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CineMapúa goes international on 20th anniversary

Article by: Pia Alyssa R. Bonagua and Frances Qarl M. Tolosa


Celebrating the art of visual storytelling, CineMapúa, spearheaded by the School of Media Studies (SMS), marked its 20th anniversary, from March 13 to 18, 2023. With 2,892 entries from young filmmakers across 108 countries, 50 film entries were chosen as finalists. This year, it officially revamped into an international student short film festival with the launch of the World Film Category.


Photo by: Charlie Marzan


The formal commencement of CineMapúa was held last March 13, at the newly constructed and inaugurated Cardinal Cinema at the Makati Campus. The second decade celebration, which was originally scheduled last year, kicked off with remarks from the SMS Dean and Festival Director and Chairman, Benigno B. Agapito Jr., wherein he emphasized the number of films that were submitted along with the world-class quality trailer that was released in line with the festival.


From the 50 short films that made it to the official cut, there were five finalists for the High School Category, 10 for all Mapúans, 15 for Collegiate, and 20 for the World Film – all of which were shown at the Makati Campus’ Cardinal Cinema as well as at the Intramuros Campus’ AVRs and Seminar Room.


For the screenings, an entrance fee of PHP 50.00 was applicable for each cluster of the local films while international film showings were free of charge. All proceeds were given to the student filmmakers and the SMS student organizations.


With the week-long showing and deliberation to determine the best films, the winners for each category were recognized at the Intramuros Campus Gymnasium last March 16. This year’s jury was composed of former Film Development Council of the Philippines Chairperson Liza Diño-Seguerra, esteemed film director Arvin Belarmino, and Bulgarian filmmaker Yana Lekarska.


During the awarding ceremony, Mapúa University President and CEO Dr. Reynaldo B. Vea highlighted the importance of nurturing creative work as much as research work. “I wouldn’t have a University that wouldn’t support creative work because that’s the work of special human beings to do this […] So, I’m very glad that CineMapúa has grown over the years, and it has become this big,” he stated.


High School Category


“See You Yesterday” by Ethan Dela Cruz (Siena College of Taytay) emerged victorious as it took home the following awards: Cardinal Gold Film, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography (Jericho Dela Paz), Best Sound Design (Frank Edillor), and the Audience Choice Award. The award-winning short film is about a typical family preparing to take their ideal vacation but is postponed as Gabo and his two siblings, Ben and Yna, navigate the realities of life.


“Ang Pangungumpisal” by Minnesota Flores (Philippine High School for the Arts), which tells the story of a troubled wife seeking solace for her husband’s solace as she confides in a priest, secured the Best Screenplay, Best Production Design, and Best Performance of an Actor (Rolando Inocencio).


Moreover, Alaminos City National High School’s Laila Ragudos won Best Performance of an Actress for “Farasha” by Hannah Ragudos. The film, which focuses on a young Muslimah high school achiever who pursues her passion in filmmaking, also nabbed the People’s Choice Award for its poster and film teaser.


“Sa Pagitan ng Paghihintay” by Cedric Del Rosario from Eugenio Lopez, Jr. Center for Media Arts Senior High School won Best Original Music as well.


All Mapúans Category


“This is Not a Coming Out Story” by Mark Ebreo, which centers around the character Dino, and his journey to his deepest yet most difficult desire that is “coming out”, earned the Cardinal Gold Film Award and Best Screenplay for this year’s event.

The Cardinal Silver Film Award was then given to “Kiss Don’t Tell” by Allen Saflor, which follows the story of Bryce, a senior high school student, who aims to proves his innocence against a sexual harassment claim. It also got the following awards: Best Director (Allen Saflor), People’s Choice Award for Film Poster, Best Original Music (James Ng), Best Performance of an Actor (Dave Duque).


Adam Dumaguin’s “Lace”, a short film about a school guidance counselor consulting a distressed child after bringing her bruises into the light, clinched the Cardinal Bronze Film and the Cardinal Audience Choice awards.


“Any Minute Now” by Sean San Luis garnered the Best Film Editing (Sean San Luis), Best Performance of an Actress (Elora Españo), and the People’s Choice Award for Film Teaser. It is about a group of co-workers meeting up via video conference to plan their boss’ birthday party.


Meanwhile, another entry from Allen Saflor, entitled “Maudi Nga Arapaap” was awarded Best in Cinematography. The Best Production Design and Best Sound Design (Elijah Enero) were given to “Paano Humuli ng Kidlat,” directed by Rei Cordero.

