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Filipino animated short film on a Maguindanao folktale wins in two international short film festivals

Written and directed by Nelson “Blog” Caliguia Jr., Sulayman is a story that revolves around the sacrifices the heroes make to save the lives of others.

A Filipino animated short film based on a Maguindanao folktale has bagged awards from two international short film festivals.

Created by Tuldok Animation Studios, the eight-minute short animated film won, “Best Animated Film” at the PENSACON Short Film Festival 2024, a prestigious fan community event that celebrates a variety of genres such as science fiction, horror, gaming, fantasy, and animation, held in Florida, USA, and the “Best Animation: Traditional” award at the the FantaSci Short Film Festival, a shorts-only festival dedicated exclusively to film genres such as fantasy and sci-fi can be viewed, also held in Florida, USA.

Written and directed by Nelson “Blog” Caliguia Jr., Sulayman is a story that revolves around the sacrifices the heroes make to save the lives of others. The main character, Sulayman, uses his warrior skills, compassion, and dedication to fight against elements that disrupt the peace in his hometown. It is based on the Maguindanao folktale Indarapatra and Sulayman.

The short animated film was funded through the Innovation Grant Program of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, initiated by the CCP Board of Trustees, as a response to the global crisis affecting the creative industry during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown. It provides financial, technical, and educational support to local creative businesses, content developers, artists, and students. 

“It is a big honor working for one of the major cultural institutions in the country. It is a feather on our cap to work with CCP,” said Caliguia Jr. 

For a Filipino artist like him, partnering with the center definitely motivated and inspired him to work hard on the project.

“One of the things I thought about is the technical requirements. Because I need to fit the story within a manageable timeframe and within the resources available,” explained Caliguia Jr.

With limited resources on-hand, Caliguia Jr. and his team set their priorities straight and decided to make the animated film as concise and compact without losing the folktale’s elements and its cultural significance. He wanted to retain that “Filipino local vibe.”

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While his other short films have won awards in local animation festivals and have been screened in other international festivals, the Pensacon’s Best Animated Film award was his first international award. His previous works would only conclude as finalists in other competitions.

Optimistic about the future generation, Caliguia Jr. hopes that his journey and his win in the international arena would inspire young animators to make their own content rooted on Philippine cultures, and help in creating awareness on original Filipino animation.

“Mas magandang mabigyan ng spotlight ‘yung mga locally paid animation projects made by actual homegrown Filipino artists,” concluded Caliguia Jr.

With more and more Filipino animators being recognized for their skills in both the local and foreign animation industry, it is about time that Filipino animators gain recognition and attention both on the local and international stage.

For more information, visit the CCP website (www.culturalcenter.gov.ph). For the latest updates and show announcements, follow the official CCP social media accounts on Facebook, X, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

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