A group of film students from De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde recently bagged second prize in the #LigtasJuana category of the Philippine Commission on Women’s Cine Juana Digital Shorts Competition.
DLS-CSB’s 4+1 Productions took home 35,000 pesos for their short film “Tindahan” when PCW kicked off its 18-Day Campaign on Violence Against Women (VAW). In the film, a boy wonders why her older sister avoids passing by a nearby store. What will he do when he finds out the real reason for this?
Director Fernalynne Grace Santos convinced her classmates – editor, writer, and sound recordist Gracielle Dela Cruz, production manager Sophia Repuyan, co-writer and assistant PM Vynce Genica Ong, and director of photography Seung Angel Hong – to shoot a film outside their subjects.
“Our group was glad to know that PCW organized the said competition as a platform in order to stop violence against women. We were able to come up with our film because our group had always felt strongly about the said issue since we are also victims of sexual harassment and gender inequality in our very own neighborhoods. We wanted to show that anyone is capable of initiating good change for our neighborhoods, schools and workplaces to become better and safer places for all women,” Santos said.
Hong, the only male in the five-member group (thus, 4+1 Productions), shared that his blockmates invited him to join the contest. He agreed to join them upon learning about its advocacy. “Toxic masculinity is becoming the norm in our country. Hopefully, our film can drive home its message.”
Meanwhile, Dela Cruz said their group wanted to experience joining a film contest since all the short films they have done so far is connected to their course requirements in Benilde. “We also like the topic and the theme of the contest. It’s an advocacy. We want to let others, especially men, know and understand what we, women, feel when we are being catcalled, and why this is wrong,” she disclosed.
Repuyan, who also acted as the sister in the film, added that their group joined the competition “because we think it is a good starting point to engage in independent festivals autonomously and experience what it’s like to collaborate with others beyond school projects.”
“We combined our experiences into the story but at the same time we wanted our story to target younger audiences, particularly 12-year-olds and below who are active in social media. We wanted the value of respect to be embedded at an early age so when they see people experience such problems, they’d see that no one’s too young to change how things are,” Repuyan revealed.
Ong agreed with her fellow production team members. “When we read the theme, we felt so strongly about the topic since we all have experienced street harassment in one way or another. We felt the need to make our voices heard through the film that we made using PCW’s platform. The main factor that influenced our film is the belief that to create change within the society, you need to start young. That you don’t need to be an adult to inspire others to act on a certain issue,” she emphasized.
“How to Pick Up Chicks” by 5ML Production (Asia Pacific College) took home 50,000 pesos for topping the category, while “Mulat” by EMCinema (Technological Institute of the Philippines-Manila) got 20,000 pesos for placing third. Consolation prizes worth 5,000 pesos each went to “Kanlungan” by Hades Production (Tabaco National High School) and “Bantay” by Kahol Films (St. Paul College San Rafael).
Cine Juana recognizes cinema as a powerful tool in raising awareness on violence and inspiring action to prevent it. #LigtasJuana focuses on the important provisions of the Safe Space Act, or Republic Act 11313, which punishes gender-based harassment in public places, like wolf whistling, catcalling, misogynistic and homophobic slurs, unwanted sexual advances, and other forms of sexual harassment, even online. This category tries to help explain and popularize the contents of the new law.