By Jessica Asprer
Stories of doing something as the world stops moving shine in this year’s edition of a filmmaking contest.
On its sixth run globally, the annual short film contest Nespresso Talents, with its 2021 theme “Doing is everything”, welcomed a total of 993 film submissions, 71 of which were local entries, shot in a vertical 9:16 format.
The introspective short “Napamata Ako sa Sadit na Kinaban” (I Woke Up on a Little Planet) by Arjanmar Rebeta is this year’s grand prize winner in the Philippines.
Rebeta’s short film narrates the story of a man who wakes up on a small planet and, as he treks the ground, slowly discovers that the world he knew was bigger than he thought and only moves as he moves.
“Somehow, istorya ko rin siya ngayong pandemic,” Rebeta shared. “No’ng lumiit ‘yung mundo mo, mas lalo namang lumalaki ‘yung kalungkutan...pero mas dadaig pa rin ‘yung pakikipaglaban na ‘magpatuloy ka’.”
“Hindi ‘man ito tungkol sa pandemic, tungkol naman ito sa buhay, babalik at babalik ka. Lalaban at lalaban ka,” he continued.
Rebeta is also the first Filipino filmmaker whose work made the international shortlist of the Nespresso Talents.
The international winners will be announced today, July 9.
Tackling introspection and a sense of vision despite being locked in, the winning film carried a certain degree of timelessness, said award-winning director, screenwriter, and author Jose Javier Reyes.
“When we cut them down to the top three, that’s when the difficulty came in,” Reyes recalled, adding that deliberating over the heart-wrenching pieces was a challenging feat.
“Ma”, by Dexter Paul De Jesus placed second. It is a mix of live-action and animation depicting a son’s longing for his mother, a medical worker who has not come home in months.
It stood out with its visuals, emotion, and how it “mixed reality and fiction”, said actress, screenplay writer, producer, and director Bela Padilla. “[It] made us feel emotions we forgot to tap during the pandemic.”
The film in third place, “Special Delivery” by Gerald Foliente and Sinematika Inc., tells the heartfelt story of a delivery man who figures in a minor accident but powers through the day, determined to finish his deliveries and hand over his last parcel for that day – a broken multi-colored pinwheel for his son.
“Struggles are the pedals of life. Journey on,” the words in white flash on the screen as the film ends.
“This one is shown in a unique and ingenious way,” multi-awarded filmmaker Quark Henares said, further noting how it was shot, the concept, and its powerful last frame “made it a stronger film”.
A solid story is the heart of the film. “To create a story that will touch the audience in a certain way, I think it’s magical. I think that’s the challenge, the most memorable part,” Foliente shared.
The top three winners get an invitation to the Cannes Film Festival 2021.
The future of Philippine cinema
Nespresso Talents, launched in 2016, serves as a stage “bringing together the next generation’s passion for film [...] to have a platform where young artists could benefit from and showcase their talent,” said Nespresso Asia regional business development manager Fabio de Gregorio.
In the age of mobile phones and portrait-format videos like those of TikTok and Instagram, filmmakers are pushed into creativity, blending the familiar aesthetics of social media with technical innovation.
“Innovation – it’s how the film, the angle, is being done,” said Novateur Coffee Concepts managing director Patrick Pesengco. But most importantly, he added, it is in how these innovative creations still make an impact on people’s lives.
The ability of filmmakers to relay an insightful message in a span of two to three minutes takes a lot of discipline, immense technical skill, and knowledge of the film language, according to Reyes.
“I’m pretty sure that this will be a generation of filmmakers that will be far better than our generation not only because of their technical savvy but because of all the intense tests they go through in life getting there. And it makes me feel very hopeful about the future not only of short film making but also of Philippine cinema in general,” enthused the award-winning director.
Equally important is “the Filipino-ness and the universality of the message,” he added, “because of the courage to say things about what is happening in the here and now using the vertical format, using the experimental form, but moreso, capturing the heart of the Filipino.”
These timely tales are pieces people can relate to on a personal level despite them being another individual’s story.
Through these artful and heartfelt stories of being a force for good, the message of hope that all things will return to normal is conveyed.
“We are living in such interesting times; the pandemic is not a curse, it’s a challenge because we are all going to emerge from this as, hopefully, better human beings [with] a better vision of the world,” Reyes said.
For this year’s local edition, Nespresso partnered with the Film Development Council of the Philippines, De La Salle University-College of St. Benilde Film School, and Edukasyon.ph.
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