Music and statements at the 41st Gawad Urian

Gawad Urian hosts Alessandra de Rossi and Empoy Marquez with this year's winners in the background (Photo posted by Fotografia Evangelista on Facebook)

It was a night of independent films, music, nationalism and bold political statements at the 41st Gawad Urian. One of the country’s prestigious awards, given by the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (the Filipino Film Critics), was held on the night of June 14 at the ABS-CBN Vertis Tent in the midst of a nasty monsoon.

When the nominations were announced in May, Treb Monteras’ FlipTop drama “Respeto” led with 12 nominations. It also took home the most number of wins for the night, four in total, with hip-hop artist Abra nabbing the Best Actor award and Dido de la Paz the Best Supporting Actor, plus recognitions for editing and sound.

The Best Film went to “Balangiga: Howling Wilderness,” Khavn de la Cruz’s retelling of the 1901 Balangiga massacre, which also won the Best Music award. The film also won Best Picture at the FAMAS Awards, which was held just four days ago before the Gawad Urian. The biggest honor that night was presented by Film Development Council of the Philippines chair Liza Diño.
Arnel Barbarona scored his second Best Director award in a span of one week for his lumad film “Tu Pug Imatuy (The Right to Kill).” The first-timer Mindanaoan director has now a FAMAS and a Gawad Urian Best Director trophy under his belt. Out of the film’s nine nominations, the Best Director award was the only win for Tu Pug Imatuy that night.

The female performances honored included Odette Khan for her supporting role in “Bar Boys.” The Best Actress award went to musical theater actress Joanna Ampil for her role as Candida in “Ang Larawan,” Loy Arcenas’ musical film adaptation of Nick Joaquin’s three-act play in English, “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino.”

The awards night was quick and compact, with “Kita Kita” love team Alessandra de Rossi and Empoy Marquez serving as hosts for the night. Members of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino accompanied celebrities in handing the awards, which were all in the Filipino language.

In between the awarding, audience was treated to songs and music from some of the nominated films, with amazing performers taking the stage by storm, including Abra from “Respeto” and Rachel Alejandro from “Ang Larawan.”

Natatanging Gawad Urian winner Winston Raval (Photo posted on Facebook by Fotografia Evangelista)
Natatanging Gawad Urian winner Winston Raval (Photo posted on Facebook by Fotografia Evangelista)

Music was further celebrated as film score composer Winston Raval was awarded the Natatanging Gawad Urian for his achievements in Philippine cinema. The pianist, jazz musician, and musical director, best known for composing scores for classic Filipino films such as Ishmael Bernal’s “Himala,” even flew in from the United States to receive his award, presented by National Artist for literature Bienvenido Lumbera. In his joyful speech, Raval addressed some of the members of his band, The Vanishing Tribe, who attended the awarding ceremony.

The awards night was also marked by political statements. Some of the stars in attendance, including De la Paz and Chai Fonacier of “Respeto,” and director Kiri Dalena, wore identical bright red button pins with the statement “#StopTheAttacks.” Dalena, whose short film “Gikan Sa Ngitngit Nga Kinailadman” (From the Dark Depths) came out the winner, expressed her dismay with the Duterte administration in her speech.

Presenters for the night included Yayo Aguila, Best Supporting Actress nominee for “Kiko Boksingero”; R.S. Francisco, Best Supporting Actor nominee for “Bhoy Intsik,” Meryll Soriano; and Jasmine Curtis-Smith.

Paolo Ballesteros, who won last year’s Best Actor award for his transgender role in “Die Beautiful,” was also a presenter. This year, the actor arrived in a classic tux, gracing the red carpet with his classic good looks. It was remembered that last year he walked on the red carpet as Kim Kardashian.

The night took on a somber, heartbreaking mood in the “In Memoriam” portion, remembering the great talents we have lost this and last year in a video presentation à la Oscars. A sense of sadness rippled through the audiences as beloved faces graced the screen, such as veteran director Maryo J. de los Reyes, actress Isabel Granada, thespian Bernardo Bernardo, and “Miss Tapia” Mely Tagasa.

This year, we celebrate 100 years of Philippine cinema, and we live in the times touted as the “second golden age of Philippine cinema.” Indeed, the 41st Gawad Urian is a testament to the progressive nature of the local film industry, celebrating provocative and quality films, mostly from fresh and bold independent voices that scream change and awareness. Truly, it’s an exciting time for artists and filmmakers in the country.

Full list of the 41st Gawad Urian winners

Best Supporting Actress: Odette Khan, Bar Boys

Best Supporting Actor: Dido dela Paz, Respeto

Best Short Film: “Gikan Sa Ngitngit Nga Kinailadman” (Kiri Dalena)

Best Documentary: Yield

Best in Editing: Lawrence Ang, Respeto

Best in Production Design: Gino Gonzales, Ang Larawan

Best Cinematography: Mycko David, Neomanila

Best Screenplay: Christopher Gozum, Dapol Tan Payawar Na Tayug 1931

Best Sound: Corrine de San Jose, Respeto

Best Music: Khavn de la Cruz, Balangiga: Howling Wilderness

Best Director: Arnel Barbarona, Tu Pug Imatuy

Best Actress: Joanna Ampil, Ang Larawan

Best Actor: Abra, Respeto

Best Film: Balangiga: Howling Wilderness. (Archinette Villamor, Edong Canlas, Khavn de la Cruz, producers)

Natatanging Gawad Urian: Winston Raval (film score composer)

This article also appears in the June 17, 2018  issue of The Daily Tribune.