Introducing the Victors of Cinemalaya 19, with Animated Gem ‘Iti Mapukpukaw’ Taking Best Film

MANILA, Philippines—In a groundbreaking feat, the animated marvel Iti Mapukpukaw etched its name in history by securing the prestigious Balanghai trophy for Best Film in the Full-Length Category at the 19th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival.

Directed by the visionary Carl Joseph Papa, the film’s audacious embrace of technological challenges wove a captivating narrative around a young man’s confrontation with his haunting past. Its prowess in cinematic excellence was acknowledged with commendation.

‘Iti Mapukpukaw’ Ensemble

Image Courtesy of Kiko Cabuena.

Carl Joseph Papa (Iti Magpupukaw)

Image Courtesy of Kiko Cabuena.

Meanwhile, a quiet yet powerful commentary on social inequality and the exploitation of the marginalized resonated through Januar Yap’s Sibuyas ni Perfecto, propelling it to claim the crown for Best Film in the Short Film Category. The film resonated with its poignant exploration of the rich exploiting the poor, driven by a cycle of degradation and self-deprecation.

Januar Yap (Sibuyas ni Perfecto)

Image Courtesy of Kiko Cabuena.

Celebrated filmmakers Ryan Espinosa Machado and Mike Cabarles clinched the Best Director Balanghai trophies. Machado’s Huling Palabas seamlessly amalgamated artistic resources to weave a deeply personal narrative, evoking the nostalgia of pre-digital cinema and honoring one’s hometown roots while cultivating self-respect and identity.

In a contrasting narrative, Mike Cabarles employed the cinematic spectrum to evoke the solitude of two siblings bereaved of their mother, a victim of the unforgiving sea, in Makoko sa Baybay.

Images Courtesy of Kiko Cabuena.

Jopy Arnaldo’s Gitling and Arvin Belarmino’s Hinakdal were honored with the Best Screenplay Awards. Gitling delicately unfurled the tale of unity transcending boundaries, with poignant understanding born from silence and evasion. In a riveting twist, Hinakdal, co-crafted by Belarmino and Kyla Romero, metamorphosed the horror genre, infusing zombies with depth and humanity while retaining an edge of humor.

Images Courtesy of Kiko Cabuena.

The NETPAC Awards bestowed their glow upon Iti Mapupukaw and Hinakdal Papa’s full-length masterpiece garnered praise for its deftly woven narrative of healing, friendships, and young love, seamlessly intertwined with state-of-the-art technology. Hinakdal earned its laurels for incisive social commentary seasoned with humor, served with pithy brilliance.

The luminous performances of Mikoy Morales and Pat Tingjuy shone through, earning them the titles of Best Actor and Actress, respectively. Morales’s portrayal in Tether was a mesmerizing depiction of a charming yet predatory womanizer meeting his just deserts, while Tingjuy’s role in the vibrant world of volleyball wove a tale of sexual identity in a coming-of-age narrative of Rookie.

Images Courtesy of Kiko Cabuena.

Actress Dolly de Leon and actor Bon Andrew Lentejas garnered recognition for Best Supporting Actress and Actor, respectively. De Leon’s heartrending portrayal as an affectionate mother guiding her son through his demons in Iti Mapukpukaw resonated deeply, while Lentejas’s engaging performance in Huling Palabas captured the essence of a young man’s journey to understand his friend’s intricate path to maturity.

Images Courtesy of Kiko Cabuena.

Technical Brilliance Recognized

Best Editing – Ilsa Malsi’s (Rookie) skillful splicing and intercutting unveiled the narrative of a girl’s transition to womanhood within the dynamic realm of volleyball.

Best Cinematography – Martika Escobar’s (When This Is All Over) masterful camera work and lighting skillfully captured the multifaceted world of drugs and the lifestyle that fuels it.

Best Original Musical Score – Kindred’s ensemble of talents (When This Is All Over), including Justin Punzalan, Vince Dalida, Luis Montales, Jaime San Juan, Moses Webb, Fern Tan, Jorge Juan Wieneke V, and Othello Intia, contributed to an original musical backdrop that intensified the portrayal of the drug subculture within the high-rise condominium setting.

Best Production Design – KAYE BANAAG’s artistic prowess (When This Is All Over) successfully depicted the contrasting realms of opulence and destitution within the condominium lifestyle.

Best Sound – Gian Arre’s (Tether) adept sound design seamlessly melded noise and silence, enhancing psychological realism through its auditory dimensions.

Images Courtesy of Kiko Cabuena.

The Special Jury Prize lauded Dustin Celestino’s Ang Duyan ng Magiting for its poignant exploration of the consequences of political violence. The film’s discursive approach and dialectical insights into the culture of impunity resonated deeply, fostering awareness of the escalating political turmoil in the Philippines. Equally daring, Sam Villa-Real and Kim Timan’s Hm Hm Mhm received acclaim for their bold experimental portrayal of a woman’s confrontation with her haunting childhood.

Image Courtesy of Kiko Cabuena.

Image Courtesy of Kiko Cabuena.

A Special Award celebrated Ang Duyan ng Magiting for its outstanding ensemble acting, encompassing powerful performances that authentically conveyed divergent perspectives on the history of political violence and impunity.

In a testament to their captivating narratives, Hinakdal and Rookie secured the Audience Choice Awards in the Short Film and Full-Length categories, respectively, winning the hearts of Cinemalaya theatergoers and audiences alike.