23 July 2006
15 July 2006
the 2006 fipresci jurors at moscow were: sheila johnston (uk), claire clouzot (france), larisa malyukova (russia), daira abolina (latvia) and charles stephane roy (canada). founded in 1930 and paris-based, fipresci is a highly-regarded international federation of professional film historians, critics and media practitioners. they usually honor groundbreaking cinematic achievements in major film festivals like cannes, venice, berlin, sundance, locarno, rotterdam and moscow. my former student joel toledo (now a highly-accomplished poet and musician) and his friend john torres earlier bagged a joint network for the promotion of asian cinema (netpac)/fipresci prize for todo todo teros (co-winner with ying liang's taking father home) at the singapore international film festival last 13-29 april.
it is rather unfortunate that i couldn't be in manila to personally capture the film’s progression from planning to completion. but leo abaya (previous credits include: itanong mo sa buwan, misis mo, misis ko, jose rizal, muro-ami), the film’s production designer, has been sending out sms messages about the film’s wonderful accomplishments.
other friends have remarked that kubrador is possibly jeff’s best film to date. leo says that, in a way, the film problematized the everyday life of ordinary folks back home. it revolves around an aging bet collector (gina pareño as amelita) and her daily flirtation with jueteng. jueteng is an illegal game of numbers dating back to the period of spanish colonization in the philippines (1521-1898).
the bet collector is frequently held by the police. but immediately after being arrested, she returns to her wayward proclivities. one day, she learns that her soldier-son had been killed. paradoxically, she takes advantage by collecting more money from people in the slums. days later, the bet collector takes a break from work. then she visits the tomb of her soldier-son. there, she cheats death from a stray bullet.
pareño apparently did very well. at moscow, she gave julie walters, monica bellucci and salma hayek some fierce competition for the best actress trophy. of course, walters won for driving lessons. but that didn't mean that pareño's rendition was less powerful. the judges simply ventured towards a hollywood/eurocentric flair. kubrador was just different. still, it won a prize for being proudly filipino.
kubrador should also be interesting because pareño's co-stars are accomplished thespians nanding josef (father buboy), soliman cruz (policeman) and fonz besa (eli). visual artist/director and abs-cbn official johnny manahan makes a rare appearance too as a jueteng cashier.
of the film, critic joven velasco says that “the ghost of the son is a brilliant imagery for all-encompassing faith: someone watches over and protects small lives. that is how the wretched of this earth cope. this, to them, is the reality, no matter what the more privileged among us may think or say.”
meanwhile, kubrador has been formally accepted for exhibition by the following film festivals: from 14 to 23 july, it will be competing at the 8th osian's-cinefan festival of asian cinema in new delhi, india. the film will have its north american/canadian premiere at toronto international film festival from 7 to 16 september.
from toronto, the film will cross the atlantic for its turkish premiere at the 2nd international eurasia film festival in antalya from 16 to 23 september. the festival coincides with the 43rd antalya golden orange film festival, turkey’s first and most prestigious domestic film festival. from 28 september to 13 october, the film will be moving to vancouver international film festival. kubrador will have its bollywood premiere at mumbai's 5th asian film festival from 12 to 19 october. from 12 to 20 october, it will be screened at the pusan international film festival in korea. from pusan, kubrador will have its iberian premiere at the sección oficial of spain's 51st valladolid international film festival from 20 to 28 october.
from 18 october to 2 november, the film will have its uk premiere at the 50th london international film festival. from 19 to 29 october, it will go to the louis vitton hawaii international film festival. in honolulu, kubrador will be seen by american audiences for the first time. over there, the film will also have a hollywood exposure because members of the hollywood foreign press, organizers of the annual golden globe awards, will be in attendance.
from 21 october to 3 november, kubrador will go brazilian at the 30th são paulo international film festival / 30ª mostra internacional de cinema. from brazil, the film will be crossing the pacific for the 19th tokyo international film festival from 21 to 29 october. the movie will compete at the 2006 cinemanila international film festival from 3 to 15 november. then it will be screened before greek and balkan audiences at the thessaloniki international film festival from 7 to 24 november. the film is set to make its western european premiere at the 33rd brussels international film festival of independent film from 7 to 12 november.
