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Award-winning Fil-Can filmmaker on finding a passion: don't jump onto the bandwagon

Christine Santos | TFC News Toronto, Canada

Posted at Aug 07 2021 01:44 PM

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Less than four years after the award-winning film, Dancing Manilenyos, was produced, another batch of dance documentaries by Dr. Patrick Alcedo made it to various international film festivals in France, Hong Kong and the U.S.

Two short documentaries, 'They Call Me Dax' and 'Am I Being Selfish,' and one feature film, 'A Will to Dream,' revolve around the lives of underprivileged ballet dancers in Quezon City, Philippines.  Each of the characters struggle to survive yet continue to pursue their passion for dancing. That was made possible by the Quezon City Performing Arts, a foundation that's close to Alcedo's heart. "Even before I started my PhD work in the States, I already knew about this foundation. I’ve always been inspired.  I said, someday I’m gonna do something about this foundation for the poor," said Alcedo.

"Some of them take ballet classes in bare feet.  Sometimes if their right is their turning leg or their turning feet, that’s where they put the ballet slipper. The allowance is not enough to buy them their dancewear. So they'd improvise and go to ukay-ukay. It’s incredibly amazing to see the passion for it. You’ll do everything to pursue it."

With only two other team members, Alex Felipe as his cinematographer, and Alec Bell as his editor, Alcedo wore many hats in the making of his films including the translations and subtitles that took up half of the film production’s work. "I had to go through all the interviews for the past four years and then my brother transcribed them in Tagalog and then I translated them all in English. Then my editor, Alec Bell, will choose from my translation -- which ones will go to the feature length film or to the other two films. Then once we piece them together, then the translation even changes. I'm in charge of the subtitling."

Aside from his film awards, Alcedo has received many prestigious citations in his academic career. He takes pride in being the first recipient in the field of fine arts to win the highly competitive Early Researcher Awards by the Government of Ontario, and the youngest awardee of the Presidential Teaching Award at York University, where he is now the Chair of the Department of Dance.

Alcedo believes that Filipinos are capable of producing world-class documentary films. He issued this advice to his fellow Pinoys, "Find a passion and don't jump into the bandwagon. Find your niche."

"Who would have thought that there is such a thing as dance anthropology? That’s my passion. I pursued it and it seems like it’s correct," added the doctor.