The first BenildeFilm Human Rights Film Festival, featuring critically acclaimed and independently produced films, was held at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) School of Design and Arts (SDA) Cinema from July 11 to 14.
Bayani Ba ‘To: Heroism x Pag-Ibig, a talk and screening organized by the DLS-CSB Digital Filmmaking Program and DAKILA – Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism, opened the event. DAKILA is a group of artists, students and individuals committed to working together to creatively spark social consciousness formation towards social change.
Director Gil Portes gave a glimpse of his latest work, Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli, a historical biopic based on the life of 19th century religious revolutionary leader Apolinario dela Cruz. Historian John Ray Ramos also talked about heroism during the forum. They were joined by DAKILA education officer Ralph Eya, scriptwriter Eric Ramos and associate director Armand Reyes in the panel discussion. The film, which topbills Aljur Abrenica as Hermano Puli, is set to open in cinemas on September 2016.
The Act of Killing, a documentary that focuses on the 1965 Indonesian massacres, was screened last July 12, 3 p.m. It won the 2013 European Film Award for Best Documentary, Asia Pacific Screen Award, and was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 86th Academy Awards. Its 2014 companion piece, The Look of Silence, also directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, was shown on the same day at 5 p.m. The documentary, which revolves around a middle-aged Indonesian man and his confrontation with his brother’s murderers, was nominated at the 88th Academy Awards for the same award.
The German film The Lives of Others, Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film of 2006, was shown on the third day of the festival at 3 p.m. The seductive political thriller, directed by Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck, is set before the fall of the Berlin Wall and deals with an ambitious spy from East Germany’s State Secret Police and his personal involvement with the couple he keeps tabs on, a renowned pro-Socialist playwright and his stunning actress-girlfriend. The screening of the Oscar-winning film was followed by Adolf Alix Jr.‘s Whistleblower, a complex tale of corruption where journalists run an expose on government officials’ dubious transactions, at 5 p.m. The film stars Nora Aunor, Cherry Pie Picache and Angelica Panganiban, among others.
Batas Militar: A Documentary on Martial Law in the Philippines closed the festival with a special screening last July 14, 3 p.m. The documentary is a narrative of the Martial Law years, made alive by exclusive interviews, numerous photographs, and rare film and video recordings of the era. The critically acclaimed account highlights that particular period in the country’s history and the lessons Filipinos learned and need to learn again. Producer Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala, a broadcast journalist and documentary filmmaker, graced the event.