kubrador will have its french premiere in competition at the 26th festival international du film d'ameins (in competition) from 10 to19 november. after crossing the alps, it is set to have its italian premiere at the asiatica film mediale in roma from 18 to 26 november. from rome, the film will go to cairo international film festival from 28 november to 8 december. from cairo, the film will go to the 8th international film festival bratislava, slovak republic from 1-9 december. simultaneously, the film be exhibited at the panorama section of the tallinn black nights film festival in estonia from 1 to10 december. from 10 to 17 december kubrador will grace the 3rd dubai international film festival at the united arab emirates.
from united arab emirates, the film will go to the suchitra film society international film festival in chennai, india from 15-22 december and in bangalore, india from 22-29 december. from india, the film will proceed to palm springs (california, u.s.a.), goteborg (sweden), and tromso (norway). from scandinavia, it will be have its dutch premiere at the 36th international film festival rotterdam, which will take place from january 24 to 4 february 2007.from the netherlands, kubrador will be exhibited at the 30th göteborg international film festival from 26 january to 5 february 2007.
from sweden, kubrador will have its iranian premiere at the 25th fajr international film festival from 1-11 february 2007. from iran, the film will proceed to the 35th belgrade international film festival from 23 february 23rd to 4 march 2007. from serbia, the film will go to the 2006 cleveland international film festival in ohio, u.s.a. from 15 to 25 march 2007. from america, the film will be featured during the inaugural hyderabad international film festival (hiff) from 23-29th march 2007. from southern india, the film with have its danish premiere at the natfilm festivalen 2007 (18th annual film festival of denmark) from 23 march to 8 april.
many other film festivals around the world are still asking for screeners of kubrador from mlr films producer joji alonso antonio. for instance, the film will be competing for the golden kinnaree award for best film in competition at the 5th bangkok international film festival in july 2007. my thai friends said that the festival will be held at royal paragon hall of siam paragon complex on king rama I road, thailand's dramatic shopping mall and convention center. for 2007, there will be a long and winding red carpet (surrounded by cascading waterfalls and lush tropical foliage) for celebrities to walk on. hollywood and european stars, film artists, critics and media people have been invited to meet their asia-pacific counterparts next year. i reckon, bangkok will be another memorable trip for jeffrey. sawasdee khrap indeed! kubrador has also been invited to have its west bengal premiere at the 12th kolkata (calcutta) film festival from 10-17 november 2007. then there's guadalajara (mexico) and vilnius (lithuania). certainly, there will be even more festivals to come.
i can only hope that kubrador gets to win more awards. if possible, the film should make money. clearly, the film's premise is devoid of formula. just like jeffrey's other films (sana pag-ibig na, pila-balde, tuhog, bridal shower, bikini open and minsan pa), kubrador would surely be raising some ante. for one, it wouldn't have any lacrimonous ("pang-award") moments. i've already had enough of local cinema's screaming-and-slapping fares. jeffrey's films would always say: it's time to move on.
joji alonso antonio is indeed "crazy" for producing kubrador. jeffrey and his team should be commended for struggling over the realm of micropolitics. for leo abaya, the film becomes even more important because it refers to analyze, elaborate and bring into question the inescapable problems of ordinary filipinos.
these days, films shouldn't just be entertaining. viewers are now beginning to push for an even more distinctive style of cultural politics. there has to be more support for the subaltern. committed viewers should be watching films like kubrador.
