Istorya ng Pag-Asa Film Festival (INPFF 2019) is on the search for 3 to 5-minute documentary films that showcase ordinary Filipinos with extraordinary stories of hope.
By Stephanie Mayo
Family man Marlon Fuentes has a neurological condition called Tourette’s. It causes his muscles to move involuntarily, or makes him create unwanted sounds. His eyes or mouth would twitch, his head would jerk, and he’d grunt or say something strange out loud. These are called tics. And when he has a tic, it scares people away.
But Tourette syndrome, normally frustrating and embarrassing for the sufferers, did not stop Marlon from working hard to provide for his wife and two sons. He drove an Uber and endured judgments from the backseat of his car; riders that thought he was on drugs and were afraid for their safety. It was difficult to explain to people. Sometimes it makes him tearful. Until Marlon put up a sign inside his car about his condition.
In 2018, a young woman named Florence Rosini discovered Marlon in an inspiring viral post by netizen Hazel Alvero and was touched by Marlon’s story of hard work and determination despite his Tourette’s. Rosini decided to do a more meaningful explaination of his condition by creating a short documentary called Biyahe ni Marlon. She felt a “burning desire” to spread hope and optimism among the Filipino people through Marlon’s story. It was her first time ever to make a documentary.
To spread Marlon’s story to a wider audience, the amateur filmmaker submitted her docu in a local film festival called Istorya ng Pag-Asa Film Festival (INPFF), a project of the Office of the Vice President and the Ayala Foundation, which launched in 2018 with a straightforward objective— “To showcase true and inspiring stories of hope.” Out of the 73 that sent their entries, 15 were named finalists, and the top three films were awarded and then screened in Ayala Malls Cinemas. Rosini’s Ang Biyahe ni Marlon won Best Film (watch the film here).
A female artist repeatedly raped yet overcame the tragedy and mounted her art exhibit; a schoolchild forced to work as a housemaid to put herself through school until she became a court judge; a double-leg amputee competing in a swimming competition. These were some of the affecting true stories submitted in last year’s INPFF and are still being screened to specific audiences up until now to inspire hope.
2019 CALL FOR ENTRIES
Now on its second year, the INPFF 2019 is once again accepting 3- to 5-minute short docu entries about ordinary Filipinos with extraordinary hope and resiliency, setting the deadline on March 25, 2019.
With the deadline looming over, inspired filmmakers need not lose hope. Rosini exclusively shared her experience with Concept News Central (CNC) about beating the deadline last year.
“We only had a few weeks to shoot and edit our film,” the cheerful Rosini recalled. “We started on the first week of January and the deadline was Jan. 25! Also, most of us [in the production team] were juggling school with work, all the while producing this film. So time management was a challenge, but thankfully, we were able to submit on time, and with a film that we can all be proud of.”
This year, the cash prizes have increased compared to last year. The Best Film will be awarded with Php80,000 in cash; Php50,000 for the first runner-up; and Php30,000 for the second runner-up. The top three films will also receive a trophy and their short docus will be screened in Ayala Malls Cinemas nationwide.
The nationwide competition is open to both professional and amateur Filipino filmmakers, residing in the country or abroad, with true stories to tell about Filipino individuals or groups that are living testimonies that hope in the midst of adversity can dramatically change one’s life and community.
Rosini, prior to Ang Byahe ni Marlon, had never created a docu before joining last year’s INPFF, yet she won. And as a result, Marlon was given a voice, empowering Filipinos like him who might be deemed by society as disadvantaged due to a disorder, a disability or a limitation to never give up and believe that nothing is impossible.
FILIPINOS UNITED IN HOPE
Vice President Leni Robredo, at the recently held INPFF presscon on 11 March 2019, believes in the untapped talent of undiscovered Filipino filmmaking enthusiasts and she is looking forward to this year’s entries for more untold stories of hope.
“[The festival] is to remind everyone that there are more reasons to celebrate and more reasons for us to be thankful. Gusto naming ma-flood ng stories such as [last year’s winning films], kaysa mga kwento na nakaka-depress, o kwento na nag-aaway-away,” the Vice President said during the presscon.
VP Leni also emphasized the need for hope during these abysmal times, and that true stories of hope through the medium of film should break factions and eliminate divisiveness among Filipinos.
“It is our hope that through Istorya ng Pag-asa—lalo na iyong Istorya ng Pag-asa Film Festival—Filipinos will be united around the common values of hope, of perseverance, deep faith, and the goodness of humanity. Kasi iyon iyong underlying theme ng bawat kwento,” according to the Vice President’s statement.
WHAT’S NEW IN THIS YEAR’S FESTIVAL
Actor Dingdong Dantes will be this year’s INPFF’s ambassador. He hosted last year’s gala night and awarding ceremonies and is a known advocate for the arts and the youth.
On top of last year’s other set of awards, such as Best Script, Best Director, and Best Cinematography, INPFF also included for this year a People’s Choice Award and a “special award” to be granted by the Ayala Foundation.
Last year’s judges were Sharmaine Buencamino, Doy del Mundo, Liza Dino, Quark Henares and Dan Villegas. This year’s panel of judges is yet to be announced.
When CNC asked Rosini how did winning last year make an impact in her life, particularly as an artist, she said it motivated her to continue making films.
“Continue making films, particularly those that can give hope and inspiration to other people. Also, now that I know more about the filmmaking process, I have become more appreciative of filmmakers and artists who put in so much effort, time and heart in their craft.”
“I can only hope, too, that our film has made awareness of Tourette syndrome, especially to those who have never heard about it before,” Rosini added. “I have also become more understanding and sympathetic to people who deal with certain conditions.”
Indeed, Istorya ng Pag-Asa not only encourages more films to be produced by local talent, but more real stories of hope are unlocked to bolster the spirit of the Filipino people and inspire us to overcome our own tragedies. Complain less. Be more thankful. Live. Above all, do not lose hope.
For the complete contest rules and mechanics for this year’s competition, visit the INPFF OFFICIAL SITE.