An award-winning short film from the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) School of Design and Arts (SDA) has been officially selected to compete at the 3rd Slemani International Film Festival in Iraq from October 10 to 16.
Tim Rone Villanueva’s “Santa Nena!” follows fellow Benildean filmmaker Shallah Montero’s “Papa’s Shadows,” which represented the Philippines at the Slemani IFF’s international short film category last year.
“Santa Nena!” tells the story of a miraculous patron saint (Elora Españo in the titular role) who springs to life at night. One day, while talking to her friend, an angel (Jelson Bay), she received a message from God. She has to be the child-bearer for the second coming of the Messiah on earth with Manuel (Ross Pesigan), “the boy with the golden balls.” Fellow thespians Mailes Kanapi, Rolando Inocencio and Martha Comia play supporting characters.
Villanueva, who hails from Kawit, Cavite, said he was inspired by Santa Maria Magdalena of Kawit Church, or more popularly known as Santa Nena to Kawiteños, in coming up with the short film. Advocacy filmmaker and BenildeFilm mentor Seymour Sanchez served as creative producer of the capstone project.
“In Philippine culture, having devotion to a saint or patron is a huge part of it. Most people believe in the miracles of different patrons of the church to accommodate their request. But what if the situation turns around and saints were to ask people a favor? Will the people grant a saint’s request? This film challenges what happens if you reverse the situation of men and saints,” the young filmmaker explained.
The black comedy earlier won several accolades such as Best Short Film (Student Category), CineFilipino Film Festival 2018; Best Director and Best Production Design (Student Category), Pelikultura 2018: The CALABARZON Film Festival; Honorable Mention (Short Feature Category), 29th Gawad CCP Independent Film and Video Festival; Gold Picture Prize, Outstanding Direction, Outstanding Performance for Españo and Technical Excellence awards (Maningning Category), CineSB7 Film Festival; Best Narrative Short Film, Best Director, Best Script and Best Actor for Pesigan, Ateneo Video Open 2017; and Best Narrative, Best Performance and Best Production Design (Intercollegiate Category), Sinepiyu XI.
“Santa Nena!” was also screened last July 5 at the DLS-CSB SDA Cinema as part of the One La Salle Film Festival. Last year, it figured prominently in two film events in Mindanao — competing at the Philippine shorts competition of the fifth Salamindanaw Asian Film Festival in General Santos City and being part of the official selection of Cinema Rehiyon 9 in Nabunturan, Compostela Valley.
Villanueva’s capstone project under the Digital Filmmaking program will slug it out with 19 other similarly notable short films from Afghanistan, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Estonia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan, Palestine, Spain and Turkey.