XXVIII Moscow International Film Festival
23 June to 2 July 2006
Grand Prix, Golden St. George
Grand Jury Prize, Golden St. George
Best Director Silver St. George
Best Actor Silver St. George
Best Actress Silver St. George
Special Prize for Achieving Perfection in Acting and for Loyalty to the Principles of the Stanislavsky Method
The Perspectives Competition Prize
The prize of The Russian Federation of Film Clubs for the Best Film of the 28th MIFF Russian Films program
The prize of The Russian Federation of Film Clubs for the best film in Competition
Special mention and a diploma of The 28th MIFF Jury of the Russian Guild of Film Critics
FIPRESCI (Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique) Prize for Best Film in Competition
(Photo Credits: Vice Consul and Third Secretary Deric Atienza of the Philippine Embassy in Moscow and Director of Photography Boy Yniguez)
13 July 2006
edmund silvestre, the paper's news editor, was my seatmate in college. he asked me to write an article enticing filipinos and filipino-americans to support lia andrea ("lian") ramos, the current miss philippines. edmund provided the "make-over" angle in my article.
by sheer coincidence, lian was a blockmate of my former students at the university of the philippines (u.p.). born and raised in davao city, she was discovered at u.p. diliman by geographer/stylist jonas gaffud, philippine house of representatives officer roentgen ("nad") bronce and businessman fidelio ("boyet") blas. gaffud and bronce were student leaders in u.p. during the mid-1990s. blas is the youngest son of film mogul emilia blas. mrs. blas operated lea productions. lea produced quality filipino films (e.g. lino brocka's santiago, stardoom, tubog sa ginto, ano ang kulay ng mukha ng diyos?) from the 1960s till the 1980s. along with arnold orosa, gaffud, bronce and blas are the movers behind the hugely-popular mabuhay beauties website.
jonas and nad had been convincing lian to join bb. pilipinas since 2001. but lian had too many organizational commitments as a student leader. most importantly, she wanted to finish her political science degree. and when she finally did, she began working as a visa officer for the royal norwegian embassy in manila. soon after, she became assistant program officer for asia foundation. at asia foundation, lian embarked on numerous projects with the supreme court of the philippines involving sustained information technology (i.t.) learning and skills enhancement among court judges nationwide.
another friend, zorayda ("zora") andam, now works with angara, abello, concecpcion, regala and cruz (accra) law offices. she completed her law degree at u.p. and passed the bar exams immediately after she completed her reign as bb. pilipinas universe 2001. recently, she figured prominently as part of the all-woman prosecution panel in the high-profile subic rape case involving six united states servicemen. arguing that celebrities like zora can use their high visibility to work on certain advocacies, jonas and nad finally convinced lian to join this year's bb. pilipinas.
lian arrived yesterday at the wilshire grand hotel in los angeles to compete as philippine representative to the 2006 miss universe pageant. pageants are a big thing in the philippines, thailand, korea and in many latin american countries. very few people would remember that two australians won titles 34 years ago. in 1972, perth's kerry ann wells became miss universe while sydney's belinda green was crowned miss world. pageants lost their popularity in australia until jennifer hawkins (current host of channel 7's the great outdoors) became miss universe in 2004.
i have attached below an early draft of the article edmund will be publishing for the filipino reporter's print edition (year 34, no. 30 / july 7-13, 2006, p.1). friends have remarked that i have been writing too many serious narratives lately. for this week, i have decided to write something light and easy. i wouldn't mind doing this occasionally for friends like edmund, lian, jonas, nad and boyet.
07 July 2006
when lia andrea “lian” ramos arrives in los angeles for the 55th annual miss universe pageant this month, filipino fans and supporters may be in for a surprise.
the reigning bb. pilipinas-universe has undergone a month-long dramatic makeover under colombian pageant gurus javier murillo (stylist) and alfredo barraza (designer).
not that she has undergone surgery (she did not).
but lian, 25, certainly looks different from the girl who had won the miss philippines-universe crown at the araneta coliseum in quezon city four months ago.
it was the idea of miss international 1960 stella marquez-araneta, miss universe franchise holder for the philippines, to send lian to bogota.
after winning on march 19, lian was immediately rushed to undergo a more difficult fitness regimen at gold’s gym-glorietta (makati) for two months.
