The dream of a filmmaker is to be a force for good

Published July 13, 2021, 6:11 PM

by Jules Vivas

Into the minds and hearts of the Nespresso Talents 2021 Philippine winners

April this year, the annual Nespresso Talents sixth edition took off. The current leg of the annual vertical filmmaking contest is about “Doing Is Everything,” or instilling positive change today in times of great despair—to be a force for good.

Just three months later, the results came in. A virtual awarding ceremony was held early July, hosted by Lexi Schulze. The top three winning entries are out.

Entries were evaluated by award-winning director, screenwriter, and author Jose Javier Reyes, award-winning filmmaker Quark Henares, renowned actress, producer, director, screenwriter, author Bela Padilla, Novateur Coffee Concepts managing director Patrick Pesengco, and Southeast Asia regional business development manager of Nespresso Fabio de Gregorio.

 “I was amazed once again with the quality of the films, especially considering the pandemic that we are unfortunately living in today. They [films] have been a source of inspiration and there was this great value in them. These films helped me understand the Filipino culture better,” said Fabio.

The grand winner is Napamata Ako sa Sadit na Kinaban (I Woke Up On A Little Planet) by Arjanmar Rebeta. The synopsis goes: A man wakes up on a little planet and doesn’t find anything that interests him, so he sleeps on it. Eventually, he realizes he should have started taking action from the very beginning because the planet depends on the person living in it. The film is part of the international shortlist, a first for Nespresso Philippines.

“Lumiliit mundo mo, pero lumalaki yung kalungkutan sa atin. Mas merong nakakaramdam ng depression, ng anxiety. Pero mas dadaig pa rin yung pakikipag-laban. Na magpatuloy ka dahil babalik pa rin sa normal. Hindi man ito tungkol sa pandemic—tungkol man ito sa buhay—babalik at babalik ka, lalaban at lalaban ka. (As the world gets smaller, our sadness becomes greater. Depression and anxiety are overwhelming. And yet, we push forward hoping that everything returns to normal. This film might not be entirely about the pandemic—it is about life—we always look back, and we always fight.),” explains Arjanmar during the awarding ceremony.

Arjanmar used a 360 camera, and shot in several locations, namely, Camarines Sur, Pampanga, Rizal, and Quezon City. The concept of his film is incredibly unique—a telling akin to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince. And while his work was a cut above the rest, he credits his achievement to his love for filmmaking. “Wala pa akong ibang maisip gawin kundi ito. Magpapatuloy pa rin. (There is nothing else on my mind other than this [filmmaking]. I will persist).”

Arjanmar is currently working on his first full-length film. He hopes that the film industry goes back to normal. “Sana bumalik na sa normal ang mga sinehan. O kung sakali man, masuportahan ulit ng ating mga kababayan ang pelikulang Pilipino. O kung mas partikular, masuportahan nila ang mga baguhang tulad ko. (I wish that the cinemas would reopen. Or at the very least, for Filipino film to gain more support. In particular, up-and-coming filmmakers like me).”

Placing second is the film Ma by Dexter Paul De Jesus, which shows a son longing to spend time with his mother, who has not been able to come home for months due to her job as a medical worker. Paul acted as the writer, director, cinematographer, camera operator, editor, and animator, with his roommate as the lead actor.

Dexter, like Arjanmar, hopes that the win would open doors for him to further showcase his visions and talents.

Special Delivery by Gerald Foliente (Sinematika Inc.) came in third. A delivery man gets into a minor accident. He shrugs off the pain to finish his deliveries and return home to his son at the end of the day.

Gerald admits it was a challenge coming up with a story that encapsulates the theme in a short span of time. “We decided to focus on finding the heart of our film, a solid story that contains the message we want to say. And after finding that heart, everything fell into place. From cinematography to production design to acting, we never got lost in the process because we already have the heart of our film,” explained the protégé of Direk Joey. “There were struggles we faced during the shooting of the film but it’s our film’s message: ‘Struggles are a part of life. What matters most is how we continue to move forward despite the struggles.’ And, of course, I have my hardworking team, we have each other.”

What’s next for Gerald? “I’ve been pursuing film for years now. I’m more of a writer than a director but I just want to tell stories. I don’t have a concrete plan for the future but one thing is for sure. I’m a storyteller that’s why I’ll never stop telling stories.”

The grand winner received a cash prize in Philippine peso equivalent to €1,500, followed by €1,000 for the runner-up, and €500 for the third placer. All three winners received Nespresso machines and coffee on top of a well-deserved trophy.

Other finalists were Mr. Everything by Romel Cabuguang, PR 3953, NOW BOARDING by John Thomas Trinidad, Waves by Ian Palomar, PARA UMA (farmer) by John Kenneth Paclibar, SAKA NA (SOMEDAY) by Cheska Marfori, Bahay-bahayan (Playhouse) by Xyron Parapara, and 150+ Heads by Bennel Canlas.

‘Struggles are a part of life. What matters most is how we continue to move forward despite the struggles.’

A total of 71 film entries were submitted in the local leg, establishing that the competition is amassing recognition in the Philippines. Local and international submissions combined are 993 entries. The prerequisite for every film submission was that it should be in vertical format (9:16) with the length of two minutes minimum and three minutes maximum, in any genre.

In the Philippines, Nespresso Talents 2021 is in partnership with the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), De La Salle University College of St. Benilde Film School, and Film entries can be viewed at