ng mga makabuluhan, hindi mga pelikula na may pinoprotektahan na individuals or family, or kanilang makasariling interest," Obispo said.

"Kami ni Ma-An, ang stories namin ay grounded on true events. Kasi 'yun naman kasi ang Cinemalaya, mas ipinapakita natin ang kuwento na hindi natin inaasahan na ipapakita ng major networks. Ang challenging lang kasi doon, unang-una mahirap kumuha ng funding. Alternative kasi siya, hindi kasi siya ang tipo ng pelikula, o mga genre, or mga nakasanayan na pinupuntahan sa sinehan. So hindi siya ganun kadali hanapan ng mga supporters or funding or even audience. Medyo challenging siya," he added.

"Actually Cinemalaya plays an important role for us filmmakers especially for the beginners like me, especially if we have something to say, especially if we want to say the truth that is really going on around us. 'Cause yun nga no censorship and all, we can say whatever we want to say. Because 'yun nga as a filmmaker it's our responsibility to tell the truth. Parang 'yung sinabi ni Carlo dahil may censorship or fake news all over, here parang pwede naming sabihin kung ano ang talagang totoo at dapat malaman ng audience," Dagñalan said.

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