Cine Juana: Promoting a VAW-free PH one film at a time

Young filmmakers focus their lens on the issue of Violence Against Women (VAW) in the Cine Juana Digital Shorts Competition launched by the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), as part of the activities for the 18-Day Campaign to End VAW.

The competition recognizes the power of film in raising awareness on violence and inspiring actions to prevent it.

The PCW received fifty-four (54) entries from different parts of the country in three categories: #JuanParaKayJuana, which highlights the role of men and boys in reducing VAW; #LabanJuana, which features empowering stories that encourage women to seek help and break free from the cycle of violence; and #LigtasJuana, which focuses on the important provisions of the Safe Spaces Act (Republic Act 11313).

Six judges from the Philippine Commission on Women selected 15 finalists based on their relevance to the theme. For the final screening, five judges from the media and film industry sat down and selected the top three winners for each category, including PCW Commissioner for Media and the Arts Ms. Noreen Capili; Director and Writer Mr. Zig Dulay;  Producer and Director Ms. Pamela L. Reyes; Director and Writer Ms. Leilani Chavez;  and Director and Writer Mr. Carlo Catu.

Every Juan for Every Juana

The PCW recognized the top three winners of each category at the Youth Forum on Violence Against Women on November 25, 2019, the official kickoff event for the campaign. First placers in each category received PhP50,000, second placers got PhP35,000, and the third placers took home PhP20,000.

Dominating the #JuanParaKayJuana category, KMBT Productions’ “Hatdog Ni Boyet” earned the First Place, bringing pride to the CIIT Philippines. Quoting Director Zig Dulay, the film, directed by Jan Yuan Amandy, is simple yet effective as it was shot only in a dining room but the dialogues capture the message. It juxtaposes toxic masculinity, perpetrated by the character, Boyet, and positive masculinity, personified by his brother, Caloy.

Tarlac State University’s “Blager” snatched the second place. Under the direction of Jenna Perciano, Majarlika Productions took to film how a young vlogger can help a woman being harassed in a jeepney, a girl being bullied in school, and his own mother being abused in their home.

Placing third was “Lahat Para Sa’yo”, a film directed by Christian Emmanuelle Agustin for AgustinemA of the Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology (NEUST). The film, loosely inspired by true stories, sees a group of men standing up for Kate, a woman being mistreated by her partner.

Receiving consolation prizes for making it to the final screening were: “Team Tanikala”, which showed how a son can step up for his mother who is a victim of abuse through the film “Tanikala ng Kahapon” and “Para Bongga and Production”, which encapsulated in their film “Mabuti Na Lang” how men can aid in setting their friends free from violence. The film “Mabuti Na Lang” received the People’s Choice Award, which was determined based on the Facebook insights, specifically the number of unique viewers of each film.

Juana, Lumaban Ka

For the second category, #LabanJuana, Cinema Agustino’s “Alas Tres”, captured the interest of the judges because of its original and fresh plot. This digital short, directed by Erika Nicole Noveno of the La Consolacion College Manila, brings suspense in the first three minutes and mystery as to what could be bothering the main character at 3:00AM.

The second placer, SagipIT Productions’ “Tubig”, plays the mind of its viewers as well. Through the direction of Gabriel Angelo Concepcion, this masterpiece from the NEUST tests the deep-seated judgment of each person as to how women dress only to give a big reveal on the real situation towards the end.

Para Kay Bunso” which bagged the third prize in this category, is melancholic but striking. Its director, Lara Mae Tamio of the Saint Dominic College of Asia, was able to execute her vision of presenting the sad realities of abuse in the home, a cycle that makes siblings suffer.

The other finalists were also recognized: The sole finalist from Mindanao, BOB Productions, comprised of students from the Caraga State University, for their film Eluquor, “To Speak Up”, which highlighted how VAW survivors must seek help; Reporma Productions of the Kingfisher School of Business Pangasinan, for coming up with “KaSAYSAYan: Rebolusyon ng Pagbabago”, which tells us that violence is a history that should not be repeated.

Safe Spaces for every Juana

The top pick for the category, #LigtasJuana, is a film where entertainment meets advocacy. 5ML’s “How To Pick Up Chicks” easily catches’ one’s attention, with the right amount of irony and humor, but in the end shows us how not to pick up chicks, including: catcalling, cyberstalking, incessant inquiry for personal information, and sexual harassment in public spaces. For the judges, its directors, Yuan Alexandrei Serafico and Ian Christopher Onrubia of the Asia Pacific College, succeeded in weaving film elements with the core messages.

De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde’s 4 + 1 Productions, took home the second prize for “Tindahan”. Directed by Fernalynne Grace Santos, the film is a marvel of its own, tastefully showing how Miko steps up for his sister who gets catcalled in a store.

EMCinema’s “Mulat” opens the viewers’ eyes to the sad realities experienced by most women: sexual harassment in the streets and public spaces. Its director, Francis Louie Reyes of the Technological Institute of the Philippines, took a very cinematic path in discussing the Safe Spaces Act, focusing on a woman who walks with a blindfold so she can protect herself from catcalling, wolf-whistling, and other forms of harassment.

Among the finalists were: Kanlungan, by HADES of Tabaco National High School, which showed the different forms of sexual harassment experienced by a woman throughout her life cycle; and Bantay of Kahol Films from  St. Paul College San Rafael which emphasized the role of duty-bearers in providing services to VAW survivors.

“Continue making films”

The judges, in their interview, at the final screening of the entries, unanimously encouraged the budding filmmakers to continue telling stories through film.

Director Lei Chavez, known for her Cinemalaya entry, “Malamaya”, was astonished by the fresh takes the students have on film.
““Ang nagustuhan ko sa mga films na napanood namin… it plays by the rules, but it’s also not afraid to move around and explore,” said Chavez.

Pamela Reyes, Producer of critically-acclaimed “Birdshot”, enthused that the films can be shown outside the competition, adding, “I personally want to encourage these filmmakers not to stop here, but to make more films.”

Meanwhile, Director Carlo Catu, known for 2018 Cinemalaya Best Film, “Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon”, praised the students who, despite the limited resources, were able to pull off promising stories.

“Striking sa akin iyong competition itself and iyong participation ng mga students, to think na may specific siyang subject matter. May mga lumulutang, na ako as a filmmaker, nakikita ko na, nung ako ganun yung edad ko, hindi ako ganun ka-polished and kalawak mag-isip so I think very commendable ang mga iyon,” Catu said.

Zig Dulay, the director behind “Bagahe”, commends the students’ ability to combine filmmaking and advocacies.

“Iyong entertainment value niya ay enough para makapag-hook sa amin sa audience pero sa dulo biglang kakabig na eto iyong gusto namin sabihin,” commented Dulay.

“Huwag niyong kalimutan na gagamitin niyo ang pelikula dahil may gusto kayong sabihin. Huwag niyo ring kalilimutan na anu’t-ano man ang inyong gustong sabihin, idamay ninyo lagi ang mga ate, nanay, at mga kababaihan na nasa paligid niyo at ipakita ninyo kung paano sila tinitignan at paano niyo tinitignan ang mga kababaihan sa mundong ito,” he added.