Filipino filmmaker Luisito “Louie” Ignacio and actress Ai-Ai delas Alas won Best Director and Best Actress, respectively, for their film Area while four other Filipinos also bagged awards in the third ASEAN International Film Festival and Awards at the Pullman Hotel in Kuching, Malaysia last May 6.
Ignacio bested fellow Filipino director Lawrence Fajardo (Imbisibol), Vietnam’s Pham Thi Hong Anh (The Way Station) and Indonesian filmmakers BW Purba Negara (Ziarah: Tales of the Otherworlds) and Yosep Anggi Noen (Solo, Solitude).
On the other hand, delas Alas won over other contenders from Vietnam, Laos, and Indonesia for her role as an aging woman working in a brothel for low-income men in Angeles, Pampanga, also known as Area.
Ana Capri won Best Supporting Actress for Laut, another Ignacio-helmed film depicting the village life of a group of sea gypsies uprooted from the seas of Zamboanga to the lahar-marred part of Pampanga. She bested fellow Filipino actresses Cherry Pie Picache (Pauwi Na) and Sue Prado (Area), Vietnam’s Ngoc Hiep (The Way Station) and Malaysia’s Sharitah Sakinah (Pekak). The film also stars Barbie Forteza, Gabbi Garcia, Jak Roberto, Ronwaldo Martin, Rico Barrera and veteran actress Perla Bautista.
Meanwhile, Ricky Davao received the best supporting award for his role as a quarry passway manager and the mayor’s right-hand assistant in the corruption-infested world of Dayang Asu (Dognation). The film, directed by Bor Ocampo, tells about the struggle of a son (Junjun Quintana) to prove to his cold-blooded law breaker and dog eater of a father (Davao) that he can survive in a dog-eat-dog society.
Fajardo won Best Film Editing for Imbisibol, which focuses on the plight of illegal Filipino immigrants in Japan as they try to evade authorities and risk deportation. Allen Dizon, Bernardo Bernardo, Ces Quesada, JM de Guzman, JC Santos, Onyl Torres and Davao star in Imbisibol.
Lav Diaz’s Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left), which served as the festival’s opening film, was given a Special Honor Award. Executive producer Ronald Arguelles was present to accept the award.
The Way Station bested Area, Imbisibol, Solo, Solitude and Ziarah: Tales of the Otherworlds to win AIFFA’s Best Film.
International star Donnie Yen, who recently appeared in Star Wars: Rogue One and topbilled Ip Man, was bestowed the ASEAN Inspiration Award, the same honor given to Jackie Chan in 2015.
2015 AIFFA Lifetime Achievement Awardee Nora Aunor presented this year’s award to Tan Sri Lakshmanan Krishnan, widely regarded as the father of the Malay film industry.
From more than a hundred entries, AIFFA screened 31 films in competition and brought Asia’s biggest and brightest stars from May 4 to 6. Nine of these films came from the Philippines, which had the most number of entries. AIFFA, which started in 2013, is being held every two years to promote ASEAN films to the international market, facilitate collaboration and networking within the ASEAN film industry and provide business opportunities for film distributors and exhibitors as well as attract tourism to Malaysia.
Other Filipino films which competed in AIFFA are Derick Cabrido’s Purgatoryo, Paolo Villaluna’s Pauwi Na, Lemuel Lorca’s Ned’s Project, Atom Magadia’s Dagsin and Zig Dulay’s Paglipay.
Film Development Council of the Philippines Chair Liza Diño joined the Philippine contingent as guest speaker in one of the festival’s programs together with 2016 Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Jaclyn Jose, 2015 AIFFA Best Actress Cherie Gil, producers Ferdinand Lapuz, Baby Go and Shandii Bacolod, actors Dizon, Bernardo, Torres, Benjamin Alves and Marlo Mortel, singer Jason Dy, hosts Marc Nelson and Rovilson Fernandez and filmmakers Ocampo, Villaluna, Dulay and Raymond Red, among others.