‘John Denver Trending’ is 15th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival’s Runaway Success

It was a season of historic firsts for the ground-breaking team behind Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival 2019 favorite John Denver Trending after its first-time director, producers, and actors took home most of the major awards at the recently-concluded Awards’ Night held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theater closing the pioneering festival’s 15th year celebration.

Arden Rod Condez’ intricately-woven tale of a boy caught in a social media firestorm, captured the sensibilities not just of the festival goers but also of this year’s jury, comprised of local and internationally-recognized experts.

The cast and production team of John Denver Trending onstage. | Photo by Bhernn Saenz

John Denver Trending won Best Film, Best Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, and the NETPAC Jury Award respectively, affirming its overwhelming audience response that prompted Cinemalaya and the CCP venues to mount an extra screening for the onslaught of festival goers, down on its last day.

Thop Nazareno’s Edward collected three trophies including a Special Jury Award. | Photo by Bhernn Saenz

Another crowd favorite, Thop Nazareno’s Edward, won the Special Jury Award for its endearing and poignant portrayal of a young boy’s awakening on friendship, love, and death. Eduardo Roy, Jr. then took home the Best Director trophy, steering the wheel of the dark, and chilling suspense focusing on two young men in the bikini pageant circuit, F#@*bois.

Acting awards were given to veteran and newcomers in this year’s festival. Long-time character film and television actress, Ruby Ruiz snatched the Best Actress trophy for her nuanced performance as a grandmother fighting an impoverished life and struggles of rearing an intellectually-challenged grandson in Theodore Boborol’s Iska.

First-time actor and Antique-native Jansen Magpusao, in his raw, but gripping performance as John Denver Cabungcal in John Denver Trending grabbed the Best Actor trophy. It was a well-applauded win–especially after Condez, during the film’s well-attended gala screening shared that it was the first time Cabungcal flew in a plane to watch the first movie he ever saw on the big screen.

Veteran actor-director Ricky Davao then took home a well-deserved Best Supporting Actor trophy for his effective portrayal of a man with deep, dark secret in the dark film, F#@bois.

During the awards show, the ten full-length feature films set to compete for the 2020 edition of the festival has also been unveiled.

During his closing speech, CCP Vice President and Artistic Director and Cinemalaya Festival Director Chris B. Millado, expressed gratitude for this year’s 15th anniversary a success. He noted, “We are happy to report that in spite of the rains, the floods, and traffic, more than 55,000 audiences attended Cinemalaya 2019 at the CCP this year. This has resulted in the increase of box office sales by 25%. Including partial count from Ayala and Vista Cinemas, this brings the total to 80,000 compared to last year’s attendance of 72,000.”

See the complete list of winners below:


Best Film: John Denver Trending

Best Director: Eduardo Roy Jr. (F#@bois)

Best Actress: Ruby Ruiz (Iska)

Best Actor: Jansen Magpusao (John Denver Trending)

Best Supporting Actor: Ricky Davao (F#@bois)

Best Supporting Actress: Ella Cruz (Edward)

Best Screenplay: Mary Rose Colindres (Iska)

Best Sound: Immanuel Verona (Iska)

Best Original Music Score: Len Calvo (John Denver Trending)

Best Production Design: Alvin Francisco (Edward)

Best Editing: Benjo Ferrer III (John Denver Trending)

Best Cinematography: Rommel Sales (John Denver Trending)

NETPAC Jury Award: John Denver Trending (Arden Rod Condez)

Special Jury Award: Edward (Thop Nazareno)

Audience Choice Award: Belle Douleur by Joji V. Alonso


Best Short Feature Film: ‘Wag Mo ‘Kong Kausapin

Audience Choice Award: Heist School by Julius Renomeron Jr.

Best Screenplay: Gilb Baldoza (Kontrolado ni Girly and Buhay N’ya)

Best Director: Don Senoc (Sa Among Agwat)

NETPAC Jury Award: Disconnection Notice (Glenn Lowell Averia)

Special Jury Citation for an Outstanding Short Film: Sa Among Agwat (Don Senoc)

Special Jury Award: Tembong (Shaira Advincula)

Special Mention for Subject Matter: Norvin de los Santos (Hele ng Maharlika)

Photos by Bhernn Saenz