Papa’s Shadows, a short film written and directed by De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde film alumna Shallah Montero, will vie for top awards at the Slemani International Film Festival in Iraq from October 1 to 7.
The film tells the story of seven-year old Mia (Pintig Santos) who has a lot of questions about death at her young age. She has always heard about death but never fully understood it. As the little girl experiences the loss of her own father, she struggles to see her mother (Roence Santos) becoming sadder each day. She seeks help instead from the shadow puppets her father left her, to cope and understand the meaning of life and death.
Montero revealed that she particularly made the film for her mentor, visual artist and shadow puppeteer Don Salubayba, and her favorite TV cameraman and cinematographer Egay Navarro, both of whom have passed away.
“Don’s influence in shadow play and how he introduced the craft to me at a young age and a conversation with Egay’s little son on his concept of death has inspired me to write this story. Both of them left their children too early, grasping reality at such a young age,” she explained.
“I wanted to use the concept of how a child’s imagination can help them cope with such a heavy reality and how their innocence can help them emerge stronger through trying times,” the young filmmaker added.
The festival is divided into two sections: World Cinema or International Cinema, which showcases a series of feature and short films from all over the world, and Kurdish Cinema, which presents a series of films made in a Kurdistan Region — Iraq, Iran, Turkey or Syria.
Montero took Creative Writing as an arts scholar at the Philippine High School for the Arts in Makiling, Laguna and received the Artistic Excellence Award. She graduated from Benilde with honors finishing a Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Filmmaking in 2012. She has won numerous awards for her short films.
Papa’s Shadows previously won the Jury Prize in the short film category the QCinema International Film Festival last year.