she also received personality development training from dale carnegie, as well as catwalk, fitness and styling tips from her mentor-discoverer jonas gaffud, and from her friends boyet blas (scion of aling miling blas of the now-defunct lea productions) and nad bronce.
several former bb. pilipinas titleholders also took turns in training her.
lian said miss international 2005 precious lara quigaman’s advice was: “be confident and natural, and believe in yourself. there will be a lot of beautiful candidates. you have to believe you are as beautiful as those other women.”
still, the people behind bb. pilipinas charities Inc. (bpci) felt that there’s something missing.
a colombian makeover may indeed be the missing link to make miss philippines stand out more against the usual latina and blonde favorites.
but there are critics back home who countered that a trip to colombia was totally unnecessary. after all, the philippines has more beauty titles than colombia.
to date, the country has produced two miss universe winners — gloria diaz won in 1969, while margarita moran bagged the crown in 1973.
both winners had achieved victories even without training overseas.
in contrast, colombia has produced only one, luz marina zuluaga (1958).
aside from winning miss universe twice, the philippines has also won the miss international crown four times: gemma cruz in 1964, aurora pijuan in 1970, melanie marquez in 1979 and quigaman last year.
the country has also won countless other titles, runner-up finishes and special awards in international pageants.
only venezuela, the united states, puerto rico, brazil, india, australia, the united kingdom and sweden have approximated or exceeded the philippines’ track record in winning pageants.
in addition, the philippines has many world-class designers (joji lloren, monique lhuillier, among others), stylists and creative artists who can prepare our local delegates. but even these talents have never been tapped.
from 1999 to 2006, the philippines has been sending delegates to colombia with mixed results.
only miriam quiambao (miss universe 1999 1st runner-up) turned out to be the big winner among the overseas-trained filipino beauties.
with so much infighting among fashion stalwarts in the country, there were those who believed that it may be a total nightmare to handpick which luminary should be given the responsibility of training filipina delegates.
everyone’s going to be just-too-thrilled to take the job. It may also be logical for araneta to tap her friends murillo and barraza for lian’s training to avert such controversy.
it remains to be seen whether colombia has increased lian’s chances at winning the philippines’ 3rd miss universe crown.
for lian, her dramatic makeover is certainly not enough. she is counting on her filipino and filipino-american fans and supporters (especially those who live around the u.s. west coast) to cheer for her during the miss universe presentation night on july 23 (sunday) at 7 p.m. at the shrine auditorium in los angeles, since the judges will be selecting the semifinalists on that day, not during the finals.
(The finals will be aired live in the U.S. on July 23 on NBC.)
“it is more important to have gazillions of philippine supporters during the presentation show,” lian's mentors declare. “the decision to narrow down the delegates to the top 15 will happen there.”
reports on lian’s makeover began circulating in newspapers and pageant websites. she has generated mostly positive reviews from local and international pageant fans.
photos reveal a leaner, perkier lia andrea ramos.
murillo and barazza may have perfected the ideal make-up, hairstyle and fitness regimen for her.
her new look made her appear as a cross between sophia loren and miss universe 2000, india’s lara dutta. an oriental latina, she has become.
pageant experts noted that lian’s chances will also get a boost from her impressive credentials.
lian has a b.a. political science degree from the university of the philippines in diliman, where she was an officer of several campus social and political organizations.
immediately after graduation, she worked as a visa officer for the royal norwegian embassy in manila.
a few years later, she became an assistant program officer at asia foundation. one of her notable projects at asia foundation involved the supervision of sustained learning and skills enhancement in information technology (i.t.) among philippine court judges, which enabled her to develop further awareness on pressing issues such as jail decongestion, trafficking of women and children and hiv awareness.
born and raised in davao city, the 5’7 ramos is also an alumna of ateneo de davao primary school and high school.
lian is doubly excited to compete in los angeles since her parents ferdinand ramos of davao city, and rosalia aquino from cagayan valley are now l.a.-based. most of her siblings will be there too.