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A ‘leap’ for PH regional films: Pangasinan’s ‘Ang Kwento Kay Ila’ shortlisted for UN-backed Duemila30

by Joyce Remo

Ang Kwento Kay Ila, a film that centers on the plight of women and children abused in their households, was shortlisted for the 6th Duemila30 International Short Film Festival.

Film director Romsky Chelle Dela Cruz, 22, hailed the selection as an opportunity for regional Filipinos to be represented in the international filmmaking scene. 

“I feel overwhelmed and grateful to have the opportunity to share and represent regional films outside the country. It’s an exciting leap for regional films to be recognized internationally,” the Literary and Cultural Studies student told republicasia.

Women empowerment

Ang Kwento ni Ila, which runs for about eight minutes, recounts the story of a mother (Marisol) as she attempts to get away from the murder of her husband (Emil) while lulling her daughter (Ila) to sleep.

Producer Raquel Rarang Rivera said Ang Kwento Kay Ila gives voice to those who have experienced physical, sexual, and emotional abuse in their own homes but are suffering in silence. The film would like to shed light on the violence that women and children experience and the arduous path they have to grapple with in order to escape such a tragedy.

Another point that the film wants to highlight is that women have the power to end their suffering. “In the film, a defeat has been made, but the defeat was not hers. It’s the defeat of male dominance, of gender-based violence, and the defeat of powerlessness,” Dela Cruz said.

Local pride

The recognition from Duemila30 is another feather on Ang Kwento Kay Ila’s cap. Hundred Islands Film Festival broke the news with screenshots of the invitation to the program that will be held in Milan from June 9 to 11.

Duemila30 is an international film experience that gathers, organizes, and mobilizes young filmmakers in “exploring the links between culture and social change.”

Established in 2018, the festival has its eye on fostering “sustainable development and social inclusion” dedicated to young talented filmmakers. 

It also sees itself as an avenue “for the advancement of social impact storytelling” that provides a platform for the “creation of a fertile inclusive environment where ideas thrive and knowledge is effectively created and exchanged.”

During the three-day program, participants are expected to work with international professionals and experts in the movie industry (including Oscar and Emmy winners) and collaborate with other filmmakers around the world to create an original new short and get an opportunity to receive a production budget for it.

All short film entries will be screened during a dedicated feedback session and will get the chance to discuss with environmental activists and learn better ways to tell impactful social stories through their experiences.

Ang Kwento Kay Ila was shot entirely in Barangay (village) Victoria in Alaminos, a city in the province of Pangasinan. The place, which is 250 kilometers away from Manila, is where most of the actors came from.

This student-led film bagged five awards in the 2022 Hundred Island Film Festival, including best film, best actress, best cinematography, best sound design, and the Paraw Award.

In November 2022, the film also received nods from the 2022 Student World Impact Film Festival, the largest student film festival in the world, and the 2022 Black Cat Award International Film Festival in La Paz, Bolivia.

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