Collegiate Category


De La Salle – College of St. Benilde (DLS-CSB)’s Trixie Vertera and Carissa Sierras bagged the Cardinal Gold Film Award for “Saan Aabot ang Dapithapon?” that tackles the journey of a grandmother who time travels back into the 1970s and 1980s and achieves her dream to win a beauty contest. The film also went on to win other awards, namely the Best Performance of an Actress (Celeste Legazpi), Best Production Design (Paurine Shibata), and Best Sound Design (Orion Flynn).


“Pig’s Game” by CM Bautista, also from DLS-CSB, which centers around an ordinary theater actor caught up in a thought-out government-propagated audition, received the Cardinal Silver Film Award, Best Screenplay (CM Bautista and Tristan Aguilar), and Best Performance of an Actor (James Ramada).


Maria Kydylee Torato, from the University of the Philippines (UP) – Visayas garnered Cardinal Bronze Award for “Si Oddie” and was also hailed the Best Director in this category. The short film involves a delivery rider who embarked on a delivery to an unlocatable customer.

DLS-CSB’s Vahn Leinard Pascual with his film “Alingasngas ng mga Kuliglig” took home the Cardinal Audience Choice and Best Original Music (Karl Arthur Javier and Nick Rosacay). It narrates the story of a boy, expected to be the next folk healer of their town, who falls in love with a Philippine mythological humanoid creature called a Tikbalang.

Meanwhile, the Best Cinematography was awarded to UP Film Institute – UP Diliman’s “That Night the Moon Shined” by Moore Minglana. Best Film Editing went to Far Eastern University Manila’s “Pempem at ang Bomba Magasin” by Gene Francis Sayson. Bicol State College of Applied Sciences and Technology’s “Siya na Iba Sainda” by Joshua Doce won the People’s Choice Award for both its Film Poster and Teaser.


World Film Section


Last year, the World Film Section was introduced with select international short films as part of the screenings, but it was not included as an official competition category. For the film festival’s 20th installment, “Neon Phantom” by Leonardo Martinelli from Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, won the first Cardinal Gold Film award for the newest CineMapúa category. It is about a delivery man who wishes to have a motorcycle and was told that everything would be like a musical film.


The film entry “Slouch” by Michael Bohnenstingl of Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, United States of America, secured the Special Jury Prize and the People’s Choice Award for Film Teaser and Best Original Music (P. Cherazi & Michael Bohnenstingl). It unfolds the story of an aspiring musical legend and his dilemma fueled by a song writing demon and his pregnant girlfriend Lisa.


Frank Van Den Bogaart from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Belgium was the Best Director for “Donkerster,” a film revolving a character named Rhena, who is prompted to enter the woods as her father goes missing to seek out a mythological creature, believed to collect the stories of dying beings. It also bagged the Best Production Design (Nicole Tegelaar), Best Film Editing (Olivier Lambrechts), Best Sound Design (Eneas Mentzel), and Best Actress Award (Adriana Bakker).


Andor Lukats of “The Longest Night of Summer” seized the Best Actor Award. The Best Screenplay Award went to the film “Psycho” by Mostafa Davtalav from the University of Tehran, Iran. “Junko” by Niraj Bunsal from the Everest Film Academy, Nepal was awarded Best in Cinematography. The People’s Choice Award for Film Poster was given to Touchamat Likitwattanaviboon of Mahidol University International College, Thailand, director of “Unanimous.” The Cardinal Audience Choice Award was awarded to “Girl with a Mirror,” by Nuno Dias of Universidade da Beira Interior, Portugal.


As CineMapúa, the longest-running student film festival in the Philippines, commemorates its 20th year, Dean Agapito shared that the event intends to further enhance student filmmakers’ talents and skills for their growth and benefit that impact society. “Film is always an audio-visual narrative that involves the minds and hearts of individuals in this highly digital and informative society. This is how film festivals have been structured and framed to capture sociocultural and political significance,” he conveyed.


Moreover, the festival director imparted that their success was made possible through their dedication and vision as they use a powerful medium; a film that gives the students and people knowledge with a mix of creativity and magic that story makers bestow to the audience.


Continuing to help support the young filmmakers, finalists from the High School, Collegiate, and All Mapúans categories that comprise of six clusters are still available for online viewing via YFilms with each short film at PHP 15.00 and each cluster at PHP 50.00.

In 2002, CineMapúa was launched by Festival Chairman and Director Mr. Benigno B. Agapito Jr. from the School of Multimedia and Visual Arts, which is now known as the School of Media Studies.

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