THE Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) held its 4th Film Ambassadors’ Night (FAN) on Feb. 9 to celebrate audiovisual workers who have brought honor to the country by winning in film festivals abroad.
Key among the honorees were posthumous awards given to Tony Mabesa and Eddie Garcia for their work in the film Rainbow’s Sunset, a 2018 LGBT-themed family drama directed by Joel Lamangan. Garcia played an 84-year-old man who comes out as gay to his children and leaves to take care of his cancer-stricken lover, played by Mabesa. Both actors shared the Best Actor award in 2019’s 52nd Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival.
Actor Kristoffer King was also given a posthumous award for his work in the 2017 film Kristo, for which he won the Best Actor trophy at the 2019 Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) International Film Festival and Awards (Aiffa) ceremony in Malaysia.
Mr. Garcia met his demise in an accident on-set last year. Mr. Garcia’s partner, Lilibeth Romero, accepted the FDCP trophy on his behalf. In a speech, she said, “Eddie Garcia did not die in vain. As an offshoot to his accident that eventually cost him his life, my son, Deputy Speaker Rep. Mikee Romero… has authored a proposal.”
“The proposed Eddie Garcia Act, creating the OSHA, a mandatory occupational safety, health and emergency response [safeguards] the welfare and working environments for all artists in the movie industry, television, theater, and the whole entertainment industry in the Philippines. Let us all lead together in rallying for their enactment of House Bill 181 into the Eddie Garcia Law, his gift to the movie industry, and the legacy he leaves behind and beyond the curtain call,” she said.
The opening message of Liza Diño-Seguerra, Chair and CEO of the FDCP, also addressed the issue. She said that earlier this month, the FDCP and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) signed a landmark agreement providing safety guidelines for working conditions and occupational health hazards for audiovisual workers. In tears, Ms. Dino said, “It’s one thing to create a standard. It’s one thing to make these guidelines. Pero kung hindi natin ito susuportahan, at hindi natin bibigyan ng pagpapahalaga, ano na’ng mangyayari sa ating industriya? (If we don’t support it and give it importance, what will happen to our industry?)”
Another highlight that evening was the awarding of the Camera Obscura Award which recognizes outstanding representatives of the film industry whose works brought further recognition and appreciation for Philippine cinema. Director Cathy Garcia-Molina received one as the highest grossing Filipino film director. Film scholar and director Nick Deocampo also received a Camera Obscura for “his remarkable accomplishments and breakthroughs in Philippine cinema as a vanguard of Philippine film history and education.” And Ricky Lee received the award for his exemplary accomplishments in screenwriting, along with taking on the task of mentoring a new generation of screenwriters.
Night were the A-lister awards, given to films, creators, and actors who have won in prestigious film festivals abroad.
These include Judy Ann Santos who won Best Actress at the 41st Cairo International Film Festival for her work in Mindanao (which won Best Artistic Contribution in the same festival). Jun Robles Lana won Best Director for Kalel, 15 at the 2019 Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival in Tallinn, Estonia. Verdict won a Special Jury Award at the 76th Venice Film Festival, and a NETPAC Award at the 2nd Hainan Island International Film Festival.
Aswang, meanwhile, won the FIPRESCI Prize International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFFA). Its director, Alyx Ayn Arumpac, was in New York, and a representative delivered her acceptance speech. “Maraming salamat sa pagkilala sa aming pelikula. Sa pagkilalang ito, sana ay mas mabigyang-pansin din ang sistematikong paglabag sa karapatang pantaong nagaganap pa rin sa paligid natin. Tungkol po ito sa mga aktibista at human rights workers, ang pagsunog at pagpapalayas sa mga Lumad at mga paaralan nito, at sieyempre, ang War on Drugs. (Thank you very much for recognizing our film. With this recognition, we wish that a light would be cast on the systematic human rights violations still committed around us. This is about activists and human rights workers, the expulsion of Lumads and the burning of their schools, and of course, the War on Drugs.)” This statement received warm applause and loud cheers from the audience which included Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
For the full list of winners. — Joseph L. Garcia